To find true happiness again, Shandi Kano had to Be Bold, dig deep and make significant changes to her lifestyle.
Everyone has a breaking point, and the 2013 Boston Marathon was exactly that for Shandi Kano, the protagonist in Nate Gunn’s short, Be Bold.
Born in Canada, Kano discovered her love for running and competing early on. In 2013, Kano had her heart set on achieving elite status and running a sub-three hour marathon. To achieve this goal, her life consisted of fourteen-hour work days sandwiched by double training sessions, poor nutrition and high expectations. It was only mid Boston Marathon when she discovered she wasn’t going to make sub-three hours, that things started to crumble from within.
After crossing the finish line, Kano had a nervous break down and it was while being comforted by her father and assisted by medics that the bomb blast went off.
As Kano describes in the short, the blast and the failure to achieve her goal were both catalysts for the change that was about to occur in her life. “It started to make me question what really mattered to me.”
Photo > Nate Gunn
It was this that excited director Nate Gunn, whose passions when it comes to making movies is “telling true stories.” For Gunn, “Shandi's story was that perfect problem/resolution story that every filmmaker looks for. I loved her story and thought it could really inspire a lot of people.”
A bit camera-shy at first, Kano wanted to tell her story for the same reasons, and hopes to inspire fellow athletes, and anyone suffering from mental and physical exhaustion to Be Bold, and at the very least start to question what really makes them happy.
“I think people need to evaluate how happy they are and ask the tough questions, Am I happy? Am I doing what I want? Is this what I want? Am I going where I want to go? When they answer the questions they have to be able to listen to their insides, because the hardest part is when you decide to trust them. It’s one thing answering the questions, but taking action and doing something about it is the really tough part.”
Photo > Nate Gunn
The journey to happiness wasn’t an overnight express; change and healing took Kano time. The first step was having the realisation that she was unhappy, despite all of her achievements.
“I really believed (at the time) that my achievements defined who I was; I was the producer for the X Games at ESPN, a sub-three hour marathoner, living in Boston no less. But those are just sexy titles that literally mean nothing when push comes to shove because let’s be real, who cares?”
In the short, her life-changing decisions appear simple – but in reality they were anything but. Making a change of this significance takes time and effort.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life. The choice came after six plus months of painfully slow healing; mentally, physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and physically.”
Gunn was sensitive to the major shift in Kano’s life post Boston marathon, and found the challenge to communicate her story somewhat daunting. “I know Kano was putting a lot of trust in me to get the story right. There really wasn’t any option to get it wrong. But I guess that really just forces me to be all in on a project,” says Gunn.
How did Kano rediscover what makes her tick, and how can her methods potentially inspire a change in your life?
Photo > Nate Gunn
“If you can prioritise what your soul really needs, everything can change,” says Kano, who has zero regrets about packing and moving to the mountains.
When it comes to taking your own steps, always come back to what makes you happy suggests Kano, whether it’s fitness, nutrition, health or life decisions. “I now approach individual elements of my life, like health and nutrition, the way I approach most things – I do what will make me happy.”
A large part of her healing has been reconnecting with nature, on her snowboard and on the trails. The trail sequences were shot in and around Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood and Crest Trail near Park City, the local trails Kano now frequents. “Trail running gives me a lot. It gives me what I need right now. It gives you the chance for an experience every time. There’s adventure, wilderness, freedom, solitude, self-discovery, self-affirmation and accomplishment. As a runner to a runner I would say, it is the ultimate in what running can give you.”
Kano is no longer defined by titles, but in her own words, by her “family, friends, work, running, snowboarding, nature, balance, adventuring, loving people and letting people love me.”
The short closes with a shot of Kano mid laugh, a perfect moment that captures the essence of what she’s struggled and fought for: happiness. “Life is about being happy and balanced, and if you achieve those two things, everything else works out. The happier I am, the better I run. The better everything is really.”
Photo > Nate Gunn
Be Bold Quick Facts
- It took Gunn three days to shoot, and under two weeks to edit.
- It was shot on Sony FS700's, both outputting 4k Res to Odyssey 7Q's. Gunn used a DJI Ronin gimbal for stabilising.
Nate Gunn’s Tips for Fellow Filmmakers
Quality of work. Don’t approach sponsors until you’re confident with your body of work. I've come to find that primarily your work speaks for itself. If your portfolio isn't quite there, then you're not going to get far.
- Do passion projects. When I started out on my own I did about four big passion projects. They have been the foundation of every project I've acquired.
Polish your skills. Filmmaking right now requires some serious skill sets. It requires serious sales skills, entrepreneurship and creativity. It's not just about the craft or the hustle. With everyone’s footage looking so good right now you can only really stand out with true story telling abilities, a real clear understanding of what brands are looking for and what they need.
Inspire. Don't limit yourself to thinking that you only need to know your trade. If you can inspire a brand with your work and your words, you're not only in, but they'll fund you and trust you on the project and give you a ton of creative freedom.