These days more and more people are making their own travel vlogs and collecting video memories of their adventures. Travelling as a backpacker makes it possible to get to know a country much more intimately than people on package holidays, however, transferring that experience to film is trickier than many people expect.
Making a plan
Everything is easier to get right if it’s planned and this doesn’t mean sacrificing the impulsive aspects of backpacking that make it fun. Planning for a film isn’t the same as planning the structure of the trip itself. It’s about more than just location – it’s about working out what kind of story to try and tell, and thinking in advance about what kind of footage will be needed, then keeping notes along the way to make sure any important missing elements can be chased up before it’s too late.
Professional video production requires the right equipment and this still applies for those who want to get good results on a low budget. With travel, however, there’s an additional issue – weight. This means that even if personal baggage is kept to a minimum, filmmaking kit needs to be pared down too. It’s simplest to restrict it to camera, tripod, external microphone (important for conversation in crowds or wind) and a laptop for storing footage – not forgetting the necessary cables!
Perspectives and the solo shooter
Shooting solo can limit options when it comes to video editing because there’s no second camera to cut away to. One way to resolve this is to shoot the same area from another perspective – for instance, walking through a city square holding the camera and then filming the square again from a static position off to one side. Landscape footage is often useful for cut-aways from conversation.
Landscape footage is an important part of any travelogue, but too often, everybody’s looks the same. A good travel film needs to have a personal perspective and be not just about the landscape but also about the filmmaker’s relationship with the landscape. Linking it to personal passions such as action sports or nature watching can help create something more unusual, as can different angles on familiar scenes. Bespoke video production done by people who understand where the filmmaker is coming from can then bring this to life at the editing stage.
Countries are, of course, about more than just their landscapes – they’re about people. Chatting to locals can provide great additional material for a film, especially if they’re willing to share personal stories. Bartenders are often up for this as long as the filmmaker keeps drinking and taxi drivers’ time can be bought. Both tend to have good stories and at least passable English. Other travellers – especially those from different countries – can also contribute interesting perspectives.
The trick to successful travel vlogs and making films that really capture the spirit of a place is to avoid the usual tourist attractions and seek out the unusual. Filmmakers should remember to be careful, however, and not wander round back streets with lots of visible, expensive equipment. Sending footage home every few days is a wise precaution in case of theft, but common sense is usually enough to fend off trouble, and adventure is still what matters!
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