This February, Keith (I//A president) Stu (I//A videographer) and I set out to Japan to film a video for one of our clients, Enshu USA. Their global facilities are overseas, and we were given the opportunity to tell their North American audience the story they would never have the chance to see in person.
The following is an abbreviated version of a blog I kept on my first trip to Japan, and the 9 days we spent collecting video.
A steady downpour welcomes us as we get out of Tokyo Station. We are hauling a large suitcase each, as well as carry-on bags, camera gear and lighting, and we're traveling by foot to our first hotel here in Tokyo. I think it’s Saturday, but I’m not sure. We left on Friday morning, and I have a feeling it’s Saturday evening because it’s dark out, but my brain isn’t processing.
The bullet train to our shoot tomorrow morning is a 1+ hour ride from Tokyo down the coast of eastern Japan. These trains travel around 180mph on tracks that are laid so perfectly, watching them speed by can be mesmerizing. Mt. Fuji rolls by on the right side of the train while the Pacific Ocean sweeps by on the left.
I need a nap.
Sleeping has been an adventure. My body doesn’t know what time it is, and I wake up at 2am wanting lunch. Hopefully, at some point this goes away, because it’s screwing with my head and stomach.
Out early this morning to move on to our client’s location in Hamamatsu, an industrial city on the ocean. Today is a walkthrough to view locations, test lighting and get a better idea of how we will need to tell the story here. It’s our first opportunity to decide whether our idea of what we wanted to do would match what we could do. For the most part, it doesn’t.
Our client is a machine tool manufacturer that also machines automotive and motorcycle industry parts on the same machines they produce. Really cool, but also a lot of stories to tell at once, which is never easy.
It’s Wednesday, and an early accidental rise again—this time at 4am. I’m getting a little closer to normalcy, which should lock-in just about time for us to get back on a plane.
We're at the facility. Our job is to make it and the products look as good as possible, even while everything is drowned in grease and orange sodium vapor lights. We will find ways to make everything beautiful, and when we’re done, even the employees who work here won’t recognize it.
A long day of shooting, hauling gear around the plant and very much creating on the fly. It’s not ideal, but we’re good at it, and we’re going to get stellar results. We left at the end of the day pretty happy with the footage, and are looking forward to tomorrow in a nicer building.
I have lost track of the days, and admittedly, I’m fairly worn out. Wait—I’m completely worn out. Today was the third day of the client’s shoot. It’s a huge plant made up of about 8 or 9 large buildings. Today was going to be frenzied right from the get-go—and we all knew it, but there was a chance that we could knock out a lot of what we needed to get, and give us a fairly truncated last day of the shoot tomorrow.
We got great footage recorded today. I’m proud of the team and what we have been able to gather here. We have some beautiful shots and will be able to make a ridiculous final video when we get back home, too. I’m excited to see this all come together with script, voice over, music and editing.
One more day here tomorrow and then back to Tokyo on the bullet train. Only a couple of days left as a working tourist in Japan, and it’s been one hell of an experience. I have a feeling there are still some more interesting adventures still to come.
It’s the last day, and we were all struggling a bit. We finished up before lunchtime, which was great for all of us. Managed to get wonderful footage and a lot of it, and should be able to tell this story with amazing visuals. The day wasn’t completely without entertainment, though. I think the fumes in the last facility got to all of us. Stuart tripped one of the safety light curtains on one of the machine lines, and shut down the whole production line. Whoops. Ah well, no blood, no foul.
We hopped back on the train for the last day on our 5-day pass and once again had to schlep all of our gear from one station to another to get back to Shinjuku in Tokyo. Only a couple more days here, and I’m happy we don’t have to lug this gear around much longer.
Nine days, 16 restaurants, two cab rides, countless train rides, three location shoots, two temples, four hotels and one eel heart for lunch. Done. Our time here was a massive learning experience for me—and one that I won’t forget—but, I can’t wait to get home to see my wife and kids.
Japan is a country of contradictions and extremes, from over LED-lit urban chaos to the serenity of the historic Buddhist temples. The people here are wonderful, as is the food. Everything is cute here. Houses are crazy small, efficient and built to save and conserve everything. Nothing is wasted.
It’s a wonderful country to visit, but I’m excited to get back on an airplane for that return 12-hour flight. I’m looking forward to getting our sleeves rolled up in the video production. It will be one of the cornerstones of our demo reel and a great tool to flaunt our talented team’s capabilities.