Heard In The Yard
Written by the traveler extraordinaire, Kris Mathur.
I just returned from a rockin’ trip abroad. I must relate to you some of the details. My first pit stop was Stockholm to catch up with director Jesper Ohlsson and [his girlfriend] Experience Designer Josefin Vargö. It was the height of the summer; we discussed his latest project with The Mill, and toasted to an oh-so-spectacular Swedish sunset from the terrace of Mosebacketerrassen.
I then hopped on the MS Romantika, an overnight cruise ship to Riga. This is a 16-hour trip across the Baltic Sea on a mega-floating party boat. Aboard were 2,385 world travelers including the equivalent of hillbillies from Sweden and Latvia, all having a raucous time. The Swedish archipelago has 221,800 islands.
Entered Latvia the next morning sailing up the Daugava River. Checked into a cool Airbnb studio near the medieval Old Town of Riga.
My first event was the 3rd annual meeting of an organization that I started called L. A. F. S. (Latvian & American Filmmakers Association), hosted by Reinis Kalnaellis, at his state of the art film studio, Kino Māja. We screened the debut documentary from NYU film student Matīss Kaža entitled “One Ticket Please” about an eccentric 78 year old Indian woman in NYC who has spent the last 25 years going to Broadway plays almost every single day.
I spoke on how to bring more US film projects to Latvia by making Riga an alternative to Prague and other European film friendly centers. We decided on conducting VIP tours for select foreign directors to visit studios, locations and filmmakers. I think Nick Piper and Jesper Ericstam should be some of the first to visit.
Next morning, after a hot towel straight razor shave at The Royal Dandy and a quick fitting for killer leather pants I had commissioned in spring, I headed 200 km west to the coastal village of Pavilostā with TBWA Creative Director and former Backyard intern, Pauls Kesteris. There we SUP’d on the flat Baltic seas, enjoyed steamed mussels, smoked halibut and beer. I received a badass tattoo of the ancient Latvian goddess of fate, Laima, on my forearm.
Then came the Master Class in Kuldīga. Young Media Sharks is an intensive weeklong camp for fifty of the brightest 14-19 year old kids in the region, who come to learn film, advertising, journalism and social media from experts from around the world. This is my fourth year being invited to teach at this event, financed by the Baltic American Freedom Foundation and Avantis. I co-lectured with the aforementioned Pauls Kesteris, who discussed Truth in Advertising, which dovetailed with my talk on Production Techniques in Advertising. We then had four teams of razor sharp kids conceive, storyboard, cast, shoot, edit, score and present ads to real clients launching new products. It was a blast. I think that I get much more than I give from this amazing program.
Blasted back to Riga, took a few meetings, picked up my new Italian leather pants, then hit a traditional Latvian sauna (Pirts), steam, salt scrub, whipped with birch branches soaked in mineral water then finished it all off with an ice cold plunge.
Back in LA refreshed and ready to go.