Interview: Dom West writes Vine St’s Chapter II

It is hard to believe Vine Street was released five years ago already. Despite its remote location, Australia has always managed to attract some of blading’s brightest talents, and Dom West‘s masterpiece managed to capture the essence of that particular era in the island’s history in a rather flamboyant and unforgettable manner.

Beyond Richie Eisler‘s metamorphosis, which led him to blading stardom and unltimate wizardry, CJ Wellsmore‘s reckless stunts and unmatchable flow, which made it even harder to deny how worthy he was of pro status, or Rian Arnold‘s incredible steeze and technical feet, which became one of the most regretted disappearance on the scene… Beyond the individual prowess, Vine Street was about a group of friends who all shared the same roof, and lived, partied, and bladed the streets of Sydney together, and that’s probably why this video became such a hit worldwide.

Five years later however, people have moved in and out of town, and another gang has assembled and Chapter II was finally announced: Dom West is back at it again, and there is no doubt the much anticipated video will turn into another worldwide success! Needless to say, the excitement building up was more than enough of a reason to have a little chat with Mr West: read on!

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Interview: Freddy White
Photography: Adam Kola

Hey there Dom, thanks for doing this with us mate! Where are you at right now, and how’s life these days? What’s keeping you busy?
Hey Freddy, thanks for getting in touch. It’s great to see you guys keeping Be-Mag going strong after all these years. We need it! Right now I’m living back in Redfern in Sydney, which is where it all started for me in Australia 6 years ago now. I live in a small appartment with my girlfriend along with Adam Kola and his girlfriend. It’s in a pretty central location so there’s plenty to skate and lots to do. As for keeping me busy, I had a slight career change last year and have been working fulltime for a video production company in Sydney, which has allowed me to travel a bit and get paid to do what I love, which has been awesome. In the meantime I’ve been working hard on Chapter II with the boys as much as possible. So overall life is great!

Thanks for the kind words Dom. You’ve made the move back and forth between the UK, where you’re originally from, and Australia, where you seem to have spent the better part of your time in recent years. Where do you feel is ‘home’ nowadays, and what are your personal plans, geographically speaking?
It’s a question I often find myself thinking about. For me, home is where your family and friends are, so of course London is my home. But then at the same time I’ve made such great friends and family here in Sydney that I never find myself feeling homesick. I never really planned on living in Australia long term in the first place, it sort of just happened. So as for the future, I really can’t say. I’m just going to let it happen, but I’m definelty open to living in other places.

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This is one of those spots you see after a few beers and think you can do anything on. Then you skate it and realise the steep downhill run up makes it pretty unskateable. Still, Kola made me topsoul it.

You have been involved with The Booted, and worked on a sweet Aussie section for them. How is the collaboration going, and what’s your overall involvment with the project?
The Booted is run by my good friends Adam Kola and Olly Baker. I remember Kola telling me about his idea for a premium content blading site a couple of years back now and I always said I was down to be involved. When he was ready to launch I sent him a small park edit as that was all I had at the time. They ended up using it for the launch and the site has gone from strength to strength since. When their anniversairy was coming up we had an idea to do something similar so we made the ‘Mates, Beers & Bunnies’ edit with Kola doing some BTS photos. I’d love to do more for The Booted in the future and I’m sure I will once I’ve got this project out of the way.

You were also the first to capture street clips with Haffey for what must have been 3 years. How did that come about and did it feel somewhat special being part of that?
Chris has called Sydney his second home for over a year now since the Nitro Office was here and his girlfriend is from the Northern Beaches. We started talking about f33t one evening in Manly after the trailer had dropped and how it was a shame he didn’t have any clips in it. I let him know that I was down if he needed some help filming, so in the following weeks we went out on a handful of sessions and got it done. As a blade filmer, working with Haffey is definitely something to tick off the list, but at the same time it was just like filming one of the boys as Chris is so down to earth. We did have to think pretty hard spots-wise though as we don’t usually skate Haffey-sized stuff!

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Chris laced about 5 true unitys in a row on this square drop rail before he was happy. This is at the infamous ‘Suicide Towers’ which gets its name from people committing suicide from the top of the building. You’re always guaranteed to get interesting characters coming up and down these steps.

Besides that, we haven’t seen that much of you last year, until you dropped that surprise trailer for Vine 2 on Christmas day. How was 2014 for you, and is there any specific reason you’ve been more discrete last year?
It feels like I’ve been filming more in the last couple of years than ever before. I guess I pretty much drew the line at the start of 2014 saying that any footage that we got would be kept for the video as otherwise it would never get done. Things take longer now too, everyone is working full time with different days off so it’s a constant battle to make the sessions happen. Plus I think it’s way better to spend a couple of years making something that will stand the test of time rather than rush something for the sake of getting it out.

