Corinium - Decimal Skate Store video and interview


To mark the 16-year anniversary of Decimal Skate Store first opening their esteemed doors, last year James Harris partnered up with the Cirencester based retail operation in order to bring you their debut video release, Corinium. Filmed primarily in around Gloucestershire, Corinium (that’s ‘Cirencester’ in Olde English, in case you were wondering) serves as a long overdue introduction to the prolific Decimal squad through the lens of Mr Harris. Having premiered back in December, today we're proud to host the online release of the video, along with am exclusive chat with James and Decimal proprietor, Gaz Parsons. Have a read below to find out more about the shop, the video, and the scene in and around Cirencester, and if you like what you see, please grab a physical copy of Corinium on USB and support these fellas' hard work!


Web: www.decimalstore.com

Insta: @decimalskatestore


Gaz Parsons, escaping Decimal temporarily in order to pivot some Gloucestershire bricks. Photo: James Harris.


So then Gaz, can you give us some background to your story please? Where in the world are you from, and when did you and skateboarding first cross paths?

Gaz: I grew up in Lechlade, a small town in Gloucestershire. I started skating when I was about 14 on a friends board, until I managed to buy a battered old complete. It was actually Blueprint’s first board, the cathedral one, in 1994. There was nothing much to skate, but we made the most of a kerb in the local car park, before getting the council to put in a small concrete park. Good early memories for me was going to the éS Demo at Radlands, and watching (Dave) Mackey crook a massive rail in Birmingham, at what I think was the King of the Street contest in the late 90s.

 

When did the idea to establish a skate shop present itself to you? From first theorising about it, to opening Decimal’s doors for the first day of business, how long did the whole process take?

Gaz: I spent five years in Coventry studying Sports Science and become more of a local, rather than part of the Uni circuit, staying after to work in Kong when it was a core skateshop, and skating the Cov streets as much as possible. I ended up running out of money and having to move home to try and figure out what I was actually going to do. I had always toyed with the idea of opening a skateshop. After working in a warehouse for just over six months I was looking to convert to physiotherapy, take the plunge. Instead, I somehow convinced the bank manager to give me a £20k loan to start the shop. It would have probably made more sense to open in Swindon or Cheltenham, but I always struggled to get out of the sticks as a kid, so Cirencester became the choice town to provide what we never had! Here we are, 16 years on; it seems crazy just saying that!


Over the green and into the red (bricks); Andy Coleman takes the plunge. Photo: Leo Sharp.


How would you describe the Cirencester scene back when the shop first opened? How do you think things have changed over those 16 years?

Gaz: The scene was like most sleepy Cotswold towns - a tight group of locals making the most of the car parks, and some ramps out the back of a youth centre. I spent the first three years listening to people: “Why have you done this in Ciren? You won’t last!” Guess what? Gaz won (laughs)!
 Within the first year I helped get a metal park put in the town, and straight away spent the next ten years working towards Cirencester skatepark. I was a ‘go-getter’ back then (laughs). The aim was always for Decimal to be the hub of support for Gloucestershire skaters. To deliver a landmark skatepark in the Cotswolds to link all the local surrounding small town scenes. Some say I created the scene with the shop and parks. I think I basically made a massive noise in the small council, played the game and chomped through red tape to give us what we now have, something I am super proud of!

 

Who has been your most famous customer?

Gaz: Apparently it’s the bearded dude from The Walking Dead, but I never recognise him when he comes through. Other than that, over the years we’ve had Dom Jolly, Sharron Davis, Anne Robinson, and the Hairy Bikers too.
 


Photos: Josh Perrett.


Which single local do you think has put in the most lurking hours over the years?

Gaz: Tom Gill will forever hold this title for his serious commitment and hours put into lurking during the early years. Good times for sure!

 

Ty Sackey hardflips a Gloucester gem. Photo: Leo Sharp.


Give us your favourite ‘it could only happen in a skate shop’ comedy anecdote from over the years please.

Gaz: Ah, my memory isn’t the same these days, but it still amazes me that American tourists who come to Cirencester, a fair few times a year, expect to buy weed at the local skate shop. It also amazes me how shocked and put out they seem when they can’t! Maybe I am blowing it (laughs).

 

How did you and James first meet? And when did the idea for you both to work towards a full-length video present itself to you?

