Enjoy insights and outtakes from Hemlock Creative’s “Tamashii”

Enjoy insights and outtakes from Hemlock Creative’s “Tamashii”

Last winter, skiers Karl Fostvedt, Andy Mahre and Anna Segal joined filmmakers Ross Reid and Jasper Newton on a six-week excursion to Japan with the goal of “rediscovering connections lost in our modern world.” Basically, the crew went off the “digital grid,” ditching their personal electronic devices for the duration of the trip and arming themselves only with the cameras that would be used to document their excursion.

The Tamashii trailer dropped a few weeks ago, and while you await the full-length release this fall, we wanted to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at the journey, presented by the skiers involved. Enjoy.

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Note: If you’re interested in supporting this project, the filmmakers are currently accepting contributions on the film’s Kickstarter page.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/karl-fostvedt-tokyo-b.jpg” alt=”Karl Fostvedt Tokyo” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Photo by Shannon Skouras” captionposition=”center”]

Flying drones in the streets of Tokyo

Words: Karl Fostvedt

One night on the trip, we made plans to take the subway downtown to meet some of Anna Segal’s friends for dinner. In true Australian fashion, her friends were extremely loud and loved beer.

Cinematographer Jasper Newton brought his drone with us so we could attempt to film the famous five point intersection, Shibuya Crossing. We didn’t want to draw attention to the drone, so we decided it would be a good idea to launch it down a nearby alleyway, then fly it into the intersection and get the shot of everyone crossing from above. The drone wasn’t able to pick up the recommended number of satellites, but Jasper is a drone master, so we decided to go for it anyway.

Five minutes later, the whole crew was frantically running across streets, down alleyways and through food courts, trying to keep an eye on the drone’s flashing lights above the city.

Eventually, the drone ceased communication with Jasper’s remote and took a ride of its own onto the roof of a nearby building.

That night, we emailed ON3P with the details of the rogue flight and a plead for a new drone. One week later, we were back in business.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/andy-mahre.gif” alt=”Andy Mahre tree tap” align=”center” lightbox=”off”]

Tree taps gone wrong

Words: Andy Mahre

We spent a day stepping out and hitting jumps off of a cat track. The hits ranged from playful and easy to technical and big. As the weather warmed up, the snow was becoming heavier and more dense. A tree grabbed my ski while attempting to “tap” a branch mid 360, which sent me lawn darting head first into the deep snow. I ended up stuck upside down in this debacle, without much air.

Luckily, I had one arm free, and was able to move enough snow for an air passage. I was still completely stuck until the crew came to dig me out. No harm done, though.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/anna-segal-skin-track-a.jpg” alt=”Anna Segal.” align=”center” lightbox=”off” caption=”Photo by Shannon Skouras” captionposition=”center”]

Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning

Words: Anna Segal

Unlike most Japanese terrain, we would have no chance of skiing “Jalaskapan” without a weather window. Jalaskapan is a relatively unknown zone located far from any of the big ski resorts. When the opportunity finally presented itself, we awoke at 3:30 a.m. start our day. Bad weather was forecasted to close in on the area around 11:00 a.m. and the tour up would take about three hours. We needed the time.

The area the boys wanted to ski boasted steep bowls, spines and massive avy paths—literally Alaska-style terrain. I was nervous, because I had no idea how to approach terrain like this, plus there had been a large number of recent avalanche deaths in the area.

Our timing went to schedule. We were out the door by 4:30 a.m., breaking trail a half hour later. I had never skinned up a mountain in the dark before. We made it above tree line as the sun was rising, “Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning,” as the proverb goes. This made for a stunning view over the old traditional villages below us, but also served as an early weather warning. We made it to the peak around 8:00 a.m., just as the clouds began rolling in. We bunkered down in the thick fog for over an hour before we decided to call it. As a whole, the group was bummed. But I couldn’t help but feel that our roadblock was a blessing in disguise. None of us had picked out a line, and the terrain was completely unfamiliar to us all. I felt ill-prepared for what lay below us.

Although we produced zilch in terms of footage, that morning was one of my favorite experiences. Touring up by moonlight, watching an epic sunrise, observing Andy’s route selection in the high alpine and listening to discussions about line choice; much of this was new to me and highlighted things I needed to learn. Above all, I appreciated sharing knowledge among the group.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/finding-karl.jpg” alt=”Finding Karl” align=”center” lightbox=”off”]

Finding Karl

Words: Andy Mahre

On one stop of the trip, Karl got booted from the mountain because his ticket wasn’t valid in that specific area. He worked his way back up to the top and spent the rest of the day building a jump by himself. It had snowed enough to make avalanche danger raise substantially and I knew there was potential for life-threatening situations to occur.

The day ended and we all headed down to the base, but Karl was nowhere to be seen. It began to get dark and I became quite worried. I ended up walking back to the ski area, without much hope of locating him. The area is so big and the ski zone so far away, I didn’t know where to begin to look. Then, suddenly, Karl became visible through the heavy falling snow. I was relieved, knowing the conditions were deadly. Sure enough, that storm ended up burying and killing two people. I feel sorry for those directly involved, but thankful that Karl made it out alive and well. To top it off, he constructed one hell of a jump.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/bonfire-2.jpg” alt=”The sixty-foot bonfire.” align=”center” lightbox=”off”]

The sixty-foot bonfire

Words: Karl Fostvedt

We heard about an insane bonfire that gets lit in Nozawa Onsen once every January. After a long day of skiing, we skipped dinner and hit the road to Nozawa. After a quick stop at a grocery store (where we loaded up on chocolate almonds, hi-chews, cochpee, gummis, and the like) we arrived at our destination. We didn’t know exactly where to go, so we stopped to ask a pedestrian coming out of a local convenience store for guidance. A slur of words came our way that sounded something like “Oh mates, if yer looking for ze fire go here there.” He made a pointing gesture as a van came around the corner and almost hit him.

A few moments later, we found the fire’s blaze, and headed into the crowd. Ross and Jasper were equipped with their cameras, but the combination of puking snow and blazing heat caused extreme moisture issues and both cameras malfunctioned almost immediately. After a couple hours, a bunch of Japanese guys with flaming sticks successfully penetrated a giant wooden structure and the whole thing burned to the ground. Sixty-foot flames continued to roar throughout the night.

[aesop_image img=”https://freeskier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/homestay.gif” alt=”Andy Mahre tree tap” align=”center” lightbox=”off”]

The homestay

Words: Anna Segal

During our homestay in the middle of a rural village, our host, Morrie, asked us to connect with him on Facebook. The problem? We had all deleted our accounts for the duration of the trip. It was ironic considering we were trying to disconnect in order to make more meaningful, deeper connections with people. But in this day and age, social media is the most convenient way for people to connect with one another, especially when trying to stay in touch with new friends overseas. Yet, are they true friends if the only way to stay connected with them is through a computer screen? It was hard trying to communicate these thoughts with our new acquaintance, who spoke little to no English. It was awkward to say the least.


Stay tuned to freeskier.com for more from Tamashii. If you’re interested in supporting this project, the filmmakers are currently accepting contributions on the film’s Kickstarter page.

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