TRUTH ABOUT “THE FOURTH PHASE” SHOOTING IN KAMCHATKA
The most anticipated premiere snowboard movie “The Fourth Phase” by Brainfarm will take place on the 17th September in Moscow in cinema “Octyabr” thanks Red Bull Media House.
The world online premiere is scheduled for the 2nd of October. This film is about a grand tour along the northern coast of the Pacific Ocean and Helipro oraganized shooting in Kamchatka.
The film production took almost four years. It was created in cooperation of top riders and incredibly hard-working crew that worked with Travis Rice during filming “The Art of Flight”. Together with the best riders of the planet he traveled from home in Wyoming across the ocean to Japan, Kamchatka and Alaska. Marc Lendvik, Eric Jackson, Bryan Iguchi, Pat Moore, Mikkel Bang, Jeremy Jones, Victor De Le Rue, Ben Ferguson and other riders rode with him on this trip.
We used to meet with Travis on different filming projects in Chile and Canada. I told him a lot about our mountain base, about heliskiing that our company organizes there, about all our possibilities in the world and on the Snow Valley. I gave the guys a Helipro Chronicles photo album; it has a lot of pictures from my homeland. Travis’s idea meant such conditions for filming as in Kamchatka, so Braifarm got in touch with us.
The preparation in Kamchatka itself took us half a year. One of the Kuril Islands, Onekotan, was chosen as one of the main filming objects. There is a fantastic volcano on it, it’s called Krenitsyna and it is surrounded by Lake Koltsevoye.
The second plan occurred to Travis 2 months before the shooting: he decided that they could reach the Kuril Islands on a ship from Japan. So we started to study this possibility with local captains. And absolutely everyone dissuaded us from it because of unstable weather in January. There are a lot of storms and ice at this period and the journey is not close at all. In general the Kurils are the most weather unstable islands in the world, as well as Cape Horn, for example. It is explained by the influence of the Okhotsk Sea and the blustery Pacific Ocean, plus the islands themselves are volcanically active. It was planned that Travis with the crew would sail from Japan together with a famous traveler Mike Horn on his catamaran but the high risk did stop Travis and we returned to the initial plan.
We planned to use a helicopter to get to Onekotan. And the guys brought Shotover and Cineflex (special cameras for shooting from helicopters). As the Kuril Islands are a part of the special border area, one must have a permit to visit it. And there are especially strict rules for foreigners. It took us 2 months to get the permits for the whole crew. The guys arrived to Kamchatka just after intensive shooting in Japan. They flew via Vladivostok with 2 tons of equipment and the fun started: we needed to register and legalize that amount of equipment to be allowed as baggage onboard. But once they reached Petropavlovsk, everything went swimmingly. Of course we were surprised to see the amount of the baggage they brought but the guys were surprised even more when they saw our capacious 6-wheel high-pass Ural vehicle. Everything went in but the Ural ‘was shocked’. When the guys got to Snow Valley, the equipment occupied the whole gym.
Meanwhile we sent a crew to install a Shotover on Eurocopter B3 and it turned out that we lack a special bottom cover. Promptly started we to organize such a cover from Moscow. It was borrowed from the Stereotactic Studio. And now try to imagine the girls from Helipro office in Moscow bringing the cover to Sheremetyevo airport. No packing service that takes it for wrapping; it just doesn’t fit into any of the packing machines there. At the check-in the girls are trying to impose it upon passengers who fly to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky but no one wants to take it, of course. And there is a miracle at the last moment – a last call passenger who is ready to do anything if only he is allowed to get onboard. And the mission is complete!
January is a snowy month but unpredictable with winds. That’s why, when we flew out for an area survey on the first day, we didn’t succeed in shooting. The landings were too extreme. We made a snow profile and realized that the conditions were not good for shooting – avalanche danger. So we had to return to the lodge and ride in the forest. So it was Goryachaya Mountain where the guys made their first runs. On the very first day the guys evaluated the pilots captained by Dima Zadirey and our Russian Mi-8 helicopter: it had enough space for the whole crew with the full set of equipment and it easily landed at 2000 meters and higher. Later Travis even signed a T-shirt for a representative of the helicopter company with a request to bring a Mi-8 to the USA.
Every day the crew recovered in the hot springs of Snow Valley. It was January cold weather, Brainfarm tried to shoot night time lapses but the equipment couldn’t stand such low temperatures. Waiting for favorable weather, we rode around on the snowmobiles and looked for good spots for the jumps.
On one of such frosty days Travis saw high dog fur boots on me and right away ordered such to the whole team. The guys liked them so much that we ordered one more pair for Shaun White and passed them to him through Alex Moroz during the Olympic Games in Sochi. It was hard to catch the leader of world pipe there. During a training Alex managed to attract his attention. Shaun was very happy to receive the present, started to ask about the guys, shootings and how the things went there with them.
