Georgia is not only an emerging destination—it’s also the setting for the short film “One Blood: Georgia” from GLP Films, which won the 2019 Adventure in Motion film contest, hosted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and AFAR.
The film explores adventure in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains through the moving story of a local paraglider and his grandmother—a skydiver in her younger days—and their shared passion for the air. We asked the filmmaker some questions.
AFAR: This is your third time winning this award for best adventure travel film—what’s your secret?
GLP FILMS: Our approach to filmmaking is about putting together the key elements that make up a great story. From the location and the characters to the journey we take people on, lots of little things can make a big difference. The most compelling stories usually come from connecting with a local who has a good story to tell. We love the challenge of making each film better than the last, and character-driven storytelling usually provides a great lens for telling the best stories again and again.
AFAR: Why did you choose Georgia as the setting for the film?
GLP: Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics are fascinating emerging travel destinations; Georgia in particular is becoming a hot new adventure travel destination because it’s raw and untouched. The landscape varies from high mountain ranges and desert lowlands to temperate plateaus. Numerous fun activities are popping up, including paragliding, rock climbing, and hiking. There’s so much to do and see in Georgia that it was an honor to showcase it in our storytelling this year.
AFAR: What was it that you liked about Alex as the film’s subject, and how important was it to include his grandmother?
GLP: After decades of Soviet rule, it’s an extremely exciting time in Georgia, thanks to the new generation taking charge. And Alex is Georgia’s quintessential next generation. He’s young, charismatic, very outgoing, adventurous, and sees no limits on his own future or the future of his country. Hearing him talk about his grandmother made us eager to meet her as well. And once we saw their connection, it immediately brought the story to life. She was clearly his inspiration, and her story as a female skydiver in the 1960s was also very compelling. Seeing their bond and their love and respect for each other made the overall story very complete.
AFAR: The film is beautifully shot. What were some of the challenges in shooting it?
GLP: Georgia is an incredibly beautiful country to film, but there are always challenges when producing content on location. The weather posed many challenges during our 10 days of filming. In one mountainous location, we attempted to capture sunrise for three consecutive days, but Mother Nature had other plans. We had to put together a solid yet flexible filming schedule to be prepared for unexpected challenges.
AFAR: What kind of impact can an authentic film have on emerging destinations like Georgia?
GLP: A well-told story that honestly portrays a destination can play a huge role in helping an emerging destination—especially one that’s less well-known and still defining itself in terms of tourism. It can introduce a country or region to new potential travelers, help dispel myths or preconceptions, and even combat or prevent challenges like overtourism. For a destination like Georgia, storytelling helped introduce its hospitable people, rich cultures and traditions, and potential for adventure tourism. The film helps travelers see the authentic experiences of Georgia in a way that’s inspiring and memorable.
AFAR: What’s the next film you’d like to do (or maybe are already working on) and why?
GLP: GLP has produced a large percentage of our films internationally over the past 11 years, but recently it’s been fun for us to focus on domestic film projects, and we’re excited to share a new series of destination films from the USA next spring. And we’re especially passionate about a new project showcasing sustainable tourism in Asia. We’ve seen the importance of promoting sustainable tourism through thoughtful storytelling, so we’re looking forward to telling more stories that inspire travelers and the travel industry to move toward a more sustainable future.
Check out all of the new GLP content as it’s released at glpfilms.com.