Following the Voice of Your Dream

This time we’ve decided to draw your attention to the story of development of the creative group PAGANEL Studio. Once, following the voice of their hearts a brave and non-trivial family couple decided to “take a total control of their lives” and they launched on investigating the most remote and hard-to-reach places of our “little blue globe”. Guys are travelling all around the world and make authentic films about beauty and mysteries of nature, culture and history. Amazing landscapes, legends and myths, mysteries of civilizations and far away cultures appear one by one before our eyes. Let’s find out, how they managed to join together everyday routine and exciting part of our lives: necessity and dream.

What was in the beginning and how did the idea to launch such a creative project appear? Recollect, how the dream was born (what was the very first thought and how did it start to come to life later)?

Andrey (founder of the studio): The very first dreams and the idea itself to join our with wife interests, way of living with a possibility to earn arose as early as in 2008, when after our third journey full of adventures and beauty to the Papua and other Indonesian islands (before that we already had tracking to the Everest as our wedding journey, we visited Thailand, then Peru and Bolivia) it came to us that we wanted to live a totally interesting for us life and not just from case to case on the money earned by us and during our vacation.

I remember calling my wife being on a business trip, from Kyiv; at that moment in summer we were living on our dacha in the Crimean mountains, at that moment she was cleaning our little pond with a hand net and taking leaves out of it; so I called her and just said: “Let’s travel, shoot films and earn our living with it. Today, when I was on moving stairways in the subway, an idea for scenario came to my mind… « Then I added: «And the National Geographic journal decided to print our article with a picture about the Comodo dragons!» These words even brought tears to Olia’s eyes …

Why Paganel, where does this name come from, who made it and what it’s related to?

I made it up. I suggested, and Olga said yes immediately. Paganel is a character of Jules Verne’s book “The Children of Captain Grant”.

He is a geographer, he also knows history well, he speaks a few languages, he is a good painter, funny, sometimes extravagant, it’s fun with them and interesting, it’s a bright, charismatic person, on which the whole book is actually based on and thanks to him the whole team was able to cover their whole route through continents and oceans. It’s a generalized character of our initial team. I have a degree in history, I am making and developing routes of the journeys; Olga is a geographer, philosophy doctor, she speaks a few languages, paints. In the beginning when an idea to shoot films appeared, there were three of us, a great painter was in our team Alexandr Votsmush. In fact, three of us started travelling and were dreaming about launching the project which was born in my mind and shooting it in various countries of the world. It was Sasha, who involved us into video shooting. Then, in 2008 he shot in our journey a film-emotion about our travelling called “The Princess of Papua”, then we organized an exhibition with the same name of our pictures, his water-color paintings, Olga’s graphics and it started…

And the second part of the name «Studio» means that we do not just travel but that we also produce creative pieces of work.

What do you think: are you a tour operator who at the same time produces his own media product or a production unit providing services of a tour operator? And how did you see your project from the start?

For us these areas of our activity do not lie just as they are on a surface, something one is emphasized in some point. Of course initially we wanted to devote ourselves exclusively to art, and we said no to everyone who wanted to go on a journey with us. But as during three years we did not manage to find finances for our project, we decided to earn money the other way and we thought it was not supposed to last long … In 2011 we left from so-called “producer” from Kyiv, because we got tired from promises. We left into nowhere. We decided to start working with the groups, we made a company and made up the name PaganelStudio. Gradually we got so much involved that we did not even expect it to be this way. It turned out to be very interesting to work with people! It makes so many changes, so many unnecessary things, which were in you, are left behind. And so many interesting well-rounded people come to us! From absolutely different fields of activity, who you are not likely to meet, at least so many of them. It’s said that the older you are, the more difficult it’s for you to find new friends. Surely, it’s this way but it’s more valuable and more interesting when you meet the ones, the other issue is that how many will pass by until you find the ones, with who your perception of the world, your interests coincide… And exactly in this there is one more big advantage of communication with so many people, which we have.
So, both fields complete each other. Creation feeds us, gives strength to us, we are occupied with it, it’s what we with Olga have in common; creative projects are global goals. Arrangement of journeys with people allows us to invest into ourselves, into our creative work – into hardware, equipment, to pay to a film cutter, musicians, to provide for material aspect of living and surely plus communication with people itself, which I have already talked about. Totally, still. Maybe with time focus will be shifted to creative work and mainly a well-organized team of expedition leaders will deal with journeys with the groups.

How have you changed personally and how has the project changed for the period of its being, what has changed and what has remained the same?

Surely, such rich with events and impressions life, which we have, can’t but change but it changes in a roper set direction. When you are trying to move to your dreams for years, despite turnings, your essence remains unchanged. Once in the past you found it inside yourself-and you remain devoted to it: you are developing, allow it uncover and come true, and then – you find something, which was dim many years ago, hardly tangible inner voice, which suddenly became not just stronger, but became totally you, and everything external has just peeled off. It’s exactly that true you, in your earth realization, and deeper under this even more internal opens.

