Freelance cinematographer/photographer Andreas Georghiou grew up in South Africa where capturing the magic of reality has always been something that has inspired him since he picked up his first camera. He finds that there is something special about a recorded moment that reveals much more about reality than what can be seen with the naked eye. For him, it is the “hidden” reality that inspires him the most. He recently returned from a 15 day trip to Vietnam where he created a beautiful travel video called “Reflections of Vietnam” that certainly captures all the hidden realities that makes it such an inspiring place to visit.
What is your favorite part about traveling and experiencing a new culture?
Besides experiencing different cuisines and marveling at the unique landscapes of each new country I visit, something far more important which I take away from my travels is the unique interactions I have with the local citizens of each country I visit. People of different countries are obviously shaped by their cultures and their histories, and this always makes for fascinating conversations and experiences when I interact with them.
What made you decide to travel to Vietnam and what was your itinerary?
I was in Vietnam for 15 days and, in that time, I travelled from the north to the south via train and bus. The main stops on my itinerary were: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Huế, Hội An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam was always a country high on my list of places I wanted to go to. Not only was I fascinated by the country’s history, but I was also taken aback by the sheer beauty of its landscapes and by what I’d heard about it’s insanely energetic cities. This is what inspired me in my shooting of “Reflections of Vietnam”.
What were some of your favorite places you visited while you were there?
While all the places I went to were fascinating and incredibly beautiful, my two favorite places which I were Halong Bay and the Ancient Town located in the city of Hội An. Halong Bay’s seemingly endless emerald sea populated by thousands of limestone islands was one of the most glorious sights of natural beauty I have ever seen. And the Ancient Town of Hội An, which has such a rich history to it, amazed me just as much when, at night, the paper lanterns hung throughout the entire town are lit up.
What was one of the most inspirational moments you captured in your video and why?
To be honest, there were so many magical and inspirational moments that it is very difficult for me to pick one. But if I had to choose, I would say it was when I was traveling by boat through the limestone islands of Halong Bay (@00:37 in the video). There was a point where we sailed past one big limestone island and, as we did, it revealed what I thought looked like an infinite sea of them extending out towards into the distance. The ones furthest away covered by a beautiful blue haze. I saw this even more clearly when I climbed to the top of one of these limestone peaks and looked out at the horizon.
What was it like interacting with the locals while you were there?
I found that the people in Vietnam were incredibly kind and generous in a way that is often lacking in Western society. Despite the country’s rather traumatic history, I experienced the people of Vietnam to be incredibly hopeful and inspiring. One memorable experience I had while in Hue was the chance to have dinner at a local family’s home. Another very memorable experience I had was sailing around Coconut Island in a bucket boat with some of the local villagers.
What was the one of the most surprising things you learned while on your trip?
One of the most surprising things I learned was about the historical existence of the ancient Champa Kingdom in Vietnam. The Cham people had a very unique style of architecture (very different to that of other ancient temples in Vietnam) and followed a variation of Hindu culture.
Did you face any recurring challenges while traveling around recording what you saw?
I think a common challenge I face when recording and photographing my travels is the fact that some people do not like to appear on camera and I do occasionally experience some level of hostility when I point my camera lens towards them. However, I usually apologize and move to a different space whenever this happens. The other challenge I experienced was filming while on the move (riding a bicycle, train, bus, etc). I had to get the hang of trying to keep the camera as still as possible while fighting the erratic movements of the train or while riding a bicycle, for example.
How did this specific trip differ from your other travels?
It think the main difference between my trip to Vietnam and other overseas trips I have taken is that, on this trip, I had a much closer experience with the culture and had many more exciting, unconventional experiences which took me off the beaten track which most tourists follow.
What is in your equipment bag?
I captured most of my footage using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (with a Metabones Speedbooster). And I used a Canon 6D to capture stills (and some video). The lenses I used were a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, and a Nikon 50mm f/1.2.
Do you have any tips to share for getting the type of footage you got?
The lenses I picked to take with on this trip were of great importance to the type of footage and stills I managed to capture. I found that my long lens was very useful in many situations, as it allowed me to get closer shots of people without getting too much “in their face”. My wide lens was vital when I needed to capture massive landscapes such as those I saw at Halong Bay. And my 50mm prime lens was a fast, light-weight option for low-light situations and general street photography and filming.
When on traveling, do you have a specific narrative in mind when documenting what you see?
It depends on what I am shooting and whether it is my own project or a project I am working on for another company. In the case of this trip, I did not have any specific mandate to follow. However, I also did not intend to mindlessly film everything I see. So I specifically decided before the trip that I wanted to focus on the people and the “movement” which I experienced – the movement of traveling, people, city, etc.
What is your editing process?
I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC to edit my footage. I start by sorting out the footage but before I lay anything down on a timeline, I think it is vital to decide on the music that I am going to use. As the music greatly contributes to the emotion I am trying to convey, I spend quite a lot of time trying to find the perfect track. I then start roughly ordering the footage in the way I see it moving best from beginning to end, paying close attention to the pacing, rhythm, and transitions. I spend a lot of time experimenting and going back to change things around. It is often a long process of trial and error until I find a sequence that works well and tells the story I want.