On the days after we had several flights and rode near Fal’shivaya Bay and the Vilyuchinskiy volcano.
It snowed every day and we checked the weather forecast many time a day. A forecast for sunny weather was only in the area of the Karymskiy volcano that erupted at that moment and everyone got inspired to fly there. We planned to spend a night in camping tents and in the old house that belonged to volcanologists as the most interesting part of the eruption occurred at night time. When we already flew to the volcano, the pilot warned us that a strong wind broke out. Landings in the mountains were impossible as the wind run up to 30 meters per second. When we landed by the house of volcanologists’, it was covered up with snow and we digged the door out for several hours. But in return we could shoot a burning cone and lava.
The wind didn’t fade down. Our next choice for shooting was a quite Morzhovaya Bay. The snow wasn’t good enough for riding. But there we could picture a Japanese pirate schooner beached to the shore.
We rode near the Bichevinka, abandoned submarine base, and everyone took something away with him as a souvenir. So, a soviet sign ‘State Labour Saving-Bank’ flew to Travis’s home.
To add Kamchatka coloring, we went to the Kaynyran settlement. The Koryaks sang songs in a jurt, danced, told fairy tales to the foreigners and treated them with flatbread. And after the gathering the guys rode their boards attached to the dog sleds.
On one day we tried to shoot close to our Snow Valley base but the light was not good enough for shooting.
But from the air we noticed even waves in Sabotazhnaya Bay and flew there to surf. Once again the guys showed the strength of mind: it was minus 20 outside, the water – around 0 perhaps or a bit above it. Most of all we were impressed by Travis, he fought for every wave. The rest returned to the beach quite soon. At minus 20 degrees the surfs got covered with icy crust that made it impossible to control a surf. We dropped hot wax and made deep furrows. At one moment a local hunter came out to us and offered a bear skin for a bottle of vodka.
On bad weather days we had nothing to do but watch Helipro and Stereotactic videos about Kamchatka. When the guys saw our shots where I rode an old-style Russian Buran snowmobile wearing a Simachev fur coat, the guys literally burst out and entreated us to organize such Burans for them. We brought Burans from the local hunting base and gave Travis a wolf fur coat. What else could we do, after all the shootings took place in the forest. And the guys squeezed everything out of it and tore the fur coat in the end.
In the evenings when it snowed for several days in a row, Brainfarm crew made music nights with Japanese sake. Everyone, one after another, sat at the drums, Eric Jackson played the guitar and created the lyrics on the way. Ksu brought her MIDI keyboard and also joined in. If you can just imagine Justin’s face when he went out of underground editing room and saw the keyboard. The following couple of days all the girls of the Snow Valley gathered around him, as soon as he touched the keyboard. These guys are gifted in everything!
Then there was a good forecast for the Kurils, only for half a day, but it was the last chance to get to the aim. We drove closer to the helipad to take off with the full fuel tanks and not to waste the fuel for picking us up from the Snow Valley lodge. When we landed in Severo-Kurilsk, we were met by frontier guards, they started to check our documents and it turned out in the end that, as he said, the permitting documents that we had were not enough. Perhaps that officer saw that the helicopter was fully stuffed with video and photo equipment and just got afraid. Because later, when our case was investigated, the responsible officials were fired. But the tops of the mountains were closed and the wind was strong and, more likely, would not let reach the volcanoes and mountains that we needed for the shooting. It was the only thing that calmed us down. While we were checking the documents, the airport got full with kids with snowboards. They all shouted that they were looking forward to seeing Travis. To say that Travis was impressed is to say nothing! Then everything went like in a cinema. Despite the fact that we were not allowed to enter the border area yet, as the officials continued to check our documents, Travis got on the snowmobile and rushed to the nearest hill, reached the cornice, jumped and rode down the slope, while several frontier guards pursued him on the snowmobiles. The kids were happy, they kids just shrieked! They used everything they had for autographs: phones, clothes, snowboards, school mark books!
The guards sent us back away. Before we left, Travis handed his snowboard to a local snowboarder Kostya Petrov. Travis always will be a hero for those kids!
When we returned to Snow Valley, we organized several more shooting flights but then it became unusually warm and it was too dangerous to ride the slopes.
2014 was a difficult year in all regions where Travis planned to shoot. Alaska in January-February wasn’t white, as usually, but brown. It was the same warm in Canada. That’s why Brianfarm decided to continue the shootings for this movie and film it for 2 years instead of one. We are looking forward to the premier. I am sure Travis and his crew will show Kamchatka in the best light!