Words: Justin Hare
There is a lot that goes into the making of a film that never sees the light of day. Not only does this include shots that wind up on the cutting room floor, but a host of sporadic moments from travel, relationships that are built over time between the crew, and small bites of the experience that when known, elevate the viewer’s overall experience. The making of Kazu’s first signature project, Kamikazu, had a lot of these. So, in an effort to round out the viewer’s experience and share more of what went into creating one of the season’s most highly-anticipated films, we reached out to the film’s principle cinematographer and director, Justin Hare. Below, you will find a collection of images that didn’t make the print story or any existing online gallery, but are still incredible documents from a season filming around the globe with Kazu and friends. We hope you enjoy this extended bit of insight and that it elevates your Kamikazu viewing.
We started off our season in Japan in an area that didn't have chairlifts. Kazu wanted to use the hiking segment of our film to explore regions he hadn't had a chance to yet, and to get into bigger, alpine terrain that didn't look or feel like his home island, Hokkaido.
With alpine objectives on the table, it was only natural that we ended up shooting a few (and pretty unique!) snowboarding scenes at the valley floor. We always aspire to direct the action, but the weather usually calls the shots. We ended up shooting at lower elevations when the weather up high was nasty, or the snowpack too unstable. On this trip, temperatures were on a roller coaster. We showed up and managed to get a few urban pow clips with an industrial twist before it rained on us. Gigi has always amazed me with his ability to ride everything he decides he wants to. He's hard to keep up with sometimes–dude’s got a lot of energy and such a deep bag of tricks. He put his signature on this segment. The guy can make small, creative stuff happen, but is also so well versed riding big mountain terrain. When I got into snowboarding videos I always appreciated watching riders that seemed like they would shred whatever the mountain put in front of them. In the end, I love the way these shots contrast the few clips we were able to bag in the alpine. Sure enough, a couple days after our warm spell, the snow came back in a big way. We ended up riding the deepest pow of our season.
Kazu stacked the lineup of our Eagle Pass trip with some of his favorite riders. We wanted certain sections to feel like a session so it made sense to keep our crew riding together vs. choosing to divide and conquer. However, filming backcountry with larger crews can also be counterproductive. If the weather and snow are cooperating you want everyone riding as much as possible. On this day, we lucked out and found sunshine on a nicely featured bowl with enough options for our whole crew. Access to the lines was straightforward and there was a perfect pickup zone to scope lines from or to shuttle the guys back up for another go. Making the magic happen requires cosmic alignment. The best way to get Blair seeing stars is to point out pillow lines. This photo depicts a key part of our process. It's in everyone’s best interest to communicate their intentions so that the action gets framed optimally, and so that the guys don't tear up each other’s perspective lines. We mind-surf, then point and chat, using all kinds of descriptive jargon to try and convince each other to go tumble down something weird. Then the magic happens.
Some of us feel more comfortable in the mountains than we do anywhere else. Dustin Craven has designed his life around snowboarding in the areas he loves and we were lucky to have him share some of those locations with us for the film. I have a theory about Canadians being solid people to have with you out in the backcountry and Dustin proves it true every time.