If you’re remotely into cars and have been anywhere near the internet over the last couple of days, you probably caught the video of a guy grabbing breakfast and then shooting off to Nagano with his Ferrari F40 and doing some skids in the snow. A collaboration between Takeshi Kimura of Car Guy and Red Bull, the short film was coordinated by someone who’s no stranger to Speedhunters: Japan-based director Luke Huxham.
I was invited along to check out how a video of this nature is put together – an opportunity I jumped at once I heard what it would involve and be all about…
The shoot was split up into three separate days of filming, starting off in a trendy area of Tokyo where a house was rented out for the video’s initial ‘waking up’ sequence.
I wasn’t able to attend this particular part of the shoot, but Edward and Johnny from Abandon Visuals were kind enough to send me a few of the still images they always grab when they’re shooting projects. Luke had brought them out from the US to take care of filming and the massive editing process that follows a production of this nature.
A variety of cameras were used, ranging from REDs fitted with a tantalising selection of glorious Zeiss glass…
To Sony FS700s and A7s for many of the action and night shots.
The Tokyo house location was really cool, but you probably don’t realise just how tight some residential areas can get in Japan’s capital. The F40 had no issues getting in and out of the small driveway that leads into the parking spot, but clearances were a tad tight at some points.
The first day’s shoot wrapped up successfully and the next day we would all make the 3-hour drive up to Ryuoo Ski Resort in the popular Shiga Kogen area of Nagano Prefecture.
By the way, if you are yet to see the video I suggest you do so immediately; thankfully Red Bull has just made it available on YouTube in ultra high-definition 4K 2160p resolution.Moving To The Slopes
On the second day of the shoot things kicked off very early as we only had use of the main ski slope at the resort up until its public opening time of 9:00am. That meant that all film and photography crew, plus Kimura-san (the F40’s owner) and his team, and the extras hired to be in this particular series of shots had to be there well before 6:00am. I know there has been a lot questions regarding who Kimura actually is and what his ‘Car Guy’ club is all about, but the answer is pretty straightforward. Simply, he’s a car enthusiast with the means to enjoy his passion to the fullest. Sometime soon I’ll drop by his recently opened Car Guy HQ in central Tokyo and check out his car collection.
But for now, just think of him as a cool dude with a cool car, who likes to do the coolest possible things with it! Filming kicked off as soon as light broke with Kimura asked to charge up the slope in his Ferrari while various angles of the scene were captured. This even included shooting through the windows of an elevator in one of the hotels.
Are you cringing yet? I noticed so many people commenting on the snow chains in my video post from a few days ago. Of course, the chains were custom made for the application, and gave the F40 enough traction to provide some grip on the snow surface, but not enough to stop it from being able to slide. It’s the reason why ice studs were only used in the front tyres.
The Abandon Visual crew were in their absolute element.
There were some unexpected breaks that had to be taken, issues with the chains coming loose and having to be retightened, not to mention the Ferrari’s battery losing charge in the cold weather.
But this didn’t cause too many delays, and the list of required takes was quickly checked off.
You may not realize it, but even a short film like this requires a very well thought out storyboard. Every possible shot is required to give the editor as many options as possible, and of course to not miss the chance of grabbing cool and unique angles.
The snowmobiles from Ryuoo Ski Patrol came in very handy for tracking shots, both leading and following the Ferrari, but also going towards it as it climbed the slope through the crowds of snowboarders.
You may have noticed how cool the F40 sounds in the video, but that audio took a ton of work to capture as the chains on the rear wheels created a terrible noise. It got even worse when they started to rub on the inside (and outside at one point!) of the vast carbon-Kevlar wheel arches.Drifting Action
The next scene was a calm and unused winding road away from the busy slopes. A great deal of time was spent here attempting to nail all the shots.
Oh yeah, I have to make special mention of these PIAA rally lights, which were requested by Luke especially for the night driving shots. Leading into the final camp site scene they provided a nice cinematic effect, not to mention looking ridiculously cool fitted to an F40. Also specifically fitted for the shoot was the tape deck that Kimura pops a cassette into at the beginning of the film, keeping it period correct with the car and all…
We had a JDM-sized (read: small) Snowcat at our disposal during most of the shoot too, main reason being as soon as the Ferrari drove over the sections of roads it would dig deep into the snow and make a real mess of things. So every couple of runs this thing would go out and smooth the snow surface out.
Given the places we were filming at, getting the crew in and out required the use of these cool vans running rubber tracks, which made us feel like we were being deployed into a war zone or something!
