Arestia Rosenberg is a filmmaker and creative director based in LA, with a number of video production and documentaries under her belt. While she could’ve stayed in one place and worked from home, she chose to try out traveling as a creative professional, and it led her to some of her most global opportunities.

We were delighted that she interviewed with us for our travel professional series. In this interview, see how some of her first travel experiences paved the way for a bright future: a future in which she sees the entire world as a place where she can work on producing content to tell amazing stories.

Tell us about your travel journey. When were your first travel experiences?

Growing up, my parents took my siblings and me on trips all over the country, and to other nearby countries such as Mexico, Canada and the Cayman Islands.

I do think this instilled a sense of exploration and adventure. The summer after my junior year of high school, I took a break from going to summer camp, and my mother asked me if I could do anything in the world, what would it be?

I had taken four years of Spanish in school at that point (three of which were with a wonderful teacher who always said if you were going to really learn a language, you had to go live somewhere they spoke it). So I said to my mother, “I’d go live in Spain so I could learn Spanish.”

My mother had lived in Peru during college and spoke fluent Spanish, so I think this delighted her.

Unbeknownst to me, she remembered a program when she was in high school that some classmates of hers had done called The Experiment in International Living. She looked it up and it still existed! They also did summer programs in Spain for high school students.

You would go with a group of 10 and a leader, and live in a host home in the same town. My mother talked to my father and came to me and said if I was willing to pay ⅓ of the cost of the program, she and my father would cover the remaining cost.

My portion would be $1,000. I had that saved, and I think she wanted to be sure I really wanted to do it, that I would have some skin in the game. I agreed.

This trip was a pivotal moment in my life. I fell in love with Spain—still one of my favorite countries—and it opened up my eyes to our great wide world.

And you betcha I learned Spanish, coming back conversational, blowing my classmates and teacher away and doing very well on my Spanish SAT IIs. I didn’t travel abroad in college, but after I graduated, I vowed I would visit one new country a year: it’s a promise I kept to myself only until a couple years ago when I had a baby.

The first country after graduation was Peru, and I even got to visit with my own mother’s host family from her time there, which was very special.

What were you doing before creative direction, writing, and producing?

I started my career in Hollywood. I went to film school at Boston University to become a director, but I did a “study abroad” semester in Los Angeles, where I interned at Columbia Pictures and fell in love with the idea of becoming a studio executive.

I loved reading scripts, and the development process. After graduating, I moved back to LA, and actually ended up getting a job as an assistant at Columbia Pictures, and then my next job was at Happy Madison Productions.

From there, I was promoted to associate producer for all the behind-the-scenes/EPK content. I really loved the idea that we were kind of making a documentary about the making of the movie.

In between that, I had some producing jobs on some Animal Planet docuseries. I found my dreams of Hollywood fading, though, and knew there must be something out there where I could continue storytelling and keep producing, but without the grueling schedules.

That’s when a friend introduced me to someone at his ad agency who was looking for a producer to produce a documentary series for brands. This was for the new “content” team, which was 13 years ago now, before anyone knew that term.

All I heard was making documentaries with budgets, and I was sold. I made some films I am really proud of in my three years at that agency, with award-winning directors who ran in major film festivals.

But after those three years, the agency dissolved the department, and I didn’t see myself as an agency producer, which felt more like a project manager, so it was time for me to move on.

My mentor and friend had since moved to The Daily Beast and convinced me to move to New York and work there as the Creative Director of Brand Strategy. I built a team I was really proud of and did work I’m really proud of, but it wasn’t my forever job.

I applied and got into a program called Remote Year. It was only the second-ever class of travelers, and I felt like I had to do it.

I tried to get The Daily Beast to let me travel and work remotely, but that was at a time when that was unheard of. So, I struck out on my own as a for-hire content strategist, writer, and producer.

That was eight years ago, and I’ve been a consultant ever since. I did my year with Remote Year and traveled on my own for a second year before settling back in Los Angeles.

I traveled to Cambodia to make my own documentary about a refugee (whom I had met during my travels) who had started a hip-hop and breakdancing school for at-risk youth. I still produce and direct to this day, but my work now primarily consists of doing content strategy for agencies and startups, as well as ghostwriting books for thought leaders.

How have you been able to link travel with your creative profession?

Producing documentary films takes me all over the world. I have made films in places like Mongolia, China, England, Brazil, Barcelona, Austin, and Detroit, just to name a few.

I’m actually still holding out for a directing job in Hawaii I was supposed to do in May of 2020 that the pandemic put an end to! I really love it when I get to travel somewhere new when filmmaking.

You get to meet the most wonderful people and learn about their stories, and really see inside their worlds, which is something you don’t typically get to do when you travel as a tourist. I also think travel has made me a better writer/storyteller because it’s given me empathy for different experiences that people have in their lives.

I feel like I can really see people’s stories and understand their perspectives. It’s a real gift and a privilege to tell other people’s stories, in whichever medium I get to do that.

How has travel opened your horizons as a filmmaker?

I really feel comfortable producing work anywhere in the world. I don’t think I would have been so bold as to make my own film in Cambodia without the combined experience of both my work and travel.

What have been some of your favorite places to work remotely? What type of work did you do there?

I’m able to work remotely today as a content strategist and writer. I have been able to produce a few films from afar, findings stories and/or writing scripts and coordinating crews from afar, but it’s a little more challenging than just being there for production.

Some of my favorite places have been Prague, Bali, Thailand, Serbia and Portugal. I find really good community coworking spaces to be key to the places I’ve loved, as I am a community-oriented person.

When was a time that travel inspired you creatively?

Making my film in Cambodia was the most inspired I’ve ever been.

My subject, KK’s story, and how it fits in with the history and people of Cambodia, blew me away. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like I didn’t have a choice: I had to make the film and tell the story. I raised money, got a crew together and flew there for a week to shoot it.

Leave us with wisdom for anyone who wants to combine travel and their work.

Years before I decided to travel, I saw a video for a coworking space in Bali. I thought, how dreamy it would be to get to travel, but still work, and work in such inspiring places?

But I also thought, no way do I have a job that could ever be remote.

And yet, five years later, I found myself working in that very same coworking space (hi, Hubud!). And before deciding to do my film, I could have said, well, I don’t have any money, but, I found a way.

Don’t toss aside the things you want to do. If you want to work and travel, take things one step at a time and find a way.

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