Memories of a Traveler: taking my work a step further

It's here! After exactly 320 days with the rendered short film in my hands I'm making it public on the Internet for everybody to watch. Why didn't I shared it before? Because it was traveling around the globe from film festival to film festival, but now I think it is time to release it.

Memories are a strange thing. They are similar to dreams in a sense, it’s that almost blurry thing that we can only see in our mind, but no matter how hard we try, they never become as sharp as the moment we lived.
Memories of a Traveler explores the wonders of nature during day and nighttime from the perspective of a traveler (and photographer) that doesn’t want to forget all the moments he’s lived and places he’s been to. This serves as the perfect excuse to showcase the beautiful landscapes around Northern Argentina, the Puna and Chile, with inhospitable places, extreme weather and as desolate as places beyond our own planet.

The idea

In 2013 I started working in Norte Argentino II after a lot of experimentation with astrophotography and time-lapse for the first short film of the possible trilogy, but right away I felt I was repeating what I did before.

In 2011 we worked with Karim Ayame on Tinogasta (verano 2011) and the next year I produced Norte Argentino by myself, so for my third time-lapse I felt that I had improved my photographic and time-lapse technique, but from a narrative point of view everything was more or less the same.

So during the production of Norte Argentino II I wanted to make another short film, also using time-lapse, but this time with a different narrative approach. That's how the idea of Memories of a Traveler came to life, with the intention of telling something different using the techniques I had specialized myself in (or at least that's what I thought, you can always learn new things).

A shot not included in the final cut

So when we crossed paths again with Karim in Tinogasta, I told him I wanted him to write the script for this new film I had in mind. I asked him because I wanted to work again with him, because we see nature, travel and photography very similar and because I trusted he would write a good script, he's good with words (I'm not, I'm better at telling stories with imagery).

I told him some of my ideas, about what narrative I thought would work best (but making sure he knew it was just an idea and that he had the final word). I also told him the short film would have a visual cycle that would start at sunrise and finish with the moonset. Everything in between I didn't knew, I decided that later on during production.

The script

Karim is not a screenwriter, but as I said, he's good with words. When he sent me the first draft, it was actually a pretty extensive story. It wasn't bad, but it was not a script for a short film. Not because of the content, it was because of the high amount of words and the way it was written.

That first draft was "the first thing that came out" and had 513 words. For a short film of about three minutes, which is what I had in mind, it would be a pretty long voice over narration.

The second draft changed completely in the way it was written, but the focus of the narrative was the same: a traveler recalling his passing through the north, the puna and his relationship with nature. Now the script was shorter, about 290 words, so we started working on that. And when I say we, I mean I suggested ideas trying not to influence too much on the result, I wanted to create something from a collaboration.

Since this version of the script was now written like a screenplay, I asked some of my filmmaking professors for help. Well, actually, I just asked them for an honest opinion. Not about the content, I wanted to know what they thought about the way it was written, so I sent them a rough cut with a voice over I recorded using my smartphone, just so they had an idea about the timing I wanted for the final cut.

Luciano Angonoa was incredible helpful and he told me just the right thing: "it's too long, remove half of it". He was right, because when I did the recording test myself, it was too much text for someone to hear and you couldn't concentrate on the images or hear the music. It was too much information to process.

An annotated script for the final day of recording at a sound studio

So with that advice Karim and I shortened the script to 157 words. We condensed some sentences, but always mantaining the same idea. Luciano kept insisting me that we needed to shorten the script even more, but I said to him that I wanted to respect the screenwriter's work.

Capturing the time-lapses

I shot almost every time-lapse during the production of Norte Argentino II. I mean, I worked on two short films at the same time during five years approximately.

Yes, five years. But it wasn't a full time production at all, I worked on it very irregularly. I wasn't dedicated to these productions 100%, otherwise I would have finished them a lot sooner.

Moonlit self portrait while shooting a time-lapse

And I din't dedicate myself full time to this because I was studying computer science, which I later abandoned. Then I studied filmmaking and got my degree :)

Since I was living in Córdoba with no vehicle of my own, every production was pure chaos. Things basically worked like this: when I had time off during a holiday or vacation, I would travel to Tinogasta where I stayed at my mother's and use that as my base. While I was traveling on bus, my photo equipment was traveling on a freight, because the bus would not receive all my stuff (too many bags). On the other hand, if I decided to pay for the extra baggage (which wasn't economically convenient), taxis never stopped when they saw me carrying so much stuff. So the easiest way for me to shoot time-lapses was to call a guy to go get my bags from my apartment and then he would send them on a freight to Tinogasta.

My usual time-lapse equipment

When arriving at Tinogasta, I would borrow my mother's truck and get lost into the mountains. Many shoots were in locations near Tinogasta, but many others were to far away places and accompanied by friends, so the costs were lower since we were splitting the money. A lot of times I went out with my camera while they were sleeping. Many trips were purely photographic, but not all of them. Still, I always travelled with my camera.

