Lucas Costanzi

Filmmaker Lucas Costanzi was missing something in travel videos — the stories, the people, and the places. With Urban Lights, he set out to dive into the roots of cities. The Travel Video Alliance spoke to him about finding stories, how he became a filmmaker, and more.

How did you develop the concept for Urban Lights? What made you want to work on a piece like this?

The series was developed by me and photographer Guilherme Zauith. We are longtime friends and travel enthusiasts. We decided to unite our passion in this project, him as a documentary photographer and me as a filmmaker.

There are many types of travel videos. Some very well produced, with beautiful images and vibrant editing. The video itself is an experience. However, as an experienced traveler, I have always missed stories, people, experiences.

For me, knowing a place is not just about beautiful images and sights. You have to dive into the streets, see all those anonymous faces parading in front of you, see in them the imprint of them ancestors and their history. To travel is to be open to talk and learn from each other. It is seeing quality and defects, without judgments or stereotypes. Traveling is knowing how local people see their own cities, their culture and how they interact with it. That’s why we created Urban Lights, to go deep into the veins of a city, get to know its people and reveal them as they are, endless.  

You talk about how Brazil doesn’t preserve its own history in the video. What did you mean by that? What role does travel filmmaking play in preserving history?

 It is a criticism of the preservation of the historical heritage of the country. In Brazil old buildings are sold to large construction companies that destroy them for the construction of modern enterprises, which have no artistic conception. There is a huge difference between the architectural preservation of Europe, for example, in relation to Brazil. Europe knew how to value art, the artistic concept of architecture. The whole world travels there to observe those palaces and beautiful buildings, it ends up giving people beauty and quality of life. In Brazil the construction of a nation and historical mentality was not developed, the destruction of the historical heritage make the cities more mechanical and oppressive.

History is preserved through constructed narratives. I believe the job of a traveling filmmaker is to rescue this story, to create a narrative. If we look at history, the deeds and achievements of kings of a given time were narrated and painted on a canvas. And this narrative runs through time. It is precisely the filmmaker’s job to create narratives that span time and preserve memory.

What initially drew you to travel filmmaking? How did you turn it into a career?

I have a journalism background. Experiencing adventures and storytelling has always been a passion. I had the opportunity to leave Brazil and study in France for 3 years. I lived in Paris where I did my specialization in documentary. During this period I developed a program for a Brazilian TV channel, where I traveled around Europe doing cultural reports. That’s when I decided to open my own production company and start telling the stories that interested me.



How do you find stories and locations to shoot?

I usually do a lot of research on which city I’m going to visit. I seek to know about local foods, musical styles, history, religion, customs, etc. Once I have an idea of ​​what the place is like, I go after what is most curious, what is different. I like to have a plan of what to do with each recording daily. That’s why I make some meetings with people I want to meet, places I want to visit, curiosities I want to show. But as a documentary filmmaker, I am always open to surprises, anything unplanned. So often the stories come to me.

What’s your favorite gear to use while you’re shooting?

As a travel filmmaker, I like small, light quality equipment. Right now I’m using a Canon 5d mark iii. I am very fond of it, but I am in the process of switching to something more modern, still analyzing new market options. I also do images with a drone Phantom 4pro+.

I also use a hydraulic head tripod Manfrotto, as well as 50mm, 85mm, 24-105 lenses. Also I audio mixer Juicedlink with a camera. As I need to be quick I often do not use claquetes. The mixer already leaves the audio synchronized with the camera. And give me a good result.

How do you find jobs as a filmmaker?

I am a documentary filmmaker. I am always writing new projects and finding new stories. However, the work is not always profitable. It often takes time to get funding to get a project off the ground. That’s why I end up working for brands, institutional videos, to have a cash flow.

What advice would you give to someone who is an aspiring travel filmmaker?

Read. If I was giving advice to someone it will always be, read. Literature and curiosity always come before any technological equipment. Broaden the horizon, have references, know the evolution of thought and the historical processes. High philosophy is the most important thing for a filmmaker. Cinema is not just techniques, or technologies, cinema is rather about people, about the human condition. Only with an open mind and a close eye to the human, great stories are found.

What’s the best way to reach you if someone wants to work with you?

The best way is to email my production company or my personal email and 

Are you working on any new projects now?

I am currently looking for brands and sponsors to get the Urban Lights series off the ground. This episode that is here is just a pilot of the series. The idea is to travel through various cities and reveal them through photography and their citizens. 

We have the largest internet portal in Brazil as a partner for the promotion of the series and we are currently looking for brands interested in this type of content.

 Also, I finalized a documentary in January this year called Bellatrix.