Who are Misadventurist Films? Stephen Hawking once said, “I might as well retire. Stacy and Ben are the real geniuses.” Well, they might be paraphrasing. Okay, it might have been just a dream of theirs. In real life, Stacy and Ben are the married co-founders of Misadventurist Media. They can currently be found traipsing around the world with their cameras and gear discovering unique wedding traditions for their first web series, “I Do: A Wedding of Culture.” The weird thing is, they are a married couple who never had a wedding themselves, but are now wandering thousands of miles to document the wedding traditions of others.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not on the road now?
Stacy: I would be saving in New York for the moment I could go on the road. We had a very fulfilling and comfortable existence in NYC. However, neither of us were totally satisfied with the work we were doing. I’d probably be working at my stable job while doing small film projects on the side. We worked to reverse that: film projects as the focus, stability on the side.
Ben: The same. Although I liked my job in web support and I loved living in Bushwick – the music, the energy, the community, the Pine Box Rock Shop (a little recommendation for you all) – I wanted to put my storytelling skills to use. And traveling to far-flung places is very creatively stimulating for me.
How do you share your work while travelling? Who does what?
Stacy: I have the documentary training and experience one-man-banding, so I tend to do the main filming and editing while Ben does second camera and sound. I also keep Ben from getting lost. He doesn’t have the greatest sense of direction.
Ben: I NEVER get lost – I just like to take the road (or wrong turn, or blind alley) less travelled. As for work, I do the peripherals: sound recording, script, logistics – Assistant Director-type stuff. I focus on the website a lot. I’m a very linear thinker so editing is a huge challenge for my brain. I leave that mostly to Stacy, whose intuition for that particular craft constantly astounds me.
How do you take decisions together for next destinations?
Stacy: It helps that we are both open to serendipity. For example while we were in Cambodia, we met a local band that wanted to collaborate on a tour video. Following them meant overstaying our visa and delaying our projects. But it wasn’t a question! Opportunity knocked, and luckily we both can recognize and act on that, even when it overrides the safe choice.
Ben: As a prototypical Sagittarius who gets paralyzed with too many options, I often rely on Stacy’s face to narrow the choices down. What I mean is, she says a lot nonverbally. If her eyes light up and her voice gets a dreamy quality when we discuss a place, that’s usually the way to go.
Are there any personality changes that you can observe on yourself and on your partner since you have hit the road?
Stacy: Ben and I have known each other since high school, so big revelatory personality changes are hard to come by. However, I think traveling has changed our outlook a lot. Ben is definitely much more laid back. He takes things as they come more than he used to. I love it! For myself, I’ve noticed that being able to make my bed in the morning is becoming more important to me. If there’s at least one thing you can control, it’s how your bed looks. Why not make it look nice? Also, I grew to appreciate cooking a lot more. If we are hostelling, I never go for places without a kitchen. It might seem nerdy, but I’ve also started carrying my own spices around!
Ben: Before we started traveling long term, I got pretty inflexible (Stacy would say bullheaded!) about following a plan to the T. But working and traveling long-term in countries with poor infrastructure and bureaucracy makes quick casualties of the inflexible. So I’ve had to adapt. I’m not quite The Dude yet (from The Big Lebowski), but it’s easier for me to chill out and let go. Great people also change you. The generosity of our Couchsurfing hosts in Central Europe and the Balkans pretty much restored my faith in humanity. I’m not exaggerating about that!
Living and travelling together 24/7 may bring stressful moments related to disagreements, changes of mood or misunderstandings. How do you cope with these situations?
Stacy: Not gracefully, but we try. In the best case scenario, when things heat up we retreat to our respective spaces and remember to respect it. For me that sometimes means reading a book or venturing out on my own. Then when I’m ready to discuss whatever the disagreement was about, I will. Otherwise, look out! When you’re in a tight space, it’s easy for things to escalate quickly so giving yourself permission to step out and come back with a more level head is a relationship lifesaver, not to mention better for the heart muscle.
Ben: Two things: flexibility and trust. And the ability to leave it alone: things will not end well if you always keep trying to poke around or find a solution right away (which I’m guilty of sometimes). Also, unless you’re on a deadline, what’s the harm in allowing a few more days in a place for people’s heads to cool down? I like to go out, explore, shoot photos, seek out live music. That has defused many a potentially trip-ending blow-up.
Which is the most beautiful moment you are glad you have experienced together?
Stacy: Hiking up the High Tatras together in Slovakia. It was the most difficult climb of my life. As we got closer to the summit, we were chased by a lightning storm, gasping for breath as the oxygen levels went down. Plus my knee was killing me from the motorbike wreck we had gotten into a couple months before. But we dragged ourselves up, step by step. When we reached the top, it was sublime–an overwhelming beauty. The storm suddenly gave us a brief reprieve and we stood and basked in the glory of the view. If it weren’t for another approaching lightning storm, I would have stayed up there forever just to hold onto that feeling. Everything I say about it sounds insufficient. But Ben knows what I mean. It’s nice that we have this moment together only we can understand.
Ben: Mountain-biking to villages around Muang Ngoi in Northern Laos. The mountains and fields were stunning, and we had to ford several creeks which kept us nice and cool in the heat. We rode single-track into one village early in the day. When we reached it, we were the only guests at the one open-air restaurant. But even though the owner wasn’t ready to serve people, he made things from scratch for us. In another village we got to be spectators at a hilarious game of sepak takraw – a cross between football and volleyball – with a bunch of yelling kids. That was a great day. We’ll definitely be going back to Laos.
Can you tell us about one crazy or risky thing you’ve done while traveling that you would and one that you wouldn’t want to repeat again?
Ben: I probably wouldn’t bring a metal-case laptop up into a lightning storm again! We were camping in a sheep field behind a friend’s house in Zdiar, Slovakia, and I didn’t want to leave the laptop in the tent while we hiked all day. That was fine – until a storm moved in unexpectedly, and bolts of lightning started striking all around us in a steep open meadow with no shelter for half a kilometer. I’ve never been super afraid of lightning before, but suddenly I remembered I had a big chunk of metal on my back. Needless to say we sprinted up that hill to the top in record time!
Stacy: Would do again: Heading toward a town in Laos that is only accessible by river, our boat cut out in rapids and crashed into a tree. We turned over to the side and water started rushing in. We managed to level out, and luckily there was a sandbar nearby where we could unload our stuff and wait for someone from the town to rescue us. A little voice sometimes comes out of nowhere and makes me afraid to get back on tiny boats. But I’m just not ready to give up on adventure. There’s always a chance that something terrible might happen and if I let those things worry me, I would have never jumped out into the world of travel in the first place.