And our project is also constantly changing, transforming, forming. New people in the team have appeared during these years, who have become its integral part and without whom now it’s impossible to imagine our activity in such a view, which it has been formed as of today.

What the most unexpected happened to you during your expeditions, what impressed you and which places have remained in your heart forever?

The most unexpected and amusing occurred every time we visited Papua. The Papuans have their own issues all the time, it seems that we have discussed everything, wrote it down, agreed … but no, some issues arise! The moment they arise, surely, you are overwhelmed with different emotions… but later it’s fun to recollect them. A part of these stories are on our site in the section “Stories”.

We are impressed and amazed with every country we visit. There are good reasons why we choose such countries – with incredibly beautiful nature, with interesting authentic cultures, with its particular zest. But there is one place which we revisit again and again – it’s Bali. It’s an island of unique culture (unique form of Hinduism) and virtuoso craftsmen – carvers in wood, stone. You are not going to find things that they do in souvenir shops. Everything is spiritual there and beautiful in the very tiniest detail. It’s fascinating, of course, when you are able to notice and appreciate.

Which insurmountable difficulties, as they seemed to be, did you have during your expeditions and how did you deal with them?

Yes, force majeures happen, although they are very rare. In such situations it’s the most important not to panic, but to keep calm and find out how it’s possible to correct and more often we managed not only to correct but to find a better option than it had been planned before. I am not going to give you examples because these are back seams which must be hidden before the curtains.

Do you have any ambitions and plans for the future? How do you plan to develop, maybe? Would you like to improve anything or make your dream larger?

Surely, I do. For now, the very first project of us, which I’ve already mentioned, remains one of the most ambitious projects. Its initial name was “12 Legends”, it was a feature-and-documentary series with an interesting story, but very complicated in its genre, it did not suit any format of television. I don’t know how one would even just try to sell it, even if it were a miracle and somebody suddenly decided to finance this project. But nevertheless its value is that everything started from it (it was the beginning of everything). We did its remake some years after, I completely rewrote its scenario for it to be a documentary-feature serial. We named it Legends of the lost civilizations. This project is ambitious because according to its idea and scenario it shall be shot in more than 60 countries of the world, many experts of the world level shall be involved, it shall be a beautiful and qualitative film, because it’s very expensive pleasure.

Tell us a little bit more about your projects, which you are currently working on or you are going to work on? Legends of the lost civilizations, 12 legends of the world, Spirit of the place? What else? What would you like to work on in the future or what do you already plant to work on?

Ok, I’ll give you more details. Let’s start with the “Legends of the lost civilizations”. This theme is not new, it’s been developing as early as from the 50-ties, by really well-informed world scientists, and is also spread out in the gutter press to absolute nonsense. It concerns hypotheses about existence of one or maybe a few the most ancient civilizations, which existed before beginning of times acknowledged by an orthodox science. In the research project we would like to approach this issue as close as possible to the facts. But it’s not the goal itself, because so much has been already said and written about it, and whose, who take interest in this issue, going into the deep, may know much about this. We focus on two main points: the first one – on exotic legends of various peoples, as it’s seen from the name. But not simply on a legend, but more on unique identity of the people. A legend should be a part of culture of the unique authentic people, after which unique interesting artifacts have been left, as well as unusual constructions, and even more – and even more whichlives or was living some time ago – of course in some beautiful place, which makes a fascinating film picture in the shot. We, as visualizers, value this moment of creation very much. Our true goal is to show bright and vivid life of various tribes and cultures to the whole world. And the second- it’s, no doubt, interesting to tell and show a story, to make an exciting artistically beautiful film.

Spirit of the place – it’s a project in style of our videos – emotions about countries with beautiful music, which we edit each time after our journeys and give to public on our channels on youtube and vimeo, already of a certain duration, to which we have come with our partners from MC MediaGroup (13 minutes each). Each series is accompanied with author music composed by our musicians, these are shots only about a country and place without participants of our expeditions. We already have got a package ready for sale – the first season of 15 series. Production of the second season has already been started.

Just today we have finished cutting and assembly of 52-minute film about discovery of Antarctic, which we created with the same company-partner. It’s our first feature-length documentary. We managed to do it rather good, one watches it in one sitting.

From new there is one more our project, which we made together with the talented musician and guitarist Estas Tonne. It’s a thirty-minute beautiful film “Internal Flight” with fascinating music with a philosophic text, which Estas wrote and read. A person, a viewer, who is trying to find his place in this world, to find an answer to a question “Who am I?”, is striving to understand why this world is made this way as it is and no other, which place does he take in it, who having passed a certain way of internal development and finally having found a point of balance inside, simply takes this world, such person, having watched the film, will understand immediately what the film is about, will recognize questions he sent to heavens, will recognize himself, will easily feel messages to dissolve in beauty, in music… Or if he has not yet gone into flight inside himself, maybe will start thinking about it and listen to the voice which quietly sounds inside.
Also, we have piles of material for a two-series film about Papua, there is material for a film about culture of the tribe in the Peruvian Amazonia -Shipibo-Konibo with their shamanism. And many other different ideas…

Andrey, in addition to this you write stories, tell us, what do you write about and whether you plan to publish a book ? What other creative work does your team indulge itself into and are there any plans to implement it in the future?

