Welcome 2: Hell - Josh Hallett Interview

by Dan Bunn

Anyone who's been in the shop recently will know that we've been absolutely rinsing 'Welcome 2: Hell' since it came out, so of course we had to reach out to the man behind the masterpiece to find out more about what went into making it.

Josh Hallett and Dennis, photo by Brendan Harrap - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
The ledge behind the lens, Josh Hallett, and his faithful hound, Dennis. Shot by Brendan Harrap.

Safe Josh! How’s it going?

All good mate! I’m just taking a late night break from editing work to do this interview and I think I’m still recovering a bit from a wedding I was at last weekend. Heavy drinking in your thirties is difficult.

What have you been up to since getting the video out the way?

Well, as I’m self employed, I allowed myself the whole of May off so that I could focus on filming some last minute clips and get the video finished. I allowed the crew to film until pretty much the last minute and I didn’t actually start editing it until the Monday before the prem. It was a hectic few days. Having all that time off though meant that I have basically worked every day since the premiere weekend. I haven’t seen any homies or skated at all for a while and I don’t see that changing for a couple of weeks. I’m going to Berlin with Starkie and Jack at the end of the month though to see Mark Kemp and some friends so that’s something to look forward to.

Trix: I was pretty overwhelmed with how crazy the premiere was and with how many turned up from all parts of the UK, were you shocked by this too?

Honestly, I didn’t really know how the night would go or how many people would come along. We had been selling tickets for a few weeks leading up to it and it was only in the few days before that we realised it might be pretty busy! It meant a lot to me that people made so much effort to get to Leeds on a Friday night to watch a video of an unspecified length. You guys came all the way from Cardiff, all the homies from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London and Sheffield were there and I’m probably forgetting others who travelled even further as well. Marnold [Mike Arnold] text me at 8am that morning when he was in Paris and six hours later he was at Hyde Park crushing some Stellas. Love that!

Welcome 2 Hell Video Premiere - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
Whole lotta legends at the Welcome 2 Hell premiere, photo by Warren Jones.

Trix: There were definitely some audible gasps at the premiere when Paul Silvester’s clips came on. A lot of shock and awe. Were these clips self-filmed? How important to you was it to include such a huge legend in the video?

Man came over to Leeds sometime last year and linked up with Reece but I was busy so I couldn’t get out on the sessions. He then hit me to say he’d self-filmed some stuff and asked if I wanted the clips. Obviously I was going to use them in the video because it’s Paul Silvester. As you say, the man is a legend. Hopefully he’s back in the UK soon and I will make sure to drop any work to link up to film something with him.

So you’ve filmed with some pretty big names over the years, like going on international trips with the New Balance squad, how does that compare to filming for the local shop?

Haha I don’t know about big names but I’ve been lucky enough to go on some really fun trips and be a part of some cool projects. I was kinda shitting it a bit about filming Tyler Surrey because he’s genuinely been one of my favourite skaters for the last decade or so. Obviously he’s just a sound dude and filming with him was really enjoyable. I did completely fuck up and miss a trick he’d been trying for an hour in the baking sun though. I had to ask him to do it again. [Mark] Baines reminded me of that for weeks after. Trips like that Portugal one with NB are completely different to the process for filming a video for the shop. You have to manage your time properly and squeeze in as many spots as possible in a short amount of time. 

The filming for ‘Welcome 2: Hell’ was way more casual on the whole and it involved way more people. Basically anyone who was around on the session that day could get in on the act, although the constant regulars were Dale, Will, Jack, Blinky, Albie, and Zeta. You can also fit in as many late starts, lunch breaks, games of skate, pints, and shoe raffle entries as you like when you are just filming around your own city with your mates.

Some Tyler Surrey wizardry captured by Josh on a New Balance trip to Portugal.

You’ve also done a lot of shorter online edits more typical of the modern age, how do these compare to spending the time putting together a full-length? Do you think it’s worth it?

