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Anthony Van Engelen interview

06.05.2015 - ExclusiveArticle

ave-gifWe caught up with Anthony Van Engelen, who has last part in the new Vans video Propeller, at House of Vans London last week. Propeller is available to buy from iTunes now.

Portrait: Rafal Wojnowksi
Interview: Henry Kingsford

What does the name Propeller mean to you?
Fuck I don’t know. I suppose it has something to do with the skateboarding in the film. Some sort of forward movement. I guess that’s how I thought of it.

You’ve worked with Greg Hunt on three major projects. Tell us a little bit about your working relationship.
Yes, I’ve worked with him on three major projects and that’s almost 15 years. Me and Greg have similar working ideas. I approach skating like he approaches making films, so it’s good. And it’s also about trusting that all your hard work is going to pay off because you know it’s going to look the best it possibly could… and also trusting that the final product is going to be something you’re into. A lot of people who make films are good at it, but we might not always have the same musical tastes and stuff and I feel like me and him (Greg) have always mixed well in that way. I’m pretty hands-on with my stuff off the board and we always kind of meet eye to eye on what things should look and sound like.

I guess you know each other’s limits by now.
He’s definitely intense and I am too, and there are times when those types of things don’t line up, but that’s just the nature of what we do.

How long have you been working on your Propeller part?
We started five years ago and like most videos, it really kicked into gear at the two-year point. The last three years were pretty intense.

In your opinion, how does your new part sit alongside your Mindfield and DC Video parts? When we interviewed you last you spoke about wanting to skate a little differently for Mindfield, skating rails and bigger stuff. Did you have any specific goals or themes in mind for your Propeller part?
Yes. It changes. I think when I started trying to do this thing I didn’t know where to go and I had a hard time getting started. I didn’t really know what I had to offer. So it took a while to get into the right mode. Because what I did in MindfieldI did you know. And also I don’t really want to jump down a bunch of shit now. So it changed a little bit. My Propeller part is the same concept, just a different direction. Maybe a little more technical.

Who has your favourite part in Propeller?
Rowan Zorilla’s is my favourite. I like Trujillo’s part a lot too, but they’re all fucking really good parts.

The standard formula for big video projects seems to be to travel a lot, and more recently to destinations where there isn’t a lot to do other than skate, Shenzen in China for example. Propeller has a lot of US footage, particularly LA, whereas The DC Video seemed to be based around trips abroad. What is your preference: home comforts or exotic locations with new spots?
My preference is the United States, mostly the Midwest. Obviously I get a lot done in LA, but I love skated and travelling in the United States.

Any particular reason?
I think it looks the best. I think it’s got a certain ruggedness to it that nowhere else really has. Early on in the DC days when Spain was opening up, it just got to a point where every fucking video looked the same and you knew once you got there how easy it was to get footage. It was almost like watching someone filming in a skatepark, kind of like how China is now.

It’s too easy.
In a sense, yes. For Propeller and even Mindfield I was adamant not to do that stuff, for myself personally. After DC I was just done with it. I like being in the US.

Do you find it easy getting footage in LA?
It depends. It’s weird. I’ve skated there all my life so for long periods of time it feels like there’s nothing and you’ve skated it all but then all of a sudden things pop up. I would say that the majority of my footage is in LA and I’m stoked on that because it’s where I’m from.

Do you feel a sense of anticlimax after these big projects are completed?
Yes, that’s a totally real thing that happens and it’s happened to me. I think I’m better at dealing with it now. Early on, I didn’t know what to expect. The pressure’s on for so long and you want it to end and you want to get to the other side of it and once that structure’s whipped out from under you, it’s fucking weird, for sure. So now with the Vans video, I’ve been like, “You’d better fucking enjoy the ride,” you know, enjoy the intensity, enjoy all this shit because I’ve been to the other side a million times and once it’s over, it’s like, whatever. The good times are 10 minutes later at 7-Eleven after you’ve fucking battled a trick for four hours and you’re smoking a cigarette. That’s as good as it’s going to get.

Are you still skating every day?
Yes, I skate every day. With FA and Hockey, there are other dudes I go out with daily to help them.

The Hockey promo was great. What do you have planned next for the brand?
Plans? I don’t know. We never really have too many of those. What we had planned is what you’re seeing now. It’s John Fitzgerald and Donovan Piscopo and when we left (Alien Workshop) and did FA the idea of Hockey was only a couple of months later so the whole way through FA we’ve been planning what’s coming out now.

What’s the reception been like?
It’s been sick. It seems like everyone’s stoked. I’m stoked. I feel like there’s nothing really like it out there.

What’s next for you? Any video projects coming up?
I’m not signed onto anything but I’m going to be skating and filming. We’ll see what happens.