A Round-The-World documentary about buskers

In 2011 we travelled to 40 cities in 30 countries on 5 continents over 10 months. That’s a new city every seven days, including the travel time. This was our general schedule (although in a lot of places we had less time to complete everything):

Day 1. Get off bus. Find host. Find food. Charge batteries. Sleep.
Day 2. Find buskers. Film buskers.
Day 3. Find buskers. Film buskers.
Day 4. Find buskers. Film buskers.
Day 5. Research, admin, logging footage etc
Day 6. Leave
Day 7. 24-hr travelling day.

And repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat, for 287 days.

These are some of our travel highlights:

5 days on a single train from Beijing to Moscow.
“The Vomit Boat”, between Buenos Aires and Montevideo
10 hours of traffic in Jakarta. In a single day.

Oh, and did we mention that one of us gets motion sickness?

The Team

NickIn 2010 Nick had no job and nowhere to live. However, he had some film skills, some writing skills, some web skills, a huge love of street performers and the desire to travel. He came up with the idea for The Busking Project over dinner with a friend – why not make a documentary and book about street performers worldwide?

ChrisChris Smith. The next day, Nick emailed Chris, and asked “do you think this is possible?” Chris is basically a professional traveller (and writer), the kind of person who would be able to answer this question. It took him a day to say yes, and one more day to agree to join the team. We had our manager for the trip.

BelleBelle Crawford. Belle, also a writer but with the added bonus of being an artist, was the third person to join the team, selling her car and moving in with her dad to be able to fund focusing on this plan. She has a phenomenal “bullshit-meter”, making her the ideal person to become our artistic director. We were ready to leave.

MardyMardy Malika. By the time we got to Singapore, it was obvious we needed someone with some professional experience on the team. Mardy is an aspiring activist and a documentary film maker with 6 years experience in TV production, who happened to be sick and tired of her job and willing to come with us. That made four of us.

GinoGiles Roberts. Gino got in touch with us via Mardy. Our travel plans for South America were similar, and he was eager to join us. He’s a journalist and documentary filmmaker, with a ton of energy and a great sense of humour. He aided us as the ‘Latin American fixer, interviewer and all-round film crew.

DawnDawn Marie. Nick was a little intimidated to meet Dawn: busker extraordinaire, YouTube film star and avid social networker, Dawn had built a social presence. But after just a few days on her couch in Vancouver, we invited her to join us for the South American portion of the trip. And with that, our team was complete.

 The Trip

London, March 11th

Waking up early, parents, underground, underground, train, coffee in Paris, train, train…


Not very good at filming. Kamau the first. Said I was bad at interviewing. Took us back to his. Took AGES talking. Nice poetry. First attempt at an arty video. GF too-heartless goodbye.


Crazy. Opposite to Lisbon. Kept staring at Chris. French interview kidnapping snake escapade.


First proper CS experience. Photo with the boyz. Or a video of us turning up/having dinner


Christian Weber the god with his clipboard. Trevor. Clive the walking typewriter, Chai’s abuser. Running from pitch to pitch. Getting robbed.


The most artistic arty artist. Began to wonder whether freedom = creativity. Two days off @ Iris’ place…sort of. Stayed in a mansion.


Angel from the filmmaking heavens. 3rd camera.


Nazli’s incredible apartment. Is this where our experiments with sock coffee started? Light in Babylon’s warning about Calcutta (don’t spoil the surprise). Checked my (otherwise blocked in Turkey) FB messages in the UK embassy. Turns out Billy’s flatmate at the time was to become the bartender at my local pub, and I’d meet her when I got back to London x months later.


“Rest” days, including lots of Malaria-beating gin and tonics. I was going to take a photo of me every day for 8 months, with my top off (thank god we dropped the idea). Lots of great ideas for the documentary. Which are still great ideas. Resort where 8 waiters attended our every meal. Lots of talking about what we were going to do, and how everything was going.


Met arms dealer. Busker theme park. Vikram’s AWESOME family. Food. Erm…Indian traditional ceremonies?


A changing playing field. Heat.


Wedding. Baht smoking out back. Shovelling people on the train. Best interview we’ve never understood. Thought “THIS IS AN ACTUAL DOCUMENTARY” (while stoned).


Telling them we were Nat Geo. Fixer holding everyone back. Ants crawling in the guy’s mask. We used to have a lot more footage……


Nick destroyed footage in Bali. Never said “I want the next plane to X” before, but did. Cried. Created the “sorry about all the india footage” video above (see: Jaipur)


Traffic. Anarchist kids. Bejo/Abas story.


Crushing elbow before shoot, pharmacies closed, eventually found one, totally high on medication, loved the shoot. Met Mardy. Stole Budi’s phone.


Yusuf, family, beds, learned how to hedgehog a mango. Not sure if we got any footage from here!


Stayed with the nicest man on the planet. Magicians, Tuki (baby), kid breakdancers. Hooker pool hall tournament.

Hong Kong

Mr Funny’s campaign. The weird family. This guy.

Lamma Island

Morning timelapse on the roof. Yoga. Make a video of the timelapse!


Mr/Mrs Tanakesan. Seeing Belle and Chris PDA next to a lake on the frog walk – realising how good they’d been in front of me. How hard it must have been for them! Did we get any footage here? Or just photos?


Argument about morality. Then these guys. Was the threat-to-quit boat journey before or after this?



Doesn’t need buskers. Time away from each other. Put in some of the footage we got of Beijing.


The guys who showed us around. They walked everywhere. Stone park. Thought how incredibly beautiful and cultural Moscow was.


First time we felt fresh since Athens. Charlie Caper. Picnic.


Bumping into Mete. Freak shows.



Put in a Budapest video



Mike getting the kid to sit on my bag on day 1. Amazing event (describe)


Event. Lost money. 8 acts, didn’t give them enough credit (see them here).



Stephen Baird is awesome. Put in some of his interview

New York City

Hometown, where it all started. Sheer number of people is overwhelming.


Intimidated to meet Dawn. But did, instantly besotted with her, and asked her to come with us the rest of the trip.


Brian Nunes. The gum wall.

San Francisco

Ri and his amazing equipment. Bush man. Sardine Family. Video of BushMan

New Orleans

Dragon Master Showcase (who are on Google Maps). Bumped into friends on a 30th birthday romp. Di’ohgee and his insatiable tongue. Put in any video from NO

Baton Rouge

Did we get any footage from here?

Mexico City

Met Giles for the first time.


Rained off. The festival thing. Invited into a ritual house. Ice cream, and the guy who missed Giles.


Everyone kept telling us to be careful. The guy who came out to meet Dawn with his parents.



What can you put together here?

La Paz

Dirtiest hostel of the trip. Illness. 5-a-side football.


SPACE, the final frontier. Freddy Charango. Student protest.

Buenos Aires