Gaz: I am not actually sure when it first was, but he was always filming with Andy Coleman, so maybe when James was filming for Little Paradise. Since making the shop work where it apparently shouldn’t, and getting what I still see as one of the top ten outdoor parks in the ground, the last thing for me was to release a shop video. A few have made a start and tried over the years, but with my skaters being all over the place, it just never came to fruition. So when James came to me saying he was going to make it happen, I just gave him free reign of the project and wished him luck organising them all (laughs). I also think because of James’ previous videos, the team saw what we could end up with and got fully behind it! 
It’s humbling what James and the team have done for me, in just the hours, the miles, the petrol and persistence. I am going to be forever hyped on Corinium, and all of them!

 

Salvatore with the regs heels, Whittaker coming through with the switch. Photos: Leo.


So James, you’ve obviously spent the last decade documenting skating, though you’re closely linked to Bristol. How have you ended up making a video for a shop in Cirencester?

James: Good question, and one that (Dan) Magee also asked me the other day! It’s all thanks to Andy Coleman and Scott Whittaker.

I’ve been filming and skating with Andy since 2010, which has given me a strong

connection with Decimal and Gaz throughout the years. I remember filming various bits

with Andy for one of the early attempts at a Decimal video, which never came to

fruition. I don’t know if he remembers it or not, but Gaz gave me a signed copy of In

Search of the Miraculous for contributing footage...I’ve still got it!

Scott and I have been filming for various edits since 2016, and after we finished Daylight

at the start of 2020, I felt like I wanted to work on something with a little more weight to it. I pitched the idea of filming a Decimal edit to Scott, Ricky and Gill, and it snowballed from there!

 

Ender check. Photo: James Whitlock.


Am I correct in thinking you now work in film production? How did things progress from filming skating with your friends, to taking on commercial work? Do you support yourself from your camera work these days?

James: I do indeed; I work for a creative agency called Harleys. I’m part of the film team there and we create content for clients such as Saab and Ericsson, so it’s quite a big jump from skateboarding!

I’ve been extremely lucky in that I fell straight into a video job for a book publisher the

day that I finished university in 2012, then a few years later I ended up putting videos

together for a cancer journal, before landing at Harleys three and a half years ago.

So, the world of commercial video work has never been strange to me. It’s given me lots

of brilliant opportunities – but nothing beats begging a security guard to give you five

more minutes at trying to get a trick on film in the freezing cold (laughs)!

 

How do you think that your commercial filming work has affected how you approach filming skating? Similarly, do you think that your filming of skateboarding has given you an advantage in the commercial sector?

James: Definitely. I’m very conscious of the composition of my footage, and I’m always thinking

about the edit whilst I’m shooting. I find that this approach gives me a head start at the

problem solving that we all must do when we’re editing videos, which stems from my

day job. I was on a shoot in Australia with work just before Covid and we hired out a few

additional cameras for the job we were on, one of them being the Blackmagic Pocket 6k

Cinema Camera.

I love the look and feel of Blackmagic cameras, and I felt that the size of the Pocket 6k

would be perfect for filming skating. It works very well with the Eazy Handle and you

can customise the rig nicely. When I got home, I immediately bought one for myself and

decided to shoot Corinium with it. It hasn’t let me down!

Filming skateboarding is very much a run-and-gun affair, where you’re constantly

thinking on your feet (pun intended), so I’ve been able to adapt to change quickly.

I’ve also integrated skateboarding into my day job on several shoots where a dolly and

track isn’t practical, which has been an advantage. I always keep a board in my car just

in case I need to jump on it for situations like this.


Callum Croft with a decking to decking switch frontside flip. Photo: Leo


From start to finish, how long did Corinium take to film? Also, do you know the first and last clips that were filmed?

James: Corinium took around a year and a half to film. I haven’t got my hard drives plugged in as I type this, but I think the first clip was shot in either May or June 2020 and the last clip would have been at the end of October 2021.

The first clip that was filmed for the video was Sal’s heelflip at one of the churches in

Cirencester, which pops up in the intro of the video.

I just had to go back through our group chat to see the last pin we dropped; it looks like

the last clip was Ed’s boardslide 270 on the blue flatbars in Swindon.

 

Being a father, having ‘real world’ work on, and filming a skateboard video…that’s a lot of plates to be spinning. Give us your secrets for successful time management please!

James: I can tell you wholeheartedly that this video was the most organised skateboarding video I’ve ever worked on. Ed, Gaz, Andy and I are all parents, so we need sufficient warning before attempting to hit the cobbled streets of the Cotswolds and beyond!

