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Vagabond Journey

A Sunday Of Filming In Prague

What I like to do most.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic- It was probably my ideal way to spend a Sunday if I can’t be in Orchard Park. I started off a film project in Prague the day before, doing a preliminary interview and getting the requisite permissions and connections. On Sunday I was able to begin shooting.

The story is different than what I usually cover. I’m not going to go into it too much yet but I will say that it’s about one man’s drive to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and get back on top after being knocked down by life — knocked down to a place that, almost literally, couldn’t really get much lower.

When I started the project I thought it was going to be about something else, but ten minutes into the first interview I realized that I got something wrong in my initial briefings. But the story that unfolded ended up being far better. I wish I could go into it more but it’s too early in the project. But I will include some stills from the first day of filming below.

I’ve been looking for some different types of stories to tell. I like stories of development and big changes — new cities rising up out of rural villages — but there are other stories out there. Other more human stories whose resonance we can feel, whose impact can last.

I’ve been struggling with the meaninglessness of my work these past few years. There is no longevity to it. I publish, I get paid, that’s it. There is no limit to the number of small stories that are right in front of me, but this deluge is blocking my view of the big stories that I know are out there. I can see them, but the apparition is vague and vacillating, flickering, flashing. I can see them out of the corner of my eye but when I focus it nothing is there. When I reach out to grab it it scatters — a reflection in a puddle, reflected light off a puff of smoke. I know that if I push too hard I will move right past it, look back ten years from now and realize that it was right in front of me. If I don’t push hard enough I’ll never get there, perched comfortably on laurels of meaninglessness.

“It’s one thing to know what you want. It’s another to walk through the door when it opens.” -some guy in a documentary I’m watching.

I asked myself a question the other day: If I had an unlimited budget, all the equipment, and access to all the right people, what story would I tell?

I didn’t have an answer.

A good story will last forever, and that is all I want.

Filed under: Czech Republic, Documentaries

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

2 comments… add one

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  • Scott November 24, 2018, 5:53 pm

    “I asked myself a question the other day: If I had an unlimited budget, all the equipment, and access to all the right people, what story would I tell?”

    I’ll tell you what story to tell. Get your family together and stand in front of a mirror. Take that picture. There’s your story and book.

    Vagabond’s Journey. Vagabond’s Journey. Get it?

    You have all the right people. Vagabond Journey INC. If your whole family doesn’t have access to a personal camera/ video and computer… slap yourself. Your gypsies. Time to work together like your standing on the corner selling fruit.

    You know when your ass is greasy, your balls itch, you stink, cloths smell and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror? Your camera weighs 5 pounds and you’ve already put it away for the day. That’s when the magic happens. The story or photo that got away. Bleed. Bleed more.

    Your standing on the edge of the next level of this journey. Jump!

    Open your eyes brother. Your story is so far out there. The fact that you can even feed yourself, plus your whole family on the road is amazing.

    Your living your book now. Now. This very moment. The dream is being lived now. You did it. Pat yourself on your back. Smile. Laugh your ass off.

    Your best work so far in my opinion was the story and video about your daughter getting the mohawk. Simple and focused. You hit it out of the park. Home run. Another amazing moment was when we watched your daughter speaking Chinese. Or one time when you worked at the hostel with all the mosquitoes. Pain makes good stories. Of course the road kill story was wacked.

    In a way we are your extended family watching you grow.

    I’ve never been to Prague. God forbid you give us some touristy shit. Do you think the Rolling Stones want to sing the same shit everyday. No. But the fans want to hear it. Thought to consider.

    “ I can see what I want to do but the apparition is vague and vacillating, flickering, flashing. I can see it out of the corner of my eye but when I focus it nothing is there. When I reach out to grab it it scatters — a reflection in a puddle, reflected light off a puff of smoke. I know that if I push too hard I will move right past it, look back ten years from now and realize that it was right in front of me. If I don’t push hard enough I’ll never get there, perched comfortably on laurels of meaninglessness.”

    Personally I’ve bought a film camera (Nikon FE) and started to focus on light. Back to the basics. Instead of 300 digital pics in one hour. I take 12 pics. Like you said, who needs 4k? I rather watch some grainy video or look at some shit photo instead of nothing. Slave to technology.

    If you can’t walk our your front door and find a story. Then go to the local hardware store and buy a hammer and pound your big toe into the concrete. Film that. Bleed and limp slow 🙂

    Just my opinion. Time for my medication.

    Peace and love!

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    • Wade Shepard November 25, 2018, 1:34 pm

      “I’ll tell you what story to tell. Get your family together and stand in front of a mirror. Take that picture. There’s your story and book.”

      Haha, yes! That would be fun … Maybe when Petra and Rivka get older I will take them on my projects with me.

      “You have all the right people. Vagabond Journey INC. If your whole family doesn’t have access to a personal camera/ video and computer… slap yourself. Your gypsies. Time to work together like your standing on the corner selling fruit.”

      Good call. I wanted to. This was how I envisioned everything going at the start of my family travels but my wife has ZERO interest in this. In fact, I’d say she has negative interest. I’ll put it this way: she would probably rather work at Target in Bangor, Maine than travel around the world making documentaries with me. I don’t really understand it. She kind of subscribes to the concept of inherent ability: if she’s not good at something right away she throws in the towel and says “I don’t like it.” She doesn’t like working through the process of sucking until you get good. I’m on the other end of the spectrum: I love the process of working hard and improving. I’m obsessed with it. When I do feel that I’ve gotten good at something I need to be very careful because there is a good chance that I will lose interest and move on to something else. Winning isn’t very interesting. Trying to win, on the other hand, is where the story is.

      “You know when your ass is greasy, your balls itch, you stink, cloths smell and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror? Your camera weighs 5 pounds and you’ve already put it away for the day. That’s when the magic happens. The story or photo that got away. Bleed. Bleed more.”

      Exactly.

      “Open your eyes brother. Your story is so far out there. The fact that you can even feed yourself, plus your whole family on the road is amazing.”

      Thank you. My wife deserves a lot of credit for this. She held down the fort for a couple of years in China while I developed what I do today. I probably wouldn’t have been able to set this up if it wasn’t for what she did.

      “In a way we are your extended family watching you grow.”

      That is very true. Man, you’ve been around since the beginning of the beginning! I mean, 2005 or 2006 or so! You’ve been there through all of the phases and all the twists and turns. It is kind of like extended family.

      “Personally I’ve bought a film camera (Nikon FE) and started to focus on light. Back to the basics. Instead of 300 digital pics in one hour. I take 12 pics. Like you said, who needs 4k? I rather watch some grainy video or look at some shit photo instead of nothing. Slave to technology.”

      Good call. Yes, running the camera manually changes everything. You start noticing light, you start worshiping light, and this extends to all facets of life — even when you don’t have a camera in your hand.

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