I’m pretty sure that most filmers say this but I don’t think I will do another full-length. I will probably stick with the shorter 15-20 minute videos in the future. Not quite a full-length but also not just a forgettable five minute edit. I don’t mean to say that all short edits are forgettable but it’s 2022 and everyone wants whatever is next on the footage carousel, so you know what I mean. You never know though, I’m probably talking shit and I’ll end up doing a bunch of short edits and might even do another full-length one day.

Trix: We’ve had the vid playing on repeat in the shop since it dropped, not only for the incredible skating, but also for the amazing soundtrack. I must have added a few extra hundred plays to Sharon Van Etten's Spotify in the past two weeks. How hard was it choosing the tracks, and did you have any influence from the skaters?

It’s been so nice to see that people have been playing the video in their shops. It’s been pretty overwhelming to have such positive feedback about it to be honest. People seem to have sat through the whole thing more than once which I didn’t expect them to and part of the reason for that seems to have come down to the music choices.

Any time I hear a song that I think might work well with skating, I throw it into a playlist on my phone. I also add in any recommendations from friends. Blinky definitely helped with a few choices in the video. He put me onto the Boy Harsher album, that ssaliva track that Dale skates to and also sent me that Delroy Edwards tune that opens his part. It fits his skating so well. As for Sharon Van Etten, I’ve absolutely no idea how that song ended up in the playlist. I’m not too familiar with her music but it seemed to work with Shez’s footage and I guess that Dylan Jaeb kid is a fan as well.

I know you said in a previous interview you you wished you could’ve filmed with Will Sheerin more for ‘Paul,’, and it looks like your wish came true because he kicked the video off with a bangin’ part. How did you manage to bully him into it, and is there anyone you wish had got more footage this time around?

I’ve known Will since he was about twelve. We’ve been filming together for about fifteen years but I’ve never been able to get a part out of him. Nobody has. He was the golden boy for a while but then struggled with some heavy injury issues which limited his skating. Since recovering from his back surgery, it seemed like he is way more focused on skating and he finally put a part out. It took long enough. The dude is thirty now. 

Will Sheerin singlehandedly tripled the stock market value of inward heels in his 'Welcome 2: Hell' part.

A lot of people have asked where the George Smith footage was and I would have loved to have him in there but he’s taken a step away from skating and is way more family focused these days. He put out his one part and left it at that. Love that guy!

It was sick to see so many different people in one video, it felt like you managed to really blur the gap between a shop video and a scene video with the amount of people involved. Was this intentional or just something that happened naturally?

The shop is nothing without the scene and the Leeds one is as big and as bloody wholesome as it’s ever been. We might have people that ride for the shop but there are so many others out there that are just as heavily involved. My general idea was to film a few parts with the guys I skate with on the regs and then get clips of as many other people as possible. I think it just about worked out that way although I would have liked to get a clip or two with a few others but for one reason or another that just didn’t happen.

Trix: Is Zeta the first ever mum to put out a full street part?

It’s very possible! Z is one of the best people I’ve ever met. I love hanging out with her and we’ve become good friends through making this video. She is pretty easy to film with as well because she normally has an idea of a trick for a spot before we meet up. I’d say it was pretty rare to leave a session without at least one clip of Z. On the day of the Euros final last summer, we decided to meet up in Birmingham to film her ender knowing that most people in the country would be at home or in the pub. I drove two hours down there, we met up, went straight to the spot, got the trick and then we both drove home. I think I was in Birmingham for about 40 minutes. Worth it!

Zeta Rush: SOTY? MOTY? Both?

From just watching the video it seems like everyone put in some serious work (Dale especially, as always) and you had some pretty ramshackle spot set-ups. Which clip was the toughest battle, and which spot was the hardest to make work?

