Photo: Danny McCourt
When I was thinking about who’d be interesting to interview, Jim Craven was probably the first person that came to mind.
From the skaters he films, to the way he captures tricks, Jim always presents something that’s both gnarly and visually impressive. And while his take on skateboarding may not come through in this article, it certainly does in Heroin Skateboards’ recent production, Video Nasty. So doing this interview was a lot of fun, and with us at the time were Ben Rowles and Joe O’Donnell. I guess that’s why I was surprised to find out that Jim had never actually done one until now.
Well Heroin’s always had northern roots, being that Fos is from Rawtenstall. Then Rogie’s (Stephen Roe) been riding for Heroin pretty much as long as I’ve been skateboarding, so when I got myself a camera I would film with Rogie whenever I could. So I was filming Rogie before Video Nasty anyway. I then moved to Manchester at around the same time that Tom Day and Joel Peck did. We were skating together all the time and we got loads of footage that got sent off to Fos. Through that Tom got on Heroin as well. So because I was filming Tom and Rogie already, when the idea for Video Nasty came round, it just made sense that I filmed the British side.
So you filmed a substantial part of Video Nasty right?
I filmed the British dudes, Stephen Malet, who lives in France but is originally from Norwich, Craig ‘Questions’ Scott, Tom Day, Rogie and some of Fos’ footage as well.
Any good stories about Questions?
Well he has this thing where he just dangles off shit. Like he did it off the side of a Ferry once, he also dangled over the Thames, just hanging on a wall with a fifty foot drop below it. Yeah Craig is an absolute psychopath, but in the best way possible.
Definitely, I’ve heard that Questions once spent hours trying to get a street-plant to look just like one Jesse Martinez did in the ’80s.
Yeah he’s the biggest Jesse Martinez fan. That’s a good Video Nasty story actually: the first time Craig came to Manchester he arrived a day early and just went out skating on his own. The next day he instantly wanted to take me to a spot he’d found. He didn’t really explain it, but we skated to this wall on the other side of Manchester. Like no bank, nothing, just a straight vertical wall. It was pretty funny that I got taken all the way across the city just for a wall, but we actually filmed like six tricks there. And every time he was trying a trick he would explain the inspiration behind it, like where he’d seen it, what mag and what year someone did something similar. Yeah, he’s pretty passionate about what he does.
So how’s the reception been for Video Nasty anyway?
It was sick, yeah lots of different views, but I’m stoked on how good the response has been to the guys I was involved with. Like before the video there was a lot of shit on the internet about Questions specifically, about people not feeling him. But everyone’s responses have been really positive now the video’s out.
Ben Rowles: Yeah Questions probably has my favourite section.
Jim: Yeah, that’s what a lot of people have said and I think it shows that he really put a lot of effort into that part. I just think the video had so many sections like Gou Miyagi, Chopper and stuff. It was so diverse that there was something that everyone was feeling, like everyone went away being inspired by something. Also the Manchester premiere was fucking incredible. It was the second in the world as Rogie had the master copy and it really brought it all home. It was so rowdy, I was really stoked. Yeah, it was a nice experience being involved is something so unique, because I really feel like a lot of skateboarding videos are kind of . . .
Yeah and especially with Rogie’s part. Like Rogie is so particular about how he wants to be filmed. He doesn’t want to film anything that’s been done, not so much what’s been done at a spot but he in general just wants to invent. He’s got a really creative mind so we would always be thinking of new stuff and trying to come up with different ways of doing things. So a lot of effort went into making Rogie’s part unique.
I know that Rogie’s section’s filled with spots that are impossible to skate. It really shows how gnarly the spots here are and more precisely how gnarly British skating is. I guess that leads to an interesting question, how do you feel about British skateboarding Jim?
British skateboarding’s fucking amazing.
Is that one of the reasons why you haven’t headed out to see Fos in LA yet?
Ben Rowles: You’d hate it, that’s why.
Jim: Yeah I probably would. But it’s on my to-do list; we’ve all talked about it loads so hopefully I’ll get out there soon. Heroin is starting a new project, like an HD thing, so maybe I’ll go over for that. I’m not too sure how much I should say about this though.
Is that the only project in the pipeline, or is there anything else?
At the moment I’m also working on a full video called Eston Exposure. I’ve been working on it for about six months. It’s going to have full sections from Joe O Donnell, Tom Day, James Gell, Ben Rowles, Joel Peck, Neil Worthington and Valentine Kuhl, along with some others.
That sounds sick and I reckon that’s a pretty good place to stop. But before I do finally end this I’ve got to ask you who actually came up with your infamous nickname?
There are a lot who claim to have come up with my nickname. But I can say with absolute authority that the first person to call me ‘Fat Jim’ was Tom Gibbs. He skates for Fifty-Fifty skate shop. I’m not sure why, but everybody found it really funny and then it took a lot of people keeping it alive to make it stick for good. So yeah, Tom Gibbs, cheers!