We recently caught up with world traveler and filmmaker Marco Santi and talked to him about his favorite places to travel and how he developed his passion for watching cinema into making his own films.
Read on to learn more about Marco and his “Backpackers” video series.
Marco, can you tell us about where you're from and where you grew up?
I was born and grew up in Brescia, in Northern Italy. I am 25 years old and I am still living with my family, but I am happy like this for the moment.
How did you get started making videos? Is it something that you have always been passionate about?
I am not really sure how my passion got started. When I was a young kid, I used to film my friends and even write comedy scripts for them to perform.
Without a doubt, I have always been very passionate about cinema. I grew up with Kubrick's and Tarantino's movies. I've watched a couple of films a day since I was 15.
What inspires you to get out and travel? How do you choose your destinations?
Well, probably the only time I take a break from watching films is when I am traveling. If cinema is my true love, traveling is my lover.
I love traveling and discovering the world, but above all- I love getting to know different places and cultures and talking with strangers, or trying to when the language barriers are too high. I am positive that traveling helps you to discover yourself. Getting out of your "comfort zone" is essential to understand who you are and what your personal boundaries are.
If I can, I prefer to travel alone to have my own space and to be able to enjoy the silence of nature that surrounds me. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen often as my dear friends always try to join me! I definitely like that as well, but traveling alone is priceless, at least for me.
To be honest I really don't know how I choose my destinations. It depends on what I am inspired by in that moment. Before booking a flight, I change my mind thousands of times.
But in the last several years, I've fallen in love with Asia. The first countries on my wish list for places I would like to visit are all Asian.
For your Backpackers video series, you traveled to three different countries in 23 days knowing only the date and place of return. How did you find your way through these countries? What helped to determine what path you took next?
Usually I decide the night before where to travel to the next day. This is what happened during the last trip to Indonesia with my friend Andrea Egidi. It was only then (the night before) that our plans were decided.
I try to follow the paths which might give me as many possible adventures in that small amount of time. 23 days might seem like a lot but it's not in reality, especially if you want to see and try everything, like we did.
For trips like this, me and my friend are the best couch mates!
How do you pack for travel between so many countries in such a short amount of time? I'd imagine you have to be pretty selective, especially when having to carry around your camera gear...
Haha, to be honest I am the opposite of being selective. It's foolish, but I always try to bring as much as possible with me.
In addition to my essentials, I used to also carry a couple of cameras with all the lenses, so I often end up breaking my neck!
Only with time and experience, have I convinced myself that it was too much and I got a bit better about being selective. Though, I still bring too much!
I believe that on trip like mine, you just need to take the essentials with you to be able to travel light and move easily from one place to another.
What advice could you share with someone who is also interested in traveling without a detailed itinerary?
First of all, there's nothing better than getting lost! Nothing better than getting lost in nature or in a city somewhere where no one speaks your language.
The best stories come from those experiences that might have been mishaps in the beginning.
What I would suggest when traveling like this is to keep going, despite anything unforeseen that might happen along the way and to respect the environment, the culture, and the people you meet along your path. This last aspect is essential not only to have a certain degree of security while traveling but also for the quality of the trip. You cannot understand a place or a culture if you don't respect them first.
You capture a lot of wonderful people that you encounter along your travels in your videos. Is there anything in particular that you have learned from interacting with so many people from so many different cultures?
Sure, I basically have learned everything from others. My approach in general has always been to listen and learn from those who've had something interesting to say. This is the same approach I have while traveling.
You can learn something from every person you meet while traveling, from the old man cutting bamboo branches in a narrow street in Can Tho to a younger French passenger on the train.
Listening to people is fascinating. Getting to know their thoughts and their perspectives can definitely bring more knowledge and new perspectives into your life. I have always strived to have a wider vision of the world, in all its aspects and facets.
What's next for you? Any other big travels plans in the near future?
At the moment, I am working on some short films. So far this year I have not traveled as much compared to previous years because of these projects.
My dream is to become a filmmaker and I am putting a lot of efforts to succeed in this.
At end of November, I will go kitesurfing in Brazil for a couple of weeks and then at end of the year I will go back to Asia again. This time I would love to visit Myanmar and Laos. At the moment I've only bought the ticket to Bangkok. I can't wait!
Watch Marco's film "Memahami," which shares highlights of his recent excursion to Indonesia, where he and friends visited temples, active volcanos, and island hopped in the Indian Ocean.