Right now I still don't have my own vehicle, sadly. I think I wouldn't have a career as a photographer and timelapser if not for that truck. I would have never recorded my first vlog or shot any of my short films. Since I'm a landscape astrophotographer, having a vehicle is a necessity, so I hope to be able to own one in the near future to keep shooting.

The music

In my previous time-lapses I used music that was already composed, ranging from musical group songs, videogame soundtracks and even stock music. But this time I wanted to do something different with the music, the idea was to keep making changes around the production. That's why I decided to use an original song specifically created for the short film, so I asked a composer to do that.

When I was studying filmmaking I heard of the 48 Hour Film Project, but never wanted to participate because I thought it would be too chaotic. By the end of 2017 some of my classmates invited me to shoot a short film with them and I accepted the invitation. The event was way more chaotic than anticipated, but the experience was great.

During the shoot I met Fermín Sampo, a music composer from Córdoba. I saw him work, then I listened to what he composed for a six minute short film in less than 48 hours and I liked it, so I told him about Memories of a Traveler and asked him if he wanted to put some music to my short film.

For different reasons, the music was done by March 2018, but even when I had the file in my hands I didn't start with the cutting because I still needed some more time-lapse shots.

Remember when I mentioned that cyclical thing? Well, when you don't have all the time in the world to shoot, getting certain night shots gets really complicated, be it because of the Milky Way season, the Moon phases or the fucking clouds in the sky.

The post-production

During this stage I knew I was going to need help from other people to get my short film done. I have no idea about audio post-production and I don't have the necessary equipment to record good audio, so I worked with an audio post-production company in Córdoba (440 Productora) to get the best out of the voice over and audio mix.

Nahuel De Camillis was the person who recorded Javier Sosa on a studio and later on did the audio mix.

I had the opportunity to be present during the whole process; the voice over recording and the sound mixing, and I was delighted with the experience and how well they treated me. It wasn't cheap, but I was glad to pay what they were asking because everything turned out exactly how I imagined it. Poor Javier, I made him repeat the same lines over and over again. And since I'm pretty curious, I asked Nahuel lots of technical questions.

The film festivals

I consider my previous time-lapse videos as short films, but this time things changed a bit and the short film had a more cinematic scent than the others, so I decided it was time to get into film festivals.

I don't really remember how I heard about the Festival Internacional de Cine de las Alturas in Jujuy, but that was the first one I sent my short film to and one of the few that selected it.

I didn't really knew what to expect. I didn't knew if my work was good enough, but I hoped that since it was mostly shot in the north of Argentina it would be picked as part of the official selection.

I was lucky enough to be invited alongside with every director who got their film picked to be in Jujuy for a week, so I packed my photo equipment, a few clothes and flew to San Salvador de Jujuy where they were incredibly amazing hosts (and I didn't have to spend a dime).

I was doing some vlogging by then, so I decided to vlog during my trip and ended up recording so much material that I made two videos, one about the film festival (above) and other about a photo trip I took to the Quebrada (below).

After sending the short film to that festival I did some googling and found out about several platforms that let you upload short films and send them to different festivals all around the world. The issue with those platforms is that they charge you some money when you send your film to a festival, so my way around it was to search for the official film festival website and check if they accepted the film to be sent via email. It wasn't ideal because I had to fill lots of different forms instead of just send them the film through the platform, but by sending via email I saved a lot of money (and for an Argentine to pay in US dollars, that's a lot of money).

Most festivals rejected the film, a few accepted it to be part of their official selection and just a hadful gave the short film awards and/or mentions.

Arte Non Stop Festival special mention

Awards and mentions

The film crew

A tidbit of information

  • Kilometers covered (approximately): 9.500 (5903 miles)
  • Pictures taken: 12.856
  • Hours of work (approximately): 1.600
  • Work and festival emails: 239
  • Work time frame: January 2014 – April 2019
  • Locations: 18
  • Gear: Canon 450D, Canon 600D, Canon 60D, Canon 6D, Canon 50mm, Canon 18-55 II, Tamron 17-50, Samyang 24mm, Samyang 14mm, generic intervalometer, Magic Lantern, Stage Zero dolly, eMotimo TB3 pan/tilt head, tripods, ND filters y and graduated ND filters, Little Bramper intervalometer

Time-lapse licensing

If you want to use the time-lapses of the short film for you own project, you can check every shot by clicking the button below and purchase a license through this website.

Memories of a Traveler stock time-lapses

Behind the scenes

Below you can watch an interview for a film festival (sadly no English subtitles available) and some behind the scenes images. You'll find more about the production in my portfolio, Facebook and Instagram, as well as some other shots that didn't made it to the final cut in my time-lapse catalog.

The day before the interview I went on a trip to Purmamarca, I forgot my sunscreen and spent the whole day out shooting, that's why I had my face all red :P

Below is the press-kit I sent along with the short film to several international festivals:

If you spot a translation error please let me know, English isn't my native language.

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