The wine industry can be a notoriously tough crowd to impress. To get its attention, you not only need to stand out, you need to take risks.
One of the overarching goals of this piece, especially from my perspective, was to shake things up a bit.
Rachid Dahnoun is a Northern California-based visual storyteller whose recent foray into the wine space has been a smashing success. Rachid’s short film “Shore To Shore” marries adventure with food and wine by focusing on a simple concept: creating with a sense of place.
I think the [wine] industry has some wonderful, amazing stories to tell, but they need to be willing to take risks to tell them properly.
That’s where Kosta Browne comes in. Rachid’s wife, Regina Sanz, works in the wine industry for Kosta Browne and approached Rachid about this project. Kosta Browne, “one of those iconic brands,” as Rachid tells it, introduced the concept of creating with a sense of place as a starting point. The rest was in the hands of Rachid and his merry band of raconteurs.
[The project] was fleshed out from a broad perspective, but not from a detail perspective. My crew was going to determine the story, script, shots, time/place for shoots, etc. All of them are just rock stars.
Kosta Browne put Rachid in touch with their winemaker, Nico Cueva, and Hawaii-based chef Mike Lofaro, who specializes in foraging for his ingredients. Their shared philosophy became the bedrock of the documentary.
Nico makes his wine with a sense of place with each individual vineyard. Mike’s approach to food is the same — cooking with a sense of place. Both Mike and Nico have a reverence for nature and that’s where their ideologies for their crafts come from. That’s a big theme in their lives and the film.
Filming for “Shore To Shore” took place in Hawaii and Sonoma. The most memorable piece of footage to come out of the Hawaii trip is an enchanting drone shot about two minutes into the film. The funny thing is, Rachid didn’t even know they were hiking to that spot until the morning of — he just had to roll with it and hope for the best.
[At first, I’m like] ‘okay, is this story going to be as cool as I think? Or is this going to be a bust?’ Once we got to that overlook I was like ‘okay, this is going to be fine. This is going to be sick.’
When I talked to Mike, he knew exactly what he was doing. That pull-back drone shot in the valley is one of his go-to spots.
One of the highlights of the Sonoma shoot that made its way into the film finds Mike and Nico trekking through the wilderness looking for fresh new ingredients. Mike needed some local fare to create the meal at Kosta Browne’s winery featured at the end of “Shore To Shore”.
[Mike’s] a Hawaiian chef, but he wanted to tell the sense of place in Sonoma when he was making his dishes. I thought it was impressive on Mike’s end that he wanted to do that. He said ‘I’m in Sonoma. We need Sonoma ingredients.’ We partnered with a local forager in Sonoma and she helped us incorporate these local ingredients for this dinner.
After a few hours of searching, the group hit the jackpot.
We were foraging for Chanterelle mushrooms and the forager’s face lit up when we found these things. Mike was like ‘we pay 35 a pound for these’ and we were bagging these things up. They were very tasty, let me tell you.
Even without discovering that culinary goldmine, the Sonoma shoot would’ve been a success due solely to the fact that the weather cooperated.
When I heard they wanted to [shoot in Sonoma] in January, I almost had a heart attack. That’s winter. It’s rainy and cold. We ended up lucking out completely with the weather. We hit the only three-day stretch of perfect weather during the shoot. I woke up every day smiling, going ‘wow.’
“Wow” is probably what the dinner guests thought when presented with Nico’s wine and Mike’s food at the end of the film. Rachid and his team had to push through their exhaustion to deliver quality shots worthy of the gathering.
[The dinner] was the most stressful part of the whole project. Since we didn’t have time to bring in a food stylist, everything was shot in real-time. We had to be in constant contact with the kitchen to know when dishes were coming out so we could figure out what we needed to shoot.
Shooting wrapped in late January and the editing process began in earnest in mid-February. The original cut was around 8-10 minutes. Rachid estimates that it took about 6-7 iterations to trim the piece to five or so minutes. Paring down hours of quality footage into a short film is a challenge in and of itself. Having to do it on a shortened timeline? That’s another level of difficulty.
I got a call from Kosta Browne saying that they wanted to show this at [Austin, Texas media festival] South by Southwest. They asked if we could get it done by early March. I was like ‘holy <bleep>, yeah we can probably do that.’
Things got super stressful. I did not sleep very much for the last two weeks. [It was] 12-14-hour days every day for two weeks. I did the final sound sign off in the airport in Denver four hours before we showed the film.
Not only did Rachid have to debut his work at one of the biggest festivals on the planet, he had to do so in front of some of the most important people in the food and wine industry.
[The premiere] took place at a private gathering. I thought that was more intimidating because all 60 people watching were either celebrity chefs or big food and wine influencers.
While the overall reaction to “Shore To Shore” was laudatory, one celebrity chef really took a shine to the piece. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. His name is Andrew Zimmern.
I was talking with Andrew after and he said, ‘man, that was such a great piece. It really struck a nerve. You guys did such a nice job putting it together.’ That was high praise coming from someone like him.
In fact, Zimmern liked the film so much that he gave it a shout out on his social media platforms. Between Twitter and Instagram, Zimmern has more than two million followers.
Rachid’s film has found a large audience and received plenty of acclaim, but it’s one of his favorite works because it’s such a personal project.
It echoes my values — living your life in a way that’s true to yourself and enables you to use your creativity to do something good in the world.
Production Company: Novus Select
Client: Kosta Browne
Winemaker: Nico Cueva
Chef: Mike Lofaro
Concept + Creative Director: Regina Sanz
Creative Design: Damon Wong
Producer: Lindsey Thompson
Director of Photography, Editor: Sean Davis
Additional Cinematography: Bligh Gillies + Matt Pierce
Sound Engineer: Greg Miller
Original Score: Cleod9 Music
Color Artist: Matt Cook
Graphics: Marisa Cruz
Audio Post: Scotty Beam + Cleod9 Music
Location Support: Candace Koseba
See more of Rachid Dahnoun at rachidphoto.com!
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