Food and culture are part of a new travel documentary series from Vancouver-based film production company QE Productions. It is hosted by American author and adventurer Allan Karl, who will traverse several countries on his motorcycle and spend 30 days in each one. The pilot for the series, planned as several one-hour episodes, will first lead the crew to China in mid-June where they hope to connect with locals.
“We want to focus on small villages as opposed to big cities,” says Panayioti Yannitsos, a Canadian Greek filmmaker based and graduate of the Art Institute of Vancouver, who is currently based in Vancouver. “We want to show the country’s beauty and its rich history.”
In order to keep the connection with locals as intimate as possible, Karl will travel on a budget and will be accompanied by only a small crew of four people.
Troubles with Chinese customs
While the pilot episode was originally scheduled to be filmed in May and June, QE Productions had to postpone this due to bureaucratic problems: Karl’s motorcycle “Doc,” which was shipped to China in April, has been held by Chinese customs since its arrival.
“So far, we weren’t able to clear it,” says Yannitsos, producer & co-director.
If they had known of the difficulties, they would have started the journey in another county, adds executive producer Randolph Paul Kelman.
While the status of “Doc” is currently unclear, the crew will still leave for China to shoot the pilot since they have purchased another motorcycle.
“We are officially green-lit for production,” says Yannitsos. “Allan is ready to hop on a motorcycle and travel north to south across China!”
Once in China, Karl expects navigating Chinese traffic to be one of his biggest challenges as he does not want to travel on major highways.
An experienced adventurer
Having visited over 60 countries, Karl is an experienced traveller and adventurer. He traversed most of the countries on his motorcycle: his favorite means of transportation.
“When travelling on a motorcycle, you are more exposed and approachable for people,”
He usually travels alone and focuses on getting to know the people and the culture, as well as real local food.
This adventure is no different. Karl hopes to connect with locals as easily for the travel documentary series as he did for his book FORKS.
For his book FORKS – A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection, Karl spent three years on the road.
Karl says his favorite places were: Argentina because of the blend of European and Latin lifestyles; Ethiopia because of the people’s integrity; and Syria because people were always helpful and genuine.
For this documentary series, he is particularly excited about doing things he did not get to do for his book.
“When travelling for FORKS, I barely touched Asia. I look forward to exploring that part of the world now,” says Karl.
Once the team returns from China, Yannitsos expects an intense post-production schedule and believes editing will take a month or two.
“Additionally, our executive producer Randolph Paul Kelman will join us periodically throughout the production. He will usually be at our production office in Ningbo, China,” says Yannitsos.
Kelman adds nothing will be staged, and that they might visit areas whose inhabitants have not met foreigners before. In each country, the film crew will try to hire local talent.
“Liu Jia, our secondary camera operator, is from Shanghai and will join us for the entirety of this pilot episode in China,” says Yannitsos.
Afterwards, the film crew plans to leave and shoot the second episode in a yet-to-be-determined country.
For more information about the travel documentary series, visit www.qeproductions.ca.