Place Presents: Turtle Times – A Turtle Talk

An interview with Lucas Jankoschek by Roland Hoogwater.

Turtle Times is a series of videos, a project, based around three things, skateboarding, friends & turtles. Lucas is the filmer, one of the skaters & the editor of this (for now) last video in the “Turtle Times” series. We really love turtles and we really love the way Lucas documents and edits it so we dropped a line and managed to talk to the man himself.

Hey how are you, what are you up to?

I’m good, editing the video right now since the premiere is on Friday. It’s all a bit last minute because the premiere of my other video was two weeks ago and I’m kind of in the middle of an editing-marathon to get everything done before winter. It’s been a stressful week but it’s all good.

What do you still need to do until the video is ready for the premiere?

I still have to finish up two animations, the trailer and the friends part. Ziggy (Schaap), Pascal (Moelaert) and Justin (Wagener) are featured as well. They were here in Vienna last and this September and managed to get some footage.

I was actually at Ziggy’s place in Leiden when the last ‘Turtle Times’ episode premiered.

So you stayed at Ziggy’s house? It’s a cozy place right? 

Yeah for sure. At the time they weren’t even sure they were going to be featured in that episode of ‘Turtle Times’ or the next one. But it was super fun hanging and skating together with Pascal and the others. This short stay in the Netherlands during the Vans Shop Riot contest allowed me to connect with people there and also get some social media coverage for Placemag. A lot of people still think of Place as a German skate mag but really it’s become half German and half Dutch.

That’s cool that you guys can do that in Germany. My friend does a mag here in Austria (ABD Magazine) and earns next to nothing, the skateboard industry just isn’t as present here as it seems to be in Germany.

Yeah, I’ve never been to Vienna but from what I’ve heard it’s a great place to skate however the rest of Austria seems to be different, right? 

Definitely. Vienna isn’t Austria, it kind of stands for itself. Everything else around Vienna isn’t really worth our while, which is why we don’t travel much within Austria. It’s so different from the Netherlands in that regard. There you can just skate all these cities by hopping on a train. It feels like one big spread-out city.

It kind of is. The next city is always just a 20-minute train ride away, the same goes for where Ziggy lives. 

That’s what I really enjoyed about the Netherlands. You can just meet up with people in different cities, regardless of borders even. It’ so sick.

I agree, but I’ve heard that the sidewalks and streets in Vienna are better for skating. 

Yeah, everything here is super smooth. Sure there are a few rough spots here and there but technically you could push anywhere, it’s great.

Are you originally from Vienna?

Nah. I’m from Eisenstadt a small town near the border of Hungary. I was born in Vienna though and have been back in the city since 2013. 

I see. So how did Turtle Times actually start? 

So basically I put out a full-length video in 2015 with all my close friends and homies in it, the OG-turtle-crew so to speak. Two years later I put out another full-length video this time however with a bunch of different people in it. Everybody in Vienna kind of heard I was filming for a second video and started hitting me up. I was super hyped on that on the one hand but on the other hand, the OG crew was kind of neglected and I felt like the whole project was getting a bit too big for comfort. It almost felt like a burden at the time although I’m very happy with the results. So after I put that video out I thought to myself I wouldn’t do that kind of video format again. I also wanted to focus more on my close friends again and only film with people I enjoy skating with. This lead me to choose an episode format that works so much better on a lot of levels. Around that time I also received a call from Dallas (Rockvam) asking me if we wanted to film a part, so it all sort of came together organically. What’s important to me when it comes to the episodes is that they should highlight the different personalities and individual people we have in our crew. Every episode is centered around two or three people which allows me to choose the music and structure my project much more freely than if it were a full-length. It’s just easier to integrate ideas into an episode format. With a full-length, I have to stuff in a lot of different people, styles, music, etc. into one video which just has a mixed-up mess as a result. With episodes, I can just plan each one as a portrait of an individual.

So the episodes are tailored to specific people.

Yes, exactly.

Which means you don’t have to mix n’ match all these different people anymore.

Yeah, precisely!

What about Budapest though?

We went there once last year.

Dallas had a few tricks in that one as well right?

Yeah, he joined us later on the Budapest-trip. Originally the idea was to go to Budapest just to film for Dallas’ part, but somehow it turned into an entire tour edit in ‘Turtle Times’ episode 2. Yeah, so Dallas arrived a bit after us, stacked four clips in two hours and then chilled out the entire rest of the trip drinking beers. It was sick! He definitely delivered. 

I really enjoyed his part. It might be his last one though.

Yeah, he did just have a second child. Do you know Dallas personally?

A little bit.

He’s a cool dude for sure. We visited him at his house in the woods for his part. It was important for me to incorporate his personality or at least his personal background into his part. A sort of skate portrait if you will.

Cool. And do you make the animations for the videos yourself?

Yes, I do those myself, actually, I pretty much do everything myself (laughs). I’m not really the type of person to watch endless tutorials or acquire and then familiarize myself with some sort of new software. I don’t have the patience for all that. So a few years back I just started drawing on paper then filmed that with my VX, then captured that and finally retouched everything in photoshop… basically it was super tedious and complicated. I’ve learned a lot over the years though and now I just draw on a digital notepad and then animate that with photoshop. Mostly it’s a frame-by-frame animation so basically a lot of drawings put after each other.

