Where the Buffalo Roam + Google Brand Studio Navigate the Pandemic in Italy with “The Bicycling Bookseller"

Creative production company Where the Buffalo Roam (WTBR) recently partnered with Google Brand Studio EMEA on “The Bicycling Bookseller,” a heartwarming story about Mattia Garavaglia, a local bookstore owner in Turin, Italy. The 3 ½-minute film is a story of hope and resilience navigating the pandemic as a small business owner – and how Google Maps helped make it happen. 

Mattia’s dreams of owning his own bookshop were nearly shattered when Covid-19 hit. Looking for new ways to stay connected with his customers and community, he posted a photo of himself and his bike on social media with the caption, “I’ll come to you.” Within days, Mattia was hand-plotting 50 delivery points around the city and spending hours on his bike. With the help of Google Maps, he was able to efficiently navigate the quickest bike routes and deliver more books in half the time. In the true spirit of camaraderie, Mattia also partnered with another local business, NORA Book & Coffee, to help extend their reach even further.

“We’re so excited to share Mattia’s story with the world,” says Kelsey Conklin, Google Producer. “Mattia saved his bookstore through his own innovation and hard work, and we’re just so happy that Google Maps helped him to reach his ever-growing customer base more quickly.” 
“We all wanted the takeaway of this film to be about hope,” adds Director Jonathan Zames. “We love working with Google. They always do a great job of keeping the story about the person, which allowed us to focus on Mattia’s ingenuity and passion for his community.” 
Trying to shoot an international production while under lockdown presented parallels between Mattia’s story of problem-solving and perseverance. WTBR travelled to Turin for the late summer production, which required a two-week quarantine before shooting began. 
Zames, WTBR Partner/Executive Producer Tim Pries, and Director of Photography David McMurry utilized the lock-in for exploring visual inspiration – everything from film to photography to lighting and lenses – while meticulously planning shoot logistics, such as location scouting, permits, and sourcing production equipment. 

For Where the Buffalo Roam and Google Brand Studio EMEA, which have worked together on several international shorts, the goal with Mattia’s story was to zero in on the idea of overcoming adversity -- a theme that would not only resonate during the pandemic but also far beyond it. When the shoot commenced, Zames and McMurry kept the cameras rolling as they followed Mattia traversing Turin on his bicycle. They also incorporated a catalogue of street footage from the initial lockdown shot by a local videographer named Erik Kinoglaz, with WTBR Editor Collin Kriner tasked with weaving the story together. 
“Jonathan is very intentional in how he shoots and composes things, using zooms and long shots across large open spaces and then close-ups on Mattia,” says Kriner. “He was very clear from the get-go that this was a story about resilience with a sense of fun and quirkiness, so I set about identifying elements within the footage that evoke that feeling. The use of the book chapters as transitional pieces was not only fitting for Mattia’s personal journey but also gave the film a storybook feel. In addition, music was a huge driver of tone in capturing both the seriousness and the levity of his story.”

“This shoot only underscored how fortunate we, like Mattia, are to keep doing what we love, even under abnormal circumstances,” concludes Zames. “To come through a big adventure at a time like this made it all the more special.”

Photo by Emli Bendixen

Client: Google Brand Studio EMEA 
Senior Director, Google Marketing: Ben Malbon
Executive Creative Director: Dan Germain
Head of Production: Lou Trethewey
Creative Producer: Kelsey Conklin
Art Directors: Stevie Yip, Mike Dorrance
Copywriter: Amy Durrant

Production Company: Where The Buffalo Roam/Oakland, CA
Executive Producer: Tim Pries
Director: Jonathan Zames
DP: David McMurry    
Head of Production: Christine Whitney
Coordinator: Eden Cooney        

On-Location Production Company: Panorama Films/Roma, Italy
Executive Producer: Fabio Aneto
Producer: Ute Leonhardt

Where Shot: Torino, Italy

Stock Footage Company: Shutterstock/New York, NY

Drone Footage Pull: Erik Kinoglaz

Photographer: Emli Bendixen
Agent: Morgan Evans @ Germaine Walker

Editorial Company: Where The Buffalo Roam/Oakland, CA
Editor: Collin Kriner

Postproduction Company: MPC Films/London, England
Colorist: Phil Hambi                
Executive Producer: Edwin Elkington    

VFX Company: Where The Buffalo Roam/Oakland, CA
Senior Flame Artist: Simon Mowbray

Sound Design & Audio Post Company: Jungle Studios Digital Media + Post Production/London, England
Sound Designer/Audio Engineer: Chris Turner

Music Production Company: Asche + Spencer/Minneapolis, MN
Executive Producer: Matt Locher

About Where the Buffalo Roam:
WTBR is a full-service production company with offices in Oakland and Los Angeles. Its approach is simple: Be good people. Make good things. Recent clients include Google, Webflow, Nerdwallet, Sleep.com, and Clif Bar.


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