One of the biggest and most important parts of keeping up with BMX and running this site is communication. There are a lot of people involved in BMX that are good to keep up with, especially the guys who are making things happen. Over the past two or so years, one guy who I have always stayed in contact with is Paul Robinson. Paul’s name might look familiar because he’s been a huge driving force behind a lot of the projects you have seen between Wethepeople, Eclat and Almond. I mean, who do you think has been in charge of getting the Eclat team all around the world lately? Between all of his different roles he handles on a day-to-day between all of the brands, Paul is also a really talented photographer, which he will never admit to. I figured if you wanted to get a better understanding of just what it’s like to work in the industry, I think his job would be one that’s good to look at to understand that you need to be on your stuff and versatile enough to handle anything that comes your way. Let’s get to know this guy a little better…
Photo: Andrew White
Alright, so let’s kind of kick things off here. What’s new with you? Seems like you have been pretty much non-stop since you took your job with Wemakethings a few years back.
Yeah, every day there’s something new, seriously. It’s good like that though, I wake up and it’s full on till the evening, I prefer it though, I can’t sit tight for too long.
Incase somebody isn’t really familiar with your role is with Wethepeople, Eclat, Almond and We Make Things… Could you kind of give us a brief “this is what my ‘job title’ is so to speak”?
I’m in charge of the marketing at we make things (which means I do the marketing for brands like wethepeople, éclat and almond) and I also take care of around 20+ riders. For people that didn’t know, we make things is the same guys who started wethepeople and the offices are based in Cologne, Germany as they have been for like 15 years or so. I spend about 70% of my life behind a computer screen and the other 30% on the road due to being the T M for Eclat.
You and the Éclat team recently spent some time in Hong Kong, right? How did that trip go?
That trip was mind boggling actually, I mean going anywhere is a plus but sometimes the further you go the crazier it gets and the more it opens it your mind. It’s never a dull moment traveling with the éclat team too, those guys are all the perfect travel companions, I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of friends. The trip was kind of a gamble actually, we knew nothing of Hong Kong street riding and the weather looked completely spontaneous, I was sort of keeping quiet incase the whole thing was a disaster haha. Luckily the sun came out and so did the spots.
I feel like the production value of Eclat’s videos have been so good the past few years between all of the trip videos like the Free and Sleezy project and everything. How involved with the film work do you get?
The free and sleazy stuff was all filmed and edited by Will Evans. He’s amazing, such a good head for filming, so much you can recognize his style anywhere.
For me I’ve always been into filming and photography, I studied photography at college where I learnt to develop film in darkrooms like in the old fashioned days, haha. From there it sort of became a part time hobby. I would never call myself a photographer, I just see things I like; compositions, buildings, people and I like to snap them. I’d never do a paid job or commission or anything, I wouldn’t know what I was doing. I just like taking photos.
Photo: Joe Bailey
Was having the opportunity with Wemakethings really an opportunity for you to kind of focus on doing that kind of work which helped you get to the level you are at? Do you think your photo work would be where it is today if you never got into the BMX industry?
I know what you mean, but I still just think of photography as a hobby. It’s a gap filler at times, like when I’m sat on curb watching someone get a clip for like an hour I’d rather be doing something productive than just sat there watching. If I wasn’t doing this job I’d still be taking photos, and they wouldn’t be any better or worse, they would just be taken around Leeds I imagine, haha. My job has just given me endless opportunities to take photos in other areas of the world, but it’s still work and its still endless hours in front of a lap top or driving, editing etc. For me this job was an opportunity to put into practice a head full of ideas.
Speaking of the different series, you have been the producer behind the Natives series with the team. What has gone into getting these videos done? I’d imagine you have been hopping on a lot of flights back and forth from the U.K to the U.S lately.
The idea came about just before Christmas, I was looking at doing something with the team that could be interesting and insightful but also not so time consuming or end up being a huge cost problem. As it turns out I got the whole thing done in about 12 days with the help of Scott Macmenamin. I got a plane to Portland, a plane to Nashville, a plane to Philly and then we drove to Boston and back. It was tight but it worked out really well and all the guys worked hard to get clips before hand. I came away with about 3 hard drives of content and there’s an endless amount of unused footage.
Have you been handling the filming and editing or is there other guys you trust to handle the projects. I’d imagine having guys like Darryl Tocco on the team has been a huge help?
Yeah, I did the first two with Nathan and Shane, the others I did with Scott, it was a lot of directing, and we both filmed over a terabyte of footage I think. Darryl is a pro haha, whens he got to ride, he rides, when he films, he films, I don’t think he rarely mixes. Darryl is a great help though in general and has helped on a few projects for WMT in the past.
What kind of camera gear are you working with these days? What are some of the “must have” essentials you bring on every trip with you?
I carry a canon 600d, it does the job in the capacity I work in, I’m not a digi nerd or anything, I don’t know shit about them. I have a love hate relationship with digital when it comes to still photography, I just love film still I guess, I grew up with it and I love the idea of not knowing if the photos going to be ok or not based on how I’ve set it up. I also always carry a Nikon instamatic and my iPhone 5 which you gotta admit, takes some sick photos.
