On a cold November evening in Amsterdam, Frederick, Charles and Léa asked Dylan and Alex some questions about the world of Dutch skateboarding videography, their experiences with skaters, and what they've noticed throughout their years of filming. After a couple beers, the interview turned into the most casual gossip/roast session ever witnessed. While some things had to be taken out for Dylan and Alex's sake, the interview keeps to its raw casual tone. So, here you have it. Thank you for reading Essay. 

Léa: After watching Close Friends 1, published in March 2023, I particularly enjoyed that you included footage of the skaters just having fun and living their day-to-day lives. What is the idea behind having skate footage mixed with personal scenes?

Alex: Yeah, CF1 is my last video. For me, that's what I try to do because I want to show the culture of The Hague and that goes beyond skating because we see each other going out more than skating sometimes. And watching a skate video for me is more than just watching a video. It's more like seeing a culture, kind of like a documentary-ish vibe, you know? That's really what I was going for with that video. 

Léa: Sick. And why did you start Close Friends? And, is it actually incorporated? 

Alex: Hahaha it's not incorporated yet. It's also like the classic, "it started during COVID." It was me, Djaro and Jip that were skating together a lot and we would skate the most random spots. Then I made an edit of one session and it got like a crazy amount of likes on Instagram. So I was like, oh, maybe we should do something with this.

Filmer and fingerboard legend, Alex van Zwietering. Photo by Hugo Snelooper.

Lea: And Dylan, yeah, I kind of had to stalk you for the interview, sorry. [Dylan: Of course, it's research.] Exactly, thank you. So you filmed and edited a video called Good Night five years ago. Was that the first skate video you produced? And how do you feel it compares to your editing or filming style today? 

Dylan: It was my first street video. Back then I really liked having themes in videos instead of just random footage, so I'm pretty hyped on how it worked out, especially because it's my first video. I think if I made that video today, it would be a lot better, obviously because I switched cameras as well. I switched to a Sony camera, now I film 4x3, on a full frame sensor. I guess that that's more lighting as well, right? More dynamic too. I guess the editing style is kind of the same though. 

Charles: Why 4x3? 

Dylan: I just like the look of it. Also, 4x3 with fish-eye is perfect. I just like 4x3. 

Alex: I think vertical space is more important in skating too. I feel like with skating, it's only the extreme fisheye that really works for 16x9 and I don't think anyone in Holland has ever had an extreme fisheye, for example. 

Frederick: Do you like mixing up different kinds of film together? Like 6x9 and 4x3, PS, Super 8.

Dylan: It works with Sneep. He knows what he's doing. Yeah, unless you're Sneep, I don't think you should be doing that. 

Alex: Yeah, true. I'm personally not a fan, like, even when I'm watching movies and there's a mix between aspect ratios, I like to stick to just one.

Dylan: I mean Kadir does some stuff with aspect ratios and it's pretty nice. I do like having some B roll with different cameras. But actual clips on just one camera for sure. 

Alex: I use two cameras actually. I have a Sony Ax 700 I use for long lens now and a Fuji film mirrorless camera. The XT3 for Fish Eye. 

Léa: Do you as filmmakers prefer doing single skate parts, or more full length skate videos? 

Alex: Making longer ones, But it takes a lot more people to make that happen so it can also take longer to finish it. If you film a part with one person you can focus all your energy on that one person whereas now you're making a video and one person may have two minutes of footage and the other might have 30 seconds. In that sense it can take longer to finish, but I feel like it's more rewarding for sure. [Dylan: Yeah, agreed.] 

Frederick: How do you pick the songs for your videos?

Alex: I always pick the songs first and then I start editing. I'm quite a visual thinker as well, so I'll hear a song and see a certain skater already.

Dylan: Usually I do that. I just find a song I like and then I start working on the video because I like that song. I think a lot of filmmakers do that, right? 

Alex: But you have to be quite visual to be a filmer or a photographer because you have to be able to create what you see in your head. I like having a song because it also makes you, even subconsciously, just work more towards something, [Dylan: For sure] and also with the people you skate with, you're able to guide them a bit in terms of what kind of tricks would work for what you have in mind because you're making it together, it's not just you or just them.

