filmmaker on ice

Best of Tripfilms Twelve Travel Questions: Advice for Travel Filmmakers

Over the last two years, we’ve interviewed 50 of our talented filmmakers and filmmaker teams. Here is a collection of some of the best travel tips, crazy travel stories, and filmmaking philosophies from these expert travelers.

We asked 50 filmmakers: What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?

Just. Do. It. Most importantly though: don’t be intimidated by anyone, or by all the fancy-shmancy technical talk about cameras and accessories and frame rates and compression rates and such. Start small. Start with what you’re comfortable using. It really is as easy as pressing the record button on your phone or your camera, and using it to tell a story. Then do your research and learn as you go. Cruise Tripfilms and watch lots and lots of other travel videos. Pay attention to what you think works and what you think doesn’t work. Ask for help when you need it! And use all that to help you develop your own style. As you hone your skills you will find your groove, grasshopper. But you’ve gotta just do it! – Two for the Road

Making a travel video is fun. There are a lot of things to learn, but the number one thing is to always have your camera handy, shoot everything no matter how mundane, and always be trying to make your next video better than the last. – James Alexander Adams

To quote a shoe: “Just do it.” #1. Watch travel video. #2. Don’t hesitate, go out and shot and edit and learn from your mistakes. #3. A camera is just a tool. There is no ‘best camera.’ Get what you can afford and learn to use it. The story is more important than the tools. – Nomadic Frames

I would suggest, like anything else, watching other people’s videos and stealing (and learning) from them what you like about their videos, whether it be the way they tell their story, the shots they use, the music they incorporate or the editing techniques they use. – The Expeditioner

Buy a tripod :-) Then watch other filmmakers to see what inspires you the most. After that it is up to you to put your own stamp of creativity onto your work and create something unique and special. Most importantly, if you are passionate about what you do, it will show in your work and eventually you will get noticed. – Eight Miles from Home

Do what you enjoy. Don’t try and copy other people’s styles and approaches. Do what feels right for you—you will find your audience. The only other tip I have is don’t keep moving around all over the place. Take separate shots instead. – Gary Bembridge

Think fresh, avoid crappy presets in cheap editing software, and have fun with it! And perhaps most importantly, don’t be full of yourself, especially when starting off. Even after 10 years of professional work experience in the field, I’m still learning new things on every project I take on. – Etherium Sky Films

Shoot, shoot, shoot! The more you film the better you get—and always make sure to have fun while you’re doing it. If you make it stressful it begins to feel like a job or homework (which 99% of the time, isn’t fun). Be creative, be yourself and stay true to your own unique style. – Rural Movement

DO IT!! Practice makes perfect, and don’t be too hard on yourself. But make sure that you enjoy your trip and don’t end up spending all of your time behind a lens. – Mindful Wanderlust

I often use this answer when asked this question: “It’s not hard to dance to your favorite song.” Create content you’re inspired by. If you’re making a video about drinking wine, when you’d rather be drinking rum strait from the bottle at 4 a.m. at a Thai beach party, your heart is not into the topic. Pursuing this lifestyle is too tough not to do exactly what you want to do. I really don’t like to repeat answers, but that’s important. Here’s something that’s on my mind now: Am I a filmmaker at heart, or a creative at heart, who found his path through video? – Mike Corey

Shoot plenty of what we call B-Roll—it may not be your primary focus, but these shots give a more rounded-out sense of the story. You can never have too much footage. – Alex in Wanderland

To really respect the places they go and the people who live there, and to go to new places wanting to learn and appreciate the culture, especially when you go to places that have a very different culture from yours. – Rubén Alonso

Buy a camera, get out there and do it! That is the only way you will learn and develop your own style and persona. – Kristen Sarah

Practice, practice, practice… and try to get someone to travel. If you can’t manage to produce travel videos on your own, ask someone to accompany you and help you out. You don’t need fancy equipment, just an iPhone and a passion for what you’re trying to show/teach others. – David Hoffmann

Start now. – Joshua Johnson

Make them in your own voice! This always leads to the most natural and genuine storytelling. – Ryan Van Duzer

Just start! It doesn’t matter what you use or how little you know. You are likely to learn more from your mistakes, than from most anything else. – Travizeo

Research and plan ahead. You have a limited amount of time (unfortunately), and you should want to capture as much as possible. Shoot to edit. Don’t be that jerk that sticks a camera in strangers’ faces. – John Piazza IV

