“What about now?”
Kylie Flavell’s content, specifically her YouTube channel, is a representation of what happens when someone asks themselves this question and acts on it. She poses the question in a YouTube video titled “Q&A: How to Change Your Life (and Move to ITALY).” Smiling brightly at her viewers, she continues on, asking, “If you find something in this world that makes you feel that intense … how can you not at least try to get more of it in your life?”
Watching this video four years after its creation, in a much-changed world that is currently facing a global pandemic, these questions and the title of the video may seem naïve or preposterous. Many dreams, especially those related to moving abroad, seem especially impossible when travel is limited, jobs are scarce and all plans are uncertain.
However, I would argue that now more than ever, Flavell’s content is especially meaningful. When dreams seem far away, and many people feel stuck — both mentally and physically — Flavell’s insight and eye for life’s beauty can sustain and inspire.
Who is she?
Perhaps you are wondering: Who is this woman who believes she can advise others on how to change their lives? On her website, Flavell describes herself as a “Filmmaker. Writer. Romantic. Empath.” The scope of her work is hard to categorize, but at a very base level, she is a creative whose work centers on travel and the experience of being an expat. Her main platform is YouTube. With over 122,000 subscribers, her channel is by no means small. Yet, the care and awe infused in every video make me wonder why her subscriber count isn’t in the millions.
That is not to say there is any question of Flavell’s success. National Geographic and Discovery Channel are just a few partners she has worked for. Not to mention Flavell has hosted two travel web series — “Hooked Up,” commissioned by Airbnb, and “When Patrick Met Kylie,” which can be found on Amazon Prime. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Flavell herself would use these accomplishments to measure her success. Instead, she would point to her origin story and the way she chased her expat dream.
Flavell was born and raised in Australia, but she always had a sense of wanderlust. At the age of 17, she studied in Japan, the start of a life of travel. She did not immediately enter the world of travel film, instead working as a magazine editor for many years before becoming a filmmaker. After a bit of travel, Flavell fell in love with Italy. When she couldn’t get it off of her mind, she acted on the question she shares with viewers: “What about now?” Despite the concerns of her family and friends home in Australia, she took the leap and moved to Italy.
What are her videos about?
Accordingly, many of Flavell’s videos relate to this move abroad, as she strives to be a resource for those who have similar dreams. One of her many playlists on YouTube is titled “How to Move to Italy.” Another playlist helps those who are trying to learn Italian. Even for viewers who have no desire to live in Italy, these videos are worthwhile for their beauty and the ideas Flavell shares about pursuing large goals.
Many of Flavell’s other videos are related to travel in Italy. The video that made me fall in love with her channel was the first in a series called the Dolce Vita Diaries. Flavell started this series when she was living on Italy’s Amalfi Coast and was inspired by the Italian concept of the dolce vita — the sweet life — that she experienced there. This started a series of her asking Italians what the idea of dolce vita means to them and exploring philosophies on life and how to be happy.
Flavell’s channel is in many ways a love letter to Italy, with most of her videos focusing on Italian culture. Yet, her work still showcases her wanderlust and love for travel by featuring other locations. In fact, her most popular video, in which she shares her trip to Iran, comes from a series she released last summer called “Road Trip Middle East.” This series is a great starting point for newcomers to her channel.
What else makes her content compelling?
Of course, making YouTube videos about travel is by no means unique. Still, Flavell’s videos stand out as particularly special. A key feature of her work is the cinematography. Her videos are worth watching for their cinematic quality alone. It is evident that Flavell pours love and attention to detail into everything she produces, and each video stands as a little film by itself. Calling them “YouTube videos” does not do her work justice.
It helps that Flavell constantly seems to be in stunning destinations. But, she also has the ability to capture simple, even mundane, moments and highlight their beauty. Whether it be the steam rising from a cup of tea in artful plumes or leaves tapping against a window, Flavell shows her viewers that beauty can be found everywhere. One does not have to be in Italy to find wonder in daily life.
Another distinguishing element of Flavell’s work is its depiction of people. Flavell is not afraid to connect to people she meets while traveling and ask them about their stories, their dreams and their philosophies. In her channel introduction, she promises to “share stories from all over the world that will convince you of the infinite kindness of strangers.” And she does just that. In some of her videos, you can watch old Italian men debate with each other, an Iranian sculptor share her city and a Brazilian photographer describe his inspiration.
Flavell also shares herself with her viewers. Many of her videos are discussion-based, such as “LIVE WITH MORE JOY: Cooking & Life Chat from Tuscany, Italy.” She invites her viewers into her home to discuss a topic as she cooks. It is as if she is an old friend, catching up with the viewer. In this way, Flavell shows the viewer who she is and doesn’t try to hide behind a guise of perfection, despite how perfect her videos may seem.
Key in the creation of this intimacy and connection is the fact that Flavell travels and films alone. According to Flavell, she even speaks with locals “one on one, no producer, no camera man.” In fact, Flavell is a one-woman team when it comes to her YouTube videos — yet another thing that makes her special. After being told by TV networks that travel shows “needed to be scripted, that they needed to be filmed and edited by a crew of people,” she decided to teach herself how to complete every role needed for her productions. The result is magical. Flavell sees this self-led nature as essential to her work and its intention: “At least in my case, you know there is no sponsor, no one paying me, no agenda other than to encourage curiosity and empathy for others,” she shares in her video about Shiraz, Iran.
Flavell’s openness, artistic ability and affinity for other people and cultures all make her someone who others are drawn to. “It took me less than 10 minutes to love you,” one viewer commented on a video. “Thank you for feeding my soul,” another shared. This comment hits the nail on the head — Flavell’s films will nourish your soul. They will make you fall in love with the person she is and the world that is out there to be explored. Her channel will make you look for beauty in the small moments of your life and will inspire you to put your dreams into action. Her work is not to be missed.