Dylan: Also, with filming, if you have a song already, you know that a trick would look good with that particular song. It's also the filming style that comes with that. So, you already know that a shot filmed with a long lens would look very nice with a certain song. Songs also have a structure in it, then you can work based on that structure.

Charles: What do you guys feel about skate filmmaking overall? Because it is kind of a crazy endeavor. In the sense of, you're spending a year working with a bunch of different dudes. You pour your heart and soul into it and sometimes it blows up, sometimes it just gets a couple thousand views, and then it's like, alright, done. And you know, you do it by yourself, no sponsors, no money, and it's like a labor of love.

Alex: Yeah it's very niche. It doesn't transcend skating in that sense. Maybe that's also why I was kind of drawn towards putting more lifestyle around it, to approach it more like a documentary in that sense. Because if you look at a skate video, and it's just footage, non-skaters look at it and have no idea what they're looking at. They just see: "oh, big jump, oh, he's sliding now…"

Dylan: Some people who don't skate will look at a tre flip and be like "Oh, whatever". At the same time, a kickflip down a 10 stair will look more impressive to a non-skater than a low-impact backside flip nosemanny switch frontflip, while the second trick is way harder. 

Alex: Like you said, it's such a wild endeavor, right? It's like: "why the fuck do we do this?" We do it for ourselves. [Dylan: Yeah and for the homies] And it's also really hard to translate those skills to filmmaking outside of skating. 

Dylan: Also a lot of skate videos aren't filmed in a traditional filming style. So, even if you show your work to other actual filmers, I don't think they can fully respect the way it looks, because it may seem amateur. Regular filmers would be like: "Ah, why is there vignette? And, why is it 4x3? And why is it shaky?" You know? They don't realize you're standing there for, like, three hours with a fisheye. 

Everyone: In the cold!

Dylan: Filming a fucking many. Gloves are on. Toes are freezing. Fucking hell. Yeah.

Frederick: Are you talking about Tjerk? 

Dylan: Um yeah, especially about Tjerk. Tjerk is a fucking beast. He never stops. It's insane. You have to tell him to stop. Otherwise he won't stop. Yeah, he works for a clip for like four hours and you're fucking dead and he's like, ah, next spot, let's go. 

Charles: But it's kind of good as well to have a skater like that because most of the time as filmers, you're like chasing skaters, as if you're trying to herd cats.

Whose video will this end up in? Aaron Tiekink shot by Hugo Snelooper.

Alex: Honestly, I've been taking a different approach with my new video where I approach it more as "let's go skating" and the people that I skate with are down to get clips, without me having to get people motivated to go skating. So I put less pressure on myself when I get home and I don't get a clip or whatever because I just spent a lot of time with my friends, which is why you do it in the first place. The motivation has to come from them, of course. 

Frederick: What made you guys pick up a camera and start to make skate videos?

​Alex: My dad is a hobby photographer, so I would always have cameras around the house. And, ever since I was young, I would just take his camera and take photos. So when I started skating at 11, I think I made my first video a month into skating and I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do. And because my dad was into cameras and stuff, I would have cameras at my disposal and he was really supportive of it too.

Dylan: I mean, for me, I just liked the way skate videos looked. I feel like when you start skating and watching videos, you think "Oh, I wanna be like that when I grow up, with all my homies" and then I realized all my homies don't like filming. But because I could skate pretty well for my age and Instagram wasn't really a thing, I picked up a camera and started filming my homies. I filmed at the skatepark in Dordrecht, I think three years before I even started skating street so I'm pretty hyped that I got to practice at a skatepark first. 

Léa: What is something, like a small detail that you guys think ruins an entire skate video? From a filmer's perspective.

Alex: Oh, I have one, when people cut down the music, but the cut is not perfectly in sync so you can hear that it's been cut. That drives me insane. 

Dylan: I have to think about it though. I don't know, I think skate videos nowadays are pretty boring, I'm not gonna lie. [Alex: honestly, I agree] Man, I don't even watch skate videos at all lately; only things that come out in the Netherlands, or if it's like a skater I already know. Otherwise I wouldn't even click on it.

Charles: What is a video you hate at the moment?

Dylan: Basically, every Supreme video. [Alex: Oh, I love those. You're gonna hate my next video.]

Dylan: No, no, no, I like your filming style. But like, obviously the super zoom in on the face, and then the board, and then the trick, and then the face again. It works but I hate it.