Buy a cheap camera, (Go Pro is the best option: cheap, full terrain, waterproof, easy to use…) and learn how to use a simple film editing software like iMovie (Go to Lynda.com and for $35 you can learn how to shoot and edit). If you enjoy the experience, then think about upgrading your equipment. Most important, don’t make your trip about the movie, make the movie about your trip :) – Eduardo Gato

My advice would be to get started and use whatever you have. Whether it’s a camcorder or an iPhone, just start shooting! You can always invest in better equipment later, but when you’re starting out, focus on the heart of your videos and the story you want to tell. – Gloria Powell

Go out and put all your effort into it, there’s never been a better time than now to get into film. You don’t need a big budget production to create captivating videos anymore, you just need a passionate filmmaker. – Patrick J. McDaniel

Firstly making travel videos isn’t for everyone. Secondly audio is just as important as the visual aspect if not more, avoid wind, and make sure you choose good and legal music. – Cailin O’Neil

The main advice I can give is to enjoy as much as you can the experience of the trip and then it’s easier to show those feelings. I like to mix in a video information with the feelings of the trip. – Josep Gutierrez

Stop thinking about it and grab a camera and go do it. The only difference between them and the people who are making videos is that they’re doing it. – Justin Weiler

Just grab your camera and shoot. Don’t overthink it. – Sarah Zareen

Don’t underestimate the power of today’s cell phone cameras. In full daylight a Samsung or iPhone camera can take video comparable to a $3000+ camera. For “documentary style” videos we make on Tripfilms this is perfect! You’ve already got a fantastic camera in your hand! You’d be surprised how often I mix and match my footage from a Canon, Sony, GoPro, and cell phone footage. Spend $90 on a cheap editing software and start using it. – Wesley Adventures

Find your voice, one way or another. Find the thing that nobody else can do, that nobody else would attempt to do, especially if it’s hard. And do it. – Andrew Kamphey

Do it! If you love to have new experiences and document your adventures, grab your camera and let the magic happen! While making travel videos can be tons of fun, just remember, there’s no need to capture EVERYTHING. Think carefully about how you want to tell your story before you hit the red “record” button. Avoid having too much footage at the end of the day and only roll camera when everything is perfect! – Juliana Broste

Think about what you want to know about the location/destination before you decide to go there. Then give that information in your video. It will make your video more genuine. – Jesse and Kimberly Moore

I’m being 100% serious when I say this: Only want to make the most amazing, life-changing videos/films ever. Seek out how to make your work the best is can possibly be. Try hard, try new things, never accept enough. Want to tell stories and study how to tell stories. Know yourself. Love and hate yourself and let that be seen in your work. Be honest. Get good glass. Shoot more than you need and in the end make it work. Above all, don’t let your failures overcome you and always be there for yourself when you have to lick your wounds. So, all that, and most awards you’ll get will mean just about nothing in comparison to the amount to work and love you put into your best work. – Bobby Christian

I remember a scene from the movie “American Beauty” where Kevin Spacey’s character Lester is arguing with his wife about her over-attachment to material possessions. He picks up a sofa cushion and begins to swing it around whilst lamenting: “… It’s just a couch! This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.” After the exchange, he then goes on  to live the life he wants to live (rather than the one that is expected of him). Live like Lester everyday and whatever you do will nicely fall into place. Travel videos and all. – SPESUS

Spend some time learning some basic filmmaking skills which can easily be done by watching how-to videos. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a lot of gear. You can easily use your smartphone as your full production studio to create some amazing videos. Practice shooting and editing and watch other people’s videos and see what it is you like about them. The video really comes together in the editing process so shoot lots of footage of different places, people you encountered and things that captured your attention. If you love photography and filmmaking like I do, the act of shooting becomes part of your travel experience and allows you to see things in new ways. It allows you to focus in on the things that capture your attention. These shots are the ones that will put your fingerprint on your videos. If you are traveling to a place that is very popular, like Paris for example, when you shoot the Eiffel Tower don’t just shoot a wide shot and be done with it. Show some details of what caught your eye. Look for unique angles that the rest of us have not seen before an express your feeling and emotion of your experience. – Gina DeGirolamo

Go further, do more, be creative. Be original. Too many people follow the same patterns and make the same content. Be yourself and push the envelope. – Gareth Leonard