All things considered, I was impressed the car coped so well with the abuse it was being subjected to. The custom studded front tyres made easy work of some pretty deep snow too.
I did, however, feel sorry for the abuse the rear Speedline-made wheels were being put through, and in a couple of areas the chains did score the surface. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, but still, these are genuine F40 items…
There was also a time that one end of the chains came undone while the car was under power. Yes, it’s painful to see, but thankfully the underlying carbon-Kevlar body is ridiculously strong and only the paint was affected. As I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, the car is currently in at the Ferrari dealer getting some well-earned TLC.
Kimura was enjoying it though. He came into this project knowing there was a high chance that some things would go wrong, but we were all there to do one job and nothing was going to stop that.
Luke kept thundering on, mentally checking off each shot in his head.
It’s a satisfying thing seeing a project unfold before your eyes, but tough to keep the whole production on schedule.
So the filming continued.
The final shot in this location was an aerial sequence filmed with a DJI drone piloted by Edward from Abandon Visuals. Unfortunately, its batteries weren’t liking the sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures.
But thankfully, having a hot twin-turbo Ferrari V8 at our disposal meant that the packs could be kept at a functioning temperature.
A few minutes of low-height flight brought the batteries up to operating temp, and then the drone was sent skyward to capture Kimura doing his thing.
Things went very smoothly for the most part, but the front lift on the suspension started to gradually lose ride height, which was probably what caused the only spin that Kimura had on the day.
The front of the car was by now in its lowest position which would be fine and look great for Tokyo streets, but not so much when you’re driving your F40 like this! Still, it made the front end dig into the powder and throw it up in the air and over the car.
Seeing Kimura flick his car left and right in nicely controlled power-slides made me wonder how many F40 owners have driven their cars like this? It surely can’t be many! Given their value, most sit parked in temperature-controlled garages, so to see a guy enjoying such an iconic Ferrari in this way made me smile. Good for him I kept thinking!The Final Action
The next scene was shot from inside a wooded area as the F40 shot by downhill with a couple of snowboarders alongside. This took some careful timing as the position of the boarders was critical.
Even more crucial was timing the shot, as the camera was mounted on a gimbal and held by Johnny on the back of a bobsled contraption while Luke did the steering.
At times I just had to sit down and take it all in; there was little chance that what I was seeing in front of my eyes would ever happen again. Actually, scratch that – I’m sure it’ll be done again sometime with a different car.
But this was an F40, so that’s an automatic win. It can’t be beaten. Ever!
We paused for a second while some snow was thrown up onto the car’s windscreen. The idea was to mist up the inside of the front glass so that Kimura could wipe it clear for another short sequence of filming.
Here it is, all in action.
The ending shot with the car spinning up the wheels and kicking snow in the air was also shot at this point.
Viewing it all from behind provided the best angle, and it worked brilliantly first go. And with that it was a wrap for the day’s first shooting session.
After a much-needed food and refreshments break, followed by an afternoon nap to bring our bodies back to normal temperature and muster up a little more energy, it was back out again right when the slopes closed to the public at 5:00pm.
This time we would go all the way up to one of the highest slopes at the resort, which meant the F40 had to be towed. It was a good 15-minute climb, but totally worth it as it gave us a nice view of the valley before the dusk turned into night.
From that viewpoint, Kimura was filmed going as fast as he had ever dared to in the snow. Luckily, the official Ferrari mechanics he had brought with him had managed to fix the lifting system on the front while everyone else was getting a couple of hours rest, so it was good to go. He gave it his best shot and came pretty close to the 120km/h speed he thought he could achieve.
After his second go, he got on the radio and decisively said, “That’s it – I’m not doing that again!”
The final camp scene was also being filmed at this location, and with temperature creeping closer to -10 degrees Celsius we were all so happy when the campfire was started. When not being used in the scene, the fire provided welcome warmth to the crew who all gathered around it.
After slurping some instant noodles, Kimura cracked open a can of Red Bull, and with that ended a rather long day of filming.
The next day it was onto the access road that leads to the Ryuoo resort.
Now it was a scramble to get the additional shots to give the final edit some continuity.
Who said you can’t have a bit of fun on the side though! And that’s the best part of working with a professional and dedicated team like the one that was assembled for this project. With everyone loving and enjoying what they were there to do, and almost everyone into cars, it made for a great working environment. The result speaks for itself.
Dino Dalle Carbonare