London Art Spot: Orban Wallace


Have you seen the fun new “Skateseeing” videos? There’s one that features someone on a skateboard cruising through East London (below), which I love. Anyway, Orban is the film director for the project, one of the creative minds behind what is going to be a whole series of “skateseeing” clips in different destinations around the world. I decided to take some time to pick his brain about making this intimate video of East London and his career in general.

Below, Orban talks about working on one of the Harry Potter films, a random keyboard player in Shoreditch and a favourite London discovery that I have not yet had the pleasure to visit. 

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where are you from originally, how long have you lived in London and what brought you here?
OW: I’m originally a country boy, growing up in the wilds of Dorset in a very remote cottage. I lived there until I was 18, before deciding I needed to travel the world. I was always fascinated by film and from an early age began to make films with friends at school and college, using our rural location to come up with Blair Witch-style horror movies and films about poaching.

On returning from my travels, I had somehow wangled a job on the Harry Potter 6 film as a runner in the VFX department, through a family friend. I moved to Hemel Hempstead to work at the studios in Leavesden. I was really thrown in the deep end and had to learn very fast how to work in a department which I previously knew nothing about, in a fast-paced and streamlined production. It was an amazing insight into the top end of the film industry. I learnt a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of production and had an incredible time exploring the world of Harry Potter, constantly finding excuses to escape the office and find a way down to the sets and the action. We then moved to Soho for post production. I moved to Old Street and gained my first experience of London life, in particular East London: the joys of Brick Lane, Broadway Market and the late night party scene in Shoreditch.

I have just returned to London now after spending the last four years in Brighton completing a film degree at Sussex University and establishing my own production company with three close friends.


LLO: You recently made two videos for HotelClub – one in Brighton and the latest in East London – for a series called ‘Skateseeing’. What’s the vision behind this project? Why skateboards? Is Skateseeing something people can get involved in?
OW: We made these videos when Matt Lindley of got in touch with us to create a series of travel videos showcasing alternative destinations in the UK and further afield. Cruising around on a skateboard seemed like a really natural way to explore these areas. It gives the audience the experience of gliding through these spaces, picking up the details of the characters and lifestyles, which characterize what makes these places unique.

We welcome other people to make their own Skateseeing movies, and in fact I think that’s where the series is heading to next!

Click the image below to watch the East London video:


LLO: What are some of your favourite places that feature in the London video? What do you like about them?
OW: I love the markets, the hustle and bustle, people watching, the smells and the banter. My favourite place is the canals on a sunny afternoon, and the atmosphere of everyone hanging out.


LLO: Tell us how your career has progressed. What have been some of the key highlights so far?
OW: After a year as a runner on the Harry Potter film, I decided I wanted to try my hand at producing my own films. I began a filmmaking degree at Sussex University, and embarked on my first documentary, an observational film following the notorious climate camp activists. The main subject of the film was the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which saw thousands of activists descending on the city for a week of madness. It was an intense week, trying not to get arrested and learning how difficult it was to film in minus conditions in very volatile protest situations. We survived and came out with our first film, Copenhagen the Musical.

I continued as a freelance filmmaker making numerous films, before collaborating on my first short narrative, with the incredible guys I work with now. The creativity, tireless nights and laughter that went into our first film together is really what inspired us all to form the company we run now, Gallivant. Gallivant specializes in music videos and commercial content and have made films across Europe, our last being a ski promo in the French Alps, which was alright! We are now in the process of developing our first feature film.


LLO: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your work? And the most rewarding?
OW: The most challenging is always the endless amount of work which goes into pre-production and planning. Learning to be a seamless multi-tasker is what’s hard, but this is what makes a good producer. Directing, filming and being on the shoot are always great, especially by the time you’ve planned some weird and wonderful concept and you’re hanging off the top of a fishing trawler, with your friend performing a live music video, as cuttlefish and ink fly past your head.


LLO: Tell us about a memorable encounter you had with a Londoner while filming Skateseeing East London.
OW: The old guy dressed sharp as nails, playing the eeriest music on his Casio keyboard, was a welcome surprise as we passed under the bridge next to Shoreditch Overground Station.


LLO: How did you choose the music for the video?
OW: I was driving, listening to an old mix CD when this song came on, and it just clicked for me. I’d been a bit stumped beforehand as to what tone and mood to go for, but this song just had that groove and pace which I felt would really work. Amazingly, the artist GUTS, a renowned French trip hop producer, was cool for me to use it when I wrote to him. We have now established a working relationship and I’ve used more of his tunes for other projects. It regained my faith in how it’s always worth it, just to ask.


LLO: What’s been your best East London discovery?
OW: Picking up vegetables at Ridley Road market and sitting on the locks at sunset.


LLO: Where is the Skateseeing series heading to next?
OW: There’s a Sydney video currently in the pipeline, then there’s talk of us flying to the Philippines to shoot one in Manila. After that it remains a mystery!


Thanks Orban!

One comment on “London Art Spot: Orban Wallace

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