There’s a premiere of Don’t Crack Under Pressure Part 2 this Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. This will be the third film that Maui kiteboarder Jesse Richman–runner-up for the King of the Air Champion in 2016–will appear in. We caught up with Richman to have a chat about his newest release.
MAUITIME: How did you get involved with this film?
JESSE RICHMAN: The company Nuit De La Glisse has been making extreme sports movies for about 35 years. They pretty much put out a film every year. If you’ve ever heard of Warren Miller’s ski films, it’s kind of like a French version of that, with a multi-sport genre. Three years ago, I started working with them and this is my third film. Each year I’ve been a lot happier with the film from the year before.
MT: How was the experience of filming the third film different from your first two?
JR: I got to know the team and the film crew a lot better. This film, I took more charge. I’m the only kiteboarder on the team and in the film. There aren’t that many people who really understand the ride, or the total aspect of kitesurfing. It can be difficult for the videographers who don’t know what I’m going to do. I really had to take direction to get the shots that I wanted. They have to be in the right spot with just the perfect camera settings to capture that moment for the rider. But really, it’s more up to the rider to visualize what you’re going to do, and what it’s going to look like because there are a lot of things that we want to come across but are difficult to capture because of any number of things from lighting to angle.
MT: What makes this third film more interesting?
JR: This is the third year with the same team of 14 athletes. We’re all from different countries and different sports. What’s really exciting about this year’s film is that usually the snow guys go to Norway and Sweden to find crazy snow stuff and me and the free divers will meet the surfers in Tahiti for the ocean sports. This year, all the athletes went to pretty much every stop together. We have the Tahitian surfers and myself in Norway snowboarding and jumping off cliffs–we put ourselves in their shoes for a minute. Then in Tahiti some of the snow guys went with us, and we were like, alright, let’s tow you into some waves and see how you like this, and return the favor.
MT: How does that contribute to the extreme sports film genre?
JR: This film is not trying to be the most progressive and extreme in any one of the sports. Instead, it’s meant to show people what goes on in the head when you’re dealing with these stressful situations. Really, it doesn’t matter if you’re a surfer or a snowboarder or a diver or a kiteboarder. We all run into situations that can become life-threatening. This film examines how the athlete will deal with that moment to harness their fear to make the right decisions.
MT: How do they shed light on good decision-making?
JR: It may look like the athletes have a death wish but it’s quite the contrary. We’re trying to live life to the fullest. It’s more of an inspirational film. It shows the camaraderie between the riders, and how you can employ that same method to just about any part of your life. What I like about that whole concept is you could be starting a business or changing a diaper in the back seat of a car or whatever stressful moment you have. You have the option of panicking or freaking out, and that’s not going to do anything except make things more dangerous and stressful. If you take the time to stop and think, and be smart and react, then you will step into a better situation. In a nutshell, that’s what the film is about.
MT: How did your training sessions in Norway go?
JR: I travel to Norway for week. It was the first time I’ve been in a helicopter in the mountains. It scared me so much. I was barely able to stand the first time I got dropped off on these peaks with snowboarders. After about five days, I took my kite up there and tried to go snow kiting. I’ve done snow kiting before but never in really steep mountains. I probably had the most scariest/stupidest flight I’ve ever had–I ended up being a thousand feet higher than I had anticipated. That was a stressful moment, when you go so far off your plan that it gets a little scary. But I’m still here to tell the tale, and I have to say it’s a beautiful sequence in the film.
MT: What’s going through your mind when you are so far off plan?
JR: It’s so much fear that you can’t even let it remotely affect you. Personally, it’s a feeling that I really enjoy. That’s why I go out to Jawz and other big-wave breaks whenever it’s good. That fearful moment that there are major consequences is a pretty unique feeling, but the Norway experience went beyond that. It was almost foolish. I should have seen it coming. But in that moment I can’t focus on that at all because it’s do or die. I have to literally just put every ounce of effort into how do I deal with this situation. I’ve spent my life seeing how long I can stay in the air or how high up I can go, but this was the one moment in my life when I was thinking, “How do I get down?”
MT: What are the dangers of being up in the air higher than you expected? Can’t you just sail down?
JR: Theoretically, yes. Everything should be fine. You’re not putting any abnormal load under your kite. But occasionally, things do break. It’s just a little stressful thinking that if something does break, you have zero Plan B. Normally, I would have a reserve parachute with me so if something did happen I could release my kite and pull my parachute. This moment, I didn’t think I was going to go that high. I don’t like to put myself in a situation where I don’t have a Plan B, or C or D.
MT: Where else do you go? Does Hawaii come into play?
JR: There is some Jawz and Lanai and then that leads into the Tahiti section where I spend some time with Zane Schweitzer, from Lahaina. He is stand-up paddling and foiling, and I’m kiting and surfing. We end up finding a pod of whales and go free diving and kiting and surfing with whales. The Tahiti section is pretty different. It’s the most beautiful whale footage I’ve ever encountered.
Don’t Crack Under Pressure
With film producer Thierry Donard and Maui’s own two-time world champion kite surfer Jesse Richman
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, 7:30 PM
Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Tickets: $14/Adults, $12 kids 12 & under
all images Courtesy of Nuit De La Glisse