Now let’s get in the thick of it: how is the filming of Vine 2 going? This is arguably one of the most anticipated release in recent history, does it add any pressure to the process?
It’s going really well. Since we dropped the preview it sort of set it in stone that it’s happening, which was needed for both myself and everyone involved. It’s always hard to tell how far from finishing you are as it’s easy to forget what you’ve got already. I’m pretty confident that by the end of the year we will have enough quality footage to put together something worthy. As for the anticipation, it doesn’t really add pressure, more excitement to make something awesome that people around the world can enjoy. It’s cliche to say, but I just want to make something that we can all look at and be proud of and enjoy watching in years to come when we’re too old to do this anymore.

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CJ getting it done at the Block ledges around the corner from Vine St. The Block used to be considered one of the most ghetto parts of Sydney and we barely ever skated there in the Vine St days, despite it only being a minute away. Now it’s pretty chill and is often the warm up spot when we skate the soutside of the City.

With Richie traveling around the world, Bower and Charlie moving back to Europe, people relocating etc., it seems like the cast has evolved quite a bit since Vine St. Who’s going to be featured in the second episode and most importantly, is there any chance Rian Arnold will get a full section?
Things have no doubt changed since the first installment. As great as it would be to have the original cast, the crew is more solid than ever. New recruits include the Scottish enigma that is Alan Dick, who finally came out of hiding after being in Sydney for years. Gav Drumm now lives in Sydney too, who in my opinion was a big piece missing from the Vine St days. He actually lives with Matthias St John now who has also decided to call Sydney home. A lot of the older guys have managed to make an appearance too so hopefully I can get enough footage of them for an OG section. As for Richie, he’s going to try and make it out this year (it’s on Be-Mag now Rich so no backing down!) to catch up with everyone and snag a few clips. Bower, Charlie and Mass are also planning to come at somepoint, hopefully before the year is out! So who knows, we may even have the complete cast featured which would be really cool.

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CJ, Scott Crawford and Josh Pinkus. Pretty much the ideal Bondi session. Scott hadn’t skated bondi in so long that it was acutally just the wooden mini ramp the last time he was there. Somehow he still managed to skate the bowl as if he had for years.

Besides the cast, what would you say are the main differences with the filming of Vine St, over 5 years ago now? What’s the craziest thing that happened while filming so far, best trick laced, funniest story you would want to share?
The main difference would be that we don’t live together under one roof anymore. Although we all miss the Vine St days, everyone is now spread across the City, which means our spot reach is way more extenive. Whether we want to skate the hills around the beaches near CJ and Alan’s, or to the CBD from my place, each area of the city has something different going on, so it’s great to now be able to fully explore each part.

As for craziest things, it’s still early days so I’m sure some of the best stuff is yet to happen, but so far some memorable moments include:

  • CJ gapping Darling Harbour 10 flat 10 first go after a 6 pack of VB and 2 cheese burgers
  • Rian coming out after not skating for months, using someone else’s skates and lacing NBD’s
  • Alan doing Tamarama kink on the busiest day of summer and getting the whole beach to go mental
  • Matt Salerno coming on a 2 week road trip with Haffey and Ivan
  • Managing to avoid getting kicked out of Dan Murphys liquor store while CJ was jumping over their fence, by saying Dan himself gave us permission.

And now that everybody is going to be really excited reading all this, is there any release date as of yet, anything people should look out for in the future?
Nothing is set in stone but I’m going to draw the line on filming at the end of the year. I’ll start the editing before we finish filming and so hopefully I can get things done by the end of January. At least now with digital download there won’t be a waiting time for DVD processing and shipping. Although I’m still planning to make a few hard copies, potentially with a small bit of print to go with it.

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This is from one of the many late night sessions I had with Gav filming for his Create part. Gav always has interesting spots up his sleeve, this one being an escalator inside the main underground station in the City, Wynard.

You can already save one of these for me! Before we close this thing down, let’s talk about the Go Project really quick: you produced the brand’s first video, do you have any further involvment or projects with Jake?
Jake’s a good friend and has always helped me out so I said I’d be happy to edit for him if he needed. Originally we were going to work on a Loco Team edit but the Go Project ended up taking priority. It’s a really interesting business model and the bearings are pretty amazing. Nothing planned at the moment but I’m sure Jake has some cool stuff lined up which I’ll be down to help with.

How’s Gav Drumm’s night section coming along? Is there any release date as of yet?
Gav and I finished the section up at the end of last year. Skating in white M12s in the City at night is pretty timeless footage so we figured we’d wait until the time was right to drop it. It was really fun to make as Gav always has cool ideas and is fully involved with the production side of things.

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This spot is outside mine and Kola’s place and isn’t really a spot actually. Fortunately Gav is really good at making something out of nothing. He drove a green wheely bin from his place on the other side of town to lace the launch to True Top Acid as seen in his Create frame launch edit.

Any last words of wisdom you want to share with the world, shoutouts and thank you’s?
Thanks to you Freddy and everyone involved with keeping Be-Mag running. Thanks to all the boys in Sydney who are working hard on the project, to Kola for taking the pics and to my girlfriend Katie for being supportive.

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