Capping off the month of Exploration is…
Tamara Benitez from the Phillipines. The particular film chosen was “Escape to Anilao”. The video is a part of a larger series titled the Escape To series. The goal is to help spread the love of travel and wanderlust through the use of on demand video that allows for the most flexibility in viewing the content. The Escape To series is the first of its kind in Phillipines and powered by a team that includes Tamara and many others.
Tamara heads the company, ByTheSea. Through ByTheSea, Tamara helps create high quality documentaries, videos and web content focusing on the “sun, sea and sand”. All of this is through the help of LanParte products including the 3-Axis Hand Held Gimbal (HHG-01) and LanParte rigs. With all the best tools and an intense passion for the sea, Tamara has created an impressive portfolio of work. We interview her below to discuss her work and the shooting of “Escape to Anilao”.
Tamara, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background with By The Sea?
I am a Cinematographer, Surfer and Producer. I started out with Cinematography, and learned to shoot underwater from my Mom, who’s specialty is Underwater Cinamatography. When I got into surfing, I started making films of my travels and that’s how ByTheSea was born.
Your production and company matches up perfectly with Exploration. Can you tell us how you were able to combine your passions of film making and travel into a career?
I wanted to put all my videos under a brand that people could remember. ByTheSea reflects my passion for surf, sun and travel (and dogs!). When I was starting out, I made it a habit to make a short video after every trip. Companies started approaching me to make videos for their outdoor brands, and it snowballed from there. I still work on random Cinematography projects in the city, but I’m spending more and more time doing the stuff I really love to do – surf and travel, and shooting by the beach. That’s all thanks to ByTheSea.
With travelling there can be some animosity towards tourist but you bring out the best and most compassionate side of the locals. How do you foster that connection and bring out the best of each location you visit?
I’m half-Filipino, so the locals have always treated me as a tourist. Meeting someone new for the first time is interesting, since they don’t expect me to speak the local language. I guess that works for anyplace. It’s always good to learn a few local words – it helps to break the ice and I think the locals appreciate the effort. I try to spend time with them before putting them on camera too, so they don’t get too camera shy.
In the Anilao video you try climbing/hiking and scuba diving for the first time. How do you balance the nervousness of trying something new and scary, but also ensuring that you have the right shots for your film?
For the Escape To series, our host, Joyce, gets to try all these fun things for the first time. She’s a trooper, and I think a big part of it is trust. We make sure she’s with the best trainers and instructors we can find, and she breezes through it. What’s so great about the LanParte gimbal is that it’s so easy to use, we just hand it over to Joyce if she feels like goofing off in front of the camera. For the main part of the shoot, my Director (and husband), Martin, handles the gimbal. He loves that it makes such a simple yet effective point-and-shoot camera. No need to fuss over framing the shot, since we’re shooting with a GoPro, and we get to pick and choose the best shots during the edit.
You end the video with,
“It’s funny because sometimes we always think that we know a place by the stories that people tell you. Go on and try and make your own stories and pass it on to other people.”
Can you elaborate a little more about this thought?
What I love about the Escape To series is that we’re able to follow a character that’s pretty close to our own. Joyce is passionate about travel, art, people and stories. I love traveling because I get to meet all these people from all walks of life. Whether they are other travelers or locals, they all have a story to tell about about a certain place.
Travelers tell tales of their adventures, and locals tell tales of why they settled there. They are both passionate about that location, but in their own different way. The best way to know a place is to go there and experience it for yourselves. Maybe you will meet a great group of people and get lost for half a day. Maybe you’ll have a unique moment underwater, or see a breathtaking view at the top of a mountain. You will always come out of a trip with good stories to tell. Those stories will inspire other people to travel.