Presenting at ShAFF 2007

On Thursday afternoon I received an email from Luke Markey from TT, who was meant to be standing in for Daniel Ilabaca to present the parkour films and do a talk on parkour at ShAFF – the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (Daniel couldn’t make it as he’s currently filming in India), anyway, Luke asked if I could step in for him.

So I spent most of Thursday afternoon sorting things out with Luke over msn, trying to ascertain exactly what I would have to talk about and what the films were and then speaking to Matt Heason (the guy who runs ShAFF). I didn’t have much time to prepare (as it was in two days’ time), but I managed to cobble a mass of notes together on the Saturday and structure them in between each of the films. I wanted to show something local or from Manchester, but on such short notice had problems getting hold of anything at all, never mind on DVD as requested. My good friend Jess kindly lent me her laptop (an iMac, but nevertheless still capable of burning a DVD), so I put my hatred for anything Apple to the side and tried to figure out how to do it. It was real simple and I had a DVD working on my TV ten minutes or so later, the DVD I made had a menu screen with cheesy default music, and two options; one for each of the videos – I used the NP strength training video and NP Lisses trip video.

The order of the films was:

The ‘Urban Freestyler’ video was a few guys who do amazing football tricks around the streets of London, I have no idea why it was in there with the parkour films, but I managed to talk a little about it (bearing in mind the first time I saw it was in the cinema with everyone else lol) and I tied in links to parkour like the level of practise required for both and the fact that this is socially acceptable as everyone knows what football is, but people’s fear of the unknown usually makes them scowl when they see us doing parkour purely because they don’t understand what it is we’re doing.

Things I talked about included the media’s misinterpretation of what parkour is, parkour/freerunning/tricking, Lisses, healthy living, strength training and conditioning, benefits of parkour, and teams (including mentioning TT’s moral values).

There were about 25 people who came to see it, including a handful from the SPK lot. Surprisingly, there were no other teenagers, most of them were 20s, 30s. They asked some quite good questions, the usual ones like “Are there competitions in parkour?” (followed by “You could have competitions to see who can do the most flips”…) and “Can fat people do it?”, but the most intriguing questions was “What do you want for the future of parkour?” which I answered with something about it being more recognised as an activity so that we can train with less hassle and the coaching association succeeding.

I hope they’d all learned something about what parkour really is, and I made an impact on some people’s thoughts on it all. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t get across well enough. I think I made my point quite well, I did my best. Oh and I have £100 in my pocket for doing it, there starts my Lisses trip fund. Woo.

Just to finish, here’s a short film I saw on Thursday night at the exclusive private pre-screening ShAFF event with Wine & Canapés I was invited to. It’s absolutely brilliant, it’s hard to explain without making you want to not bother, so just take my word for it and check it out. Very skillful – Balancing Point: