Meet Callun Loomes, the skateboard visionary who still works in a pub
In eight years Get Lesta has become one of the UK’s most productive skateboard media outlets with an output to rival any fully fledged brand. Founder Callun Loomes explains how
The Get Lesta brand began life as nothing more complicated than one guy filming his friends skateboarding at their local skatepark for fun. Over the interceding eight years however, Callun Loomes’ one-man enterprise has become one of the UK’s most productive skateboard media outlets with an output to rival any fully-fledged brand, gained international attention from the likes of Thrasher magazine, and racked up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views in the process.
Whilst still effectively being Loomes’s hobby, Get Lesta has diversified into the soft goods market, released a collaboration range of skateboard hardware and soft goods with one of the biggest brands in the world, and recently premiered their fifth full-length skateboard film ‘Last Orders’ to global acclaim. Despite all this, the man behind the lens still holds down a full-time job as the assistant manager of his grandparent’s pub in Leicestershire, but can still be found crouching in urban detritus in forgotten corners of cities throughout the UK on a weekly basis.
Can you explain to us the two aspects of your life that make up what you do for a living?
My grandparents have owned a pub called The Old Horse for 23 years, which I've worked at in various capacities for the last ten years. I film skateboarding in my spare time and sell DVD's and t-shirts in order to fund doing that as often as I can. The pub job helps a lot because the hours can be as full on or as minimal as I want them to be. So, during the summer when the weather is at its best, I can be out filming more to catch the sun, and then in the winter I do more pub shifts to catch up and earn a living as, due to the British weather, there’s not that much skateboarding going on. I've got my publican’s license sorted so that when I’m too old to jump over fences, sleep on people’s floors and/or spend ten hours crouched down filming skateboarding, I can be at the pub more permanently.
How often do you work in your grandparent's pub versus working on Get Lesta projects?
I work at the pub five days a week but, as I say, I’m basically free to pick my shifts to fit around filming. Most of the skaters in the Get Lesta crew work during the week, so I try to get my shifts to coincide with them, so that more people can be out at the weekend. On an average week, Saturday and Sunday will normally involve going on a mission somewhere a few hours away with a crew to skate and film. Then on a couple of week nights, after my shifts finish, I will usually meet up with one or two people who are free locally and film a couple of mellow clips. Weekends are generally when people hurt themselves. So, roughly, five days at work, then two evenings filming, then both days at the weekend are pretty full on with Get Lesta stuff.
Every weekend we go to a different city and explore and just see what happens.
Working in The Old Horse funds you to go out and make skate videos and run the GL brand too, right? Are you making enough to live the way you want to?
Yeah the pub funds me to go out so much for sure. Ideally I'd like to work a couple of days less and spend those filming instead but it's not doable. I’m able to live perfectly well, I don't buy anything stupid and all my money goes on being out filming but I enjoy it, and it would do the same even if I wasn’t working under the Get Lesta moniker. At the end of the day, my money is spent on travel, food, drink and hotels – all of which basically translates to having a good time with my friends. I don’t really look at it as spending ‘my own money on filming’ as it’s something that I enjoy doing.
What's the best part of your job in the pub? What about the best part of your job as the man in charge of the Get Lesta empire?
Most of my family work at the pub so it doesn't always feel like ‘work’ as such: also free food and drink is definitely a bonus. In terms of running Get Lesta, the best aspects are definitely the people I've met through doing it - such a strange group of people to be put together. If they didn't all skate I honestly doubt that they would have ever met or become friends. Everyone is a nightmare, but in a great and entertaining way, so there’s never a boring day when we are out filming. Every weekend we go to a different city and explore and just see what happens. So no two weekends are the same, which I like.
What are the worst aspects of both?
The hours at the pub can be intense. For instance when I look after the pub for a month, I’m up at 9am to get everything ready to be open at 11. Then I get everyone out by midnight, get locked and cashed up, so I can't really chill until 1am. Although during the day you can relax sometimes, you still have to open and close at that time every single day, regardless of how you might be feeling personally. Also, I can’t go on a night out myself really because until 1am I have too much responsibility to be falling asleep at 10pm if I’ve indulged myself the night before. Once you get accustomed to the routine of pub work it’s okay though.View on Instagram
In terms of Get Lesta, occasionally you get a weekend when you travel somewhere far away and the weather intervenes so you can’t actually skate, or someone will get hurt and so you film nothing. Those days can be de-motivating for sure. But that said, equally the next weekend can be blazing hot and you film tons of tricks and everyone is hyped: you have to take the rough with the smooth – that’s how skateboarding is.
What's the biggest misconception people have about your job in terms of your public persona as the 'Get Lesta guy'?
That I’m personally in any way proficient at skateboarding…
How did you start out filming in the beginning?
It began with me as a 16-year-old filming my friend at the local skatepark. I did that for a few months and we started to make a few little edits out of the stuff we’d filmed in there. After that, I left the relative safety of the skatepark and started filming on the streets with the same guy, he ended up moving away to London for University and I just carried on filming ever since.
Can you run us through some of the craziest scenarios that you've found yourself in while working on Get Lesta projects?
Normally that will revolve around coming up against the ‘wrong’ kind of security guard who’s having a bad day and wants to fill you in due to the fact that you’re skating near something he’s being paid to protect. It’s pretty similar to the pub to be honest, apart from in that scenario; the aggressor will be some drunken guy who wants to fill me in.
If you had to pick a highlight that makes all the time you spend out on the road, getting hassled by security and getting hit in the head with skateboards while filming worth it – what would you pick?
Obviously, I don't enjoy going back to try and film the same trick over and over again because, well, who would? But when that does happen and we get stuck in a vortex of repeatedly driving to a carpark in Coventry, or somewhere equally as glamorous, I'm always enthusiastic because it means that the skater is really committed to whatever it is they’re trying. So if one time you get kicked out of a skate spot, or it rains, or their skateboard snaps, when you do eventually get it, the whole process is really rewarding.View on Instagram
You have diversified into running Get Lesta as a clothing brand alongside the video projects you produce - does that bring in enough for you to ditch the other job completely yet?
No, no way near: I kept getting people asking me to do some t-shirts and clothing so after enough time I thought it was probably worth a punt as the demand seemed to be there. It does mean that that extra money I make from selling shirts etc can go towards funding the filming some so it's worth doing, but my main income is still from my job at the pub.
What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
What have you learned from your time as a one-man skateboard media empire?
Stretch and look after your back when filming, I’m forced to go to a chiropractor regularly now because I neglected to stretch before and after filming for so long. Oh yeah, and don't spend too much time on the Internet.
What ambitions do you still have?
To own a yacht.
Where can people find out more about what you and your crew get up to?
Sidewalk Mag did a documentary on the whole Get Lesta project explaining in more detail what we do, which is on their YouTube channel. Our latest video ‘Last Orders’ just premiered online over at Sidewalk Mag, too. Alternatively, our Instagram (@getlesta) is the most regularly updated look into what we get up to.