FILMMAKERS JUNGLES IN PARIS GIVE THEIR TOP FIVE INSIGHTS FOR CREATING A WORLD-CHANGING TRAVEL VIDEO
INTERVIEW BY OLIVIA SQUIRE
In our increasingly visual age, video is becoming one of the most powerful tools for travel brands to communicate their purpose and passion, presenting a challenge to cut through the clutter of bad brand ads and identikit promotional films with something that truly inspires. Whether it’s immersing viewers in the haunting waters of a jellyfish-strewn lake in Micronesia, following the everyday routine of a Thai sword-maker or uncovering the frosty lifestyle of elks in Wyoming, filmmaking duo Jungles In Paris are well-versed in the art of translating transformative travel experiences into emotive video. Previous MATTER speaker and co-founder Darrell Hartman tells us how to craft evocative films that resonate across the globe.
1. TELL YOUR UNIQUE STORY
‘Storytelling’ is a very trendy term these days. It’s important to emphasise that what we do, and what we advocate, is visual storytelling. Video is taking off like wildfire, and a lot of the people making or commissioning video — brands, media companies, journalists — are new to the form. What that sometimes means is they gravitate towards what we see as an old-fashioned, non-video approach to filmmaking and to messaging. Too much talking, too much explaining, not enough trust in the simple power of sound and image — the reason film is such a powerful medium in the first place!
Another issue is that too many of these films are generic. In the travel sphere this means you have short films and video travelogues set in countries all over the world, in a huge varieties of landscapes and cultures, and yet so many of them seem somehow interchangeable. In our experience that is not how people travel at all. They decide on a place, an experience, because they are drawn to that one in particular.
2. STAY TRUE TO YOUR PASSION
We find that people definitely connect with this kind of energy. At the same time it’s a pretty crowded field; pretty much every worthy cause and passion project, it seems, is being explained on film. On Kickstarter, it’s basically a requirement to make a pitch video. All the more reason to really take this process seriously, and frame the story in a way that makes the authenticity come across.
3. WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO GET IT
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of this one! One of the amazing things about Jungles is the opportunity we’ve had to work with filmmakers all over the world. The standard New York/London/LA production company has its stable of go-to talent; we have that too, here in New York, but we’re also in constant contact with people who’ve self-produced films in Borneo, Macedonia, Myanmar, rural Turkey. Adventurous types who love to travel, not just to get away, but also to engage with people and explore foreign places and cultures. They are not your run-of-the-mill directors and they are not ‘videographers’ (a word we really dislike). And all this shows in the quality of their work.
4. INVEST IN YOUR IDEA
Advances in filmmaking technology have been amazing — it’s one reason we are able to do what we do. On the flip side, as with still photography, so many people now can call themselves a filmmaker. Or, at least, a videographer. And they’ll make a film for you for cheap. Unfortunately, you tend to get what you pay for! There are some creative ways around this; but overall we say: invest properly in film, don’t cut corners, and then leverage the heck out of what you’ve paid for (this is especially important for companies and brands where the goal is to position their brand as high-end). The new distribution models mean that a ten-second clip can potentially generate as much interest as a four-minute film. But you won’t necessarily get that clip unless you are being serious and strategic about the filmmaking from the get-go.
If you pre-produce and produce correctly, you’ll end up with a lot of video assets — then begins the creative phase of figuring out what to do with them. Some of this phase you’ve planned out in advance, some of it you haven’t. But in general to maximise a video project is to see it in its three phases: pre-production, production and post-production (alternatively: writing, shooting, editing). It pays to treat things professionally. That said, the traditional production companies tend to execute projects without thinking too much about distribution. Sometimes they don’t have to; the client has that part covered. But it never hurts if the producer and director are thinking that way too.
5. INSPIRE YOUR AUDIENCE
You can try all the tricks in the book — you won’t find an audience, or at least grow your audience, unless what you’re asking them to watch is good. Different. Compelling in some way. Even if a video does get shared, and generates numbers you like, did it really resonate? And if it didn’t, can you really consider it successful?
It helps, of course, to be savvy about social media. We are not specialists in that field, really; other people are. Far more people claim to be, and will go through the motions to prove their case. But if you make something that entertains, moves, inspires a viewer to share without being urged to, much of that pickup, or at least the kind you want, will take care of itself. Often people get so caught up in the online world that they forget the power of screening something, whether in some public setting or just showing someone a clip on a tablet.
Partly because of the cost of video production, we’ve noticed that media outlets will pick up videos made by travel companies, especially smaller independent ones. But they are much less inclined to do this if the video feels like an ad.
Head to www.junglesinparis.com to be inspired by their full archive.