12 Tips for Filmmakers on a travelOne of the biggest perks of being a filmmaker - for me - is that you can actually travel and work! While most jobs require you to sit in the same old office – A Filmmaker is regularly on a different set, has shootings in all kinds of places and gets to see lots of different city's, country's and all sorts of locations.
But not only is our job diversified - we can actually go on a trip and not only enjoy the unknown, but get amazing shots, while we are at it!
Here are some - hopefully helpful - pointers for Your next travel!
1. If You are leaving your country first and foremost remember to bring adapters! Nothing is worse than being on low battery and realizing that you forgot your adapter and shops are already closed. Additionally remember to bring enough extra hard drives and memory cards along. The sunset is always most magically when you ran out of storage or battery!
2. While I am at it. Depending on how extensive your production is, it is very important to pack all your expensive equipment, like the camera-body and the sensitive lenses and camera optics as your hand luggage. ( The personal working at the airport have no idea what they are throwing around – So better be safe than sorry.) If you travel with a lot of equipment I would recommended to notify the custom if it is dutiable. This will save you time and nerves at the airport! If you travel with large gear like a slider or a tall tripod this may go under extra cary-on luggage, which will lead to extra costs. Personally, I prefer to travel with a hard-case suitcase and lots of stuffing. Additionally I keep my private luggage and the equipment in different suitcases. This will prevent you from having to sort through your underwear to find a piece of equipment.
3. Make your homework before the trip and check the climate of your destination to pack and dress accordingly. Check if you need to take precautions against special diseases. In case you need a vaccination should give you enough time to schedule appointments with your doctor before your trip. It will be easier to focus on your filming when you are not freezing to death or catching malaria.
4. When traveling abroad make sure to act polite and respectful towards the locals. Knowing some essential vocabulary like “thank you” and “good day” can truly work wonders, when you need help or want something. Depending on your destination you should also do some research on the crime rate. I try to store unneeded gear in the hotel safe and not the backseat of my car. Until now, this helped me to prevent undesired surprises concerning my precious equipment.
5. Keep your equipment in top condition. You do not want to take amazing shots only to realize later on, that you have a smutch on your lens. Once, a single eyelash ruined hours that I spend shooting a time lapse. I learned my lesson the hard way, learn from my fail – clean and check your equipment before you start shooting. Pack a small cleaning and repair kit where ever you go.
6. If you travel with a crew, try to find people you like to hang out with and have good work ethics. You will be forced to spend many hours in close spaces and have lots of interactions while traveling.
7. Murphy's law is real! No matter how properly you plan your trip/filming, something always tends to go awry. There is nothing you can do to prevent this. But you can plan for back up strategies should an undesired event strike you.
8. Make the trip count and go the extra mile. You came all the way to film here, therefore you should find ways to make the best out of it. Find shots nobody has done before. Climb that mountain, catch the sunrise or wait for the fireflies. Ask locals for the best view and/or:
9. Take enough time to scout for locations.
10. Bring enough food and snacks. Nobody likes to work hungry. After hours of work in the wild a protein/granola bar can save lives, or at least the mood on set!
11. Enjoy the experience. Sure your workload needs to be done, don't get me wrong. But still you should find the time to take a moment to yourself and enjoy the location you are capturing with all your senses. Being in the moment might also help you to remember why you got there and reenergize for the rest of the shoot.
12. See the bigger picture. Connected to tip 11 You should never give up. As I said, some shots might go wrong, the weather is shit or half your crew gets eaten by mosquitos. Nevertheless stay positive and finish your project! Sometimes a closed door leads to another, perhaps even better solution. Do not get disheartened! A mosquito-bite itches for a week, your film and the experience you made while traveling remains forever!