Yes, when I had more time, I described our journeys with pleasure and humor, illustrated with pictures, drawings of our team and posted on the Internet, now they are on our web-site. I also write articles for various magazines. We are regularly published in various magazines, give our photos and my articles about journeys. We’ve been doing this for many years already. I think, already 70 articles have appeared. At the moment we are arranging the section Publications on our site, so, who is interested – you are welcome!

We have started with Olga to work on our book – photo album. We have made up a certain concept. Maybe, it will be published next year, we will make a presentation together with a photo exhibition.

What about plans to grow and enlarge the range of the services provided? Do you have any ideas?

We have grown just recently, our team has increased, which deals with group tours. For the moment we are thinking to stop here. As the Japanese say – business shall grow step by step .

Tell us, who travels with you and who can afford this kind of tour (cost of this kind of tours is not that affordable for an average Ukrainian, as far as I understand) and what is the biggest and the smallest quantity of people for the expedition (only clients)?

These are people from completely different fields of activity: IT-experts, businessmen, architects, animated cartoon artists, people of creative work, top-managers, lawyers, doctors, beauticians, PR-managers, veterinarians… it’s not easy to keep in mind all of them… we travel together in small easy-hearted teams, 25 – 30 persons on average. It’s rare that there are less than 20 people in the group.

You have just gorgeous photos and videos from places of the Earth visited by you, which devices (and maybe secrets of its usage) do you use to create such a terrific product?

Thanks! We use Canon cameras: 2 cameras 5D MarkIII, 1DX, a big number of lenses, tripods, slider, drone DJI phantom 4, a lot of special small items.

Nature of the journeys offered by you to some extent has a risk for life as well, since expeditions do not exclude a factor of unknown and dangerous moments and there is always a chance that force-majeure may happen; are there any warranties for your clients? (for instance, risk insurance)?
Traveling offered by us is a moderate extreme and we think about risks as much as it’s possible. Surely, force-majeure may happen to everyone. Besides people may encounter some personal problems with their health, which would occur in any way in their ordinary life. That’s why we offer people to arrange for insurance policy in advance and certainly if something happens we give assistance, take them to the hospital, arrange different issues for them. Even if someone insists on issuing of the insurance policy on one’s own – it’s a person’s right – but in any case we provide help when necessary.

Tell us, when did you start selling your content and how did it happen? To which degree is it self-financing or is it just an additional by-product to expedition services?

For now our creation activity does not bring considerable profits to us. We’ve been cooperating with MC MediaGroup more than a year what concerns creation of a number of commercial projects oriented for the international market, but now we are still being on the initial stage of creation of this model, which, is already, to our great joy, on its final stage. By us, assembling of the product is done on the one side rather intensively but from the other side – we make cuts only in the intervals between our journeys, and in total it takes much less time during a year than we spend on travelling. We’ll see how it’s going to develop in this direction further. For us it’s important not just make something and sell it quickly, for us it’s important to create something, that first of all would meet our own demands and would give pleasure from watching it over and over. That’s why we try not to hurry. Once life already gave us a chance to do everything quickly, and with return of finances, but we did not take this chance. It happened this way that 5 years ago we received an offer to make a project. But everything was supposed to be done within the country. They promised to bring sponsors to us, to give air broadcasting, but the truth is that politics was added to all of this, ideas with a certain direction. But all this caused a gnawing feeling at the bottom of our hearts and we decided to feel for our own path and not just make quick money neglecting our dreams.

Share your inspiration, what did you find in yourself last or in other people or some enlightenment related to your way of living? What would you like to draw everybody’s attention to?

Creation in its pure form, dreams and when they come true – that’s what gives inspiration. Basic enlightenment was that all the most desired dreams can be easily made to come true, the most important is to really desire it and go in direction to tour dream. If there is movement, your way will always lead to your goal. I would like to draw everybody’s attention to global problems of our planet. It’s crying about help now, it suffocates in debris and problems of the humans, but humans do not hear it being occupied with little conflicts, wars, diving people to us and them, constant desire to deprive somebody of something, destruction of rivers, seas, forests without even looking back on the future generations and our children. It’s unbelievably depressing.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

I take inspiration from my muse Olia, who is also my wife, our creative tasks and what we can invent together, something unbelievably interesting, and than calmly implement it by our own efforts.

As it seems to me that not everybody is brave enough to beat new untrodden paths. Further and deeper to a place where nobody has set one’s foot on, guys create a completely new product completely in a new way. One needs even more courage in life to believe in one’s dream, but when you follow your way and don’t step aside, you give your individual soul to it, which like a tree, will certainly break into blossom and give its fruits. When your path has its soul, it’s something that becomes sense of life.

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