Name: Bobby Christian
Home Base: West Hollywood
Last Trip: Black Canyon (outside of Las Vegas)
Next Trip: Sun Valley, Idaho
1. What are three things you take on every trip?
I mean, some thing are obvious, like I always take my flip-flops, phone, charger…stuff like that. Some of the more unique things I take on every trip are:
- A legal pad (I write most things by hand at first)
- Extra pair of underwear (literally in case I get wet…even in the desert I’m still worried about getting wet and having to wear wet underwear)
- GoPro (I hate shooting with a GoPro. I really really hate it. I’m almost never satisfied with the image I get and it’s like 8x more work than an SLR, but even on trips when I leave my SLR, I pack the GoPro—just in case)
2. What is your best remedy for jet lag?
I don’t know. I don’t really think about jet lag. I just kinda fall asleep in places and then realize I was tired….dumb.
Another side of this whole thing though is the fact that most of the time when I’m going somewhere where jet lag can be a problem (and I can’t just sleep it off) it’s for work and one of the biggest maxims I live by is “You have to be less tired than everyone around you.” What I take that to mean is that to work in the fields I’ve chosen I have to work harder and literally push my body further than others are willing. I may not be the best or most suited for what I’m doing, but I’ll do it no matter what.
Wow, that got off topic fast. Sorry, umm…yeah, I don’t really think about jet lag.
3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?
Panic, which usually comes in the form of shooting random B-Roll. When I’m shooting a series, music video, short, anything like that—I do tons of pre-production. I love pre-production. For a lot of low budget travel videos though, there is only so much pre-production I can do and even with that, the story or idea or concept can change. I’m always terrified (because it happens) that I’ll miss some piece of something that will fill out the whole video.
Ok, I can see how I’m going to go with this, so why don’t I do this. I’ll answer the question really simply at first. Like saying, “I start shooting B-Roll”. Then if I’m unable to stop talking, you can just not listen because you’ll already have the bite. I just want to explain things because that was something no one did for me when I started and I feel even now it can be really hard to get people to actually talk about their process or their work honestly and with depth.
4. What place has the best food? The worst food?
OK, so I’m not a foodie—Jade’s boss at Travel Mindset thinks I’m an idiot because I love Taco Bell. That all being said, Nashville, Tennessee has one of the most independent and eclectic food scenes I’ve ever visited. It’s awesome because in nearly every part of town, the independent restaurants outnumber the chains.
The worst food…I want to emphasize that this is not the whole island…there was good food to be had, but Maui was not that great more often than not. Beautiful, natural, so much fun…food equals blah (and while my comment is much larger in scope, to point out one restaurant in particular, Mama’s Fish House is sooooo overrated).
5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life?
Morocco. Going to my first third world country was awesome on so many ways. I feel like learning how difficult life can be for some and seeing the differences between the rich first world and the poor third world gets overused. I mean, yeah that was a big part, but not the only lesson. People don’t often talk about what it’s like to be somewhere and actually feel super rich (at least not in a positive way). I mean that was super cool.
6. What is your favorite travel quote?
The quote I think about most often is probably T.S. Eliot.
“You shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our journeying
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
Though in my head it sounds more like “then return where we began and see it again for the first time.”
7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?
I just got into this obscure band called Distant Cousins. They have kind of a version of the new folk scene that still is able to pull off epic. Anything that feels like driving with it would feel like a hero’s journey. “Are You Ready” by Distant Cousins. “Hero” by Family of the Year. Also, my music makes me want to travel: Chattavon Bratts.
8. What is your craziest true travel story?
OK, everybody, you really have to hear me tell you the story to get the whole impact. But the synopsis is that me and some friends fell in love with Prague and especially its iconic bridge. I asked a stranger to kiss me and her whole family got really really upset, like causing a scene angry. You really have to hear me say it.
9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?
This is probably the hardest question because it’s essentially asking “Why do you think what you do is worth doing?” which is a dangerous hole to go digging around.
For me, all of this started as a way for me to show my family, specifically my Grandmother, the places I was going. I wanted to let viewers feel the place. I did a lot of close-up shots of textures and colors, but I wasn’t adept enough yet to see the vision clearly through the edit.
Umm….I think the answer is that a successful travel video—a video that I will watch and be engaged by—doesn’t try and show you the entirety of a location. It takes on the creator’s view and shows a location through their colors and their passions. (The creator is the person with the final control of the finished product.)
I think getting bogged down in the concept of “Well, why is that worth watching or making?” is dangerous because that question begs for a hard answer. It’s worth it because it’s the core of what makes people human. Like all storytelling, putting these pieces together offers the viewer a possibility of a different magical place where they can do things that are uncommon to them and succeed.
Let me say that another way. When someone shows an audience their worldview and how he/she interacts with the world, the audience is offered the chance to see the world in that way possibly for the first time. The knowledge they gather from the person sharing then gives them the tools to take on this new world they have been opened to (i.e., watch Anthony Bourdain and you can go eat good food and know that it is good food. Watch Steve Irwin and you can go interact with animals properly).
I don’t think travel videos are best used to simply point out places to see or things to do. Text is fine for that. A video shows how to see or do the thing in a new way. If you can’t tell, I struggle with this question a lot.
10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos?
Real quick, I don’t like the term video. I mean I use it and it’s not a pretentious thing (at least I don’t think) and I don’t like the term film a lot better, but saying film I think makes travel videos seem less of a new thing that’s hanging out on the fringes of society. I think travel videos are a part of the storytelling that the movies have been doing for over a hundred years. But like I said, I don’t really like film either (it sounds pretentious). I guess I haven’t been satisfied with a term yet.
Anyway, the goal/philosophy of my projects is to find some deep more profound connection to the places I go. I aim to share the experiences I have with others, but not in a raw way—in an edited way that, while it can make us of raw moments, gives the audience a through line.
I haven’t made videos of walking and talking in a while because I think that begs too much of the audience (if I had an audience that loved everything about me I would act differently).
Wow, this is a lot of words. Let’s get real and simple. I only want to make things that really impress and inspire me, and while I don’t make these videos often, I want to move my work to more storytelling as a way of illuminating a place.
Oh, and I never want to make the same thing twice. I heard this interview with the sound FX guy from Raging Bull once. After every project he destroys his tapes so he won’t repeat the sounds. I don’t want to forget what I learned and what I failed to succeed at. I want to take that and move forward.
11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?
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.
12. What is your best travel tip?
Always bring more underwear than days you plan to travel. Buy a good power adapter. Have a home.
Watch travel videos by Bobby Christian here.