Toyota Camry 'Holding Hands'
I Directed this Documentary Film in Japan in 2012, where I was invited to be an Artist in Residence.
This was an incredible shoot. Very physical, it was hot and humid and there were many challenges.
I travelled to Yamagata Provence in Northern Japan. It was an amazing place. Very spiritual, and I did not see another westerner for a week.
My crew consisted of Mile Nagaoka from Green Valley and Camera / Sound Assistant Taigo Kawaguchi. We communicated in pigeon English.
We were here to film the Yamabushi training. Essentially, this involved us taking part in the training, as well as making the film.
Fumihiro Hoshino is a 13th generation Yamabushi, someone who guides people on Shugyo ascetic training in Japan. He was the Master, and I decided to structure the film around him. It was very challenging interviewing him in loosely translated Japanese, but after spending several days with the group - I was confident that I understood the sentiment.
The first night was wonderful. An amazing meal with just the crew and the Yamabushi Master. The next day was a little bit different….
We began to walk. Lot's of walking. Day one I was told that we would take a short stroll… we walked up 4500 steps to a temple. This in itself was a challenge, but to throw in the heavy Red Epic camera equipment, and the awkward clothing, and I struggled. Myself and my crew did not make it all the way, we were carrying too much weight and my giant western feet that stuck out of the split toe Japanese slippers were in pain.
We were all living in the same tatami mat room. I grabbed a corner for battery charging and downloading.
A far cry from the first night's meal, we were now on a starvation diet consisting of one bowl of rice, soup and two vegetables.
The chanting and prayers stopped at 11pm, and after a mosquito filled night we were woken at 4am.
This was the big day, and I had negotiated to be allowed to wear my own clothes and shoes. This was to prove to be a great decision. I stripped back the camera equipment to two lenses, 3 batteries and 3 Redmags. Weight was going to be critical. (I must also admit that I cheated and packed some extra water, a Pocari Sweat Isotonic Drink… and a couple of candy bars…)
I was told that the walk would take us about 2 to 3 hours… so I assumed 5. In the end the hike up the mountain took over 8 hours. It was a massive day. I had to film the group as they would pass me, then run ahead to catch up and repeat the process. It was tough, but it was also absolutely beautiful and satisfying.
Chanting and prayers again along with the starvation meal. Everyone was exhausted. I was so tired that I really had to concentrate on my downloading… I could not afford to make a mistake.
Up at 4am again, woken by the sound of the conch. We loaded up and started off back to the 4500 steps that had defeated me earlier. I have to say, after the previous days marathon, it was a breeze. I practically ran up the steps, and the morning light was beautiful to work with.
We got to the top, and the temple was very cool. I looked over… and a car drove past. I couldn't believe it! Apparently there was a road up to the top, but we took the steps!
The weekend was over. Everyone was tired, but we all had a great sense of accomplishment. We sat around and had a feast, including the biggest cup of Sake I have ever seen. It was a great experience, and I was honoured to be invited into the group and I am proud to be Yamabushi.
'Focus: Fresh Challenges'
I filmed the backbone of this piece with Ben Brown recently in Rotorua and Hamilton.
Directed by Ethan McLean from Milk Money Films in Sydney. 'Focus' screened on Fox Sports Australia.
I shot on one of my Red Epic cameras. It was the perfect tool for the slow motion kayaking and overlay with Ben Brown. Also, by shooting the mid shot interview in 5K resolution Ethan was able to reframe and punch in for close ups in post.
(There is existing library footage and aerials in this edit that I did not film).
Peugeot 208 GTi vs. Jaden Leeming
Following on from our Red Bull: Conquer the Crown film, Director Ryan Heron asked me to DP this clip for Peugeot and Red Bull.
We filmed at Auckland Film Studios which bought back memories as the last time I worked there was back in 1990's when I was camera assisting on Hercules and Xena.
Ryan wanted the piece to be dark and moody. It was a great lighting challenge. I decided to put in a row of Par Can's along the back wall to add some visual interest and backlight the smoke. With the shiny black Peugeot I was basically playing with large reflected sources.
Tane Kingan was my Gaffer, and I had access to a lot of lighting fixtures… keeping my lighting team very busy! I used a bunch of 5K's and 10K's, pulling power from two and a half studios.
I shot on Red Epic as the main camera. Haimona Ngata was my B Camera Operator on a Red Scarlet.
We bought in Daryl from Phantom Effects with his Phantom camera on the second shoot day. I shot this at 1000fps, for the stunt sequence. This involved a pretty substantial relight to lift the levels for the Phantom exposure, while keeping the dark moody look that we had established.
I am really happy with the final film. It was a big job and a busy couple of days. With everyone working together we came in on time, and on budget. There will be commercial cut downs on broadcast television soon.
Here is a great Behind the Scenes movie from Andy Deere.
Thanks to Graeme Murray and my Camera Assistant Jymi Best for the stills photographs.