Alex: But the reason why it works is because, since we're talking about how it doesn't resonate to non-skaters as much, it's the people's faces that make up the documentary side of it. That's showing personality and emotions.

Mauro Ruberto and Dylan van der Laan at work during the Waddenzeetour. Photo by Sander Rodenhuis.

Charles: What's your all-time-favorite video?

Dylan: Bombaklats, Spirit Quest for sure. 

Alex: Photosynthesis, Mind Field. Real. I haven't seen that in a really long time. The first Polar video I like it here inside my mind. That video inspired me to think about videos sonically. I loved the details they put in, like the sound effects and the hype of people echoing through in the next clip and stuff. I still do that and I took that straight from Pontus.

Dylan: I'm gonna spoil a little fun fact that I haven't told a lot of people. I think in the first few Polar videos, there's a soundbite that reappears. Yeah, so in every video I made since Nevermind there's a guy that says "Oh, dat is het!", which means "Oh, that's it". So that's every edit I made for Valuta, for Skatestore, for myself, even shit outside of skateboarding, So if you know, you know. 

Frederick: Which filmers do you look up to? 

Dylan: Sami [El Hassani] for sure, Marky [Bolhuis], Sneep, and this guy (Alex) right here. 

Alex: Locally, for me, it was definitely the Bombaklats guys. And there was this video from The Hague that came out when I started skating called Daily Business made by Niels Onderwater. And that's starring, for example, Jamy Holstein, Billy Hoogendijk, Justin Wagener, all people that are my friends now. They dropped the video when I started, and that was the best shit to watch. 

Léa: Yeah, here is a really random question. But, throughout your days of filming, what has been the most common snack that you see skaters bring to a mission?

Dylan: Oh, beer. Carrots and beer. Alex: Jip always has bags of carrots. 

Alex: Bananas? I'd say, yeah, everyone has a banana. I see a lot of carrots recently. People are surprisingly healthy. Nothing crazy, but a lot of beer, for sure. 

Charles: Speaking of commonality, what is the most common excuse for a dude not showing up to a session?

Dylan: Raining, trains, windy, cold. 

Alex: My ankle hurts, I left my shoes at home, and I only have my fucking Birkenstocks. Worst excuse is "I'm chilling with my girlfriend today", but that's also the most legit excuse. 

Charles: So you're both working on the video right now?

Alex: Yeah. Mine is hopefully premiering in June. It kinda depends on some stuff.

Dylan: I'm at 15-20 on the timeline, but I haven't started editing yet. 

Alex: Three years on a 20 minute video, bro? 

Dylan: Hey, I'm not gonna lie. The skaters, they have girlfriends, they study, they have family, a full time job, they go through break ups, they go through depression. 

Alex: Skaters just want to be held bro. 

Léa: So, what is advice you have for beginners who want to get into filming, skating, or filming and editing skating?

Alex: Do it for yourself. That's for sure. Don't expect to get a million views on your videos, like even the best skate videos only get a certain amount of views. 

Dylan: Don't put any pressure on you or your friends when you're filming them. If you're filming a skate video, it might not even reach everyone, you know? There are still different styles and edits. You do you, and go have fun. Whatever you do, don't film any kickflips out of lip slides. That's it. 

Charles: Do you think filming is important to skateboarding?

Dylan: Yeah, what the fuck?

It's more important than skating. 

Alex: I think that's what makes skating beautiful and the reason we still do it as adults is because of filming. I think without filming, it would have just been a sport. And I don't think I would have spent all my waking hours thinking about it. 

Léa: It's actually funny you mention that because, do you think then that filming helps support the narrative that skateboarding is more of a creative expression rather than a sport? Because there's such a debate nowadays.

Alex: I like to compare skating to dancing most of the time. It has a physical aspect to it, but at the end of the day it's about the product you make instead of the goal of winning or whatever. 

Dylan: Well, there's different types of people. Some people just like to skate contests and the audience just wants to see big tricks. I mean, that's sick, I guess, if you're into that, but at the same time, I feel like if I'm watching skateboarding, I like to watch an edit which shows the way people think about skateboarding instead of just a flip front blunt at a contest.