Every week I’d check all the variables of my life and then mark down my work shoots,

Decimal filming days and of course days where I’d be spending time with my family on

my kitchen calendar and on my phone.

I remember Andy saying to me that he found it quite funny that these days we’re

planning our lives so far in advance compared to people who don’t have children. I

wouldn’t change it for the world!

This approach worked, though! It got everyone fired up on the WhatsApp group in

anticipation for our next filming missions. Planning spots in advance saved so much

time.

 

Photos: Leo.


The whole video was filmed straight through the pandemic. How did this affect the production of Corinium? Either in positive or negative ways…

James: Firstly, the quieter streets meant for easier filming sessions where we would rarely get kicked out of spots, plus there was a brilliant DIY spot in Stroud that was a pandemic project for a few of the local skateboarders there. Massive thanks to the crew that made that spot happen – you know who you are!

The December 2020 lockdown was a blessing in disguise for this video. Although we

didn’t film anything during that period, I was able to spend the time editing the material

I had at that time and played with several approaches and directions that I thought the

video could go in. When the restrictions were finally lifted, it got everyone really fired

up to go filming again... plus the weather was much more pleasant!

So, all in all, I’d say it impacted the video in a positive way.

 

Working on a project such as this means that you’re spending large portions of time hanging around in the streets. Give us some memorable ‘behind the scenes’ tales that took place whilst you were filming Corinium please…

James: Tom Gill’s slam towards the beginning of the video was awful. The way he bent his knee made us all feel sick. He’s had to go through a lot of physio work and rest to get himself walking again properly, let alone skating on it. Sal also did the exact same thing in Stroud, but he should hopefully be heelflipping everything again soon.

I didn’t include Sal’s knee jerker in the video as I thought that would be a bit too much

horror for everyone to endure. You could probably get your school compass out and

find a perfect right angle on the bend of both of their legs.

Another great memory was our day trip to Minehead. It was just after the Olympics and

I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone who walked past us stopped and was

genuinely interested as to why we were there and wanted to hear all about the project.

It was wonderful to hear a lovely couple tell us that the sights and sounds of us skating

brought back fond memories of their son first stepping on a board thirty-something

years ago. They must have spent over an hour watching us film.

Callum’s switch frontside flip ender was probably my fondest memory, though. James

Whitlock took us to a massive five block in a school in Bath and I immediately thought

that this would be one for Callum, as he loves chucking his carcass down a variety of

drops and gaps.

As soon as he landed that trick, I knew it had to be the ender. The way that everyone ran

towards him was so beautiful to witness in person, you could feel the electricity in the

air as soon as he rolled away! All that anyone wanted to do was to hug him and

celebrate, but he was covered in blood from all the slams he’d taken.

Whitlock also shot such a great sequence of that trick, which I can’t thank him enough

for.


Chris Jenkyn-Watkins locks in on a bank to front crook. Photo: James Harris.


How did you arrive at the decision to arrange the footage into montages? In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of montages, as opposed to individual rider parts?

James: Looping back to my previous answer, I knew that Callum’s switch frontside flip needed to be the ender. However, I didn’t want to put pressure on him or anyone else to film full parts or have the pressure of being the last part. I wanted this video to feel very much like a team effort, and when you’re deep into filming a project it is always the case that some people have more footage than others. I didn’t want to single people out, it

seemed unfair to me.

So, I created montages that feature three or four people in each part, which I felt gave a

collaborative feel to the video and allowed for a healthy mix of styles, spots and tricks.

However, the traditional approach of showcasing each person in their own section is a

tried and tested method and allows you to become emotionally invested in the time and

effort that an individual has put in to document their skating. Obviously, this takes

longer to do, but the payoff is huge.

In my opinion both approaches work, it depends fully on the style of video you want at

the end of it. I feel that the montage approach to Corinium lends itself to the theme of

working together to create something that we can all be proud of.

 

Ollie Trott and his backside flip clear all sorts of defensive measures, and some stairs too, whilst James documents the lot in the background. Photo: Leo.


Tell us about the archive footage that rounds off Corinium please. Is that yours? I’m assuming that’s meant to link back to the Cirencester scene back when Decimal opened?