Yeah, I’ve noticed your animations have gotten a lot better over time.

Thanks, I’m really happy with how they are turning out now too.

They’ve also become much more involved in the episodes. During the transitions and stuff, especially the last episode it seemed like you reached a new level of animation.

Thanks, man. I’m glad to hear that. I’m going to the art university in Vienna and took an animation class, so I’ve been animating a lot lately, which really improved my animations overall. 

What do you do at the art university? 

I’m studying art for teaching: I’m going to be an art professor in schools (laughs).

I’m currently writing my diploma thesis which is why the two ‘Turtle Times’ premieres are set so close to each other so I can finish my thesis after I’m done with the videos. I’ll have to hurry up a little bit.

So why is it called ‘Turtle Times’? Why not ‘Cat Times’ for example?

That all started way back when I was maybe ten or twelve. People started saying I looked like a turtle or that I ate like a turtle. Even back then I had always wanted a VX and when I finally got one, I put out my first clip and ironically called it ‘Turtle Productions’. The name stuck and that’s also how the turtle animations came to be. 

Ah okay, that makes sense. I think the turtle figure and name have a strong brand recognition, the turtle kind of ties everything together.

Yeah, that’s something really important to me. It shouldn’t be just about skating, it needs something in-between to ease it up.

I also have some questions from Ziggy for you.

Oh really? (laughs)

I’m supposed to ask you about a tinder story about a local legend called Sven (Friend from Kassel) which involves lighting a car on fire?

(laughs) I don’t even know if I’m allowed to tell this story but if Ziggy asked for it, it should be fine. So basically Sven really got into tinder when he moved to Vienna and naturally has a lot of stories. One of them is that he and his date took ecstasy and broke into a car in a parking lot we sometimes skate in the winter. Which seemed to start kind of romantic at first turned out to be a total disaster. His date apparently was an outspoken feminist and got triggered by something in that car, which promptly led her to light it on fire. Being super high that whole scenario was obviously a bit much for Sven and I remember him telling me he listened to all the news reports the next day to make sure nothing serious had happened. After they ran off the fire should have gone out by itself anyways. I don’t think the car exploded or anything nor I‘m not sure how the date kept on going after the car-fire-action (laughs). 

(laughs) He also has another question for you: why do you clean your kitchen ten times a day?

This fucking Ziggy guy, haha. I can just focus better in a clean environment. My kitchen is my kingdom you know? If I make my oatmeal in the morning it has to be clean. 

I get that. Another question was: Who would win in a fight, Pascal or Ziggy?

Huh. That’s a tough one. Pascal’s pretty tall but Ziggy might be stronger. I think Ziggy would win though, he has more life experience. Pascal still needs to learn a thing or two. Go Ziggy!

Another question, or maybe it’s more of a demand, is: when will the iPhone-holiday-road-trip-video drop?

Ah fuck, sorry boys! It’s definitely coming. I promise. I’m just in the middle of an editing-marathon as I said. No time for anything else right now.

And how many more ‘Turtle Times’ episodes are planned for the future?

This is the last episode as far as I planned it out for now.

So no more ‘Turtle Times’?

Yeah, the ‘Turtle Times’ series has come to an end. Time for something new. For now, I have to finish my diploma thesis and then we’ll see what projects might come my way next year. What I can say is that I definitely won’t stop filming, however, I would like to try out some new things, maybe approach a project with a specific concept already in mind. Maybe shift the focus more towards filming or animation. I think the coolest thing would be to make an entire animated film. That would be a dream come true!

Yeah, that makes sense.

We kind of reinvigorated the whole crew vibe because we were all skating and filming a lot together this year and I think we will carry that vibe into the new year. So the next project will probably happen naturally because of that I guess.

So what will the last ‘Turtle Times’ episode look like? 

This episode contains of three parts and some friends sections. My twin brother Fabi, Gabs and I will have full parts and of course, all the OG crew members are in there too. This ‘Turtle Times’ episode is the one I cherish the most I think. I started filming with Gabs two years ago. So finally releasing that footage is special to me. Plus my twin brother who hadn’t really been skating last year was overcome by skate fever this spring and filmed a whole part. That was really nice to see, not to mention that the level of skating and that of the animations have greatly improved.

So this is definitely your piece de resistance!

(Laughs) Yeah, sort of my final showdown. I had actually thought about naming it that but in the end, it felt like that was a bit over the top.

I think so too because then the next project will ruin the whole final showdown thing. 

Yeah pretty much.

But does it have a name yet? 

Nah. I still have to make my mind up about that. I talked to Ziggy and came to the conclusion that numbers just tend to confuse people so I’ll definitely give the video a name and not just call it ‘Turtle Times – episode 4’. 

Alright. Is there anything else you want to share or let me know about?

I think that pretty much wraps it up. I don’t think I have anything left to add. Thanks for the opportunity to have this interview, cheers!