Do you have a dream setup at all or are you pretty content with what you are working with these days?
My girlfriend just bought me an Olympus OM-1 so I’m all good, it’s all I need, that and some rolls of film.
Back to the Natives thing, how many videos do you have left in the series? When can we expect to see those popping up?
Four down, two to go. Geoff or Sean next. Sean’s is a belter, I really can’t wait for this one, just some of the stuff he talks about haha.
Do you have any other projects lined up for Wethepeople and Almond at all?
This coming year will be different, that’s all I can say. It’s time to change things up I feel and create some new and interesting projects.
I know there’s been a lot of discussion about proper filming techniques over the years online. What kind of key things do you think more people should focus on when it comes to BMX videos?
Well, every time I pick a camera up to film I worry about how its going to look, every time. For me I always try to keep the rider in the center haha, I’d rather hit a wobble than cut someone’s head off. I think videos these days get slated a lot for the style of filming, which I do see as harsh, especially if it’s a bunch of kids and they just are just hungry to film, they put a lot for hours in and some tit slates them on the comments. However, if we didn’t have those kids saying those things maybe todays BMX filmers wouldn’t try as hard to get it right, and maybe our videos would all be terrible. Filming is an art, but arts subjective, so who the fuck knows anything about anything.
Since you’re always on the move. What’s next for you travel wise? I can imagine with it being summer there won’t be much down time for you.
I’m actually taking it easy until like March next year, I just spent some time in Nashville though with Nathan and Shane and we filming a few things here and there. I love that place, always fun and they always show me the best hipster coffee houses they have to offer.
What’s a “typical day” like for you these days? How do you handle managing the team, film projects, staying involved with the overall brand image and all the other projects the Wemakethings family toss your way?
Days are always different because there is always a lot of different projects going on, I tend to work on social media stuff in the AM, updating posts, contacting riders, emails etc and then get stuck in to a project in the PM. Every day is different though and I often find myself chasing emails or out on the road.
You recently took a bit of a vacation after the Hong Kong trip, right? What did you end up doing? Do you get much of a “vacation”? What’s a guy who experiences the world on a regular basis do with some freedom to do whatever in a foreign place?
Yeah, my girlfriend flew over and after the trip we just relaxed, there’s a ton of beaches in Hong Kong and amazing places to eat so we took it all in and had a blast.
I can imagine the past few years have been a bit of a blur from all the jet lag and wild nights out with the team guys. What are 3 of your favorite places you have had the chance to go?
Shanghai, it was filthy, cheap and full of people. Loved it. San Francisco is one of top places to go too, oh and Portland, I have a lot of love for Portland.
Where are a few of the places you haven’t experienced but want to go at some point?
Everywhere haha, I’d love to see Canada at some point, I’ve heard good things. It’s funny but my family always ask where I’m going next as if I work for a TV travel program and I can just pick where I want to go, but as a team manager I have to be sensible in my decisions. Hong Kong was a gamble but it paid off, I don’t think I would gamble on places like India though, there has to be a scene or some possibility of a city to inspire me to take a team there. If it was 2 riders and myself then maybe, but with a team, it’s a lot of money and these guys still want to ride a waxed ledge like they do every single day at home haha.
What kind of advice do you have for the people out there looking to get into being a team manager or even just a photographer or a filmer and editor in the BMX industry?
You need to love BMX really, because it’s not for everyone. I am not openly saying that if you don’t ride you cant do this type of job, but it helps enormously. I don’t think I could stand being on a roadtrip with a bunch of mountain climbers if they spent 11 hours walking round a bunch of mountains looking for the right wall to climb, but because I ride I have no problems riding till dark with a team of riders to make an edit. The same goes for filming too, the 5 minute section or video part wasn’t filmed in 5 minutes, it’s hard work but if you ride then you love it and you dedicate so much time to it.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what you might be doing if you never ended up with this job? Care to take a few guesses?
Before I did this I was editing a magazine called Shut, I worked really hard on it but I just couldn’t sell ads. I wasn’t ‘that’ guy, ha. I hope that I would have been able to see that threw or maybe that would have taken me further.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m so obsessed with today I really couldn’t even begin to think about what’s going to happen in 5 years, as long as I’m still smiling doing this type of shit, then I don’t mind. If I end up grumpy and complaining about kids in BMX then shoot me, seriously, I hate that in people.
How can people keep up with you these days? Are you on Instagram, Twitter and all that social media stuff?
@dethrays on the instagram and @mr_prob on the tweeterings. I also have a little website with a few of my photos on it – Dethrays.com
What’s the last song you heard, movie you watched and website you visited?
I can’t get that Wicked Lady song out of my head from Ty’s section, last movie was probably Beasts of the Southern Wild which is incredible and I urge anyone to go watch it. Last website was YouTube watching Harrymania, haha.
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks to BMX, you are all right…
Anything else you want to say?
I have to work now.