Travelling Filmmaker Captures the Extraordinary Beauty of Indonesia

Travelling filmmaker Joshua Cowan spent five weeks solo-travelling around Indonesia with his video camera. Along the way he met people of the Mentawai Tribe, sulphur miners in Kawa Ijen and horse riders on mount Bromo and visited volcanos, forests and waterfalls. He created this short culture video Indonesia which highlighted some of the moments in his journey:

Max Brodie provided the music and sound. Ryan O’Connor wrote the voiceover script which voice artist Sam Dhoss performed.

We caught the filmmaker between trips for a conversation.

THE PLUS: You just got back from travelling?
Joshua Cowan:
Yes! I went on a road trip around USA by myself for 3 weeks. I didn’t plan on shooting anything – just drove with little plan and visited lots of abandoned towns in California. It was nice to travel and not focus or worry about shooting it. My favourite spots were Trona and Yosemite.


TP: How was your summer overall?
Been on a few trips, like USA, Switzerland and Dubai, so going good. I’ve just moved out of London after living there for three years so most of the summer has been figuring out what I want to do next and where I want to live. Feeling hopeful though.

TP: What were the people in Indonesia who you met like?
Mostly very happy and content people. Although there are obviously still people there trying to make money from tourists you have to watch out for. The most interesting people there are the sulphur minors of Ijen. They hike into the middle of volcano breathing toxic gases and carry sulphur miles to a processing plant. They earn about £5 a day, but all were in good spirits and happy to be on film. I’d been backpacking in Indonesia when I was 18 (seven years ago) and have been keen to go back ever since.


TP: What’s the best thing that happened on the trip?
Hard to pick one thing so here’s a couple. One day I took a moped three hours in the rain to a waterfall. I climbed down to find all the path had fallen and there were danger of death signs everywhere. But when I saw the waterfall it was incredible and there was nobody else around. This is the waterfall that’s in the beginning of the Indonesia film. Another thing that happened was I lived with a Mentawi family for three days in the jungle. It was an amazing experience. I slept in their hut, went hunting for grubs and showered in a river. Definitely a time I won’t forget.


TP: What’s the worst thing that happened on the trip?
Nothing really went wrong. I fell off my moped when a dog ran out in front and had trouble with the guy who helped organise my Mentawi trip. He started demanding double the money from me and to beat me up if I didn’t pay it, but luckily I got it sorted. These things happen anywhere in the world though so nothing to do with being in Indonesia.

TP: What advice would you give someone about going to Indonesia?
Don’t go to Bali. Well you can go, but there is so much to do and see in Java. Jungles, waterfalls and volcanoes with a fraction of the tourists. Out of the five weeks I was in Indonesia I spent two days in Bali. Lombok is amazing too. Make sure you plan the spots you want to go to in advance as there are so many.


TP: What projects have you got lined up? Where are you going next?
I’ve got a couple personal projects in mind. I’ve always been interested in Russian Soviet and brutalist architecture so I want to shoot a film about that. I’ve already shot some of it last winter in Bulgaria and Chernobyl and plan on shooting the rest this winter. It’ll probably be another trip to Eastern Europe and then a trip to Russia. I’ve also never been to Iceland so I think that would be amazing to see in winter.