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In March 2015, Brazilian filmmakers Diana Boccara and Leo Longo began a year-and-a-half-long project entitled Around The World In 80 Music Videos. The couple has created an ongoing web series, consisting of shooting one music video per week, for 80 weeks, in 20 different countries, with undiscovered and little-known rock bands from each. Working mostly with little or no production team, Diana and Leo also endeavor to shoot all of their music videos in just one take, with no cuts, corrections or changes made after these one-take sequences are filmed. As well as publishing a new music video to their YouTube channel every Monday, the couple also films and uploads a weekly “Behind The Trip” episode documenting the making of each music video. Here, Diana tells Culture Trip a little bit more about the background of the project, and the experiences they’ve had so far.
How did you first come up with the idea for the Around The World In 80 Music Videos project?
We both work in television. I’m a TV producer and screenwriter in Brazil, and I’ve worked for several network and production companies there – most frequently working on reality TV shows. Leo is a TV director who has also worked in broadcasting for over 15 years, and has directed shows for MTV, History Channel, National Geographic, Globo, Record, and more!
What we’ve always really wanted, though, has been to work on a project of our own. In 2014 we took a road trip in the south of the USA – we visited Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale and New Orleans – and we both came back with a desire to keep traveling, and to work with music. We ended up combining our expertise on filmmaking with our passions for traveling and music, and that led us to the perfect final visual material: the music video. We also wanted to establish a new way to work; one that would not involve any currency exchange, only collaboration between artists and filmmakers around the world.
And that’s the short story of how Around The World In 80 Music Videos was born!
Have you and Leo worked together on any projects before?
Yes – that’s actually how we met. Both of us were hired to work on a Brazilian reality TV show three years ago. Leo was one of the directors, and I was on the writing team. So we met at work, and built up a good working relationship, which then developed into a relationship outside of work, too. It was really good for us to meet for the first time while we were working on a job together, because we had the chance to see how each of us behave when we are working on the set, under pressure. And that first job led us to the relationship we have today, which inspired us two years later to create the ATW80 project.
After that first project together, Leo kept directing TV shows, and I kept my career in content producing, both of us working for different production companies. But at home, we would always write projects and scripts, and shoot pilots for TV shows. So since we first met, three years ago, we have always worked together, whether officially or otherwise.
How did you choose which countries you were going to include in the project?
We choose the countries we go to based on three things: the rock scene, whether or not we need visas to go to the country, and the traveling and living costs of every country.
So, first of all, we do our research on each country to try and find rock bands that have what we’ve started to call the ‘ATW80 Soul.’ These could be bands that we like to listen to, or bands that we identify with, or bands that use the Web as a way to communicate and share their art, just like we do.
Then, if we do find amazing bands in that country, we have a look at the country’s policies regarding visas. If there is no need for a visa, or we can apply for one online, then great – that country has passed the second stage of our checklist. If there is the need for a visa, and it has to be issued in our home country, then it becomes impossible for us to visit that country. That happened with Japan, for example. We would love to go there, but to issue the visa, we would have to go back to Brazil, which we unfortunately won’t be doing during the project.
Finally, if we are able to visit the country without a visa – like Russia, for example – we research the traveling and living expenses of visiting that country. Since we are an independent project, we only have a small budget to follow, and a limited amount of money to spend in every place we go to.
We started the project in Brazil, where we filmed ten music videos with Brazilian bands. Then we moved on to Portugal, and since then we have visited France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, Russia, and we are currently in India. After this, our plans are to travel to Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Mexico, before finally finishing our project back in South America.
How did you discover all the musicians that you’ve worked with?
We research a lot. Leo is a geek when it comes to this! His hobby is to Google festival line-ups from every country, and to find music blogs, magazines and YouTube channels in order to discover good music around the world.
What has been the biggest challenge of shooting all your music videos in one take?
The real challenge isn’t actually with shooting all the videos in one take, but rather doing them with no budget and, most of the time, with only the two of us in the crew. All of the videos have been very challenging, each of them in different and specific ways. But since we don’t have a budget to shoot the videos, and we also don’t know the cities that we travel to or know anyone there who could help us out, the challenge for us starts way before the actual shoot. One of the biggest challenges that we always have is definitely with finding locations where we can shoot the videos. We don’t know the cities, we don’t speak the languages, and we always just have a hard time finding the ideal places that we have in our minds for the shoots.
What about your most amusing moment” There must have been a few mistakes or blunders from shooting in one take – are there any entertaining moments that stick in your mind’
We have amazing stories from every music video we’ve shot so far, and I have so many now that I could spend all night writing about them! I can think of two particularly tense and nerve-wracking shoots, however.
The first is from our first shoot with Vanguart, which was actually one of our biggest challenges so far. We were still at home in Brazil, so we had family and friends there to help us out. We managed to find a great villa in Leo’s home city, Piracicaba, who very kindly let us shoot there and helped us with everything, from props to free catering. But it was our very first shoot of ATW80. It was the first time that Leo was not only the director, but also the man in charge of photography. It was the first time that I was producing, coordinating and assisting him in absolutely everything. We were very lucky that most of the friends we had there with us work in production – that really helped us.
