The 56-year-old traveler Forest Mallard has started shooting 19 videos that will promote Veliko Tarnovo around the world. The first five are already available and are dedicated to the Stambolov Bridge, the House with the monkey, the Monument “Assenevtsi”, Mother Bulgaria War Memorial and the Monument of Vasil Levski.
Forest Mallard will stay in Veliko Tarnovo for a month and will be immersed in the history of the city. Videos about a number of other historical landmarks in the old capital are to be shot. Tsarevets, the monument “Velchova Zavera”, the performance “Sound and Light”, the Archaeological Museum, the Patriarchate, the Sarafkin House and many others will be presented.
Forest first came to Veliko Tarnovo in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the city. The landscape, the architecture, the monuments, the medieval ruins and the vast history were unexpected and fascinating. It seems that the whole tourist marketing for Bulgaria directed him to Plovdiv and Sofia, but as a person who loves history, Forest was struck by the fortresses of Veliko Tarnovo and Kardzhali and the natural wonders of Belogradchik.
In each new city that Forrest arrives, he begins to study its history. It took him at least a week to record the first video. Each video lasts a minute and a half. Before Bulgaria, he was in Bucharest, but he was looking forward to returning to Veliko Tarnovo.
When he arrived, he expected to stay in Veliko Tarnovo for about a week. But when he started digging into the history of the city, its monuments and attractions, Forest found that the information available online in English for tourists is quite bad. So he decided to extend his stay to a whole month and write background stories about monuments and historical sites, so that international travelers can fully appreciate the rich history of the city.
In order to be reliable in any historical reference, Forrest partners with local people in each city. In Veliko Tarnovo, he was helped by the local organization TАМ, where there are several history students.
In fact, it takes at least 6 hours to edit each video. The video should be visually interesting, easy to understand, give the full story, and sometimes fun. Forrest’s biggest success so far has been the 50 videos he created in Budapest in 50 days.
The challenge for Veliko Tarnovo, according to Forest, is that the monuments reflect people and events that happened in the Middle Ages. There are no photos or videos of these events to help him explain the story, so he needs to be more creative and he will often spend a lot more time creating animated maps to keep the viewer actively involved in the story. For the first time, he will not appear in the videos for the old capital, because he does not want to distract viewers from the incredible history of the city.
Otherwise, Mallard’s biography is impressive. He was a Marine sergeant, a Broadway manager, a show producer in Bangkok, a production manager in South Africa, a program manager in Dubai. And all this backed by countless journeys.
Unlike the modern travel bloggers, Forest really wants to focus more on places and less on himself. That’s why he created a website for long-distance hiking. But the audience for such a blog turns out to be too small. In October last year, he was with his girlfriend in Alaska and asked her if he could do anything in her hotels. He even offered to clean because he was used to the Marines. But she suggested that he creates a platform to promote different parts of the world.
This is how the idea of the interactive map – SizzleMap was born. For each city there will be historical videos available to watch. Forrest took care of their creation. He claims that after 16 years of continuous travel, he has finally discovered the project of his life. Because he feels more like a historian than a selfie man.
The future of SizzleMap is promising, as Lisa Russell, an Emmy winner, will join the project.