Lockdown with Lariatt: The Zak Watson Interview
Since Zak has been extremely busy throughout the COVID lockdown with university deadlines and getting back home safely, we thought we'd add a little more stress to his life by virtually sitting down with him and catching up with the man himself.
Since this interview was composed (31.12.20), Zak has picked up additional filming projects and has created a fundraiser for his upcoming short film titled, 'The Light Follows,' which is spoken about in greater detail below.
Zak Watson- Photo: Ben Smith
If you're ever stuck in a car for 4 hours with Zak Watson, don't expect him to say a word. We're a big fan of Zak's skateboarding; a true ATV that can skate pretty much anything. A wizard in a bowl with front smiths for days, Zak's a talented young man that people need to watch out for. That stands for on and off the board. He can be found on YouTube, where you can keep up to date on all things 'Zak.' Zak has helped the majority of our team with filming projects, making him a staple in our local skateboarding community. We are incredibly hyped to have Zak on board with Lariatt Store. He makes a perfect addition to our family. Anyway, hit him up on Instagram @zak_watson and get to grips with how amazing this guy really is. That's all folks!
Zak pictured centre - Photo: Mike Sim
Introduction by: Charlie Spelzini
Interview by: Charlie Spelzini
Photography by: Mike Sim, Ben Smith, Theodore Ryan & Ginge Piggot
1. Right Zak, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. We’d like your name, age, sponsors and where you currently hang your head!
My name is Zak Watson, I am currently 20 years old. I'm riding for Lariatt and 2nd Chapter Supplies; currently hanging my head down between Oxford & Hertfordshire.
2. Rumour has it among the Lariatt Family that you’re a quiet guy; you keep yourself to yourself. Is there a reason why you’re so quiet? Or are you just a super chilled dude?
Haha, I guess I am just a chilled person. I don’t like to throw myself and my personality too much onto people for the first time I meet them - I’m not saying that’s a good or a bad thing but I guess that's why when I met the team for the first time I came off a little quiet. Once you get to know me though you’ll see me open up, especially if it's over a drink.
3. So you’re at Oxford Brookes University. You’re from Hertfordshire originally, keeping you close to the rest of the Lariatt Family, but what’s the Oxford Skate Scene like?
In one word… welcoming. The first time I went down to the Oxford Wheels Project, which is the local skatepark there, I came back home with 3-4 new skating friends, which was amazing considering I didn’t know anyone who went to Oxford Brookes. I must admit, it was a little intimidating at first. We have the best kickflip courtesy of Ben Smith and the best switch hard delivered by Phil Sproul. The spots are alright I guess. We have the train station spot which is like a plaza and it's lit up so you can skate there in the winter which helps, because we don’t have an indoor park. We also have a skate store, Oxford Skate Co. and they’ve always been nice to me when I'm away from Lariatt and my hometown. I’d hang out there from time to time with Ryan and Penny.
Zak Watson, Backside Flip- Photo: Ginge
4. A few of the team have come to visit you in Oxford a few times. Before the COVID madness, did you guys end up sinking a few beers and get some tricks for the camera? Give us some good memories to keep us smiling through pandemic.
In that exact order, yes. We had a ‘few’ beers, ended up at a uni house party the day before we were due to get up early to skate. You can guess how that ended up. I remember Ginge being drunk and surrounded by girls and not knowing what to do and you [Charlie] waiting for a kebab for 45 mins. We woke up at around 9, had some coffee and forced ourselves to go out and film. It wasn’t too successful that filming mission and I think we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t ever do that again haha.
5. Well, a lesson lived is a lesson learned! There’s no doubt you’re an incredible filmer, Zak. Are you working on any skateboarding projects at the moment?
I currently have your part Charlie ready to be sent to Death skateboards HQ, so we’ve got that to look forward to. In Oxford, we’ve been filming another full-length video which has been put on standby due to COVID. The footage we have already is very exciting and I can’t wait to get back and start filming for it again! I was filming for a company called White Lotus, who are going to drop a video that I've got some input in. That video is really cool and it's the last footage I ever filmed on my VX-1000 (RIP). I've also finished filming something with Yung Rosemary a while back that might be dropping soon.
