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I met Lewis Farley years ago filming an event at The Grand Theatre, it’s interesting how many filmmakers are also skateboarders.  In a further instalment of “Blackpool Skate Stories”, we talk about a new skate park, making films, mental health and what skating means to him
Tell me about you – who you are and what you do.
Hello, I’m Lewis – a Blackpool-based filmmaker/skateboarder. I’m currently running Plant Skate Co with two of my friends.

Can you tell me what came first film making or skating?
Skateboarding came first for sure, I started skateboarding when I was around 11, one of my childhood friends brought his board out one day after school, and from that point on I was set on learning how to skate. My older brother was also into skateboarding at the time so that helped.

Filmmaking naturally just became something I wanted to do when I was 17-ish. I feel that filmmaking has always had its own place within skateboarding and through the years of being a skater, you’re influenced by a lot of the skate DVDs that are released and for the most part, there’s some really crazy, experimental stuff that you don’t really see within other genres of filmmaking. That’s where I think film & skateboarding go hand in hand, for me anyway.

Did you study in Blackpool – ever wanted to move away? It is well documented that many young creatives leave the town as soon as they can – what has kept you here and how do you feel about Blackpool?
I didn’t study in Blackpool after college, as soon as I was able to go to Uni I moved to Manchester and then shortly after moved to London to finish my final year of film school. I always wanted to move away from here when I was younger, and I fell in love with the idea of moving to a big city in the US. I did move back to Blackpool once University was finished but I still wasn’t happy, eventually, I moved to Los Angeles when I was offered a full-time job at a film production company which I think really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Once I moved back to Blackpool from LA it kinda just clicked for me and I’ve been super happy here ever since.  

I think it’s incredibly valuable for creatives to at least experience living in different places, even if just for a small space of time. Speaking from my experience, I don’t think I’d have progressed or had the opportunities I’ve had if I didn’t move around, but at the same time – I think Blackpool really is a special place, there’s a lot of simple things here which are amazing if you’re looking for inspiration as a creative. I often go to Stanley Park or the promenade and end up coming back with ideas for film projects. 

 

How did Plant Skate Co. come about and where are you based?
It was a weird one. As we were getting to the end of 2020, I had the idea of renting out an industrial unit for the duration of lockdown, purely so we had a space to skate during the winter months. I also wanted to carry on filming skateboarding YouTube videos for my channel.  As time went on, it sort of just naturally evolved into creating a skatepark, teaching skate lessons, and hosting skate events. I think myself, Gerald, and Shaun just kept throwing ideas at each other and this is where we’ve landed.

“It really did start out as a purely ‘for us’ project but now we’re incredibly determined to make positive moves for the Blackpool skateboarding scene and hopefully introduce more people to it.”

Who are Gerald and Shaun and what is their involvement in Plant and the skate scene?
Gerald is my best friend who I’ve known since we were skateboarding as kids. When we were around 14 he was playing with a finger skateboard in school and it flew across the room and got stuck in my hair! that’s how I met Gerald. Shaun is my brother-in-law but we really do get on and argue like friends, he also grew up skateboarding but in South Africa. The three of us have spent the past 4+ years working together on film/documentary projects around the globe so working together on Plant Skate Co has been a supernatural process. None of us have set roles within Plant, we all kinda just do whatever is needed at that point, but so far, Shaun & Gerald have definitely tackled the ramp building whilst I’ve spent more time working on the marketing and social media side of the company.

I can see that you are offering free access to the park – why do you think it is important to offer this?
Free access is needed in Blackpool because there’s definitely a lot of kids out there whose parents cannot afford to pay skatepark entry costs. When I was a kid, I use to skate ramp city twice a week, which came to £40+ per month back then which luckily wasn’t a big deal to my parents, but I had friends who I would ask if they wanted to come along and their parents simply couldn’t afford it meaning they were left out and it really sucks that there’s a barrier that stops kids from learning to skate or even just testing it out.

Ultimately, I think that there would be a lot more kids flying around on boards if they had access to a welcoming, free environment with experienced skateboarders around them – which is what we’re aiming to provide.
What​ events do you have on the cards?
​The first one we’re currently thinking about is Go Skate Day (a yearly day dedicated to skateboarding) – 21st June, which is also the day that lockdown completely ends, so I reckon it’s going to be a mental day.
If you were a skateboarder in Blackpool during the early 2000’s then you’ve been quite lucky in terms of having some really amazing skateboarding events (through the organisation of Woody) but over the past 5-10 years I would say there’s not really been much happening and honestly, the Blackpool skate scene can’t just expect Woody to organise everything. We’re going to put a tonne of effort into organising some really cool things which I’m certain skateboarders from all over the UK will travel down to take part in.

How has skating helped you through lockdown?

It helped massively. I lost absolutely all my freelance film work since Covid began and over the past few years, work was pretty much all I was doing.
Going from being insanely productive to nothing can have a huge toll on your mental health and like a lot of people out there, it’s been a difficult time, but skateboarding has been the one thing that has pushed me to set alarms in the morning when I had no real reason to wake up early, it’s introduced me to a lot of new people over the past 12 months which is amazing and it’s generally just kept me healthy in both a physical and mental aspect.
Based on the assumption that you feel Blackpool has a lot to offer and from a personal viewpoint, I always feel like the residents are kinda overlooked here – what would you want for the future of the town. How could Skateboarding support a scene? 
It’s probably quite a common opinion but I really feel there’s not much for kids/teens to do in Blackpool. It seems that the council’s focus is more often than not on building for tourists and supporting holidaymakers rather than the actual residents of this town. Skateboarding is such an amazing, fun, and productive way to spend your time and I feel that if we can build a solid foundation for those who want to try skateboarding and for the current skateboarders of Blackpool then we can really create something special, we just need the council to back skateboarding a little better, build new parks and fix the old ones – there’s a reason why some of our skaters prefer to skate a dusty car park over the battered/outdated parks we currently have.
It’s not an exaggeration when I say that skateboarding has saved so many people. It teaches a lot and introduces you to so many different creative avenues.
Lewis Farley Film Maker - Skateboarder

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