when you grow up too fast

"What happens when you grow up too fast" aka "Saint Denis" is a documentary by Phil Evans starring Denis Lynn.

“There were multiple challenges putting this project together, but the most consistent one certainly was getting a hold of Denis. He always disappears, often without a phone or money - but he always somehow seems to do alright, he's got great survival skills!  

The majority of the filming for the project was supposed to commence in April 2017, but Denis disappeared and got in some trouble.. so we re-scheduled for August but he missed a connecting flight as he got arrested in an airport. Well, you’ll have to watch the full film to see how this pans out!

Apart from Denis disappearing he's really fun to be around, he's a very funny dude and has a proper talent for cheering people up. He also pulled some gnarly tricks out of nowhere at a point where I really thought that he needed to be in rehab and shouldn’t skate.

I've known Denis for roughly ten years, we clicked very early on. From the first time I've met him, I've always noticed how old he actually looks... the years have not been kind, haha! I think because he started skating when he was five, and his peers were all adults, he adapted to this by developing a grown up sense of humour, so now that he is 25 you can put him with a kid or a pensioner and he'll be able to get on with anyone.. unless he finds them boring, then he just tortures them! 

Also, for Denis, as a kid that grew up in a rough area of Belfast, when he comes to different cities - like the ones in Scandinavia where we did the majority of filming - the people are so passive and mellow. He's very used to aggression and avoiding trouble, so when he comes to places like Malmö/ Helsinki/ Copenhagen he feels unchallenged... so he never pays for buses or trains (sometimes food and alcohol, too) because he believes there's way less consequences.

Samu Karvonen, who was with us for a chunk of the filming, mentioned that Denis could be a lawyer if he wanted to be. You can't win an argument with him! He's very confident and has a motormouth so you need a lot of energy to try argue with him. He also hates being told what to do, which is fair enough, but I had a job to do so when he didn't feel like skating a spot I had to use reverse psychology and tell him he isn’t able to do something... or film someone else, so he didn't get my loving attention that he craves so much, haha! 

At the end of the project it felt as if we’d ridden a real rollercoaster. There were so many fun and great times - but there were also occasions where I was lying in bed picturing myself strangling him as he would just disappear without any way to contact him. However, I do feel there's a lot you can learn from a character like Denis, he marches to the beat of his own drum with total confidence and no insecurities about what others may think - and I believe that's something most people only wish they’d be able to do.“

> words by Phil Evans
> opener photo by Stuart Robinson
> all other photos by Samu Karvonen

> more info and photography at Carhartt WIP