Baby Steps… Step One: Shoot everything. My motto is if I didn’t shoot it it didn’t happen. Meaning video is a visual medium (stating the obvious I know) so therefore if you don’t capture it on camera you can’t show it to your viewers. So shoot, shoot, shoot away and figure out what to do with all the footage once you get home. Step Two: Get a mic. There is nothing worse than bad audio. Step Three: Find your voice and have fun! – Monique Soltani

I would tell them to not worry so much about equipment. It’s easy to get bogged down with technical specs, making sure you have every lens for every occasion that arises, etc. While that’s nice, it could also end up restricting you as far as mobility or ease of use when something happens that’s waiting to be filmed. By the time you get set up, you will have missed the shot. I think there’s a distinction between making travel videos as a job and making travel videos as a visual diary. If you are just looking to capture your trip and retell it in an interesting way, you just have to be ready to shoot at all times. Nowadays, you can get pretty nice high quality video in even a point and shoot, so there’s no excuse there. – Kien Lam

Think about what story you want to tell beforehand. It helps with the editing process and it keeps you from shooting footage aimlessly. I’ll have a shot list in mind where I’ll be thinking about movement and cuts. I am always looking for something to cut to and for a way to move the story along. And make sure to have good sound. Invest in a microphone and pay attention to levels and sound when editing. People will forgive a little bit of shaky camera work, but they won’t forgive terrible sound. – The Planet D

Technology has made it so simple to put filmmaking in the hands of everyone, so just get out there and do it, even if it’s just using the camera on your phone. – Jason Leppert

To simply start! With the access we now have to platforms such as YouTube and Tripfilms your videos can be seen by millions. All you need is a personality, a camera, a good mic and some basic storytelling and editing skills and a bit of creativity! With these ingredients anything really is possible. A great attitude will go a long way in the travel business as you get to meet so many new people all the time and you never know where the next video or trip will come from. – Adam Baker

Work with the gear you have now, and just start doing it! Be brave and try your best to capture what’s in front of you. Our travel videos have changed so much over the past year. We found our own voice and style but draw lots of inspiration and techniques from others who inspired us! Find a mentor(s), and make it your own. You got this. Oh, and another little trick we abide by: Have things gone completely sideways for you? Are you mad, emotional, or overwhelmed? Turn on the camera and speak your mind. That’s going to make a great video later. – Because We Camp

Study the history of the place and put your personality in it! – Eszter Vajda

To just go for it! Oddly, I was intimidated to make travel videos on my phone. I came from a video production background where we shot on high-end gear and videos needed to be near perfect. I rarely pulled out my phone for videos or interviews because it wasn’t the quality I was used to. I have been shooting on my phone much more and have had some really fun segments turn out.  Sure, there may be no striking time-lapses or jib shots but the point isn’t always in the production value. It’s showcasing the unexpected in a destination. – Carri Wilbanks

Capture a lot of b-roll so you can have enough transitions when editing. My favorite b-roll captures are: country or state flags, street signs, vast landscapes, people walking and enjoying life and cute animals. – Travelista Teri

Go for it, and don’t make excuses as to why you can’t do it. Even with just a small point and shoot camera, you can start making travel videos. Also, no matter where you are, even if you’re in your own home city, you can make travel videos. – Mark Wiens

Be patient and don’t be too shy to get your camera out. – Mick Hobday

Go into filming with a plan on what you hope to accomplish with your finished product—it makes it so much easier in the back end with post-production. Also, try to pick music that goes well with the footage you have captured—it really can make all the difference! – Wander The Map

Good sound makes all the difference. Put your lens cap on and record 2 minutes of “location audio” wherever you shoot. It helps bridge the gap between shots. Also—pay a street performer a hefty tip if you record their music for use in your videos. – Lost & Found Travel

Don’t just shoot everything randomly; find a passion or your vision/personal experience and have a general idea on how you want to cover it. Be willing to make mistakes and constantly learn new skills. – Armando Costantino

Be honest! Both in your take, and in your personality. A lot of people either clam up or act differently in front of a camera, and if you look stiff or false, it will overpower whatever message or point you have in your video. You could be standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, but if you look uncomfortable, that’s the only thing people will see. – Nathalie Basha

Just do it! Everything doesn’t have to be perfect before you start. Do a few testers on your phone or any inexpensive equipment to see what you like/dislike. When you decide to proceed, make an educated purchase when camera shopping. – Global Lipstick