New ski film takes aim at social media obsession

'Tamashii' skis Japan without the comforts of social media in the digital age.

If you had to give up all social media to ski in Japan, would you do it? This crew did. Photo courtesy of Tamashii Project.

If you had to give up all social media to ski in Japan, would you do it? This crew did. Photo: Courtesy of Tamashii Project

With Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and the multitude of others we don’t even know the names of yet sitting in the palms of our hands, it has never been easier to connect. It has also never been harder to unplug, to enjoy those special moments with those special someones standing right next to you.

In fact, those jaw-dropping powder lines tend to feel a little less epic when shared with the world the second they happen, getting lost among hundreds of other "moments" on a scrolling desktop (or handheld) mini-feed.

Tired of the tangled social-media web, ski cinematographer Ross Reid decided to make a statement. Together with some of today’s top ski athletes, he embarked on a film project about disconnecting from the information pipeline to chase winter halfway around the world.

Filmed over five weeks in Japan, Tamashii challenged skiers Karl Fostvedt, Anna Segal and Andy Mahre to give up social-media channels in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with close friends. But for Reid, Tamashii isn’t just a ski movie; it’s a social statement.

As he puts it in his film’s Kickstarter campaign, “[Tamashii] aims to question the dependence on technology these days as well as its effects on future outdoor and social engagement.” (Nope, the irony of the online fundraising effort ain't lost on us.)

For Fostvedt, Segal and Mahre, that translated into no Facebook, no Twitter and no Instagram. For more than a month, the crew maintained social-media silence, filming deep powder in the far reaches of Japan’s mainland and its north island of Hokkaido.

Besides a trailer full of envy-inducing powder shots, the general public has seen very little of the project -- a rarity in this media day and age. In many ways, Tamashii is an homage to the olden days of action-sports movies, before flicks were teased half to death by athletes posting action shots from location and film companies releasing multiple trailers and behind-the-scenes documentaries.

With Reid’s newest project, we don’t know what to expect, and the anticipation is making it all the more intriguing.

Anna Segal gets deep during her time off the grid. Photo courtesy of Tamashii Project.

Anna Segal gets deep during her time off the grid. Photo: Courtesy of Tamashii Project

“After taking that absence, people were even more stoked when I got back,” says Fostvedt, the skier whose Detroit skiing segment went viral two years ago. “They want to know what I’ve been up to.”

But he admits that keeping the project under wraps was one of the toughest challenges in his young career. According to Fostvedt, he had no idea just how connected his world was to his electronic identity, and moving away from his life online was an abrupt and uncomfortable shift. Still, he says, the experience was an eye-opener.

“Everywhere you go, everyone is sucked into their phones,” says Fostvedt. “We don’t realize that we’re sacrificing time with people that are right in front of us.”

Reid hopes that his project will have a similar effect on his audience. In his Kickstarter message, he maintains that the goal of Tamashii is to “inspire people to unplug and explore the great outdoors with others” so that they may be “more inclined to protect [the environment].”

Reid took a chance on the film, foregoing the traditional movie process entirely, but the young filmmaker felt passionate enough to act on it alone. Where almost all action-sports film productions are heavily funded by sponsors, Reid says his Tamashii project received no direct sponsor funding, with all costs fronted by the team. (The team did receive help with lodging, however.)

As production rolls around, Reid and company have begun a Kickstarter to fund the final steps of their journey, with aims to raise enough money to bring their experiment to theaters this fall.

To learn more about this unique ski film, or to support the independent effort, check out Tamashii‘s Kickstarter page.

More from GrindTV

Bikes and beer getting tastier in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Flying shotgun with Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss

Surfer breaks femur riding massive Australian wave