Jorge Sierra smeared jam on his toast while thinking the response. Seconds later, he explains: “at a conference I gave in Seville after returning from my return to the world they asked me something I had not stopped hearing since my return: “do you think that the same hospitality you speak of would be possible in Spain?”. Sure, why not? If it happened to me in 58 countries, how could it not be possible here.”
This is how the idea arose to record a series about hospitality in Spain: from the disbelief of its own inhabitants.
Surfing sofas: Jorge Sierra tests hospitality in Spain
Jorge Sierra’s gaze is like that of a sadhu in the ghats Varanasi. It is possible that the rastas that gather at the top of his head in harmonious disorder will help to build this image, but, still, the eyes of this 35-year-old Coruña contain a tranquillity dressed in wisdom similar to that of the Hindu ascetics.
Sierra decided to begin her life’s journey in 2008 aboard Naranjito, a Citroen 2 CV color orange clementina. With him he toured more than half the planet for four years, an adventure from which a documentary series of 16 episodes, Naranjito and I, was born, which he showed on his Youtube channel and which was about to appear on several televisions, including RTVE.
“Televisions rejected my project at the time because it was recorded in four-thirds SD format,” Jorge Sierra tells Yorokobu.
“My proposal came too early because now the format doesn’t matter. In fact, different types are required to be mixed. This is thanks to Youtube, which has broken many moulds.”
Although not accepted on television, Naranjito and I have brought its fruits: the publication of his first book, The Birds of my head, and a new audiovisual project: surfing sofas.
Spain tv remained interested in working with Sierra and that’s when the project for the Playz platform came into being. “Playz is very new and decided to bet on me by giving me a budget to make a month and a half trip to Spain,” says coruñés. The goal was clear: 10 10-minute episodes with a format close to Youtube but”well done”.
As Sierra explains, youtube has ended many audiovisual prejudices and allows playing with the viewer. Playz wanted a series aimed at a young audience, but with a quality realization.
Between the blurring of the coffee maker and the atmosphere of the bar, Sierra explains, a few meters from his house, in the Madrid District of Chamberí, that one of the prejudices that he has broken during this trip was, precisely, that of the youtubers.
“Before I started with the series I had never consumed Youtube. I thought they were kids playing video games and talking bullshit. When I was told on Playz that they wanted Youtube format, I started researching and I discovered people who do great things.”
This Is How Sierra contacted Chusita, a famous Spanish youtuber who requested to stay at her home at some point during the series. “I didn’t know Chusita and she didn’t know me, but she accepted from the beginning. Being at home I was able to learn more about the life of a youtuber.”
From sofa to sofa in deep Spain
The form chosen by Sierra to show the hospitality of Spain –and which gives name to the series– is similar to that of the colaborative lodging website Couchsurfing, from which he disassembles.
“I don’t really like Couchsurfing. I’ve had some bad experiences. I’d rather improvise. I like to meet someone on the street, smile at them, have a coffee, and come up with communication and opportunity. It’s colder to e-mail.”
Still, due to the pressure of recording 10 chapters in a month and a half, Sierra was forced to schedule in advance and call all who would be her hosts. One of the most surprising and beginning of the series is the Spanish musician Iván Ferreiro.
“Ivan is an uncle of a fucking mother. From the first moment that I accepted delighted. But not just that. When I got home, I got sick with a respiratory infection. Ivan and his girlfriend, Noa, were watching over me during the night as I was dying with 39 degrees on his couch.”
“The next morning I recorded the interview as I could and went back to Madrid. We had to delay the recording of the series.”
Despite the presence of Ivan Ferreiro, Sierra explains that most of those appearing in the series are not known people. “Before I started the project, I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to take a trip to Spain and asked if anyone would like to share their house to stay. There were many people who answered gladly.”
Even with that previous programming, Jorge Sierra’s improvisation is seen during the series when he is surprised by the route. “I’m not a presenter or an actor, I’m not even funny,” he explains.
“When I speak on camera it is not scripted. Recording this series for a client was a new experience and I tried to take it to my terrain, to improvise, to thrill and generate empathy through the unexpected. I am interested in how the world influences me and how I and my journey in the world influence me.”