Behind the film Experience Imagination: Interview with Vincent Urban
Traveling in a rusty Land Rover, Vincent Urban and two lifelong friends drove across the dramatic landscapes of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and southern Brazil. After capturing hours of raw footage, Vincent used his editorial skills to feature their adventure in the short-film, “Experience Imagination: In South America”. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out here.) To unmask the man behind this short-film, we asked Vincent some questions to learn more about his creative inspiration.
Q: What sparked your interest in South America?
A: Some regions are definitely more suitable for a road trip and South America is one of those places. The continent’s diverse landscapes and areas left untouched by humans give you the feeling of a last frontier. There are more dirt roads than highways, lots of emptiness and sometimes harsh weather conditions. If you’re looking for an adventure, Patagonia is pretty much the place to be! This is why we wanted to go, and adventure is what we got.
I’d like to visit every region and continent on Earth! I would even go to the moon if I had the chance to do so. Perhaps this has something to do with the fear of missing out on something.
Q: Who were your travel companions?
A: Clemens Krüger is a fellow filmmaker and good friend that I’ve known since back when we were still shooting snowboarding movies. We still work together on some film projects here in Munich, Germany. He’s a very talented cameraman and nerd when it comes to filming gear and its handling.
And there’s Stefan Templer who I have known since birth and with whom I have shared almost 100% of all my traveling experiences over the past 30 years. He’s the main outdoor and off-road guy; driving most of the time, fixing the car and providing general life fixes and handiness to the crew. Clemens and I admit we would never be able to do such a trip without Stefan’s expertise.
Q: In Europe, the distances are often short in comparison to the dramatic distances in South America. Geography matters when traveling. What is the special feel of South America when it comes to geography and how it connects destinations?
A: We traveled in a Land Rover, a great car with a great personality, but unfortunately, lacking in speed. The car could only reach a maximum speed of 80 km/hour [about 50 miles/hour]. I have to admit that there were some moments when I thought I was losing my mind. We often just drove in a straight line for hours that turned into days while the landscape surrounding us didn’t seem to change. Of course, the scenery did eventually change, but it was so gradual that it felt like watching hours pass on an analog clock. On a more positive note, I did finish reading a lot of books on this journey.
When we returned home I reviewed hours of video footage documenting the incredible places we visited. The distance and time that passed to get to each destination felt almost unreal, which is what people don’t see when they watch the video.
Q: What is your most memorable South American travel experience?
A: Of course the overwhelming experiences, like seeing the glaciers and Iguazu Falls, were mind-blowing. But, for me, it was the little things, like fighting nature’s nagging games, which were the most memorable.
The winds were just crazy! It’s hard to imagine when you haven’t traveled to Patagonia why the wind would be so memorable: but, it changes everything about your daily routine when you’re camping. My cereal bowl repeatedly flew off the table in the mornings and we needed to secure down everything so it didn’t fly away. The winds were so strong that I felt like an astronaut who couldn’t rely on gravity to hold my stuff together! Then, suddenly, after repeated days with strong winds, we woke up one morning in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile and the wind magically stopped. This was a particularly special morning for me, and one marked with the realization that I could suddenly hear mosquitoes and insects without the howling wind.
Q: Did you play soccer? Soccer is a common language that transcends borders. What are your views on this matter when traveling the world?
A: As a youngster I played as a goalkeeper on a local team and I still play sometimes after work with my friends in Munich’s parks. I’m quite a fan, but unfortunately, we didn’t visit a stadium in South America.
Football [aka soccer]is so simple and full of emotions, and therefore has spread over the whole world. People would often ask us where we were from while traveling. Upon response, they would often say something in the likes of, “Ah! Bayern Munich! I love Schweinsteiger!” From there, it was easy to spark a conversation with a total stranger. Football was another conversation starter. You don’t need much to play, so in every corner of the world you’ll find kids playing football. We’d often get out of the car and play with young kids for half an hour. It’s always a good time playing and an easy way to make connections.
Football, in all its simplicity, is a common ground for most people.
Q: What inspires you to travel?
A: First of all, it’s fun! Being out in nature with your best friends is always a promise for a great time. But, more importantly, I think the experiences and lessons you gain from traveling are highly unique and cannot be replicated through a school education, books or television. Meeting people and being exposed to cultural diversity makes you wonder, ask questions and think about your life in just one way of many. And seeing nature in all its beauty, as is the case for South America, really makes you care about our little planet. It’s not only the places and people you meet that spark your curiosity – it’s also the time you get to do so. Living in the Western world with an office job, I highly appreciate the hours I spent out in the Steppe where there was no internet or phone access, just some red wine and a camping chair.
Q: Are you planning to come back to South America anytime soon?
A: I really hope to come back to South America at some point, but don’t have any specific plans yet. I’d like to see Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. There are so many places and so little time! It is a pity.
Thanks to Vincent, Clemens and Stefan for traveling, experiencing, imagining and sharing!
Britt is a California native with a passion for globe-trotting. She left home for South America in 2013 and now has a family and permanent address in Peru.