Getting Blinky’s ender was a bit of a fucking saga. The spot is called the ‘Guy Jones rail’ because apparently he made a claim about doing something on it way back in the day. Cars park in front of it all day and evening. Blinky even dragged a huge plastic road barrier down to the spot late one night and put it in the way but the next day it had been moved and a car had parked in the way. The night he finally managed to do it was such a bizarre session. It all started pretty well and everything was looking positive as he was sliding to the end on the regs. He then took a bit of a slam and the time between attempts started to get longer and longer. Eventually it got to the point where it had been about an hour since he last gave it a go and he was freaking. We might have lost a bit of faith that it was going down that night but out of nowhere he threw down and nailed it. In the footage it’s pretty quiet during the rollaway because most of us were shook that he’d actually done it. Once the dust settled, Blinky said was embarrassed by the whole scenario haha. We allowed him to rename the spot whatever he liked and of course he chose the ‘Guy Jones rail’.

Blinky lands himself a spot on the legendary Quartersnacks Top 10 with a hectic rail banger.

Apart from Dale having the last part again, it seems like a lot’s changed since ‘Paul,’, with the crusty bricks and cobbles most people would usually associate with ‘Up North’ being replaced by fresh plazas. Apart from the trousers, what would you say the biggest change has been in the years since ‘Paul,’?

Fresh plazas? Not in Leeds that’s for sure! We definitely made more effort to travel this time around though. With Zeta being down in Towcester, we would often meet her in the midlands somewhere so neither one of us had to drive for more than two hours or so. We also did a few visits to Bristol and other cities but the whole video is mainly filmed across the North. I think the biggest change since ‘Paul,’ was that this time I actually had an idea of what I wanted to make. With the first video we would go out and film anything and everything and there was no real plan, whereas there was a genuine attempt to get specific clips this time. More thought went into who might need what and what type of spots we should hit. Also, everyone has gotten so much better in the last five years. That’s helped for sure.

Obviously the name pays homage to the legendary Toy Machine vid, ‘Welcome To Hell’, did you try to sneak any other tributes to old school videos into it? For me, Dale’s brick wallride down those stairs instantly reminded me of Jake Johnson in 'Mindfield'.

That’s a pretty generous compliment to Dale. He’ll be happy with that! As for video tributes, we didn’t plan anything specific to get into ‘WELCOME 2: HELL’ but there were a few bits I was hyped on. Tom Brown’s t-shirt collection for example. He rocks classic Wisdom, Sumo and Herald shirts in his part. So sick! The only other thing I can think of is that a few of Dale’s clips (opening clip and the last two lines) are definitely a nod to his favourite skater, [Tom] Knox.

Dale Starkie with an 'I Can't Believe It's Not Tom Knox' marathon line.

Sick! Can definitely see the Tom Knox influence in those marathon lines. We were pretty hyped seeing everyone having name credits in the video, even if it was only a really brief clip. Were you always planning on including names for all the skaters in the video, or was it influenced by Quartersnacks drawing attention to the issue recently?

This was 100% always the plan. I’ve never been down for the ‘no name’ trend in videos. If I see a clip of someone that I like, then I usually want to find more skating from that person. If I don’t know who it is and there is no name on the screen then I just don’t bother trying to look them up. If you’re making a scene video, please put in names. It’s impossible to know who everyone is…

So, what’s next for you and the Leeds scene?

Will Smith and Joe Allen are already back out filming new things after putting out their own full-lengths last year ['Assembly' and 'Petanque' respectively]. I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll do next but I have the start of an idea but I need to nail the specifics of it and who is exactly involved. I want Hilda Quick who works in the shop to do whatever the next video project for Welcome is. It could be a shorter video or a series of web clips but whatever it is, I’m putting pressure on her to do it next. I need a little break.

Trix: Most importantly, hailing from Prestatyn, will you be supporting England or Wales in the World Cup?

I’m insulted that you’ve even had to ask. My mrs just said “See, nobody believes you’re a real Welsh person”. That cut me deep. Since moving over to England nearly twenty years ago, I’ve become way more patriotic than I ever thought I would be. I love being Welsh and the red wall will be taking over Qatar in the winter. As a very drunk man said at the 2016 Euros: “Two thirds of the earth is covered by water… the rest is covered by Joe Allen”.

Cheers Josh!

That's enough chit-chat though. Head to the shop to browse the latest skateboard decks, clothing, and more, and buy now from CSC. Or, check out more interviews with skate legends on the CSC Blog. Safe.

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