6. Nice one Spielberg. What about any non-skateboarding projects? Your passion for making short films is definitely a big thing we’re seeing on social media. ‘The Light Follows’ seems to be your newest big project. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Making skating videos has really opened my eyes to how powerful video and sound can be when combined. I remember making this video called 'Fluorescent Tranquilities.' There was something about it with the music; the way I subconsciously filmed the skating, and the edit arrangement that everything flowed in such a way I can’t explain. Everyone was telling me how dreamy and emotional the video was. This was one of the many little things that led me onto discovering cinema and the importance of it in not only telling stories, but emotions and theories of your own. 'The Light Follow's is my first ‘big’ film that I am making. I’ve made student films and all, but over the whole lockdown period I was writing this film and it seemed the most true to my voice out of anything I’ve done. I like to work with abstractions and our unconscious. This is what the film explores and I hope people like it.
Frontside Ollie- Photo: Mike Sim
7. How did Lariatt come about? Shed some light onto how you became a part of the team.
I remember skating The Pioneer loads and beginning to gradually make friends with everyone who was on the team at the time. I was then invited on a Cornwall summer trip with Charlie, Twiggy, Fuller, Cher and Ginge, and that was an experience haha. It was the first time meeting Twiggy and I was in the back of a car with him at 6am, whilst he sung along to Garage and Disco classics for 4 hours straight. (I love you though Twiggy.) We turned at the Concrete Waves [Newquay] and you [Charlie] sat, watched me skate and just offered me to skate for Lariatt there and then. It was very casual of him, but I was honoured to ride for the shop.
8. You’ve filmed a bit for one of our favourite brands Death Skateboards. We’ve seen some of your angles in both the newest Pioneer edit ‘Locked Out’ and some other projects. It’s quite clear that you’ve got a good eye for even some of the weirdest tricks in skateboarding. What’s your method? What do you like filming in skateboarding? Obviously don’t give away some of your well kept secrets!
Well, for the first couple of years I was just trying to keep the camera stable and the picture exposed and focused properly. That's the most important thing before you go to try anything else. Filming for Death Skateboards has always been a pleasure, and filming well-known riders like Richie [Jackson] was an interesting experience. Especially with all the madness he pulls off. Richie often has his own vision for how he wanted tricks filmed and you got to be respectful of that! I tried to deliver what he specifically wanted and added minor touches of my own if it felt necessary. But overall, I like filming tricks up close with lots of B-roll.
9. Get in closer, right? Residing in Hertford, you’ve had the opportunity to ride for one of Hertfordshire’s awesome skateboard clothing brands, 2nd Chapter Supplies. We love what Piers does. It really takes it back to the roots of skateboarding. How did you guys end up meeting?
Well, I saw the company come up on Instagram first before I actually met Piers. I remember it was pretty well recognised in Potters Bar [Hertfordshire] and I used to skate there a lot with my good friend, Tom Noble. It must have been Tom who told me about the brand first because I remember the stickers and him giving me one to put on my board. I must have met Piers at one of the pop-up shops he did in my hometown and I was just stoked to meet him to be honest. He’d have old VHS tapes playing, food and beer for everyone; it was just an amazing time and brilliant environment for me and my friends. I’ll always wear his clothing proudly.
Zak Watson- Photo: Mike Sim
10. As well as filming, you’ve got an awesome eye for taking photographs. Your creativity really is something truly special mate. What do you mainly shoot? Give us some details into the mind of Zak Watson.
Thank you! Photographs… I guess they’re like paintings and I love to paint in my free time as well. There's something about creating that I just can’t get enough of. There’s endless mediums to create something, and photography for me is just another one of those mediums I enjoy. I like to photograph feelings, almost how an expressionist would. I wish to take you out of your reality and stick you in someone else’s. I also take portraits of my beautiful girlfriend as well haha.
11. Finally young man, is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you out along the way? Any advice for young people trying to get into skateboarding or film making?
I better not forget anyone! All my friends and family, Jade, Alex Barton & Charlie Spelzini, Zorlac, Piers, Ryan at Oxford Skate Co & the whole Oxford scene, Mike Sim, Phil Sproul, Ben Smith, Garage Boys, the Oven is Off Cru, Mo at Ca Va, Ben Hill-Brookes, Will Ferguson, James Humphrys, Oxford Brookes Skate Society.
In terms of advice, get up, go out and do it. You’ve got to be productive to progress, so make use of the time you have. Also, Ginge get a new fisheye please.
Zak & Ben Smith- Photo: Theodore Ryan