James: The archive skate footage was shot by Arthur Loveday in 2005/2006, and to my

understanding that was the first attempt at a Decimal video. I managed to get hold of the raw footage in the winter of 2020 and sat on it for a while before figuring out how to

work it in to the video.

I wanted to showcase the history of Cirencester and the heritage of Decimal within the

town for the last 16 years. It took me a while, but I managed to track down some

archival audio and video recordings of Cirencester from an old Cotswold tour guide VHS

tape that perfectly matched the look and feel of the old DV clips.

I then spliced all of this archival material together to bookend the video, emphasising

how much of a cornerstone Gaz and Decimal are to the area and to UK Skateboarding. 


I'm sure it's been mentioned elsewhere that Corinium is dotted with nods to your influences; is there any truth in that? If so, which filmers or videos have you referenced, and how did you go about working them into the final edit?

James: With Corinium, I wanted to make it feel like the skateboarding videos that I grew up watching. They had a huge impact on the way that I put skateboarding videos together, so I thought that it was only right to pay homage to the people that have influenced me the most.

Saying that, the intro track is taken from Layer Cake. I love that film a lot, it has always been a favourite of mine and I’ve wanted to use that Stones track on something for a long time. It worked perfectly for the intro in terms of setting the tone and feeling of the rest of the video.

The second section with Gaz, Gill, Andy and Ricky features a track by The Champs. This is a blatant nod to Hold Tight Henry and my favourite edits of his, Uncommon Places. The whole thing is beautiful, and his music choice is so great with this video, I hadn’t heard anything like this on a skateboarding video before and I wanted to give Henry a nod in Corinium for all the help and guidance he’s given me over the years.

Following on from that, the Sway track in Ty, Chris and Ed’s section is another hark back to one of my favourite Blueprint edits and Magee’s influence on the way in which I piece and cut things together. The Visit Tour edit is cut so well and I remember being in awe when it came out. I must have been sixteen at the time, but it had such an impact on me.

Before anyone calls me out for breaking ABD laws, I did reach out to Henry and Dan for their approvals on all of this. I’m not setting out to bite anyone’s style… even if I did obviously time everything shot for shot with the Sway track! Ha!

The final few references in the video are the cuts between the decaying floor at Victoria Rooms just after Callum’s two lines there and the hip spot in Gloucester just before Ollie’s backside 360. This was a subtle editing reference to the shots I had in Little Paradise to show the textures of the spots that serve as segways from one spot to the next.

There’s also a match cut between Scott in a warehouse and then Scott in the same exact position under the M32. I fucking love Ari Aster’s films and in every film of his there’s a match cut in a similar way to this. It’s a blink-and you’ll-miss-it bit of homage, but it’s in there nonetheless.

 

You also managed to host a traditional premiere at The Cube, Bristol. How was the premiere night for you both? What are your everlasting memories from the evening?

Gaz: Pretty surreal to say the least! I don’t think it has really sunk in yet as to what we have achieved with the film, and what it meant to a lot of people. Answering these questions has made me reflect after serving December’s craziness in the shop. For me just looking into the crowd at the start before the showing, just seeing all the faces - old and new - that have supported the shop over the years. Was a heart-warming night for sure!

James: Well, the premiere nearly didn’t happen! Gaz and I received an email the day before the premiere from our host at The Cube saying that he’d been in contact with someone who’d tested positive for Covid, which meant that they weren’t going to be there. It all worked out in the end, but those few hours of waiting for cover felt like a lifetime.

The Cube has been the go-to venue for skateboarding premieres in Bristol. The

atmosphere there is awesome and the volunteers that run The Cube love the energy

that skateboarding videos bring to the space. It’s not every day that you get people

cheering at the big screen, celebrating everyone’s hard work! Huge thanks to Robbie,

Dean, Mike, Natalie and everyone else that made the 28th of November so special for us.

Corinium has meant more to me than any other skateboarding video I’ve worked on. It’s

Decimal’s first ever full video, and to share it with a full cinema was wonderful. Chris

said to me that he didn’t think he’d ever be part of something like this – that alone

makes me tear up. I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to document the team

and help push this scene, and to tick off the last thing on Gaz’s wish list for the shop.

It was a lso quite poetic that the Corinium premiere was five years to the day that Little

Paradise was premiered at The Cube, which was my last major project... and also featured Andy Coleman!


Andy Coleman finds a little bit of paradise in Weston-Super-Mare. Ollie to frontside wallride. Photo: Leo.


