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TADAIMA EP 5: Surfing

Fifth piece of a series of spontaneous night encounters, seized and captured by Issam Kechouri.

For either a shot of self-contemplation or a cocktail of casual conversation, the intimate bars of Tokyo represent the unique social rhythm of the city.

For many foreigners who pass through or settle in Tokyo, the bijou drinking holes which line the streets have been the catalyst for their love affair with Japan.

For director Issam Kechouri, it was within the walls of Tokyo’s hole-in-the-wall bars where creative inspiration was poured from the individuals that he met.

Formerly from France, Issam worked in multimedia industries in Paris and Canada before settling in the Japanese metropolis. Since his arrival in Tokyo, he is inspired by the city at night, the time where the work hours end and the Tokyojin seek refuge from the day beneath the glare of the city lights. The opportunity to improve his Japanese allowed him to absorb the stories, dreams and visions of creative individuals in the intimate comfort of a bar.

Fascinated by documentary filmmaking and the individuality of artists, Issam’s most recent project, Tadaima, is a collection of videos and stills which focus on an opportunistic form of collaboration.

A direct translation of Tadaima is “right now”, but has the cultural connotation of meaning; “I’m home”.

This term has an emotional characteristic for Issam and constitutes a metaphor intrinsically linked to his experience of living in Japan.

To him it represents his passion for the introductions he makes with unique individuals, as though it were a destined opportunity for collaboration. A sense of feeling at home with a stranger and sharing their stories with the lens of his camera in the immediate moment of their encounter.

This, to Issam, is Tadaima.

Koenji is a neighborhood in Tokyo where Issam finds true inspiration.

The hordes of punk-rock and creative individuals offer something new on every visit, and it’s a location where the Tadaima project is most easily realized due to its proclivity of artists. After having a few ginger highballs with his friend Nicolas, camera in tow, Issam explored the vibrant and electric streets of Koenji in search of his next Tadaima muse.

Initially superstitious of the 365Bar, as it was where Issam had previously had an unsuccessful collaboration, the bar was perfect for the kind of evening he and his friends had in mind. “Shoganai” (it can’t be helped), Issam thought, as they entered the small, dark establishment dominated by a large counter bar.

The bartender instantly recognized and knew Issam by name, as last time he was there he had ordered the famous 365 shot: a brightly coloured and dizzying mixture of spirits, served in a conical glass.

In the corner of his eye Issam noticed a smartly dressed group he was tempted to meet.

Timidly approaching them with a Japanese punchline he had practiced in the mirror, Issam asked whether they were a Japanese pop group. They all laughed and he pulled up a chair and after a while spent drinking and getting to know each other, Issam shared his project with them.

A little later the group had to leave but upon their exit one of the men, Ryusuke, admitted that he was a surfer. Interest was peaked and after being shown videos of his skill, Issam decided that he definitely wanted to collaborate.

Of course there wasn’t the opportunity to do so immediately, so the pair shared numbers and agreed to meet in a few days time in Ryusuke-san’s favourite surfing spot near Enoshima Island.

Knowing that he was going to need to shoot underwater, Issam sought advice from fellow videographers he knew in order to adequately capture the art of surfing.

His friend Benjamin, a keen surfer himself, offered to assist him by following Ryusuke-san in the water with his Go-Pro while Issam captured the movement from the shore. Used to shooting alone, Issam was first apprehensive of accepting help with this video, but due to the technically challenging aspect of the project he accepted assistance from Opi and another friend as well, Steve, who had been wanting to experiment with filming from his drone.

After deciding to rent a long-distance lens, Issam, Ben, Nico and Steve arrived at the beach on a disappointingly rainy day in June, Issam and his three assisting friends were quickly pleased with how the weather conditions gave an interesting setting for the video. It did however pose logistical problems as trying to protect the camera from the rain during a shoot is no mean feat.

Why do I surf?

The unique atmosphere of the location seemed almost like a lunar landscape: the black sand retreating to rough waters under dark clouds and heavy downpours.

This coincides with the concept of Tadaima, the surprising nature of the moment which allowed for creativity to pour out of all those involved.

The meditative aspect of waxing the board and the poetry of rainwater joining the sea resulted in a piece which so calmly captures the collaboration of surfer and videographer, as well as with man and nature.

Because the power of the sea relaxes me.

As one collaboration comes to an end, the Tadaima project goes on. With new locations to fall in love with, different individuals to inspire and perhaps a different cocktail to be enjoyed, who will cross Issam’s path next?



Performance by Ryusuke Ishidate

Director & Editor - Issam Kechouri
Sound Design - Romain Guedj
Color Grade - Max Golomidov
Water Footage - Benjamin Parrot
Drone Operator - Steve Gaudin
Video Assistant - Nicolas Amblard
Music - ‘Acid Rain’ by Lorn
Title Design - Jeremie Leonard
Post-production Producer - Julie Guillot
Copywriting - Francesca Roberts
Editorial Design - Julie Guillot

Special Thanks to Opi Wilson-Howard.