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Films Iran 2014

A Week In The Life Of A Western Traveller In Iran

Day 1

6:00am: The alarm goes off. I never set alarms. But I know how long it’ll take to get through Tehran to the bus station, even at this early hour.

7:30am: The coach is late. So Leon and I sit in the wintry morning sun, watching old men shelling sunflower seeds with their teeth.

3:00pm: The coach drops us at the edge of Esfahan. I’m disoriented. Oh well – time to put those Farsi lessons into practice. We quickly establish which direction downtown is. Success!

4:00pm: We alight in Naqsh‑e Jahan square. The million-square-foot UNESCO-listed square is one of the most touristic spots in the entire country. There are at least three other foreigners here.

4:01pm: A teenager accosts us. He’s here to get some free English practice. He tells us it snowed last week and shows us photos on his phone. We ask about the mountainous region we’re aiming for. He looks shocked and says it’s the coldest place in all Iran, and that we will die.

5:00pm: Sun setting, we head for the hotel. Tomorrow we’re meeting two friends there. They’ll be arriving on bicycles, having pedalled 6,000 miles from England. I’m feeling nostalgic – I also once cycled from England to Iran.

6:00pm: I get a room at a rate spectacularly lower than that quoted by our friends. I make a mental note to explain ‘haggling’ to them.

7:00pm: Kit explosion.

8:00pm: Normally I’d go out for a beer. But this is Iran. So I take Leon out for ice-cream instead. I suggest saffron flavour with pistachio sprinkles. I tell him we’ll get drunk if we eat enough of it.

Day 2

7:00am: We awaken with an ice-cream hangover.

7:30am: Breakfast is lavash (flat bread) with butter, white cheese, carrot jam and hard-boiled eggs. We’ve avoided the backpacker hostel, so all the other residents are Iranian.

9:00am: Today is a day of chores. First job: find a kayaking helmet for our upcoming adventure…

Continue reading over at TheProfessionalHobo.com.

There’ll be more from Nora on this blog very soon – she’s got a lot to teach the aspiring long-term traveller about making travel financially self-sustaining…

Categories
Films Iran 2014 Product Launches

Just released: Watch my latest adventure film, KARUN, for free!

At the end of last year, Leon and I sat down with our editor and spent the best part of a month producing a short film of our adventure in Iran, during which we followed the river Karun from source to sea (or tried to, at least!).

Today I’m happy to be able to share the full 15-minute film with you – for free.

We’ve had a fantastic response from film festivals so far, even managing to win the People’s Choice award at Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival – the best kind of award we could have won, in my opinion, because it represents how we connected to our audience, as opposed to the critics and judges.

Watch Karun right now over here →

This is all part of our gearing up to make the full, feature-length version of the story – because, as you might imagine, when you compress 6 weeks into 15 minutes, there’s a lot that gets left out.

But it’s going to take more time, people and resources than just us and a laptop. So in a few days’ time we’ll be launching a crowdfunding campaign to make not one but two new adventure films based on our journeys last year in Iran and Patagonia.

This is going to be a huge project – and you’ll be able to contribute directly towards making it a success! With that in mind, we’re asking you to take one of two simple actions in return for watching Karun:

  1. Enter your email address at karunfilm.com so we can let you know when the crowdfunding campaign is launched (and explain how you can help), OR
  2. ‘Pay’ with a Tweet or Facebook status about the release of this short film – a simple, automated process we’ve set up on karunfilm.com which will take a few seconds at most.

Watch Karun right now over here →

Enjoy – and do let us know what you think in the comments below. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about the journey or the filmmaking process, so don’t be shy…

Categories
Films Iran 2014

Karun Wins People’s Choice Award at Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival 2015

Being able to call myself an ‘award-winning filmmaker’ is a notable bonus when it comes to getting a certain type of person to take notice of my work.

Like a well-designed book cover or a blog post optimised to attract search engine traffic, film awards are a way to advertise the fact that what you’ve made might be worth looking at. Given the near infinite competition for public attention, only a martyr would ignore the value of such things.