Alex: I feel like street skating is also much more connected to your surroundings. And, even the people that walk past and kick you out of spots adds to the experience of what you're doing. When you get hurt skating in a contest you're just hurt, when you get hurt skating street and it's a pretty hard slam, it's basically as valuable as a clip. A hard slam could be a clip, you know. 

Charles: There's another thing we need to know, what's the story of you wanting to do a backtail at some spot?

Alex: Oh, the back lip? Oh, my god, keep this in. This is lore. I'm gonna need a cigarette for this. So basically there's this spot in the Hague at Paleis Noordeinde, which is just a bench basically and I really wanted to do a back lip there and I'd gone there like three or four times already. At one of the sessions, Dylan was there, so I asked him to film me doing it. I tried it for three hours but didn't land it and then afterwards I went back two more times and still didn't get it. And later someone told me that Mauro did a back lip on that spot and shoved out of it. Like, I've been trying this forever and then they said that Dylan filmed it. And I was like, what the fuck? Because he filmed me trying it the last time, so he must've known. I would've been like, yeah, sure, whatever, then I don't have to do it again.

Dylan: Not cool at all, sorry bro. 

Alex: So like, there was this whole thing, not actual beef, because I was kind of over it anyways. But then, we get to shop riot with the Skate Store guys and the Sparky team pulls up at the same time as us. So, I get out of the car, and I see Mauro walking out. And he screams over the whole compound like "Yo, sorry, bro I'm so sorry!" And I'm like "Yo, it's all good bro!" I didn't really have any hard feelings.

Dylan: I didn't even film it that well, so I'm not even hyped on the clip, to be honest. 

Charles: Who might be the last dude in the Netherlands you would want to have in your video?

Dylan and Alex: Douwe Macare for sure. 

Dylan: He just doesn't fit the video. I mean he is very good at skateboarding. He's even kind of steeze, but it's like, he doesn't fit any video that's not starring himself, you know?

Charles: A Dutch skater you wish you would have in your video?

Dylan: A bunch of Dordrecht homies. But the Dordrecht homies don't skate street. 

Alex: Most of the POP guys. Chima is one of my most underrated Dutch skaters. I would like to film Lars one day. There's a bunch of very fantastic skaters. But, honestly, I prefer filming my friends. Because that keeps the dynamic more natural.

Dylan: Oh, Chima is sick. I feel like, apart from the POP guys and not in an arrogant way, I think we film basically the best skaters in Holland. Like, some of the best. We're just lucky that we have very talented friends. 

Alex: I feel like, in Zuid-Holland, there's much more of a street skating culture than here (Amsterdam). That's basically what skating was for us, you know? 

Dylan: It's also nice to see spots that you have seen in other skate videos, which gives more motivation to skate that spot.

Alex: Yeah, because there's a sort of a benchmark, something to measure yourself with. "Oh, they've done that there?" Not even step it up, but like, how can you interpret these spots, you know? 

Charles: What are the top three things that make a good filmer?

Dylan: Fish eye technique. 

Alex: Patience. Connections.

Charles: What are the top 3 things that make a bad filmer? 

Dylan: Oh, being like "Steady shot on!" and bad music choice. 

Alex: Telling people to stop trying their trick, bro. Demotivating, for sure. 

Charles: What are the names of the videos you guys are working on, respectively?

Dylan: I don't have a name yet.

Dylan and Alex: It will probably just be like "Skate Video 2023" Hahaha 

Léa: And is there anyone you want to give thanks? Throughout your years of filming and editing. 

Alex: Oh, yeah my dad for getting me my first camera and always having my back. Justin Wagener for really taking me under his wing and being the first guy that was really good at skating and wanting to film with me. So really teaching me about street skating and finding spots.

Dylan: Thanks to all of the guys I filmed with. Yeah, Koye, Jip, Mauro for sure. Shoutout to the Dordrecht homies. Big shoutout to Sander de Bree. Big shoutout to Melle van Opstal. Big shoutout to Terrence Henriquez.

Alex: Shoutout Wateringseveld. Shoutout Robbie Sunderman. And The WV, my local skate park crew. 

Dylan: Shout out Skate Park, mass Plaza. Shout out to Sony for making cameras. Shout out to anything that isn't Mob Grip.

Interview by Frederick Walker, Charles Lanceplaine, and Léa Shamaa

Edited by: Léa Shamaa