Recently I was lucky enough to sit down with one of the main creative forces behind StorrorBlog, Sacha Powell and ask him about his training, how Storror came about and their first feature length documentary, Supertramps Thailand.
Firstly, how old are you Sacha?
I just recently turned 21.
How and when did you get in to Parkour?
I got into Parkour back in 2006 when one of my friends showed me all of the vault tutorials on the old Urban Freeflow website. We watched loads of them and then went out the same day to the local park and tried some vaults. Thats when it all started! I actually started two weeks before Callum because he thought it was lame when I started, but two weeks later he tried it so we started training together. Then we started our own team called Urban Freerun haha!
I remember when I first properly got to know you and Callum was when I shot Brighton Parkour back in 2009. Callum was already this powerful monster and you still so young so were over shadowed by him slightly. Nowadays you have definitely developed your own style and have an incredible array of technical movements mixed with some awesome flips. Was this a conscious choice or has your style just developed this way?
I guess I’ve always been better at flips and weird twisty stuff compared to Callum and found them more fun so just incorporated them into my training alongside the more regular Parkour based movement. I just do what I find fun!
You’ve made training videos for years, is Parkour what got you into filming or did you have a passion for it before?
Yeah it was literally just Parkour. Callum had a Sony handicam and because Callum was training more than me I ended up filming him more. Then the first day Callum got Sony Vegas he went to school and I bunked off and spent the day playing with it which really pissed him off. I think if Callum had used it first he probably would of been the main editor out of the two of us.
We all know Storror formed on 10/10/10 but how exactly did it come about? Whats the back story?
It all started with Max and Benj. They had Horsham Movement as their main youtube channel but wanted another channel to upload more regular content to. It was kind of a joke, they just wanted to make 30 episodes, stop and at that point, give out the password to the public. But it just grew. We were all friends and training together at this point so we all became part of it!
Who produces the majority of Storror content?
Myself and Toby produce most of it. Especially the larger production pieces.
What gear do you guys use to shoot and what software do you edit your videos in?
We used to be the most budget guys. Filming with Canon 550D’s and 600D’s filming with the standard kit lenses but recently we have just upgraded to the Sony A7s and the Panasonic GH4.
Your filmmaking skills have increased tremendously since when you first started out and I have always viewed you as one of my biggest inspirations. But where do you get your inspiration? Do you visualise a lot of your work before you create it or is it more a case of capturing whats going on and then going crazy in editing process?
Most of my inspiration just comes from the Parkour community but also I watch a lot of arty videos on Vimeo and try to incorporate those arty styles into my edits. Most of the time when we go out training I just film normally and then try to get creative in the edit but recently, when we have been trying to make something a bit more special I have a vision in my head of how I want the video so I try to keep the filming style the same regarding camera movement etc.
So would you say the majority of your creative process really happens in your post production work?
Yeah I would say so, although as I said, recently I have been focusing more on filming styles so I think everything is evolving.
You’ve dabbled with a number of video formats and styles and have gradually moved more into the travel/adventure lifestyle and are producing more and more content where Parkour maybe isn’t the main focus of your videos but more of a vehicle that allows you to live out these adventures. As a filmmaker do you want to continue down this path and focus more on the adventures rather than say more on the sport?
I really just enjoy story being the main focus of the video. Parkour is obviously a huge aspect, but like you said, its more of a vehicle rather than the main focus of the story. It does vary though, sometimes we make videos with a story element and then other times we just want to make a sick Parkour video trying to up our game.
You recently released the incredible Storror Supertramps, a feature length documentary about spending a month in Thailand with almost no money and absolutely no plans. Firstly, how did this trip come about?
We just wanted to do a big trip so we could test out a feature length documentary format. We were all on google maps trying to work out a good place to go and came to the conclusion that Thailand is obviously sick and has the added bonus that Farang live there which really capped off the idea because we realised we could surprise them!
What gear did you take with you on this trip?
We wanted to pack light so we only took hand luggage which was pretty restrictive in terms of gear. We took the Sony A7s and the Canon 600D which luckily are both pretty small and light. We also had a Zoom H4N microphone which was used to capture all the audio for the interviews and of course Toby’s DJI Phantom 2 Drone with the Gopro 4.
