Who are you?
Oliver Hartman and Darrell Hartman, 33 and 36. We’re brothers who live in New York City. We own a website and media company that specialises in stories about place, cultures, traditions, natural landscapes, wildlife.
How did Jungles In Paris come to exist?
We launched three years ago. Oliver was running a production company in New York that focused on commercial work. Darrell was a freelance writer, including a good amount of lifestyle writing. (Both of us still do some of these jobs, even as we focus more on Jungles.) We wanted to find subject matter that felt a little more meaningful than what we were doing: learn about foreign places, delve a little deeper, get outside the marketing and PR cycle to which so much media is attached.
What do you wish to convey through your work?
The main thing is we want people to slow down and immerse themselves in an interesting, and often foreign seeming, place. Our films aren’t long. We aren’t asking someone to give up a huge amount of time to engage with a story, but we are hoping viewers will really engage when they click, rather than being in the semi attentive mode we all so often find ourselves in when we’re online. All this is amped up a little when we do live events and screenings. We want to take people out of familiar media consumption modes, and to foster curiosity and connection. The larger point being that these qualities help us lead better lives, learn about this big planet, and then put that respect and knowledge into practice in a way that makes the world a little better.
What has been your most memorable documentation so far, and why?
We’re not on all the shoots. We can’t speak for the many filmmakers we work with, who’ve been on great productions without us. Of the shoots we have both done, being in the Serengeti together, spotting rhinos in tall grass and watching animals just lead their lives in this beautiful open savanna setting, was really incredible. Especially because it was right in the beginning of Jungles. We were both like, “This is something we could spend a lifetime on.”
If you could give a piece advice to fellow filmmakers and traveler’s what would it be?
Traveler’s: be open to everything you see. Try to forget yourself and go along for the ride. Pay attention because you never know which details will emerge later as meaningful, useful, or even life changing.
Filmmakers: Learn the craft well. Have a vision but also be open to improvisation. Like traveling, the quality of the result/experience often has to do with how closely you’re looking.
What is it you wish you knew before starting this journey?
DH: Filmmaking skills. I’m a writer, not a filmmaker. Shooting & editing skills would been great to have.
OH: I’m pretty content to discover things as we evolve, but having an understanding of content licensing and distribution is really an area that is important to us as we strive to keep creating authentic stories—without comprising our vision—in way that’s sustainable economically.
Your photography and filmography captures beautiful and captivating visuals, how do you manage to always get the perfect image?
It’s only OH/DH a small percentage of the time. All the photography is from outside contributors, and much of the filmmaking is too. From an editing/creative directing point of view, we see a lot of images. We’ve seen lots of Instagram landscapes and lots of smiling third world children and we have developed a healthy allergy to selfies. We’re developing real sense of which images look too familiar to be all that interesting.
Do you have a mantra you go by, if so, what is it?
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard
You guys are brothers, what is the best and worst thing of working together?
Best: we are pretty efficient communicators with each other. Not much beating around the bush.
Worst: our identical upbringing, in rural Maine, has probably given us some blind spots. But we’re still proud Miner’s.
What is next to come for the Jungles In Paris, in the near future?
We’re working on a mini series with CNN’s new video site Great Big Story, which we’re very excited about. Also, planning to shoot/publish projects from Eastern Canada—New Brunswick, Quebec. And Oliver is heading to Mongolia for a monthlong expedition.