Released in January this year, Gnarfolk is the latest DVD offering by Jake Hearney, and – as you may have deducted from the title – it serves as a window into the ever-active scene that’s housed in the East Anglian county of Norfolk.
Six years in the making, Gnarfolk is a traditional UK scene production that both introduces you to new faces, and lets you catch up with a few heads you may already be familiar with. As you’d expect from a video filmed primarily in Norfolk, there’s crust aplenty, so if you enjoy watching rugged UK terrain getting handled, then this one will be right up your street.
We sat down for a chat with the video’s creator Jake Hearney – read all about the making of Gnarfolk below, then enjoy Sam Hayter’s banging section at the end of the interview.
Good work to all involved in this one, and should you come across a copy of Gnarfolk on your travels, be sure to take in the full thing; you won’t be disappointed.
Yes Jake, can you introduce yourself for us please?
I’m Jake Hearney from Norwich, Norfolk. I’ve been filming my local skate scene since the early 2000s.
How did you first find your way into filming? What was the earliest camera you owned, and how does it compare to your current set up?
I’ve always obsessed over skate videos, and showed an interest in documenting skating since my early teen years. I broke my ankle when I was about 17 and would sit there filming with a cast on my leg. That’s about the age and time that I got hooked on documenting others.
I grew up with a camera in my home in the 90s, and I remember messing around with that, filming friends on my street. I have no idea what type it was or what happened to it. Since I got into filming I’ve dabbled with a fair few camera styles, ranging from a VX to modern HD cameras, but I’ve settled with a variety of handycams currently. It took me a while to find the right balance in image quality as I wanted something with a crispy visual, but not going overboard. I found my current set up to be pretty reliable compared to previous ones that I’ve tried.
Prior to Gnarfolk, what other videos have you worked on?
I started making edits of my friends around 2005, which led to me making scene videos. The videos stretched across Norfolk but featured parts of Milton Keynes, London, and Suffolk, from day trips.
I released full-length scene videos as well as lengthy park edits in between. I film a lot of skatepark openings, jams and events.
My back catalogue of scene videos is:
Gnarfolk - 2021
Welcome to the East - 2013
Wheels of Fortune - 2011
Motion in Progress - 2009
How did the idea for Gnarfolk come about? Did you start out with the intention of making a full-length video, or did that just develop over time?
I started filming with zero idea of what it was going to be used for. After a while, I had loads of footage, so I felt it was time to release it in some form. Some of the footage was getting pretty old, so I felt it was time to get it out in the open. I find putting together a big project exciting. In a day and age where most people are happy just throwing footage into Instagram in exchange for instant gratification, what was it that drove you to create a full-length video? To you, what is the importance of full-length scene videos like Gnarfolk in 2021?
Perhaps I’m just old fashioned, but I think there is something nice about being able to watch a full-length video on a TV rather than a few clips on a phone screen. Everyone's opinions will vary, but I feel that Instagram clips get lost in the abyss once they have circulated. Phone clips can be cool, but I don’t think anything beats footage filmed with a video camera.
From first trick filmed to holding the finished DVD in your hands, how long did the whole Gnarfolk process take? It was quite the project, right?
Yeah, it ended up being really lengthy. I’ve never gone so long without releasing a video. I started filming bits and pieces in 2014, and it wasn’t until January 2020 I decided to turn the footage into another scene video.
What would you say is your personal favourite piece of footage or trick in the video?
It’s hard to say. Often, it’s not the gnarliest or the most tech trick; I really like catching the moment of stoke, people’s reactions. I also love filming at gritty spots, which Norfolk is full of, especially in Great Yarmouth. I really like some of the Yarmouth footage in Danny Coston’s part, also the stoke seen from everyone on Wilf Layte’s ender. I love filming Sam Hayter; it’s always fun filming him as he’s super keen to go hunting for new, crusty spots.
Tommy Soanes nosepicks a hallowed Norfolk oddity, whilst Jake documents.
Give us a ‘behind the scenes’ anecdote that happened during the making of the video.
Something that sticks out to me is the filming of Wilf’s ender. I made the awful mistake of not having my lens adapter on as it was the first time we'd been out filming for a while. He landed it, and other tricks went down too. It was only afterwards I realised the adapter wasn't on, and it affects the video quality, so we had to go back to film it again. I felt dead guilty as he really battled for it.
Now that Gnarfolk has been released, what have you got next in store? Are you planning on another video, or seeing what happens?
I’m wanting to crack on with a new video the moment this pandemic is over. I’m not sure exactly what I will be working on, it could be another local video or it could be a general UK video. I have a load of footage from outside of Norfolk - London, Milton Keynes, Suffolk - that really needs to be released, so perhaps that will be next on my list. I will just see how filming goes. I really want to travel a lot more, meet new people, skate new spots.
When can people buy the DVD?
It’s already sold out! It was available via my local shop Drug Store and Palomino, but it sold really quick. I was really blown away with the response. I’m still dropping unused footage all the time on the Instagram page though.
And lastly, any final words or people you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank my girlfriend for her encouragement, as well as the work she did creating the videos artwork.
A big thanks to Drug Store and Palomino.
Those who supported the filming process in any form, whether it was via social media, buying a copy, or simply offering kind words.
People can feel free to get in touch if they would like to be involved with future video projects.
Support independent artists and stores.
Stay tuned for whatever I work on next.