When Florent and Amberly, the duo who make up Of Two Lands, traveled to Japan, they thought they knew what to expect. But when they arrived, they were blown away by the country’s landscapes, atmosphere, and culture of respect. We caught up with Flo to talk about their experience and what went into collecting footage for their travel video.
What made you want to visit Japan?
We’ve both always wanted to visit, and we’ve come really close to booking tickets on many occasions but ultimately never found the right time. The culture attracts us?, as it’s so different from our own. We also had a lot of friends who visited and a few who actually live there, so we had a pretty good idea of what to expect and knew that we would enjoy it. I have always had a strong interest in manga and anime culture, so it made sense for me to visit Japan at least once in my life.
What struck you most about Tokyo?
I think the thing that surprised us most about Tokyo is how polite the people were and how well organized and clean the city seemed to be. Everything works so well despite it being the an incredibly densely populated city.
Were there any unexpected challenges to filming?
We usually shoot in more remote places and primarily focus on landscapes. Filming in such crowded places forced us to take a different approach. It ended up being more like documenting the place as we went along. We didn’t really plan any shots; rather, we filmed what was happening around us, so we had to remain very present.
There were also a lot of people around all of the time, so from a technical point of view, we always had to be aware of our movements. Tokyo is famous for all of its neon lights and while they look amazing, they are quite tricky to capture. But it all worked out in the end, and we had a great time shooting.
What do you hope this video evokes?
As with all of our travel videos, we want the viewer to experience the place and enjoy it like we did. We want people to be able to project themselves and imagine being in Japan.
While I imagine Japanese cities to be is extremely busy and chaotic, this video’s cinematography and music are very serene — can you speak a little bit about that artistic decision?
Funnily enough we actually found Japan to be very quiet and peaceful, even in the big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Despite the millions of people, we never felt like we were in the middle of extremely busy place. It was a controlled chaos. People there are mindful about not intruding on others’ personal space when possible. And the silence is striking, especially on the crowded trains — you could hear a pin drop!
We tend to have a more documentary-style? approach with our travel videos. We wanted to capture the moments as we experienced them. We got up very early every day, and we wanted to show that Japan might not be what people pictured.
Maybe the fact that we normally shoot a lot of landscapes has an impact on how we see each place. To us, the quiet little moments and details are very important.
We always try to film our travel videos in a way that doesn’t take over the location. We don’t want people to be reminded every second that they are watching a video; we just want them to be transported.
Was there a particularly impactful moment during your trip?
There wasn’t one moment that was more impactful than others. The impact was as a whole — how much we loved Japan, how different it is from every place we’ve experienced so far.
If we had to pick one moment though, it would be sitting on a train heading for the mountains and catching our first glimpse of the majestic Mount Fuji from the window. It was truly breathtaking.