8 mins

The 10 commandments of adventure filmmaking

Curator of the Adventure Travel Film Festival Austin Vince lays down the dos and don'ts of making your first adventure travel film

Austin Vince with budding filmmaker

Anybody can film their adventure. The billions of hours of unwatchable Go-Pro footage on YouTube proves that. However, making an engaging film of your adventure is a TOTALLY different thing. It's not difficult but you cannot wing it.

Austin Vince, curator of the Adventure Travel Film Festival, gives some pointers on the biggest mistakes first time filmmakers make. And how to avoid them.


1. Keep the camera still

And that includes mucking about with the zoom facility. This single fact gets you 50% closer to being like a pro.

2. Have a story

However simple. And include yourself in it. Congratulations, you're another 10% closer.

3. Shoot sequences

Sequences are the meat of your finished show. When you come across an interesting place, person, experience etc, shoot a proper sequence, ie 20 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. This moves you 22% closer to pro.

4. Intersperse your sequences with transitional shots

Drive-bys, maps, roadsigns, day counters and local colour all make great transitional shots. Cover this with commentary and music to suit your taste. This augments your pro status by another 7%.

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. Collect 12% pro credits.

Congratulations dear Wanderlust reader, you are at a Pro level of film-making. Go get 'em cowboy!


1. Move the camera around

And, again, that includes mucking around with the zoom. Leave it alone!

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, do be encouraged, like motorcycling around the world, anyone can do, you just have to try...

The Adventure Travel Film Festival will be held 16-18 Aug 2013, in Sherborne, Dorset. For more information – and tickets – visit the official website, www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com

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