Those in my line of work, however, are all too aware of the double-edged sword of this type of self promotion. Charlatans use it to aggressively advertise vacuous works or shoddy services. People become distrustful when everyone, suddenly, is an award-winning filmmaker. It’s also fairly cringeworthy to do it – or, at least, it is where I come from; a culture in which to draw attention to one’s achievements is considered boastful and shameless and distasteful.

It’s OK, though, to be proud of your work if it’s something that merits such pride. Most well-balanced people, I think, are capable of perceiving when something they’ve made is substandard or exceptional. They are capable, therefore, of matching the look of the box with the quality of the content. (This is, at least, what I aspire to do.)

And I really am proud of what we’ve achieved so far with Karun. It’s early days, and we’ve still got the full-length film to make, but being able to spread such good vibes about a place I love is a real privilege.

I don’t make films in order that they win awards or gain industry recognition. I make films because there’s something I want to say, and I want to say it to as many people as possible – to put what I believe in out into the world. That’s my prerogative as a filmmaker.

But winning the People’s Choice at Edinburgh, as Karun has just done (whoop!), indicates that – if our story sticks in more minds than any other – Leon and I are getting the stuff we believe in out there. This is why the People’s Choice award is perhaps the only award I’d take as a measure of personal success as a filmmaker.

In a few weeks’ time, the award-winning (!) short film Karun will be made freely available to newsletter subscribers.

Festival submission rules prohibit us from making it fully public (yet). But we’ve spent months of our lives shooting and editing this film, and we want to go beyond the film festivals and share it with you as soon as we can.

Click here to get on the mailing list, if you haven’t already, and look out for an email about it very soon.

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Films Iran 2014 News

Karun: A Source To Sea Journey Along Iran’s Longest River

Today I’m very pleased to be able to share with you the first of a couple of teaser videos of Karun, the film I’ve recently been working on.

For those who missed it, Leon and I travelled to Iran in the spring of 2014 in order to follow the longest river in Iran. This film, which we’ve named after the river, was originally intended to be a cultural exploration with the river itself as a mere conduit to our experiences, but things didn’t quite go to plan — as is so often the case with adventures in general, but particularly — it seems — with adventures in Iran.

There’ll be more news on the film (and plenty of how-to content on DIY adventure filmmaking) over the next few months as we work on the film and prepare to release it. Stay tuned…

Karun has its own website at karunfilm.com, complete with social media sharing buttons, in case you’d like to help us spread the word about the project.

Categories
Craft & DIY Films Personal Updates

Some thoughts, as the Beer Can Stove video goes viral

As of right now, the video above has been played 1,311,131 times. (Check it.)

Needless to say, when Armen and I popped out to buy a couple of cans of Kozel for this film, we were not expecting this to happen.

It’s been fun to watch the statistics over the last few days. It’s also been interesting to ruminate on why content ‘goes viral’ — internet shorthand for a shedload of people seeing something online in a short space of time.

What it boils down to, I think, is simple, resonant ideas put into easily shareable form, plus a dice-roll. The dice roll is whether anyone with the reach of Lifehacker, TrueActivist or RealFarmacy will pick up on it. But in the words of someone cleverer than me, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take”.

We’ve all handled drinks cans in our lives, used scissors, and come across surgical spirit. The delight comes from the combination and reinvention of these every day things to serve a basic human need.

This genuine utility value was demonstrated by a comment from Noel Carual of the Philippines.

“I wish to express my heartfelt thanks for sharing this very informative video especially during these times that my country is recently ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan [ Yolanda ].”

Who’d have thought this would end up cooking food and sterilizing water after a natural disaster?

Another thing worth mentioning is that there’s no particular credit due or fame bestowed upon any individual. All I did was splice together some video of what I thought was a genuinely awesome idea. All Armen did was practice hard and spend time demonstrating a revolutionary concept he’d come across. What’s spread like wildfire over the last few days is the idea, which doesn’t belong to anyone.

It may not be as amusing as the Ultimate Dog Tease. But it’s a damn sight more useful.

Got an idea you think the world needs to know about? If two blokes in Armenia with a camera and a beer-can can put it in front of 1,313,232 people (and counting), who can’t?