Hal McClure Leads Travel Film Field Into Digital
REEL THREE–Travel Filmmaking
By Stan Walsh
AuthorHouse 421 Pages
“As the ship slowly sinks in the west” was our unanimous groan when an MGM Fitzpatrick Traveltalk filled the screen at the kid’s Saturday Matinee. They were boring.
Not so the modern feature-length travel adventure programs with live narration.
Hal had met John Strong, a prominent travel filmmaker, in Istanbul when John was making a film about Turkey. He patiently answered Hal’s questions about the business. Now, in New Jersey, Hal attended armchair adventure film shows and met the producer-narrators. He became a fan.
Still yearning to travel and to tell stories Hal resolved to join their ranks. Here begins the saga of a one-man movie crew shooting, editing, script writing, polishing a narration and finally going on the road doing one-night stands in auditoriums across America and Canada. A booking agent fills the dates.
Trail-blazing e-book has
several short videos.
Hal gives a brief history of Travelogues, and Burton Holmes, the man who coined the word, and tells us that since 1897 the typical scenario has included landscapes, crafts, animals and colorful sunsets. And audiences loved them.
But Hal with a literary background sensed that something else was needed.
Why not produce a travel documentary with a theme - a storyline linked to the region in which we are traveling? Being new to the field and to become known on the circuit he followed the formula: flowers, food and folk dancing. Once established he broke the mold and premiered his brand of travel film storytelling.
An early subject was Dracula — Travels in Transylvania. Another was Story Book England, Magic of Malaysia, Morocco, and my favorite, Echo of Hoofbeats, the story of present-day horsemen and ladies following the historic Pony Express route: St. Joe, Missouri to Sacramento, California. It was and still is a hard ride. Hal filmed it all and we ride along without suffering saddle sores.
Hal pioneered the digital filmmaking in the travel film world — shooting with digital camcorders and projecting the resulting “film” via a digital projector. Hal’s book covers familiar ground. Perhaps for some it’s a Walter Mitty fantasy, but for others we’ll recognize similar situations and think to ourselves, “Been there, done that.” Hal’s story comes alive.
Among the 414 pages in his book there are lots of photos showing filmmakers and those who sponsor their series. In fact, Hal devotes a lot of space to his filming career, even devoting the book “in memory of all the past and present travel filmmakers, and especially my late beloved adventurer, Dottie Millar McClure.”
War correspondents during World War One often named soldiers in their stories from the trenches. Mentioned in Dispatches became a grass-roots sincere accolade more meaningful than medals. Hal uses this technique to recognize and thank folks who, along the way, helped him hone his skills in journalism and later in his second niche career in the performing arts. Audiences and colleagues also express our appreciation.
Recently a senior editor at AP New York, Marcus Eliason, said, “When I asked Hal for a job in Tel Aviv he offered an entry-level office job. It was not my desire but he was so nice I thought it would be rude to refuse.” Marcus continued, “It was the best career decision of my life.”
We thank Hal for his decision to share with us his career of…Adventuring.
Hal's book, ADVENTURING may be ordered from AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. It is also available as an eBook, which — in a trail-blazing procedure — includes several short videos of his film subjects.