SACHA POWELL AND TOBY SEGAR
I have been in contact with Parkour for exactly 10 years now. At the start as an athlete and for the past years as a videographer and photographer.
The changes are immense, Parkour is nowadays much more present in the domain of extreme sports than ever before, having a good deal of teams and athletes who are making a great living out of it, travelling all around the globe and working in awesome feature film projects.
For the past decade I’ve been observing the development of the ‘sport’ and it has been a very enriching experience. I never expected parkour (freerunning, the art of movement, …. call it whatever you want, I’m talking about the bigger concept here) to have the changes it has had. I also didn’t expect to see so many impossible things regarding movement be broken. However, one of the most notorious changes has also been in videography, for which I have a natural predilection, which is what I will be mainly focusing on here today and very probably in my upcoming posts.
I’m not completely sure why I am choosing to talk about Sacha and Toby in my first post. I was going with Luis, Sérgio and Carregas a couple more days off to Setúbal in order to finish a promotional parkour video for the city. I was home the night before our departure, trying to get my creativity going for the next few days, when I spontaneously decided to open their recent ‘Parkour in the Holy Land’ series. While I was watching the videos, I realized how interesting it would be for me to write about their videography.
I had the intent of starting a parkour related blog for maybe a couple of years now but somehow I never did. Fortunately this was the push I needed in order to do it.
I think that Sacha and Toby’s path is really interesting to track down.
They’re both really young, although they show an unbelievable maturity in their work. I remember Toby being this really young kid who always trained with Teige and had an incredible technique for his age. I don’t know if Teige had anything to do with Toby’s interest in filmmaking, but I happen to find slight references in Toby’s style which remind me of Teige’s edits. However, the important thing to extract from this is that Toby grew in parkour surrounded by inspiring people which I’m sure helped him to push forward.
As for Sacha, I remember him being that slightly overweight young kid who surprised everyone by having an enourmous technique and skill for his age also. Perhaps he also took some influence out of Callum in order to improve and keep pushing in Parkour.
Alongside all the other members they created an awesome team, Storror, and worked their asses off in order to do what they are doing today. They deserve an enormous credit and should be an example to everyone who dreams of pursuing a similar path. It’s all about work.
Do, do and do some more. Pay attention to the details and always push forward in order to excel yourself. And always enjoy and have fun while doing it.
Firstly, let me put out a concrete fact: These guys have 204 videos on their YouTube channel. Of course there are people doing horrible videos all their lives but these guys have class work (Ok, maybe the first bunch of videos were miles away from the maturity of today, but it’s part of the path). They’ve made 204 videos to date, it’s hard work. Of course they ought to be damn good.
In second place: They’ve tried every format. From training videos, to blog episodes, travel videos, documentary, promotional … you name it. They’ve done it all.
Of course talent has its importance, but there’s a lot more besides that which you can craft and will lead you to doing great work. As you see yourself defied to do lots of different work, you will increase your solutions and come up with lots of creative ways on how to build up a piece.
I remember the first videos of Storror and they had that kind of training/real lifestyle vibe (which nowadays is still a lot present). A bunch of kids having fun jumping walls. Later on, as perhaps their interest in filmmaking grew, we started seeing work with a different finesse.
After making close to 100 episodes of their series, came the Malta videos, which really transfered that training vibe to a much more travel/emotional/uplifting vibe. I’m guessing again, but I think that those trips to Malta might have enlightened them as to what they wanted their future to be, and the massive response they got online was proof that maybe it was possible to achieve it.
In my opinion, when specifically talking about parkour videography, the ‘grey areas’ play a huge role on how good your video will end up being. Of course the better the content (movement, ambience or both) the most likely it’s going to hit, but there is much more to it. I believe that the ‘grey areas’ are what in many cases makes the difference: The things you put in between movement to freshen the eyes of the viewer; That certain cut which is going to surprise everyone; That fierce grading that actually works; The way you use sound to enhance your work; The way you understand the music you are using and know how to take the most out of it. Now, Sacha and Toby know how to do this and are armed with plenty of solutions in order to do it. We’ve seen their editing skills progress a lot over the past couple of years, which culminates with their documentary ‘Storror Supertramps — Thailand’ and their most recent work.
Now this leads us to today, and to the crazy non-stop life they are living at the present.
The Supertramps documentary was a success. I mean, thousands of people paid in order to see what they were up to and it also established their work as a much more serious kind of production. I think that’s maybe why they are insisting on pursuing a similar path in the Holy Land series, because they want to unglue themselves from the youtubers kind of image and establish themselves as a solid filmmaking team, capable of all kinds of work.
Of course they will have a bright and lastly career, but at a certain point its pretty obvious they will start working (as I suppose they already are) for different people and different projects, non-parkour related. And they are proving that they can do it by exploring these more serious and political kind of approaches. It’s smart.
Now lets talk about their latest tetralogy, ‘Parkour in the Holy Land’, and more concretely about episode 3, Parkour on Mars. I didn’t choose to talk about it because I consider it to be their best work, but because it’s where they stand today (maybe not where they will be next week) and ultimately as a sort of a tribute because it lead me into writing.
