Joel Fraser photo

By now the snowboard world is well acquainted with the name Jess Kimura. We suspect after this winter, her project, The Uninvited, will be equally well known. Jess has brought together a diverse crew of girls from all over the world to feature in the fall 2018 release. The list includes Alexa McCarty, Taylor Elliot, and Madison Blackley from the US; Darrah Reid-McLean, and Kennedi Deck from Canada; Ivika Jürgenson, and Maria Thomsen from Europe; 

Hiromi Takahashi, and Miyeong Yamaguchi from Japan. “It was easy to select the girls for this project,” says Jess,
“I chose girls who I felt knew how to film a part, had the willingness, motivation, and vision to do it. I always have my eyes on snowboarding and was familiar with most of them already. Anyone has a chance to be in this movie though. Kenni got involved by hitting me up on social media with an impressive video link. The project is for girls with potential and drive who want more of a formal outlet and want to work hard to film full parts.”

Rob Lemay photo

What started as a small idea has quickly grown into a highly-anticipated video project. Last winter when Jess was facing over a year off snow for ankle surgery and recovery, her industrious nature wouldn’t allow her to step back from the snowboard world. Instead she put her energy and ambition (which she’s got A LOT of) into creating a platform for deserving women to showcase their snowboarding. An opportunity they may not have had otherwise, as women continue to strive for inclusion in videos and more attention from snowboard media. A lot of these girls have experiences of being given the message that what they are doing isn’t worthwhile or of value to the industry, despite their talent. Women (ams especially) are being told no to budgets, no to trips, no to filmer money. The support just isn’t there, and the idea of being included in a mainstream project can seem completely unattainable. Looking at seven major snowboard videos that came out this year, with a total of over 60 individual parts, only three were female. The ratio is disappointing. Regardless, the desire and passion remains for a lot of women. Largely due to Jess’ generosity and commitment to snowboarding, at least a few of us are hearing less “no’s” lately. And with the skill level in amateur snowboarding right now, The Uninvited couldn’t have begun at a better time.

Joel Fraser photo

It started last winter with Jess filming me (Darrah) with a little G4 camera she was learning how to use. Soon, Maria joined us and Jess became our filmer, spot finder, driver, trip coordinator, pep talk giver, shoveller, etc. She took on all the roles. A couple of blown knee ligaments later and next thing I knew I was in Quebec on a film trip being funded by Jess’ personal paycheque. When Jess wants to do something she goes all in. Her passion is inspiring. Quebec was my first official Uninvited trip, and Jess’ third. She’d already been to Salt Lake City and Japan to film, direct, advise, and motivate the other girls. 

As usual, last winter Quebec’s streets were a popular destination. Evidence of hammers being thrown by The Bruners, SRD, Odd Folks, etc. was everywhere, despite the harsh end of February weather. We were humbled by Mammouth Durette’s trail of kink rail thrashing. Alexa, Ivika, Kennedi, and I had never been on a snowboard trip together. With Jess there to direct, Troy to film and offer emotional support, and Ben Bilocq to guide, we established a dynamic. Hours were spent chipping ice and shovelling out spots, negative 25 Celsius temperatures were braved, tricks were landed. It might have been after watching Alexa conquer some of her lingering fears from past injuries, or after watching Ivika boardslide an impressive gap to rail with a 10-person audience, or perhaps after collaborating with the Dreams crew to dig out the Red Ledge (only to be guided by Ben and Kennedi to hit an interesting tree right next to the famous spot…), but at some point during our Quebec trip Jess’ idea seemed to be turning into something real. 

By the end of the season it was apparent The Uninvited had come to fruition. With the release of four short episodes online this fall, the project has come a long way from just an idea.  Part 1, the teaser, displayed serious talent from all 10 girls.  Parts 2, 3, and 4; Ivika, Taylor, and Hiromi’s individual parts were released next, with snowboarding from Europe, America, and Japan.

The crew is just getting started, and filming is well underway this winter. Troy Erickson has taken over filming and editing for the movie, with his knowledge and patience the project is in good hands. Taylor and Alexa are currently joining him and Kenni in his homeland, Vernon, BC. Kennedi might already have enough clips for a full part and it’s not even February. Maria is currently teaming up with Dreams video, filming in Edmonton. Ivika has been busy in Finland filming with a heavy crew. I can only imagine what’s going on in Japan with all the snow they’re getting. With a fresh ACL, I personally can’t wait for the second annual Red Ledge party. The full Uninvited video drops this fall – stay tuned.

Words – Darrah Reid-McLean