A 23-year-old filmmaker converted a van into a studio to find great stories

Zach Both’s van may not look like much from the outside, but prop open the windows and you’ll find yourself inside the spacious, sunlit work space of an up-and-coming filmmaker.

Both lives and works out of this van, custom-designed to fit his nomadic, creative life. He even wrote a “Vanual” to help others who might want to install a stove, folding bed, and other amenities in their own vehicles.

The 23-year-old filmmaker is travelling around the United States in search of compelling stories — some that already exist, and some that he has yet to write.

“The opportunity to constantly be meeting and surrounded by people who have completely different views of the world has been immensely helpful in this,” he said. “Each person has a unique perspective and background that have contributed and influenced what stories I tell and how I go about telling them.”

In the fall of 2014, Zach Both quit his job as an art director at a tech startup.

Courtesy Zach Both

He bought a used electrician's van...

Courtesy Zach Both

And spent six months refurbishing it into a mobile studio.

Courtesy Zach Both

He then set out to pursue his own filmmaking projects.

Courtesy Zach Both

'I typically don't travel for travel sake,' he told INSIDER in an email. 'I tend to follow where the work or an interesting story is taking place.'

Courtesy Zach Both

Both describes the stories he's drawn to telling as those that explore basic elements of the human condition, 'but with a twist of surrealism or abstraction that allows someone to relate and resonate with the subject matter in a deeper way.'

Courtesy Zach Both

His most recent short film, 'Unseen Unknown' starring Annie Monroe, does just that. It follows a young woman through an antiques shop as she speaks to a mysterious voice coming from an old walkie-talkie.

Vimeo

Both said he drew upon his experiences travelling solo for the film.

Courtesy Zach Both

''Unseen Unknown' was definitely influenced by the solitude everyone experiences travelling solo and the strange emotional paradox it can become,' Both said. 'At times solitude can be confusing and frustrating, but many times it's something I actively seek out and embrace.'

Courtesy Zach Both

He also credits the diversity of the people he's met while travelling for helping shape his approach to storytelling.

Courtesy Zach Both

'Being a good storyteller requires an unbelievable amount of empathy -- not only for your audience but also for the subject matter,' he said.

Courtesy Zach Both

What is it that draws him to storytelling? Both said he enjoys the challenge.

Courtesy Zach Both

'Making something look nice or function well is easy compared to what it takes to hold someone's attention with a story -- especially in today's world where there are so many things trying to grab our gaze,' he said.

Courtesy Zach Both

He's currently in California's Bay area, working on a few more short films as practice for an eventual feature film.

Courtesy Zach Both

'I've probably got another year in me,' he said of how long he plans to continue travelling in his van. 'Once I start getting serious about making a feature film I will probably find a semi-permanent place to focus on a massive project like that. But who knows. I've learned not to plan things too far in advance.'

Courtesy Zach Both

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