The first time I went to a foreign country was right after college. My girlfriend at the time was an ROTC army scholar who was surprised upon graduation with an active duty assignment in Panama, Central America. I flew to see her, but we mostly stayed on the army base. We ventured out once, saw some sights, but really, I was a pretty fearful traveler back then.
My feelings on traveling changed quite a bit when back in the summer of ’98 when my improv troupe THEM toured the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit for two months. I quit my job, put everything I owned in storage, and climbed into a van with my four best friends to drive to another country and perform comedy all summer. We had no idea what to expect but were rewarded with the most amazing experience of our lives up until that point. Seriously, our time in Montreal, Ottowa, Toronto, and Winnipeg deserves more than a blog post. Suffice to say, we came back changed. I still had some work to accomplish in my home town of Orlando, but now my eyes had been opened to the fact that the world was a much bigger place than I knew.
If you work long enough in the entertainment industry, you’ll get some opportunities to travel abroad. Sometimes it’s for work. Other time, it’s a trip you can afford to take because of work. I discuss my travels not to incite jealousy, but to share the inspiration they have brought me.
My first film was shot in Mexico City. I was there for 6 weeks with my friend and director/co-writer Jieho Lee. I arrived pretty nervous, but learned that something very cool happens when you shoot a movie in another country: all the locals want you to fall in love with their home. And it worked. Mexico CIty is a big, crowded, dirty place, that is also strangely beautiful. It will always have a warm place in my heart.
Because of Jieho, I got to visit Seoul, South Korea twice. Once for his wedding, once as the guest of the local film commission. Both trips were stunning, eye-opening experiences.
Summer of ’08, I was in the first year of a two-year long distance relationship with my lady, Jen. Along with a small group of good friends, we took a two week trip to Italy and Greece, where we traveled through Venice, Florence, Rome, Mykonos, and Athens. There were amazing sights, so much legendary artwork that I could barely wrap my brain around it, and of course, some of the best meals of my life.
Since then, Jen and I have traveled to Cozumel, which in turn led us to visit Playa del Carmen, a beautiful Mexican community south of Cancun. There are no beheadings down that way, but still, I try not to tell my Mom when we’re traveling there.
Just recently, Jen and I returned to Europe. This time, we went to Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona. Again, there were stunning sights, mind-blowing art, and the food…oh God, the food.
Again, I write of this not to incite jealous rage. I do it because if your bucket list doesn’t include visiting some iconic foreign cities, then I would recommend rewriting that bucket list. Seriously, go to other countries, any chance you can. See the greatest art in the world. Soak up the monuments. Meet the locals, eat what they eat, drink coffee the way they drink it. Be humble. Open yourself up to what makes their country special. The world is an amazing place and every artist should really see it. It will change you, and your art, forever.
I’m a long way from that nervous kid just out of college who was scared to walk around Panama. I was still a little nervous in Paris one night as Jen and I strolled along the Seine on our way to dinner, but this time I had a good reason. Before Jen knew it, we were on one of the most romantic bridges in Paris…and that’s when I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and now, we’re off an entirely new adventures. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.