Jarpy: An interview with the Director: Josh Williams
AFTER NEARLY A YEAR OF HARD WORK, JOSH FINALLY COMPLETED HIS INTIMATE AND MOVING PORTRAYAL OF JARPY, THE VENEZUELAN LONGBOARDER NOW LIVING IN BRISTOL. JOSH EXPLORES HIS LIFE EXPERIENCE COMING FROM A COUNTRY IN POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL TURMOIL, AND THE PEACE HE FINDS IN HIS PASSION FOR LONGBOARDING, HIS GIRLFRIEND, AND HIS DOG SIMBA.
Published: March 2019
Yasmin: Josh! How did you come to meet Jarpy?
Josh: Back when I had just moved to Bristol I was working in a skate shop in town; Jarpy used to come in and it was hard not to notice him. Jarpy is a pretty big guy and he would often be with his massive dog Simba. Back then his English was not great but my mate Raul was Spanish and knew him so he would help him out and I would mess about with his dog. Later I got chatting to him more and would skate with him every now and then.
Yasmin: What inspired you to actually make the film?
Josh: For a long time I thought it would be cool to film something with him. Something focused around how Jarpy rides bigger boards, but in skate parks. It’s kind of a controversial thing because longboarders and skaters don’t always see eye to eye.
As I learned about Jarpy and found out more about his background, I felt like it would be a great opportunity to look deeper into the situation in Venezuela, at the time there were protests going on but very little UK media about it. I thought it would be an interesting way of showing some wider world issues to an audience that wouldn’t necessarily normally see it.
Yasmin: How did this film come about?
Josh: I had talked about the idea with the rest of the collective (Friction Collective) and they were really keen on the idea. I wasn’t sure at the time how the project would go, I have never made a documentary before. The easiest way to start was to just meet with him and film some skating, It was a cool way for both of us to ease into the project and meant we had a base of footage that would be useful down the line.
Yasmin: How did filming go, did you work solo?
Josh: A lot of the project was just myself. It was often really spur of the moment with Jarpy getting hold of me at the last minute: “I am going to M32 skatepark now” or “my Mum is here for one more day if you want to talk with her”. So I would roll up with the kit that I had at the time (rather then the full kit we use as a collective) chuck it in a backpack and hope it all worked out!
We also had two days of filming as an actual crew, one for an interview and one for more footage out skating.
My girlfriend got hit by a car on the day of the skate shoot which put me out of action for a lot of that, luckily some of the Friction Collective crew, Jack and Chris (predominantly a sound specialist) took over and got some beautiful footage.
My girlfriend Molly, is fine by the way. She’s a trooper and was actually telling me not to come to the hospital and to go shoot instead.
Yasmin: Glad to hear Molly’s okay! Did you come across any problems when you put the film together?
Josh: Haha yes… a few.
Other than the normal self doubt that comes with any new project there were a few issues. Most of them I would say are down to the language barrier. I don’t speak any Spanish at all and Jarpy is not too confident on his English either which is hard enough purely with the organisation of things. The editing became infinitely harder. It’s very hard to make a cut with any confidence without knowing that it is going to make any sense at all in Spanish.
That kind of hesitation was just such a killer for getting any momentum in the edit, Laura (Jarpy’s girlfriend) and Olivia (our translator) saved the day!
The other difficult thing was just how heavy the subject matter was.
The serious content adds so much more gravity to what you are doing, this isn’t a client that might want another revision of the cut. It’s a country and mass of people who want to be represented fairly and have their situation exposed to the world.
Yasmin: What message did you want to get across?
Josh: I had some idea of the message I wanted to portray near the start of this project which evolved as the narrative of the project progressed. My main concern was showing the situation for what it was. Given some of the negative attitudes that are rising around migrants and other cultures, I wanted to show one story of what a migrant might have waiting for them back home.
I tried to not push my thoughts or agenda, but instead give Jarpy and his family a chance to express their story and opinions freely, realistically and truthfully.
Yasmin: What was it like making the film?
Josh: Sad, happy, stressful, fun, tiring, challenging, emotional. All things I will now expect from any project that I feel strongly about.
Yasmin: Do you have any plans for more films like this?
Josh: Yes, absolutely. Creating a documentary is a great way of feeling as if you’re doing something about situations that are huge and seemingly out of your control. I am probably not alone in feeling like that at the moment (helpless but wanting to help).
Yasmin: Things are changing right now in Venezuela, what are your thoughts on what’s happening?
Josh: So, things are looking good and bad at the moment, (at the time of writing) the opposition to Maduro and his regime is gaining a lot of traction and is being internationally recognised. There is a lot of excitement over the possibility of change but it could end up very messy…. and it hasn’t exactly been clean so far. There is talk of intervention, I can’t claim to be an expert on what should happen, I just hope that it changes soon and other countries don’t take advantage of the situation.
View the full film here