French Fred Interview
Fred Mortagne, AKA French Fred has become an institution amongst skateboarders and one of the most respected urban sport directors in the world. We caught up with him to go through a few questions and ask why he decided to get involved in the latest campaign by Contiki.
How did you get in to skateboard directing?
I started skateboarding in 1990, and the first time I saw a skateboard video, it moved me sooooo much!!!! So I wanted to do the same, with my friends first, just for fun. Plus I knew I would never be good enough to be sponsored. I went and made my own local videos in Lyon, France. Basically nobody was doing it in Europe, so people got excited, because skateboard videos from USA were great, but it was good so see what was happening around us as well.
What are your 5 favourite skateboard photos of all time?
Maybe not my pure favourites, but 5 that I love and stick in my mind above all others. (featured throughout this page)
What is the strangest place you have ever shot film or photo?
This can almost be normality for us skateboarders, leaving in the streets. We get to go to neighbourhoods where no one would normally go. One night we ended up filming in Miami, in a black ghetto, at like 3AM, in this was a little scary, plus we had some interaction with people, trying to kick us out…. and there were tons of kids too, surprisingly for this late at night. It surely was super awkward. But when a spot is great and people want to skate it really bad, almost nothing can stop us… That night, only the rain put an end to the session, and nothing else happened. In fact most of the times, the places in scary hoods are the ones which bring you the best surprises. It’s rarely where the bad stuff happens indeed.
Skateboarding is a unique way to discover the world, because you have no limits, I mean, you don’t care where it is, bad, good, rich, poor, any neighbourhood might host a perfect skate spot, so we go wherever… and by doing this, you really discover cities, countries, which to me, as a photographer also, is a great chance for shooting pictures.
What appealed to you about this Contiki project?
The opportunity to shoot and skate in a place where it is normally impossible. Skating in a museum is unique. It only happened a handful amount of times in skateboard history. It’s also a sort of revenge. We skateboarders, we get kicked out of places all the time, everywhere…There can be great skateboard spots outside of museums, and to skate them, it can be a mission. So when they let you in, to skate, is an amazing thing. It means a lot. It means people start looking at skateboarding in a different way… they start seeing more than just those kids destroying everything. When people start paying attention to it, and the very rich and intense culture around it that it generates, their vision can change drastically. Some skateboarders like Ed Templeton or Mark Gonzales are exposed in a major museums around the world, and this is great.
Given the Contiki mantra #noregrets – if you could spend a day living with no reservations, no limits, no regrets, how would you spend that day?
It would probably be something not involving skateboarding, because we already have many many great days like this every year. I would say going in some amazing and epic nature location with my girlfriend, witnessing magical wild life, feeling the elements, the great energy of mother nature, being in total respect with her, and just enjoying. I think I lived that day many times already, and I make it happen whenever possible. And the good thing is that it doesn’t have to be across the globe, so there are more chances to make it happen.
Mark Gonzales by Benjamin Deberdt
Where in the world would you next like to shoot a skateboarding video?
I would definitely love to try to shoot more in a nature environment, to change, as we are always in urban landscapes all the time, not that I am tired of it, its potential is endless. But nature is a different challenge, both for skateboarders and I. The thing is when you are a skateboarder, no matter where you are, what you do, even if you are on holiday with your girlfriend, where ever you go, you always look around for skate spots… so any chance to find them, you can let it pass… It has definitely happened that I went back to some place with skateboarders, where I first went on holidays. We are non stop doing location scouting!
Do you have the coolest job ever?
I definitely can’t complain about anything. But I work hard to stay in this position, to maintain it.
Daniel Harold Sturt
Contiki are one of the worlds best in youth travel, and the #NoRegrets is campaign is just that. What would you like to do with no regrets? Head on over to www.contiki.com/noregrets and enter, and you could win your day of a lifetime.