Stories with strangers

We get the low-down from Sydney filmmaker duo, Epiphany Morgan and Carl Mason, who have just finished globe-trotting and filming the stories of strangers in a mini documentary (or “docobite”) every day for a year. After seven months of planning, meeting daily deadlines on the road, and just over a year of filming, this incredible series is going to air on Australian TV on SBS2, one episode every day for a year, commencing 19 June 2016 at 6.30pm.

North: So what’s your story?

Epiphany: We’re from Sydney. I went to Sydney Film School and Carl studied film at TAFE. We meet in 2009 and began a relationship with each other. We both feel in love with film and started working on projects together. We then decided to go ahead with the concept of 365 docobites (after much convincing from myself to Carl) and when we managed to get the funding, off we went.

Epiphany & Carl filming the last docobite

North: What inspired you to start this project? Describe your “light-bulb” moment.

Epiphany: I was thinking about a documentary idea that followed one subject for 365 days – 1 year – but then I thought “hey why not 365 documentaries in 365 days” – and that’s where it all began. I was actually in a stationery shop and saw a notebook that had 365 pages and that’s when the idea really popped.

Carl Angkor Wat Cambodia
Carl in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

North: How was this project funded?

Epiphany: We initially raised 3 months of funding through investors. Then we starched that funding to 6 months by eating a lot of rice, then we got a lot of tourism board sponsorships and accommodation sponsorships. We ran a successful crowd-funding campaign, pre-sold filmmaking school workshops…we even used frequent flyer points to fly home.

Epiphany Cape Town
Epiphany in Cape Town

North: What were some of the biggest barriers to filming this project?

Epiphany: Time! It was pretty tough to accomplish all the filming, travelling, editing, producing, scheduling, and social media posting in the timeframe that we set. Honestly we look back at it now and just don’t know how we did it!

North: How did you source the subjects? Did you just approach strangers or did you make contact prior to filming?

Epiphany: We never knew the person we were filming. We would always approach them as total strangers on the streets of the cities we were travelling through. We didn’t have any requirement for people to participate – only that they were willing. In this way we realised that everyone does indeed have a story to tell.

New York_together_filmmaking
Filming in New York

North: Did you have some unexpected or unpredictable moments?

Epiphany: We often had technical issues. We once had to run through New Orleans in the rain carrying our laptop with the hard-drive connected as it was exporting and we needed to find WiFi in time to post the video. We didn’t really have any dangerous situations – maybe swimming with great white sharks in South Africa – but that was just more wild than anything else.

E & C Botswana
Epiphany and Carl in Botswana

North: What was one of the funniest things that happened on your travels?

Epiphany: The way we survived travelling together for a year, working with each other and living with each other (the longest we were apart was for 3 hours) was through laughter. We laugh a lot. We actually have a game where we try and make each other laugh and the person who succeeds first gets a point and the first to 5 win – we normally tie. Here is a story from Croatia though that is pretty funny.

Epiphany resting in Vienna
Resting in Vienna

North: Do you work well together or are your working styles very different?

Epiphany: We had to learn to work together – I move very fast and Carl’s rhythm is more precise and considered, so we’re a good combo. We’ve helped each other in many ways to be better – it’s nice.

Carl giving camera lessons Cape town copy
Light, sound, action! in Cape Town

North: What was the biggest thing you learnt on your journey? Did you also learn more about yourselves?

Epiphany: The biggest thing that we learnt is that each and every human being yearns for the same things – safety, to love and be loved, belonging, happiness – and because of this we are all very much the same. We learnt about ourselves that we had a lot more in us than we first thought possible, that we had purpose, and that we love telling stories.

Epiphany filming in Slovenia
One day in Slovenia

North: What do you hope people get out of these docobites?

Epiphany: We hope the docobites help people to have more compassion for others. We hope they help to inspire people, and we hope they help people to celebrate humanity!

North: What can we hope to see from you after this project?

Epiphany: We are working on our next massive project that’s very under wraps at this point – so stay tuned!

When in Iceland

Photos courtesy of Epiphany Morgan.

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