Boris Proust

Boris Proust interview and photos by Benjamin unless marked otherwise

This young French man might have not made a name for himself all over the world yet, but he is leading this new generation coming out of France at the moment…
Quite the busy type, he found the time to discuss where he was coming from, how he found out about skateboarding in the streets of an African capital and why he likes to do things his way. Then, he got back to his studies, filming others for various scene projects, managing the team for Flare, a wheel company he started with friends.
At age 23, Boris has himself many dishes to cook and serve, and believe us, he won’t disappoint on any… get prepared.
And don’t EVER feed him alcohol after midnight!

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You’re out of some exams, tell us what you are studying…
Cinema, visual arts, actually. Theory, technique, all of it! You study history of cinema, a bit of practical filming, a bit of everything, in fact. The worst is you have a lot of old films history.

How did you get involved in that?
I started filming with skating, and it went from there. I had a small camera my dad bought five years before, and I started filming with it. I got really into it, so I bought myself a VX1000 and I filmed for the first Mofo vids [a Montpellier based series directed by Luc Angles, NR]. I film some skating and some life style too.

Is it to learn the technical part that you enrolled into this?
No, it’s more the aesthetics side. You can save up things you’ve seen, a bit like memories. Technically, I learned more from watching skate videos. But, since then I’ve built myself a little dolly, for example. You try to learn new things from it.

You’re finishing your last year?
I still have another year, it’s a three-year curriculum. It’s cool, we have about 15 hours a week, so that leaves me time to skate. And when I go for a tour, I tell them I’ll be gone for a week, and they’re cool with it.

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Ph: Viollet

How long have you been living in Montpellier, now?
About… six years? Yep.

And before that, you lived in Africa?
Yes, I lived nine years in Africa, but also in Poitou-Charentes [a rather rural part of France, just under Brittany, NR]… In fact, I was born in Africa. I lived there for five years, in Lomé, Togo, then some things happened, and we came back for a bit.

Why Africa?
My dad had a hotel-restaurant there. In fact, he always had in mind to cross the desert and ended up doing it one day, and like it so much he stayed there. [laughter]

How does it feel to move to France from there, at age 5?
I don’t remember. For me it was the same. But, when we moved back there, I ended up being happy to move back to France, in the end. It’s nice over there, but living there, it gets a bit boring. There isn’t much to do.

You started skating there, then?
Yes, I skated over there for a year and a half, or so, with Lionel! [Dominoni, now a Parisian loc also making a name for himself- Ed] There was about five or six skaters, including Lionel…

How did you find out about skateboarding in Togo!?
A friend already skated with a couple others and Lionel was hanging out with them, so he got into it. And then, it was me! But, to get product, it was a mission. When somebody would go back to France, he’d have to bring boards for everybody, because over there you couldn’t find anything of quality.

What did you guys skate?
There was some good spots! Not so many, but we had this crazy plaza with perfect ground and two steps. We sucked so we always went to the same spot. But there must be more than that. I’d like to go back , actually, to see… [laughter] We were skating the big Congress Hall plaza with the local rollerbladers, and that was that! [laughter]

So, how old were you when you moved back to France?
Around 17… I came back with my parents. My dad didn’t want to leave, but my Mum had enough.

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Was it a shock?
[laughter] It was mayhem! I got kept back at school for a year. I started skating fully, going out, all that! I like living here better. But, for holidays, I’d go back! It’s crazy, especially when you go into the Savanna, in the countries around!

So, you’ve seen lions?
Yes! We went to Pendjari National Park in Benin, we saw lions, hippopotamus, wild ones!

How did you integrate the Montpellier scene?
There’s this spot, Richter, that’s a bit like Hotel de Ville in Lyon, but a lot suckier [laughter] where everybody meets and there I met Luc, Cédric, Chandelle, Matthieu, everybody and I started skating with them. Soon enough, we were out everyday filming…

That’s when you were jumping on all the rails you could find?
[laughter] Kind of! It’s funny everybody thinks that, but I haven’t skated that many rails, really!

Just the bigger ones in France? [laughter]
No, well, just grinding them! At the moment, I don’t skate that many. Around here, there isn’t that many perfect spots to learn on.

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That motivates you to roam around?
Clearly. When Chandelle still lived here, we would get motivated and get on the road. Even now, we go to Barcelona or other places around.