We shot in a very long street in Monte Alegre (the name of the villa we were working in), starting at one end and finishing right at the other end of the street. The band had to run down the street all the way from the beginning to the end of the song. Leo was inside the car with the camera, driving down a very bumpy road that made the camera very unstable. To top it all off, it was about to rain – and, seconds after we wrapped the shoot, it did start to rain. All that combined with the excitement of it being our first shoot made this first music video very special to us, as well as to the band and to all who were involved with it.
My second story is from our first ‘one shoot only’ video, which had to be done in just one take, with no mistakes and no redos. It was in Berlin, with Alin Coen Band. The idea was to shoot the video in reverse; at the end of the shoot we would cover her in paint, so that when we reversed the shot (as you can see in the music video), it would look like the paint would be coming off her. We practiced a lot with her beforehand. We shot the video in a forest in Berlin, with nothing or no-one else around. We were all very nervous because none of us could do anything wrong; she had even memorized the lyrics of the song backwards for the shoot. But when we shot the video, she could only remember to sing the last three words – which actually ended up working great in the music video, anyway! We made it with no mistakes, but it was a tense day for all three of us.
Have you faced any language/communication barriers with all the different countries you’ve traveled to” How have you overcome these?
In Europe we didn’t have many problems, as most of the people we spoke to or collaborated with spoke English. But then we got to Russia, and we definitely faced the biggest language barrier there that we’ve had to face so far. In Russia, people either speak English fluently, or not at all. For one of the videos we shot there, for the band On-The-Go, the actress that features at the start of the video didn’t speak or understand any English, so communicating with her was extremely difficult. But we were very happy and lucky to have amazing local producers Albina Ahmadi and Mikhail Fenchuk working with us on ATW80 in Moscow. They helped us with absolutely everything, from showing us around the city to, importantly, helping us to communicate with non-English speakers. They even helped me with Leo’s birthday present!
What we try to do in every country is to look for local producers, filmmakers and production companies who would like to collaborate with us and be a part of the project during our time there. We’ve had that help in Portugal, in France, in Ireland, in Russia, and now currently in India. Without these amazing people who have helped us along the way, life on the road would have been much harder!
What has been your favorite country to shoot in (so far)?
Portugal and Ireland. In both countries, we worked with amazing bands who became good friends of ours. It was also easier to shoot in both these countries, because we had less trouble finding locations, and a bigger team of people helping us film.
In Lisbon, we had the help of three amazing filmmakers (Joana Peralta, Marta Ribeiro, and Pedro Cabeleira) from a production company called VIDEOLOTION. Not only were they at every shoot with us, but they also helped us find location, gear, extras and props, and were our ‘go-to’ people for pretty much everything! The bands we worked with in Portugal also really got into the spirit of the project, and helped us in many ways. For instance, the location for Linda Martini’s music video was an idea that came from Claudia Guerreiro, the bassist, who is good friends with the owner of the bar that we shot at. Also, the props we used on Noiserv’s music video are his own guitar and little chair. Little details like that make all the difference for us in the producing of the videos on no budget, and in countries that we don’t know.
In Ireland, we didn’t have the help of any production company, but we had many friends, and friends of friends, who really helped us with everything we did. Most of them were from Brazil, and were living, studying, or working in Dublin. Most of them had never been in a shoot before, and most of them we hadn’t met before. But without them, we wouldn’t have accomplished The Coronas’ music video. Not at all. This group of Brazilians, none of whom knew each other before we gathered them all up, became our family in Ireland.
Besides that, it was also a place where the bands really understood the meaning of collaboration, and cooperated so well with producing props, finding locations, and generally helping us out during our time in the country. I think it was this that enabled us to successfully shoot five music videos in less than three weeks. Ireland was also the first place where a band contacted us, asking to be part of the project, rather than the other way round. HamsandwicH wrote to us two days before we left Dublin, and we managed to shoot a beautiful music video with them on our last night in Dublin, just before our farewell dinner with Cry Monster Cry, another band who we worked with in Ireland, and who became great friends of ours.
Based on your experiences so far, would you consider doing another round-the-globe project in the future, and what would you most like to do?
ATW80 has not only been a professional challenge for both of us, but also a life-changing experience. No-one is the same after a long trip, especially after visiting so many places, meeting so many people, and having so many adventures to tell. And we both truly believe that traveling makes us better human beings. You are always having to exchange, to share, to understand, to give in, and to challenge yourself. So, based on our experiences, we would definitely keep traveling in another round-the-globe project, or maybe even do a Season 2 of Around The World In 80 Music Videos. There are so many great bands still out there, and so many countries we didn’t get to visit! We always joke around saying that before traveling again, we want to bring all our 80 bands to Brazil to put on a ATW80 music festival – many days of concerts from amazing bands from all the countries we visited and all the videos we shot. That would definitely be amazing.
Whatever happens next, though, music and filmmaking will both be present in anything we do in the future.
Lastly, if you were to choose one musician that you’ve worked with for our readers to really look out for in the future as the ‘next big thing’, which one would it be?
It would be The Crookes, from Sheffield, UK.
Be sure to check out the rest of the project’s videos, as well as Diana and Leo’s ‘Behind The Trip‘ videos, at the Around The World In 80 Music Videos YouTube channel.