Blog : Bulgaria

My Big Bulgarian Adventure

My Big Bulgarian Adventure

Last December I was asked by Emma from  to join an exciting team of  artists, film makers and photographers for a collaborative, creative trip to Bulgaria.  Ever since I have been hugely inspired and this blog is sharing some of the amazing journey’s we went on, the people we met and what we got up to.

We started our journey in Sofia, Bulgaria’s Capital City. Here we met Davios, an amazing street juggler. When filming Davios I knew that I was capturing a very special moment. His charismatic charm, vulnerability to perform in the freezing cold weather and generosity of spirit was truly magical to witness. I knew I wanted to feature him in my ‘Snomads Experience’ film which I produced for the sustainable chalet company .

 

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Sofia had the hustle and bustle of city life whilst also having a rugged charm. We visited an amazing ‘art hostel’, where Mel, Matt and Daryl fromworked for hours to create beautiful wall art.

Whilst the 7th Pencil team were hard at work, Jody, Emma and I traveled to join them at the ‘art hostel’  via a tram – but were escorted off the tram for accidentally failing to buy a ticket! After paying a fine – 20 Lev each – we stood awkwardly with the ticket inspectors until the next tram came along and we could carry on with our journey.

After a few days in Sofia; painting, filming, and photographing, Emma drove us two and a half hours to Bansko, where we stayed in the Old Town.

Arriving in the evening, we went straight out on a hunt for a Bulgarian feast. We were not disappointed when our neighbouring restaurant welcomed us in. After lots of hearty food, I stepped out into the cold night to the sound of drumming drifting to my ears and leading to an authentic little pub.

Three men were serenading around an empty table, so I shouted to the others to follow me. We spent the evening enjoying energetic Balkan music whilst drinking wine. There was soon lots of dancing, chatting, singing and laughing.

 

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In the days to follow we drove a little further out of Bansko to Snomads’ amazing Chalet. We visited the local market so that Maks and Ewen from Snomads could buy produce to cook on the open fire for our dinner. Whilst at the market I found myself shadowsocks in the middle of six big Bulgarian men. As they shouted across me, I stood still wondering if I should make a swift escape. Just before I decided to walk away, one of the men turned to me and asked in a deep, powerful Bulgarian voice”Are you from the Daily Express?!” I laughed and, shaking my head, said, “No!” They decided that I was harmless and proceeded to take me around the market and introduced me to many market sellers. I ended up with a bag of clementines, a pear and many faces peering into my camera lens.

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We visited Bezbog via a ski lift up into the beautiful mountains. I had never been on a ski lift, so was a tad scared! On the way down I was accompanied by Stefan, one of the Ski lift operators. He proceeded to tell me how much he loves his job!

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Bezbog, which is the name of a hotel at the top of ski lift, has a lake and walk further up into the mountains, when we got to the top we were greeted with stunning views.

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We set out to drive the four hours to a Buzludzha Communist headquarters on our last day. I shared the journey with Emma, Jody, Martin and , little did we know that the experience would be quite so dramatic. Those four hours turned into eight when we drove in the wrong direction for two, our car got a puncture and then we broke down. It was bad luck, but we landed on our feet since we had broken down right outside a mechanic’s workshop!  Whilst there, we hung out with 14 cats and a dog called Jack.

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We finally drove up Mount Buzludzha to the headquarters as night drew in and the temperature plummeted. The mist was thick as we walked up to the ominous structure.

We climbed into the building with the help from two Danish lads and stood in the darkness, exploring via flash light. All we could make out were beautiful crumbling mosaic walls, tarnished marble floors and the odd mark of a graffiti artist. The building was eerie and otherworldly.

With help from Jody – of   – we managed to get some amazing photos inside this historic building.

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Bulgaria was truly an amazing place, and the people I travelled with definitely enhanced my experience. Working alongside artists, film makers and photographers was really inspiring and throughly refreshing.

Authentic is the word that I would use to describe the Bulgarian people I met. They smiled, were welcoming with a warm heart, and acted out of generosity and kindness.

I returned home with my mind full of inspiration, my heart full of warmth and Bulgarian spirit, my bag full of locally produced honey and a hard drive full of colourful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I dream of the time I will visit again.

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The Why, The How, The What

The Why, The How, The What

I recently watched a great ted talk from Simon Sinek, “How great leaders inspire action.”

He states that when engaging people, it is so much more important that we look and discuss the Why, then the How and lastly the What.

Why we do what we do, How we do it and then lastly What we do.

I am interested in how this relates to film and how I am developing my films to explore my own way of engaging with audience’s.

I strive to make films of people who have passion. This is simply because passionate people engage me. The spark in their eye, their love for life and drive to work hard at what they cherish, is captivating.

Passion is an authentic ‘Why’.

My favourite films to watch, and films that are generally really well received, including promotional films, are creating or portraying this authentic Why.

“Find Your Love” promotional film, doesn’t even seem like a promotional film. It is way more than just promoting a yoga retreat; it promotes a passion for life, a way of life and also talks about not regretting life.

Films are using this passion to invite people to be inspired by the notion of a more fulfilling life. This becomes way more than just a promotional for a yoga retreat, it is a mantra!

Life has become pretty disconnected and these films are tapping into this lack of connection to engage.

I recently saw a viral promotional film for an up market spa.  It featured elderly ladies talking to camera about what they would have done differently in their lives.  This included emotive things such as, worrying less, kissing for longer, staying up later with a loved one and eventually led to the fact they wished they should have relaxed more. The promotion ends with the solution, The Spa.

Why- To help people relax and enjoy their lives. To not regret their lives.

How – By giving them a place to relax.

What – An upmarket spa.

The emotion and the message is relatable to a wide range of women and men watching the film. It is inspiring whilst also offering up a life lesson. People feel engaged when they can relate.

I think people who really love what they do in life, often emphasise the Why within conversation.   The Why is the most important part for them, the How and the What could be manifested in a 100 different ways, but the Why foundation stays the same.

We have all been asked in a social situation, “so what do you do?”. This question conditions us to answer with What we do. This so easily stops the conversation, what if we answered with Why?

So try this out in your next conversation and see how you feel about it and what comes from it.

Also check out the Ted talk and see what you think.

Feature Photo Credit: Ruth Farrar from Shextreme http://www.shextreme.tv

Jess Pearson, Shimnix Films and Jody Hartley, Jody Hartley Photography, Bulgaria December 2015

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