There is a special spot in our hearts for travel films and documentaries. They inspire our wanderlust to explore every inch of the globe, and draw us into a completely different world, even if only for a few hours at a time. They recount stories and epic tales of adventure, and motivate us to get off the couch and witness our world in living color.
Though travel films are more than merely inspiration for Nigel Allison – the editor and creator behind UnevenToast, Nigel combines his passion for both travel and film by reviewing the travel features and documentaries he holds dear, and has begun to build quite an audience who eagerly await hearing about brand new travel films.
What do you love the most about film?
I find this question really hard to answer! It’s like coming up with a reason for my favorite food (it’s Vietnamese by the way), or favorite flavor of ice cream (vanilla).
Being drawn into another world for a couple hours is definitely one of main the reasons I fell in love with films. I love the innovation that happens in the film industry and how we are constantly finding new ways to tell stories.
I personally take more of an interest in the technical side of film making. There are hundreds of people who work off scene and behind the camera, and what I find the most fascinating is trying to understand what they do to create the ‘movie magic’. Cinematography, CGI etc.
What inspired you to start writing about film?
I’ve always enjoyed expressing my opinion when it comes to the films I love as well as those I don’t. I had a big desire to start a website, though couldn’t decide what it should be about. Writing film reviews combines the two things I love the most. Travel and films. I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘writer’. It’s more a brilliant spending time on something you enjoy.
Like Newton thinking about gravity under the apple tree, I thought about uneventoast in a hammock in Bali!
What do you love the most about travel films?
That these films are unlike films of other genres e.g. sci fi or horror. It’s possible to relive the stories told in travel films. It’s possible to become inspired and set out to experience the same yourself.
In my own way that’s what I hope to do.
What do you think travel documentaries/films teach society?
It’s hard to answer this specifically because each person takes away something different and receives a different message. I do however work in my own opinions as to the message of each film into my reviews, and outline for my readers the lessons I took away at the end.
What are your favourite travel documentaries?
Encounters At The End Of The World is definitely my favorite. It’s directed and narrated by Werner Hertzog, and no-one tells a story like he does.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Stefan Pashov who appeared in the documentary. Hertzog’s monotone voice fits the atmosphere of the documentary perfectly.
What are your favourite travel films?
The Beach by no means is the best film in the world but it’s the one that inspired me 9 years ago to first visit Thailand. I had to find out what all the fuss was about!
What kind of things do you consider when completing a film review?
I like to open with a personal story from my travels that relates to the film. Summarise, tell my readers what I thought, what I took away, and then ask a question at the end to give the readers something to think about.
What is your favourite travel related quote from a film or documentary?
‘And as for traveling alone…f*** it. If that’s the way it has to be that’s the way it is..’ Richard -The Beach
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ – Lao Tzu (not featured in a film, though a favorite quote all the same!)
If you could live out one travel film or documentary, what would it be?
I’ll be reviewing Cast Away staring Tom Hanks soon. It would be an interesting experience to be stranded on a deserted island and to see how well I could improvise in order to survive. All those years of watching Ray Mears (better version of Bear Grylls) might actually pay off!
As well as physically challenging I’m assuming a situation like that would play havoc on the mind. Especially since I won’t have any music to keep me company.
Any fantastic travel memoirs you are hoping to see made into a film?
I recently got lost in a cave in Laos which would make an excellent film or at least an hour long TV episode.
Do you enjoy foreign films? ie can you handle subtitles?
Yes I do. They don’t have the same restrictions as films that are geared towards a native English language audience. The stranger the better.
It’s a shame that foreign films have to be remade by ‘Hollywood’ in order to reach a wider audience. Most of the time the remakes are a lot softer. When you watch a good foreign film you become drawn into the story and forget you’re reading subtitles. It’s like reading a good book.
Which film festivals are at the top of your travel bucket list?
Last year I was fortunate to attend 2 film festivals, one in Dharamsala, India and the other Bali, Indonesia where I saw a surfing documentary called Hangs Upon Nothing! It was filmed using a 35 mm camera, looks amazing and is accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack.
Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) is next on my bucket-list.
Why watch travel films?
They expose you to different ideas about where you should travel and what you should see.
The journey and destination are just as important as the characters, and these films really do have the potential to inspire a strong sense of wanderlust and get people off the couch and out into our big wide wonderful world.
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Feature Image CC Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.