Daniel Sheppard discovered his talent for videography while traveling through Southeast Asia with his fiancée. Over the past two years, the medium has turned into a full-blown passion for him, and in his latest video, Daniel captures the electric atmosphere of Hanoi, Vietnam — a place he and his family hold close to their hearts.
To learn more about the film and its maker, we asked Daniel a few questions about his memorable experience in the Vietnamese capital.
What inspired you to go Hanoi?
My mom’s family is from there, but they moved to Scotland during the Vietnam War. Growing up, I always heard stories about Vietnam from my grandparents.Then, seeing so many amazing videos and pictures as I got older cemented the feeling that I needed to visit for myself.
What was your first impression of the city?
Hanoi is fast-paced. There’s always so much going on, crowds of people everywhere,and massive amounts of traffic. There’s a jumble of sounds and voices, and a constant smell of mouth-watering food that wafts from the numerous cafés, restaurants, and street vendors that pepper the city. It’s what I’d call organized chaos — a frenzy, but in the most amazing way.
Were those impressions different from what you had expected?
Before leaving, I watched a lot of travel vlogs and researched Vietnam extensively, especially Hanoi, so I had an idea of what it would be like. That said, stepping outside of the city was a different story. I had no idea that Vietnam has some of the most beautiful landscapes and coastlines in the world. Although I had visited various countries in Southeast Asia before, the beauty of Vietnam took me by surprise.
Why did you choose to begin the film in black and white, and with a grainy texture?
After meeting my family for the first time, I realized that Hanoi was part of my family’s history. By starting the film in black and white, and setting it in the city’s old quarters, I felt like I was paying homage to that history.
The film is fast-paced at times, producing an almost thrilling sensation with each scene change. Can you elaborate on why you chose to edit the film like this?
The fast-paced scenes were included to represent the true Hanoi experience, where, at times, it feels like you’re caught in a whirlwind. I was mesmerized by the different colors, sounds, and smells. I wanted viewers to feel transported into the scenes, experiencing the thrill and excitement of a busy city.
You use a lot of natural sounds in the video as well. Why did you think it was important to incorporate those?
Sound design plays such an important role in video production. It gives viewers a more complete experience, and adds depth to each scene. A majority of the sounds were chosen to accentuate what was going on in the background, giving viewers the feeling that they’re actually there.
The film also places a large emphasis on people working. Was there a specific reason for this?
I was in Hanoi for four days. Three of those were spent visiting family, some of whom my mom had never even met. This left me with only one day to go out and film what I could of the city. Instead of showcasing Hanoi through a tourist’s eye, I wanted to capture the locals going about their daily life — giving viewers insight into the culture of the city that I had experienced with my family.
The last shot of the man carving wood is so powerful. Can you walk us through how you filmed that?
I was fascinated by the man and his craft, so I approached him, and he said it was fine if I filmed. As with most shots, I tried to shoot a mix of wide, medium, and close-up shots with varying angles to give more options in post-production. In this particular scene, I wanted the wide shot to give the audience the perspective of him at a small table in the middle of the street, and the close-up to show his carving skills and the finer details of his work — an image of a young boy a customer had on their phone.
What do you hope people take away from this video?
I hope people will be inspired to travel to Vietnam, to immerse themselves in the culture, and to get to know the people of Hanoi. They are some of the most hardworking and friendly people I’ve met. In my opinion, they are what make Vietnam a dream destination.
To view more of Daniel’s work, follow him on Instagram.