Now the snow has finally decided to make an appearance in Queenstown, it is time to reflect on where we were getting our fill of the white stuff when our hills were slightly barren. Back at the start of July we all piled into World Bar for one huge party. Not only was there a birthday celebration, cake flying around and copious amounts of our favourite spirits, it was a night to support a good friend. Jake Munro was back in Queenstown from the big city to premier his snowboard film.

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The bar quickly filled with familiar faces and there was an air of excitement before the big reveal, the trailer was enough to wet your appetite playing on repeat as the beers were poured. Obligatory birthday cake and a communal sing song set a president of good vibes for the whole evening. The Rising Gaijins is a short film by local boy Jake Munro, it features three freeskiers and two snowboarders from NZ who embarked on an epic journey in to the backcountry of Japan to film one month of pure powder carnage.

Sponsored by Mountain Dew the trip follows Harry Petit, Nick Brown, Rupert Paterson, George Pengally and Jack Spence as they shred, battle the elements and forge a true brotherhood all under the watchful and very talented eye of Jake Munro. Japan in renowned for its backcountry powder, culture and amazing scenery. Jake managed to capture everything while his crew carve some awesome runs, jumps and epic bails. The high spirits of the whole group shine through from the moment they step through the door of Rhythm Japan Niseko. The film features the road trip, accommodation and some serious skiing and riding. There is no doubt in anyones minds that these boys are talented and makes you wish that you strapped on a board or set of skis before you could walk to reach their ability.

The exclamations from the crowd say it all, everyone was in admiration of the whole film. Paired with an incredible soundtrack by Civilian Sol the film embraces pure Japan and skill. After the film finished the whole bar erupted in support of the talent on screen, it was a night enjoyed by everyone and I feel like a few wanderlusting viewers will soon be booking their own epic adventure to Japan. I caught up with Jake after and got the nitty gritty out of him before the night really got underway.

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What was the inspo for the film/trip?

Myself & my producer (Harry Pettit) always wanted to go to Japan since we were grommets in Queenstown watching the big kids go over there every season & also just collaborate on a project in general. So in late 2015 the opportunity came up with me leaving my full-time job to become freelance in 2016 so we booked some cheap flights with no plan at all and then organically the trip turned into a film project once some extra crew & sponsors came on board.

Where did the name come from? The name ‘Rising Gaijins’ was our second choice in name actually..We first started hash tagging #TheLostGaijins on our trip because A. we were lost 99% of the time & B. Gaijins in Japanese translates to foreigners so in a literal sense The Lost White boys of New Zealand really rang true. But while we were over in Japan Sam Smoothy’s ski project came out called ‘The Lost Gringos’...it was too close to home so we switched it to rising because for most of the crew they are up & coming rising athletes in NZ.

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What equipment do you use?

Being one man band I kept it semi small.. 2x sony A7 series cameras
Canon Glass
super 8mm camera
3DR Drone
Ronin M Gimbal Syrup Timelapses kit Tripod

How did you pick your crew?

Anyone who wanted to come could come..only requirement was you had to be a good bastard & jump off some cliffs..We were lucky enough to have a small but awesome crew in Japan. Nick Brown who is a veteran in Japan trips providing us with some well needed tips & tricks, Rupert Patterson the curly haired man with amazing banter, George Pengelly with his freakish skills in backcountry terrain, Jack Spence was luckily in Japan anyway so naturally we made him extend his flights buy two weeks so he could join the party & lastly myself & Harry with the shit yarns making up the team of 5.

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Why Japan?

For the snow. Japans winter season consists of a crazy amount of snowfall and for years I’ve watched local NZ filmers like Heath Patterson & Riley Bathurst make the trip and come away with some amazing content. Filming & riding in those conditions for months I knew was going to be a challenge but its something myself and the crew really wanted to experience.

What was the best part of the trip?

This was the worst but best part of the trip for me...We were in Sapporo for 2 nights shooting some urban and there was 5 of us sleeping in a 2 bedroom apartment and we parked our van in what we thought was our apartment car park. Our Airbnb host was MIA & gave us little info from the start. Since we were in this small space I left some of my large camera equipment in the van for the night. We woke up to the van gone and no idea where it was with all signs being Japanese...Long story short Rupert & Harry came back after a few hours & informed us that the van had been stolen and the police were coming over to investigate. But no they were joking after making me sweat for a minute and it was a simple towing that would cost us 30,000 yen ($400NZD). Why that was the best part of the trip for me was because I didn’t care we had to pay out our weekly food budget to get the van back but the instant happiness that occurred knowing my gear & rental van wasn’t lost along with all my spare pair of undies & socks.

Where and what is next for you?

I'm back in Auckland now and moved myself into a little studio space out west. Working with some clients & production houses building my portfolio up after working for a production company for the last 4 years. I was lucky enough to go back to Japan actually to shoot a commercial in Tokyo a few weeks ago so all good things and I acquired jakemunro.com hahaha so if your interested in what projects I’m onto next go check it out..

the rising gaijins jake munro queenstown snow blog 2All images supplied by Jake Munro.