From a filmmaking perspective, the cinematography throughout the documentary is outstanding. Obviously filming action sequences is relatively planned out but what’s your process behind filming the lifestyle and travel elements? Is it all run and gun, just using your eye to spot shots and grab them as your travelling? Or do visualise what you would like to achieve and set some things up?
Yeah, if we ever get to the top of a mountain or somewhere epic we definitely set up some beauty shots, just because thats what we love to do! Just to create something special. But all of the main story is just captured as it happens. Sometimes it just involves me and Toby running around trying to get the best shots we can wherever we are. We’re not going to go to some epic location and not get the epic shots we see in our heads haha!
I’m always so paranoid about losing footage and I know you’ve had some shockers before, how did you go about backing up all of your shots?
We were actually pretty sensible on this trip. Not the most sensible as we were obviously going to deserted islands and had situations where fishermen would be throwing our bags off of boats with our hard drives inside them. But yeah we had two 2TB hard drives so we had a duplicated backup of everything we filmed.
This was your first proper attempt at a long form documentary, going into the edit did you have any idea of what you were getting yourself into in regards to managing projects of that size?
Yeah, as soon as I opened the project and imported all of the footage I was pretty lost, but when Toby came down to mine he had a bit more of an idea of how he wanted to structure the whole documentary.
Just talk us through the editing schedule you and Toby always seem to adopt when it comes to bigger projects?
It’s an accident every time but basically at the beginning we would always edit together, waking up and going to sleep together, but always on the wrong side of the clock. We always become nocturnal. But this time, because we had a deadline we needed to meet we had to switch it up a bit so we had a tactic where Toby would sleep while I would edit all night, then Toby would wake up and edit all day while I slept and so on. That way someone was always working on the edit and it never stopped progressing.
And how long did this edit last?
Definitely a solid month and a half of non stop editing.
The documentary is packed full of incredible sequences, glitches and just generally tonnes of post production work. I always find myself knocking out edits incredibly quickly due to clients time constraints and this always leaves me unhappy with the final piece. How much time, from start to finish would you say it takes you and Toby to edit something like one of the party sections from Supertramps Thailand?
It varies but sometimes we can spend a whole day just on a thirty second sequence. I remember when we went to Koh Tao, I think it’s the second Parkour section of the video, we spent literally two days just working on the transitions so that every single cut of that section has a transition rather than being a normal cut.
You actually decided on a release date and a cinema premiere way before the documentary was finished. Did this put a lot of pressure on the edit and do you wish you could of spent more time on it?
I hate deadlines. They always alter what it could of been. Saying that, I am incredibly happy and proud of the final piece. But yeah, it adds pressure but we will always try to make it the best it could possibly be, even if it means that extra all night edit.
Rather than put the film on youtube, you opted to sell it via Vimeo on Demand and were some of the first guys in the community using this platform. Rather than give any warning to this you simply dropped the link and let people deal with it. Initially there was some uproar, people annoyed they had to pay and others just annoyed they weren’t given any warning. What are your thoughts regarding this? Do you feel you should of given warning?
I know we should of given warning and I totally understand why people were frustrated because we were hyping it up so much and everyone was looking forward to it. But, I do think it worked in our favour. If we had told people earlier we just would of had the same argument then but instead, all the controversy around it on the release day meant it got tonnes of exposure. It was kind of an accident as well, we did plan to tell everyone at one point but then it just kind of got a bit too late.
So now that Supertramps Thailand has been a huge success, whats next for you and the rest of Storror? What are your immediate plans and also what are your personal and team aspirations for the future?
We just want to have more adventures and make more feature length documentaries or even just bigger projects. I think we are going to try and go to Australia or Hong Kong next! Obviously, in between those we are going to carry on making our normal Youtube content. We’re not going to charge everyone for every video.
Personally, I don’t really enjoy making videos for other people or clients, I like to have as much control and and creativity as possible so I basically just want to carry on doing what we are doing with Storror.
Last question, would you rather be able to train for the rest of your life, or make Parkour videos? You can only choose one and why?
Oooooh! Thats horrible! I’d definitely say train! More self progression and less all nighters!
Actually, just one final question… Is it true?
Ahhhh screw you Kie hahaha!