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Cafe Racers Japan is a short documentary film exploring a day in the life of Tokyo's cafe racers scene where the city is as much of the main characters as the riders. When I first heard about a video merging two of my favorite topics, cafe racers and Tokyo, I was suddenly excited. After posting the teaser last August I had some correspondence with the director Christopher Andrew Cooke and I had the chance to get some more info and news to share with the readers of the Inazuma Cafè. The film is now available to the public and I'm happy to present it with some notes of the author.

"From the opening scenes - Chris says - you soon realize that this is not your typical talking heads documentary, but instead an atmospheric ride filled with color, music and imagery. The movie is comprised of two parts: The interviews, that give insight to different perspectives of who the cafe racers are and what they are passionate about. And the imagery of Tokyo, as we take a journey through the seldom seen empty streets of the city that leaves us with a feeling of solitude and melancholy. Cafe Racers Japan is only 15 minutes long, but it’s able to combines; interviews, visual imagery and music to create a unique and different approach."

The Scene 

"Since Tokyo is the world’s largest city and there are motorcycles everywhere we thought it would be easy to track down the Cafe Racer Scene, so I started with Tokyo’s premier bike builder Ritmo Sereno. They are known for their great BMW builds. We met with them and he was nice enough to allow us 2 hours to chat, set up and shoot him in his work shop. While talking with him he told us of his passion for the bikes, but he has no connection with the cafe racer scene in Tokyo. From our visit we were able to produce a 2 minute short. "

Chris continues: "We soon realized that the bike builders and the cafe racers/rockers were worlds apart. As for the rockers, the core group, which we interviewed in the movie are small in numbers and fashion is constantly mentioned. This leads the listen to determine if the Tokyo Rockers consider their motorcycles a fashion accessory or their true passion. Meeting the requirements to be a rocker can be challenging. You must own a vintage British bike, wear 60’s leather gear, listen to only to 60’s rockabilly music and preferably be British or Japanese. Many of them have stage names and consider themselves already famous. The cafe racers follow different rules, they ride Japanese bikes, listen to punk music and wear leather jackets, they are more individual and usually ride by themselves, but are similar to the rockers focusing on fashion more than the bike."

The City 

"The city of Tokyo is an amazing city to ride in especially the Shuto Expressway that cuts through the middle of Tokyo, with breathtaking city views as it winds through the city four stories about the ground, between buildings, over bridges and through tunnels. Throughout the movie the city is referenced with the most noticeable being the ending scene, with a lone rider on the rarely seen empty roads, on an endless journey. 

The Music

"The music was carefully picked out and then the film footage edited to match the tempo and atmosphere. Moby was kind enough to allow us to use his music, and we both agreed that the project would be for non-profit. The decision to use this music instead of your traditional rockabilly music was an import decision and the connect of sound, music, editing and color adds to this project while guiding the viewer through anticipation, dream-like imagery and melancholy without saying a word. "

The Making of the Movie 

When making a documentary, you film and interview and then your story comes to you. It’s what makes each documentary unique. Often the connection isn’t the storyline, but instead how much you agree or disagree with what is being said. We started production on this film in early 2011 and after the earthquake we resumed filming and in the Summer of 2011 we released a very short teaser from the film called, Cafe Racers Japan - Tokyo Rockers. A very broad and familiar title that we used while we were working out the kinks and deciding how we would re-approach this project. In 2012, we completed the film. "

As many member of the cafer racer community on the web, I had the chance to watch the film few days before the official presentation and I found it very interesting. In particular, I found the Moby's soundtrack really outstanding and the shots pretty good. I represented Chris just a couple of things. I would have liked to have more action in the movie. In other words, more bike riding and less time dedicated to riders' close ups. Finally it makes me somehow perplexed that, for these guys, it is sometimes more about fashion than riding... Whilst in my perspective, motorcyciling is more about the joy and thrill of riding and the value of friendship with other riders, besides any fashion consideration. The fine things is that Chris shared my point of view. I'd like to thank him for all his efforts, his passion and the time he spent with me and the community in order to present his work at the best to the people passionate of these kind of pieces of iron. Thank you mate, I'm looking forward to watch your next work... 

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