Scorching sun, 38°-40° in the shade. Two young guys are briskly cutting wood. On a nearby meandering path, lizards are crawling. Despite the heat and the numerous thorns, spines, and prickles the two lads are trimming fern and collecting branches for the shelter they are making. Spending a day like that in the forest is not uncommon for Tsvetan and Svetoslav. This is their passion and way of living.
Tsvetan and Svetoslav met at the Academy for TV, Film and Internet Communications, Sofia, Bulgaria, and never knew that they would become friends for life. “When I met Tsetsi for the first time I thought he was a swot and a nerd, he was so different from all my friends and acquaintances,” Svetoslav recollects. “It was also strange for me when I met Svetlio for the first time,” Tsvetan says, “I thought he was a hooligan.”
Eight years later they have their own unique survival skills series released on YouTube and their friendship is “real one that is worth more than real love, a friendship like chemistry,” Svetoslav portrays.
Tsvetan Naydenov is 25. He lives in Sofia, Bulgaria. Tsvetan studied staging at the Academy for TV, Film and Internet Communications, Sofia, Bulgaria, and later graduated from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, Sofia, as a mime artist. His occupation is all kind of stuff in the field of art and a pinch of martial arts.
Svetoslav Atanasov is 28. He also lives in Sofia. Svetoslav studied cinematography at the same Academy as Tsvetan. After that, he also graduated from the National Academy as a mime artist. His occupation is doing things that give him pleasure – filming, mountaineering, and doing extreme activities.
When asked what their exact job is, Tsvetan laughs. “This is one of the most difficult questions I have been asked in the last five years.” These two enthusiasts take part in theatrical performances and pantomime, direct pantomime classes on and off, take part in professional productions and advertisements, and last but not least – do extreme things. “We combine everything in a way that is pleasant for us,” Svetoslav explains. The main goal of everything they do is “to make people happy and smiley.”
“Since the very beginning they were hyperactive,” remembers Alexander Iliev, their professor at the Academy. While still studying, the two enthusiasts, together with their professor, created the studio “Brothers of Art” where they shot videos, TV movies, and documentaries and worked on their self-development and growth through doing martial arts, yoga, and massages.
It was quite recently when Tsvetan and Svetoslav made their long yearned dream come true. They adore forest and mountain activities, they have watched all survival skills programmes on Discovery Channel, they have read a lot of books about surviving, one of their biggest idols is Bear Grylls, and Tsvetan has even done a course for a survival skills instructor.
Thus, one day they just met up and decided to finally realize their dream. This is how they created “What It Takes To Survive” – a survival skills series different from anything done before. “We do not like copying others,” Svetoslav clarified, that is why they made their own web series as 3-4 minute film-like episodes. The unique thing is that the videos are with a background voice explaining what happens in the episode. The language they use is English, despite the fact they are Bulgarians because the series has been released on YouTube and “we want to make it international,” Tsvetan smiled.
They still remember the best and most exciting moment for them when they said to each other: “Are we going to do this? Yes, we are!” It was a thrilling time for them because they had had a tough year – they had done so many things with their hearts, they had done them brilliantly, and all the people had been contented with their work. Yet, most of them never called them back. Tsvetan and Svetoslav’s disappointment by the others’ unreliability made them take the step towards realizing their dream by relying only on each other.
Another enduring memory for the two adventurers was when they were departing from Sofia, going to film in Cefalonia, realizing that they “are actually doing it” – making their dream come true. Furthermore, they felt even more relieved because they had left behind all the negative and envious comments by other people.
They are finally doing something on their own, “without any compromises to anyone”, focusing only on quality. They admit that it is difficult – they did everything relying only on themselves – filming, music, montage, website, and Facebook pages. They used their own finances but their motto is “We prefer to have our hand on the heart and be out of pocket to be rolling in money and do something we do not like,” as they put it in their colourful Bulgarian way of expression.
When they started the project, they needed only “love for nature and filmmaking, a camera, and a computer.” Svetoslav’s biggest passion is shooting and Tsvetan’s – directing. “When we work, we become one and things just happen.”
However, later they met numerous obstacles while realizing their dream. Particularly “before and while filming every episode,” Tsvetan laughs. It is not the best experience to go to a place to filter water and see that the river has run dry, or to go filming under scorching sun in a temperature of 40 degrees, or to spend a day among thorn bushes and be crawled over by ants and later see that the camera has not filmed anything. This is only a small part of the impediments the two friends have gone through but they say that this is their passion: “We do it with our hearts.”
The first season of the web series (10 episodes) is already on YouTube and it teaches basic survival techniques in various natural terrains – sea, mountains, rivers, and forests. In addition, a “Tip of the Week” episode is weekly released, giving to the public useful pieces of advice not only for surviving but also for everyday life – e.g. how to stop bleeding with sweet red pepper powder or how to set fire with a gum wrapper and a battery.
For the two enthusiasts, however, this is not enough. Before releasing season two of “What It Takes to Survive”, they are going to present to the internet audience five voluntary causes. “Cleaning the rubbish out of Boyana Lake, Sofia is one of them,” Svetoslav revealed. In the other ones, they are planning to include tips on how to build a birdhouse or a bench in the forest. Their idea behind these causes is to make people think before throwing their rubbish in nature. They believe that in this way they will influence people with open hearts to follow their example. “We do not want people to say ‘Well done, boys’. We want them to think next time before throwing their croissant’s package behind a bush.”
“We are proud of what we have been doing and we have just put our shoulders to the wheel.”
The trailer of “What It Takes to Survive”, season 1:
Featured image: Svetoslav and Tsvetan