Who out of the crew surprised you the most during filming?

Gaz: The commitment and organisation of the whole team surprised me from start to finish; it seemed too good to be true how smooth it started…you try organising skateboarders (laughs)! I have watched everyone grow over the years from first hooking them up, so to see how far some of them like Chris, Sal and Ty have come with their skating and style is sick! Whittaker always surprises me as he really is too good, massively humble, and I personally think is one of the best UK skaters out there! He is going to hate me for that one (laughs). Ollie also has the nicest style and shouldn’t look that good being so tall (laughs). Ricky and Callum kill it start to finish, always do! Ok that was more than one…

James: Ollie Trott for sure. He’s a very gentle, humble, and quiet soul who is so good to watch on a board. However, this does mean that he needs a bit of bullying to film clips. In his eyes nothing he does is worthy enough! We were filming in Swindon during late summer 2021 and he was keen to check a double kinked handrail. It’s long and gnarly. As soon as we got there, he was waxing the rail and jumping onto front smith grinds with no warm up!

Sadly, he took a few dodgy slams on it, and the light began to fade so he didn’t get it in

the end. But that moment sticks with me the most because the way that he approached

that spot is the opposite of Ollie’s personality. I’ll post the footage on Instagram or

something at some point.

 

Similarly, was there anyone in the crew who you would have liked to have had more presence in the video, but couldn’t for whatever reason?

Gaz: I wish Tom Gill had more footage, being on the team for many years he has been waiting like me to get this done someday. However, ruining his knee at Lloyds early on put an end to his footage for now.
I always want to see more Andy Coleman footage, who doesn’t? The same goes for Ed to be fair, but the struggle is real when you got work, children and life swallowing time. 
I also wish I could have got more done. Lots of the missions were on Saturdays when I was running the store. Also now with ongoing sucky health due to Lyme Disease, I have to choose my battles when I feel I can…fuck ticks!

James: The two original team riders: Andy Coleman and Tom Gill!

Unfortunately, Gill’s filming time was drastically cut short thanks to his injury at Lloyds,

and Andy is so incredibly busy, also working in the film world, not to mention having a

young family!

As I mentioned earlier, there are four of us with children, so we don’t get out as much as

we used to.

But, to counter that, Scott and I both agreed that less is more with Andy. His skateboarding is so beautiful to watch and even when I’ve filmed full parts with him I

always end up wanting to see more. I’d put him in the same realm as Phil Parker in that

respect.

 

Scott hops straight over the fence, no shrinking required. Photo: James.


Have you got a single trick or clip in Corinium that you are particularly hyped on?

Gaz: I really like Callum’s switch frontside flip 5-0, and obviously his ender ender! I still can’t get my head round Whittaker’s fakie flip at the Cirencester Old Train Station gap…madness!

James: Ricky’s quick-footed fakie flip and fakie ollie down the stairs was one that shocked me. It came out of nowhere; he wasn’t having the best of days that day and then suddenly, he was rolling away towards Iceland to purchase some Wagon Wheels! We had been talking about filming that line somewhere and I didn’t think it would happen that day, but I was proved wrong. Scott, Sal and Chris can back me up when I say that my jaw actually dropped when I marked the clip!

 

How did Corinium end up being covered by the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard? Having a skate video featured in the local newspaper must be something of a first, surely?

James: We broke into the Muggle world! That all came about through Becca, Callum’s better half. She’d written a lovely piece on the video in her spare time to send out to various news outlets in the Cotswolds, and the Wilts and Glos Standard picked it up as an online piece. It’ll also be in printed form soon, I think!

 

Riccardo Hillier makes contact with the bank after a drain assisted backside ollie. Photo: Leo.


James, what’s next for you filming-wise? Gaz, what’s next for the shop? Have you got many more ventures to tick off the bucket list?

Gaz: Rest and reflect for a bit, the team needs that too. Then onto the next project in Spring I think, we have already started talking a bit about it. For the shop, I want to expand on our own Decimal offerings product wise, and just to continue supporting local skateboarding and skateboarders alike, as best I can. Definitely looking forward to Summer 2022, - skating, missions, friends and sun!

James: After our Xmas break from filming, I’m extremely keen to get back out and work on another Decimal video as soon as the weather improves. It probably won’t end up being another long-form piece, but I’d like to spend the year working with the team on

something again. I mentioned to Leo that the world needs more Ty footage!



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