Can you introduce you??

WILLIAM SPENCER : Hi it’s me William Spencer 😉

Since when do you practice skateboarding?

WILLIAM SPENCER : My older brother was really good at skateboarding so I skated for a few years starting when I was around 9 years old. I stopped for a while and then really started up again at the very end of high school. In between I was practicing flips in the woods at my house & on our trampoline. Plus I practiced martial arts from when I was 10-14 and earned a black belt in that time.

Please tell us about your most recent project.

WILLIAM SPENCER : Block Attack is a 1980’s period piece little mini short film about a video game that doesn’t exist. I think in the easiest terms it’s probably like Tetris meets Mario Brothers with some Frogger thrown in. The story of it is about a video game designer getting this game on a Friday night from his boss. Basically the game has been botched and his boss needs him to fix the glitch in it by Monday.  And so he spends the weekend working on the game and once he fixes it, he redesigns and revolutionizes it too. It’s celebrating the guy who made the game, who put in the work and the movement tells the story of this game going from boring “Blocks” to the cooler version of itself, “Block Attack.”

How did you come to the idea of this film?

WILLIAM SPENCER : I saw something online that said Mario Bros parkour but it was just the guys doing parkour in Mario Bros outfits, so I wanted to fully commit to making a video game as practically as I could (movement-wise).  I watched a lot of Damian Walters videos and he does a lot of things that are impressive, like Jackie Chan-style stuff where it’s very intricate and clever movement that really translates, but he’s mastered being in a gym & landing on pads and not concrete, and I thought that was really smart since I spend my time skateboarding with no pads. I wanted to capture the entertainment value of the super-human element Damian Walters has; it’s that same element of video games where the character can jump higher & further than you ever could in real life. So this idea developed from those things and I wanted to incorporate the element of skateboarding where you’re catching something that’s moving or on the run since skateboards never stay still. So I made the blocks that element. So it’s parkour on things that are moving, which was the next step for me and I thought that would be a good way to push myself forward.

Are you gonna make other movies?

WILLIAM SPENCER : The thing I like about the sensation of skateboarding is it feels like a moving island to me. When you’re on it you’re immediately on a personal adventure. Your level of control when you’re walking down the street is such that you can do it and almost be certain that you’re not going to fall down; there’s a consistency and kind of a comfort there that you’re good enough at it and don’t have to worry. But as soon as you step on a skateboard, all of that changes and it’s all out the window & anything can happen. With skateboarding it’s a rare thing to really do something perfectly or correctly and land it but the feeling that you get from it when it actually works out is priceless. It feels like I’m controlling something that otherwise seems out of control.

What are the sensations that you love in the skateboard?

WILLIAM SPENCER : For me the coolest feeling with parkour is that once you get even remotely consistent at it, you get that feeling that those monkeys at the zoo have swinging between tree branches or making a huge leap. They don’t seem scared of it and it seems fun and comfortable and what’s not to like about that? Parkour for me is a more grounded feeling where I feel more like a monkey or an animal: controlled but also very much enjoying it and not having to worry about the inconsistency of a skateboard on my feet.

What are the sensations that you love in the parkour?

WILLIAM SPENCER : For me the coolest feeling with parkour is that once you get even remotely consistent at it, you get that feeling that those monkeys at the zoo have swinging between tree branches or making a huge leap. They don’t seem scared of it and it seems fun and comfortable and what’s not to like about that? Parkour for me is a more grounded feeling where I feel more like a monkey or an animal: controlled but also very much enjoying it and not having to worry about the inconsistency of a skateboard on my feet.

What are the sensations you love when you put them together?

WILLIAM SPENCER : From when I started it’s been only a natural progression of me and a skateboard and things that I like to do.  I learned a lot from my dad, who could do so many things well that he could do anything he wanted to, like being a Swiss army knife, so I didn’t realize we should draw lines in the sand like that. I just started skateboarding in a way that I felt like I wanted to, to express myself.  The first 5 or so years that I skateboarded and made video parts, I didn’t know parkour existed. It wasn’t until people who did it came to me and said, “oh you’ve been mixing parkour with skateboarding” that I thought of it that way.
I like the contrast between sensations and the ultimate mixing of the two b/c I feel perfectly in control at some point, and perfectly out of control at some other point, and the two together make sure that I don’t get bored. Each makes the other more difficult so that it’s basically my quest to not be bored and to make up new stuff all the time. To keep that childlike feeling of when you’re a kid and everything is new. If you’ll continue to combo things you think you already know into each other, or make combinations of other things with them, you’ll find yourself constantly evolving and getting better, seeing the differences between the two and the opposites and then just kind of mixing and matching until you get something that looks visually cool.

