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MOVE, EAT, LEARN: Interview with Rick Mereki

How do you fit the scope of the world into 60 seconds? Filmmaker Rick Mereki knows, and the wanderlusting Internet world has fallen head over heels in love with his vagabond film adventures.

It took six weeks for the Aussie filmmaker and his trusy DOP Tim White to follow the very becoming actor Andrew Lees as he traipsed, trekked, and tasted his way through 11 countries and 38,000 miles (that's 1.5 times around the Earth, to give you some perspective) of vibrantly colorful, and appealingly symmetrical, world backdrop. But it took approximately three days for the videos to rocket from indie shorts to viral phenoms.

What's all the commotion? Three words: MOVE, EAT, LEARN. Three words in three minutes. No, make that three simple, stunning, single-minute takes translated into three powerful concepts, and three truly gratifying glimpses of how travel inspires us to do, dare, and discover what lies beyond the consolations of our comfort zones and the safety blanket of our rooms.

I had the lucky chance to catch up with Mereki and pick his brain about the inspiration behind the creative process, what happened off-camera, and, in light of his mini-stardom, what now lies in his filmmaking future.

Q: What inspired you to make these shorts?
A: The idea for MOVE originally came from a music video I was going to make some years back, but never realized until now. Then STA Travel Australia came on board and, after a few months of planning and testing, sent us off into the world to create the travel film of a lifetime.

Q: Of the three shorts, which was the most fun to film?
A: EAT. I ate more amazing, crazy, and ridiculous foods over the space of six weeks than I have in my entire life.

Q: Any particular challenges you faced while on the road?
A: Dehydration, burning planes, run-ins with security, food poisoning, getting caught up in a full-scale riot in Chile... You name it, it happened. But I wouldn't change a thing.

Q: After 11 countries in 6 weeks, what has travel come to mean for you?
A: The more you travel, the more you become attached and connected to the world as a whole. I think that if a greater number of us spent time outside our comfort zones and immersed in other cultures, even for a little while, it would help reduce the "Us vs. Them" mentality that still exists in the world. People will always naturally base their beliefs and opinions on what is best for their family, their city, their country...but I think travel helps create mindsets that are more global.

Q: What is your top travel tip:
A: Open yourself up to everything and leave all your personal/cultural baggage at the door.

Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: Opportunities are coming in from all over the world...some very exciting projects. I hope these will allow me to explore as many exotic and culturally diverse locations as I can. I'm still pinching myself.

Lindsey Olander is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

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