A true love song to Japanese art and culture, Weaving Shibusa gives audiences an insider’s look into the craftsmanship and passion that goes behind making one of the most commonly used goods in the world – denim.
Filmed this past February, Weaving Shibusa takes viewers all over Japan and inside the domain of some of the best denim makers in the world.
“It’s such a small market that’s filled with all sorts of misinformation and I just wanted to hear the real story,” explained Devin Leisher, director and producer of Weaving Shibusa. “When people are fully dedicating their entire lives to one specific thing that they’re really passionate about, I think that’s a story worth being told. I know the idea sounds crazy, but people are going to care.”
Told entirely in Japanese with English subtitles, the film’s trailer has already been shared with an audience of over 74 million people globally on major news publications including CNN, Esquire, the Huffington Post, and more.
With magnificent visuals, it is easy to understand why. The film takes you from the Japanese mountaintops and scenic city views to the Shinya Mill to watch the handmade work of the craftsmen. Still, producing a film that crossed language barriers to reveal the passion of denim craftsmen had its challenges.
“It’s something that I’ve been wanting to film for the last five years, but the whole thing was insane for us to do. Logistically, it was really tough especially since it was in Japan and we didn’t speak the language or were familiar with the country. And there’s not a strong support for certain gear over there so all the equipment that we went with had to be rock solid and we had to bring back up options. If something were to happen, we were pretty much on our own.”
Leisher and a small team from his Tier 10 production crew, DP Erik Motta, and Mehdi Ahmadi, flew from the United States to Japan and shot the documentary within 12 days while hauling all the gear themselves. Their simple kit included: two RED Dragons, Anton/Bauer batteries, a set of six heavyweight Schneider CINE-Xenar III lenses, and the original Astra Bi-Color LED panels from Litepanels.
“Before this project, we hadn’t actually used the Litepanels Astras before so, at the last minute, we decided to take some 650 Fresnels because we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, we didn’t have to take out those 650 lights once. We were totally surprised and blown away by how much output we got with the Astras.”
Routinely forced to deal with competing sources of light inside the mills, on the street, and inside the denim shops, the Litepanels Astra Bi-Color LED panel and the Anton/Bauer batteries matched his needs perfectly.
“When we filmed all the footage inside the mill where they were weaving the denim, we just slapped a battery on the back of the Astra and went through the place handheld to get the right shot. They were super light and no fuss. Now, whenever we travel we bring at least one Litepanels Astra with us no matter what. It’s an ace in the hole that we always end up using. And for a project where we didn’t have a lot of control or time, they really saved us.”
Weaving Shibusa made its world premiere in August. Visit Weaving Shibusa Facebook page for details.