How far are you guys away from Barca?
Three hours and a half, it’s not far. Then, we got Lyon close enough. For that Montpellier is perfect, it’s pretty central to a lot of places.

Rare skateboards was your first sponsor?
No, I was on Cartel for a bit, then I got on Rare. It was cool skating with the whole crew. I really liked them, but there wasn’t that many opportunities to travel, so…

What about the rest of your summer?
I’d like to go far way, like Australia, or go back to China. Joseph [Biais- Ed] is motivated too, so I might travel with him.

Tell us how you ended up going to China!
[laughter] Ah, that was a crazy one! In fact, Décathlon [a big French sports stores chain, NR] wanted to do a promo video for their stores, so they were looking for a filmer. I heard about it and send them my work. By then they already found a filmer, but ask me about a rider to take along. So, off I went with them!

And once there?
I was skating everyday! We spent two days at the biggest skatepark in the world, which was the reason we went to Shanghai, then off in the streets. I was supposed to wear a helmet at all times, and I manage to not wear it once! [laughter] It was perfect! It’s all marble spots nobody has ever skated, I’d love to go back! Plus, people are really cool. I didn’t get a chance to visit the country, I’d like to!

Out of all your trips, which were the most interesting?
I hated Sweden! [laughter] I went to the Reunion Island, three four years ago. Perfect. Not so many spots, but the nature is insane. The water falls! We were there for a demo. They paid for you whole trip, and we ended up having to skate for 30mn! Apart from that, it’s mostly Barcelona short trips, cause it’s so close…

What do you see yourself doing after your final year?
The thing is I have no idea, yet. Either I take one year to fully skate, or I get into another school. Hat I’d like to do is find a video project to work on, a job that leaves me time to skate. An interesting project, first of all.

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Ph: Sharp

You’ve already had “skate only” times?
Two years. When I graduated, I started an Economy university, and right way I realized it wasn’t for me. I just stopped and only skated. I was working to get by… Then, I thought “I need to do something!”. Skating only is great, but look, now I’m at university again, and I’m skating just as much. While doing something seriously all along…

Isn’t it motivating you, actually?
Yeah, it’s cool, you can do other things. You meet other people, it’s better than just staying “inside” skateboarding.

What are you looking for into your future trips?
I’d love Australia cause I’ve never been there, and apparently it’s amazing for skating! Apart from that, and not to skate, I’d love to see New Zealand. The landscapes and all… China, I’m into it, but might as well go to a place you’ve never been to. We’ll see! Last minute, as always! [laughter] Like now, we were about to drive to Barcelona, but it rained. We were supposed to go there gypsy style, sleeping out and taking showers at the beach! [laughter]

You do that often? Sleeping in the streets there is pretty sketchy!
Yeah, but you just drive into the countryside and plant your tents!

Doesn’t that “spontaneous” skater side, that we all have more or less, sometimes clash with the super organized world of cinema making?
No, not really. I can manage. When I have things to do, I skate less. Now, we’ve got all those projects to give back, so I’m working like a madman. We just finished a montage on an environmental subject, I must have spent a good 50 hours on it. For me, exams on theories are more difficult! [laughter] When things interest me, I can spend a lot of time on it.

You’re more into practice than theory…
Yep…

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Now, when you see a movie, do you analyze everything, or just enjoy it for what it is?
No, no, I enjoy the movie! We got some film critics, but I’m really not into it. The teacher will be “So, this was filmed this way to show this aspect of things”, but it’s pushed to point where it doesn’t even make sense anymore. Like if every frame had been though over for five hours. It’s going too far… Once, this one girl wrote a two pages essay of a criticism to explain the heads had been cut out to say this and show that, where in the end, they realized the film was in 4:3 and got shown in 16:9. That was why all the heads got cut! [laughter]

Too much theory!
Yeah, it’s a shame. That’s why I try to do my things on my own. I don’t really like having to deal with others constraints. Now, we have this very last thing to get done, and we’re seven working on it. For everything people got different points of view. It’s a bit annoying! They want to do one thing, and you know it’s not going to work, but you don’t want to tell them… You have to make compromises.

Well, cinema is a bit of a teamwork, isn’t it?
It’s true, but I like to work on my own! [laughter]

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Ignacio Morata