Where did you grow up?
I’m born in Nagoya, Japan, but when I was 5 years old, I moved to Delaware, USA. There I spent my entire childhood.
Why did you choose to move to Shanghai?
My dad got a job transfer to Suzhou, China, when I was 10 years old and we lived there for one year. When I moved back to the States after graduation in autumn 2008, instead of taking a full-time office job, I decided to come to Shanghai because I knew the skate spots would be insane here.
When did you started filming and what makes you want to document?
Since I started skating, the “homies” and I were always filming each other, but I always had a notion of how I wanted things being captured (hahaha). I don’t know, I just wanted to capture the most from people even when the camera is out... It’s motivating.
When were the first time you picked up a camera?
When I was 14, using my parents’ super hi8mm.
Why do you still prefer to film on VX? Have you filmed anything with HD camera?
For the project, Something Sinister, we started and ended filming using VX. Somehow, that only made sense...and honestly, I think that skating looks so fucking badass in VX. It’s undeniable that technology progressed in that direction, towards HD. Of course, we (as film-makers) obviously had to move on. Although, I also film on HD/DSLR, which I love for its crisp image and best of all - no more tapes involved.... Ha-ha. We, skateboarders, will always remember the VX, as a huge part of skate history.
Do you search for spots on your own or is it already prearranged with a skate- boarder you are filming, them wanting to have the footage there?
We decided to look out for spots, as we didn’t just wanted to film at the most blown-out spots.
How long did you spend filming ‘Something Sinister’ video?
In total, it took about 1.5 years.
What do you look into when selecting music for a video part?
Music rights are tough, but since we’re nobodies.... hahaha. I leave it to the skater to tell me what they want to skate, and consequently we reach a mutual agreement. Of course, I wanted the skater to skate to what they really want to. It definitely has to fit the whole vibe, but eventually, we all listen to the same music, so it all worked out naturally. Usually, it is classic hip-hop from the 80’s.
How do you approach a skater featured on ‘Something Sinister’ video? Can you describe production for the film; was it a long time reflection on mutual collaboration?
Somehow, it’s a mutual thing. I desired to see the best of them and they wanted to see how well they could perform too. Finally, we’re all super good homies, eager to see how far we could push each other. To be honest, I just wanted to set a good example for Chinese skateboarding altogether, to the rest of the world.
What other films have you seen and liked recently?
Ultimately, I wanted to make sure that people grasp that it isn’t only about visiting teams killing it, but also about the locals. I watch films constantly, depending on my free time, es- pecially movies and other skate videos. I’ve been watching more movies than skate videos, due to harder distribution here.
What other skateboarding film you produced before?
Just the ‘Gift Skateboards’, a wrap, which really wasn’t my creation, so... ‘Something Sin- ister’ is certainly my first.
Do you feel that you gain more during the actual filming or during post-pro- duction, footage and editing?
One can learn a lot while filming with a person more than any other way! That’s when one gets the heart of the spirit with all its rawness, its non filter-ness and its limitlessness. I’ve made my best friends through skating and I don’t intend to lose them, so yeah, definitely... The process can be cruel sometimes.... It is something unique.
What do you appreciate in Shanghai skate scene?
It keeps growing! Really, this is only the beginning... Let’s see what comes after! One can see results with the buzz around the interview that consequently influences people to visit and step up! It’s good to stay stimulated and motivated!
By Taufek Asmarak
Photo Credit: Tommy Zhao