Seeing the rustic side of Portugal through the eyes of a film-maker
In this four-part series, we ask Mark Hughes from Spellbound Pictures, the director of our Titan Travel films, to tell us what it was really like to shoot in some of the most striking places in the world. As well as discussing his experiences, Mark also shares a little wisdom to help Titan holidaymakers take better photographs.
This week, we’re looking at the lesser-known and more pastoral side of Portugal.
Hi Mark. How did you find it filming in Portugal with one of our favourite tour guides, Eve Charlier?
She is such a fascinating lady. We had a really good laugh! It was such a great first trip for us to do, because she really made our lives very easy, and we instantly struck up a rapport. It makes the filming process a lot easier when that happens.
This was your first trip – did you guys have any trepidations?
Right from the outset, we decided that we would travel separately. It’s important from a logistical point of view that we don’t hold anyone up or interfere at all. As well as logistics, we must also consider that these people are going on holiday, and anything that’s going to interfere with that won’t work. We knew we had to blend in to the background.
At the same time, we don’t want to miss anything that will help bring the tour to life, so we need to be there just as long as the tour group, if not longer. Hopefully, we add something to the trip, though. And of course, we always join them for a pint in the bar at the end of a day.
What were your first impressions?
We got there a bit earlier than the guests, so we could film their arrival – I especially remember pulling up at the hotel in Vila Pouca da Beira, because it was just so stunning. It was set in the mountains and the sun was just setting – it was the perfect time to arrive at the hotel.
There was lots of beautiful wine on offer, and people were just sitting out on the terrace and looking out into the mountains. The guys on tour can just leave their bags at reception, because Titan handle all of that stuff. It’s funny – you see people actually exhale, because they know they know it’s been taken care of.
What made the Grand Designs of Portugal tour stand out from a photographic point of view?
The Portugal tour was a very different experience. It’s just so relaxed; it’s how the itinerary has been designed. Most of the time, we were way out in the countryside. Out there, the stars at night are really clear. There was never any light pollution or traffic noise. It was a really easy place to film.
The whole pousada was just built for chilling out – it had a tennis court and a pool in the grounds. It really allowed you to escape and just enjoy the nature.
So that laid-back vibe helped with the filming?
Yeah, we could take our time and have a bit more control over the shoot in Portugal. Unlike filming on safari, where there are a lot of variants; we could predict most of what was going to happen on this tour.
I mean, we know when the sun is going to rise and set. We know where the mountains are going to be – they aren’t moving any time soon! The relaxed atmosphere did allow us to compose our shots and take our time with it.
There’s a few down days on that tour, what did you get up to?
[Laughs] We had a great time with Eve. She took us to a local place nearby, and they got out some of the traditional brews… and a few hours later, we were all very merry and got a ride back to the hotel in a tractor!
What would you say to keen photographers going on the Grand Designs of Portugal tour?
Forget what you think Portugal is like – be prepared for shots of really epic scenery. There is a perception of Portugal that is associated with the beaches in the south, and it’s totally different to going into the heart of the country and seeing the amazing mountains.
The tour does highlight the two sides and shows that the country isn’t just about sun-and-sea-type holidays. The mountains in Serra de Estrela were beautiful to capture, and it helped that the guide was fascinating – he knew so much about the geology of the landscape.
On behalf of Spellbound Pictures, we would like to extend our thanks to not only Titan but also to Titan customers for really embracing what we do and for being so charming and helpful.