First of all, I found this video to be the best of the three that were released so far. They saved some cool movement for this one, that’s for sure. I also really liked the grading.
It’s really interesting how Storror’s general movement has a lot of influence from the past while also keeping contemporary and within the demands of what the scene’s path has lead to. The same exact thing happens with their videography. They have all the gear: Drone, Ronin, Glidecam … A7s (I’m not sure if they shot these Israel videos with the A7s II or not), GH4, FS700 … you name it. Yet, their videos are down to earth, non gear-focused, reflect their own very personal style and a tremendous understanding on how to create a piece of sheer work. It’s common to see people go crazy when they have access to gear, leading to a sort of a bad dream of gear overuse. Sacha and Toby use all this paraphernalia in creative and very artistic ways. Their own personal touch is present and is felt.
BREAKING SOME MOMENTS
0:22 — This for me is one of the aspects in which they’re genius. The ‘in betweens’, the moments that define the piece’s pace. We see this a lot nowadays, even in videos made by athletes, they digitally zoom in and out in the middle of shots and in transitions, fast forward and slow down, everything in order to cut the sickness of the viewer. As I am doing right now with you by writing this sentence in bold. Well, they do this but in much more creative ways. And it works. And you just need to add to it some pretty basic sound design.
0:24–1:00 — Notice how we are blinded by a few seconds before being blown away with this monumental drone shot, that lasts for almost 30 seconds. A 30 second shot in a parkour video? Impossible. Well, not impossible, and it fits perfectly. Dudes wandering around, being free and building up what’s about to come.
1:10 — This was perhaps my favorite moment of the entire video. I don’t know why. When Max steps in front of the camera and we feel the pace, that camera shake … well, it tells us shit is about to happen. Genious shake, loved it. And remember, this is presented to us exactly after we saw where the action is going to happen with a slow paced and almost spiritual build-up.
1:22–1:24 — Ok, so the movement is cool and the place is epic, but the background is almost exactly the same and we need to keep our viewer pumped. Solution? Shoot in a transition from drew to max’s face and a drone shot with some fun times. 2 seconds. But yet so important, as all these kinds of moments throughout the video. One thing that I love about their edits is that they never leave time for you to get bored. It’s like going to a restaurant and never having a reason to complain.
1:55 — This is another main thing these two have got going. They use camera shakes like nobody. They just know how to use them in order to create intensity and add rawness to the movement. It’s a spot where videography and movement combine together to create something not possible without one another. And they balance it really well inside the videos.
3:06–3:11 — These are not the best transitions I’ve seen from them, but let me just use this to point out something I value. This is one of the most fun things when editing: Seeing two clips which you feel will make a good transition and go along together, trying it out and actually confirming it works as it’s making you feel something. They do a lot of these transitions and to continuously find them and put them out effectively is something to value as it gives identity to the video and is an evidence of their creativity.
3:29 — Their interest in storytelling is clear. However, this is one of my criticisms towards this new wave they decided to go with and especially towards this last series. They’re telling a story and I’m not feeling it. It’s like an action video and a documentary were both on the same screen and the documentary part is just to link the action stuff, I don’t feel it’s the center of the piece, the purpose. But hey, maybe it isn’t. Or maybe I’m being unfair, which in that case I appologize, but it’s what I feel when watching.
4:09–4:14 — First, notice how the shaky shot gives us the feeling that we are present. They could have glidecamed it (and maybe they just happened to have it handheld at the moment), but the fact that it’s handheld brings you to that moment, softens you before you see this poor dog, who looks like he is suffering. The music is becoming more intense as this woman’s voice spikes our ears. Notice how they let the shot breathe and make its way into our head, reminding us of the tragedy which is the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
4:37 — I don’t know if this is the case, but the shot of pouring the glass reminds me of why I love to film. One of the beauties of going out on a shoot, especially while travelling is the excitement with what you will encounter. You see a lot of handshakes in the series and in my mind I’m thinking they went with it throught the whole trip, knowing that somehow it would be useful on the edit room. They were probably just having some tea, but then it came across that a shot of pouring some tea would somehow look cool. This often happens to me but with pidgeons, I feel like they always fit inside a street edit and I always try and find them.
And I think that’s it, I pointed out some things which caught my eye and even if I’m finding meaning where maybe there isn’t, I think my analysis might be useful to someone out there anyhow.
This is simply how I interpret it and I believe it’s possible to get some insight into pretty decent perspectives regarding the construction of a piece.
Finally, I’ll end up by saying Storror are an example of what a professional team should be. They have a solid brand, solid design, awesome photography and videography, produce creative content and have an adventurous image. And they look like they’re always ready to go!
Huge props for their journey and may we see a lot of them in the future.
All the best,
P.S — I’m sure all the members of Storror have a great influence on all of the videos, I just decided to specify Sacha and Toby because they are always recognized as being the responsibles for the filmmaking. Huge respect to all of you.