Who did you train with?

WILLIAM SPENCER : As a kid in grade school I used to climb on tops of the playgrounds and get in trouble for walking on the outside rails on or hanging upside down from things really high off the ground, so I think I was doing it all along. When you see my original skateboard videos like Hollorado & Burning Daylight, I had no idea what parkour was, so in those you’re watching me push myself so hard & scream at myself because I’m doing an experiment or a test on myself to see if I can do these things and live.
By the time I met my friends Daniel Ilabaca, Tim Sheiff, Paul Darnell, James Kingston, Scott Bass, Phil Doyle and all these guys who I met and they said “yeah, you do parkour” and it was kind of me looking over my own shoulder and saying “who are you talking about?” I kind of went “ok if I’m doing this and there are people who actually practice it, what skillset do they have that I don’t have from not practicing?” So I started training with Daniel and Phil, traveled around with Daniel b/c he teaches a lot of parkour. After spending a summer in Europe with him, I was able to train the skill sets of all the things I didn’t know could be consistent b/c they look really crazy. One of the biggest things I learned from Daniel is that anything he could do that was impressive, he could do every try and he could do it right now, whereas a lot of stunt people I’ve met in Hollywood (though they’re all really safety conscious b/c they want long careers), they’re not comfortable on concrete the way they are in a gym. And that was a cool thing that reminded me of skateboarding.
I was super impressed with Daniel b/c he was that good but comfortable too. Not holding his breath and closing his eyes, but someone who was genuinely having fun while doing parkour and that is what I loved about Daniel is that he wasn’t doing it to impress me, he was doing because it was fun, and that’s how I always approach skateboarding. Those experiences showed me a completely different, new level of consistency with everything, and that pushed me to realize that you don’t have to be ballsy to do these things (though that does come in handy) but you can develop consistency with what you’re doing so it’s manageable and not a huge risk factor all of the time. You can be so well practiced that other people pushing themselves is you on a Tuesday having fun b/c you’ve already gone through all the steps that they’re going through when they only try it once in a while (to impress themselves).

What are the challenges to being a skateboarding stuntman/stunt doubling?

WILLIAM SPENCER : Usually I have to do something that’s either hard to practice, a situation I haven’t been in before, or be in a costume that I’ve otherwise never trained with and it’s thrust on me right before I do something. The expectation is that “you’re so good you could do anything” so “let’s add 50 lbs. and a backpack to you!” One of the hardest things is to be in those situations last minute. All these extra hazards that no matter foresight you have or practice with the stunt coordinator or talking about how the stunt should go, it always seems to happen at 4 in the morning after everything else is done and I’m last up and they want me to do something that I’d be so impressed with in real life to ever have done, and they expect me to now do it in 2 or 3 tries.

What is the next project for you?

WILLIAM SPENCER : Redbull just released a mini-documentary about me as the first episode in their new series “Out of Frame”, I starred in a short film called “Two Bellmen” for Marriott International, and am finishing up a piece I co-directed and performed in for Fiat, which will release on the SOH YouTube channel soon. Working on some skate projects too of course, and hopefully more film work & more adventures on the horizon.

Do you want to say anything else? 

WILLIAM SPENCER : What I love about French culture is that there’s an attention to detail that I inherently grasp and I enjoy, even the questions asked in this interview (how does this feel vs. how does that feel). I appreciate it b/c it’s not Americanized. America is “tell me the good part, cut to the chase immediately, fast food feed me an answer I want to hear and then I would like to leave”. In France I feel that people take the time to express and that there’s an artistic nature to most things. From my perspective it looks that way and it feels like there’s appreciation for art and that people are paid to be an artist and they’re trusted to be an artist. In America, you get paid to be an artist but not trusted to be an artist. People don’t trust you to do your thing, they’ll see the things that you’ve made, enjoy them, bring you on a set and then sure enough they’ll tell you how to do what you already do. I really appreciated the French suit company that I worked on a video for (Beau by Aksel Paris) because they brought me in and said, “do your thing in our suit.” And I went “yeah but what’s the catch?” And they had an idea but trusted me to be me and fill in the blanks and that’s what I appreciate and feel from my perspective that French culture appreciates artists and pays them to be that, not pay them and them tell them what to do, so that’s cool.





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