Any fool can strap a GoPro to their crash helmet, but an hour of wobbly footage with bad sound does not make a documentary! The billions of hours of unbearable bike-mounted footage on YouTube proves that.
Making an engaging film of your adventure is a totally different thing. It’s not difficult, but you can’t wing it. Austin Vince, motorcycle adventure filmmaker and curator of the Adventure Travel Film Festival provides some pointers on how to film your next journey.
1. Keep the camera still. This includes pissing about with the zoom facility. This single fact gets you 50% to being like a pro.
2. People care about people, so try to have a story, however simple and include yourself in it.
3. When you get an interesting place, person, experience etc, shoot a proper sequence. Sequences are the meat of your finished show. This means say, twenty separate shots at a given location that tell the story visually. If the story isn’t interesting then put the camera away until you ARE somewhere memorable.
4. In the edit, back home, after the trip, intersperse your sequences with transitional shots that get you from one location to the next. Drive bys, maps, road signs, day counters and local colour all make great transitional shots. Cover this with music to suit your taste.
5. Keep production values high. Being an amateur doesn’t mean that focus, exposure and sound issues are beyond you. This is the ‘grammar’ of television and amazingly, every modern human subconsciously acknowledges it as a result of zillions of hours of watching TV. It’s what they are used to, you have to serve it up this way. The public are not capable of digesting your blurred, wobbly cam, wind-noise-drenched masterpiece.
You must not:
1. Move the camera around. I mean it, don’t!
2. Ever give a running commentary from behind the camera unless you are Ben Dover.
3. Confuse the fact that your trip was amazing with the idea that the film you are making will also be amazing. These two ideas are totally unconnected. Each needs its own discipline and efforts.
4. Confuse fancy camera HD gear with the solid principles outlined above. Notice how none of the principles are related to what camera you own.
5. Underestimate how much time and effort it takes to make even a 20 min watchable film. However, be encouraged, like motorcycling around the world, anyone can do it, you just have to try…
Congratulations dear ABR reader, you are at a pro level of film-making. Go get ’em cowboy!
Want more pointers? Austin will be holding a ‘how to film your adventure’ workshop and specialist film-making clinics at the Adventure Travel Film Festival taking place between 14 – 16 August.The festival will feature a whole host of motorcycle adventure films and more information (including complete programme and ticket details) can be found here.