Words: Mark Clavin
Photos: Ashley Rosemeyer, Kieran Brownie
On top of a three-story building on a hillside in Mexico, trying to get a good signal, Jess Kimura crackles through. "I've had a rough couple of years bouncing back from shoulder and ankle surgeries, and some other major life things, so I just thought I would buy a camper, fix it up, and drive down to Mexico to surf and edit for a bit."
During the past decade she's spent in front of the camera, Jess has earned a place as one of the most respected riders in our culture. She has always chosen to point it downhill before enjoying downtime, but unable to strap in this past season, Kimura ventured behind the camera as a way to continue progressing snowboarding while healing up. The project is at its halfway mark, and for the ten up-and-coming females in the film, Jess is looking forward to what is in store.
So you're editing your upcoming two-year movie, The Uninvited. Want to tell us a bit about the project?
I want to show girls that care about snowboarding what they're capable of. I'm not trying to make a pop album that everybody likes. This is an indie garage band release for the ones who are hungry for this kind of inspiration. Some will be stoked, and for the people that aren't, who cares? I want to get these girls sponsors and give them a chance to climb the ladder into pro snowboarding. The thing with all-girl projects is that they need to be there. Guys aren't going to put three girls in their movie. You've got to create opportunities for women to film. I filmed with Peep Show the year before I filmed for Think Thank, and that's what prepared me for Right Brain Left Brain.
What I did this past season with the girls was almost like a film school, their school on how to film a video part—learning how to build spots, usable versus throwaway shots, and just how to go about the process of the season, so if an opportunity to film for a bigger video comes around, which hopefully will, they'll be ready. They won't be making rookie mistakes. Crews aren't going to treat you special because you're a girl or give you extra time. There are limited budgets and resources for snowboard movies. In my experience, you have to use the resources to their maximum potential so that the results are multiplied… You have to be like Jesus with the fish and the loaves of bread—take what you're given and make it into more.
And how did this project come about?
I have been thinking about it for a while, and after the surgeries I had a long time to think. I've always felt something like this was important to do. I've always had really good mentors, as cheesy as that is and felt compelled to give back, but I didn't know exactly how. Being a pro snowboarder is pretty selfish because you are the star of the show. It is always "film me!" I've always felt guilty with any success I've had. I'm getting over that and realizing I can just do something to help someone else. I have done that with girls over the years informally and wanted the reach to go further. The Uninvited is a project out of nowhere, so that gives these girls something to film for—to feel like what they're doing does matter until somebody has a company somewhere and realizes, "Damn, we should pay this girl."
You have always taken riders under your wing, but this is from behind the camera. How was it being off your board?
The camera stuff was pretty stressful because I was never trying to be a filmer. After editing the teaser, I realized I couldn't edit this whole project alone, so I'm actually teaming up with Troy Erickson, a longtime friend and great filmer, to help.
The rest of it—the shoveling and showing them how to build takeoffs, how to look at different kinds of snow for different features, speed, all sorts of shit—I never realized I knew until I did this project this year. Not in a cocky way, I know a lot more than I thought to give to someone else. I always wanted to have it down to a science, and this winter, I realized I finally do.
Are you riding at all in it?
No clips. I'm not trying to make a movie and give myself ender. I want the girls to get the attention from this, not me. I was going to be sitting on my ass all season healing up, so I felt like I had to do something. Make a movie? Okay. I hit up a few girls and all the sudden I'm flying to Quebec and driving a soccer mom rental van full of girls and gear.
How was that?
Like being locked in a chicken coop with a fox.
Who was the fox?
Everyone had their turn.
Why these 10 girls in particular?
I just have my eye on girls' snowboarding because I'm interested in it. It is what I do. I'm a girl, and I snowboard, and I want to know where the level is at. I'm interested in the future of it and who's coming up. I had a pretty good idea of who was ready to film a real part.
Any riders to watch out for in particular?
Maria Thomsen. She needs to make it so bad. She is on another level. And her story is so insane, when I was filming with her this year, I thought I should make a mini documentary on her. Maria's from Denmark, and she has a three-year-old child, a blown knee, and she can't get a babysitter, and she doesn't have health insurance. Her story is insane. She has to make it or I fucking quit. I would love to see them all make it to the top. I see myself in them a lot—my younger self that had this dream so big I would have done anything to make it happen. I got lucky, and I want to see them get lucky too.