Travel Adventure Documentary Magazine
Travel Adventure Documentary magazine
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Travel Filmmakers Must Change to Survive

Frank Klicar Posted by Frank Klicar in Blogs August 5th, 2011

(Editor:  Frank Klicar, a travel writer and a retired filmmaker, is writing this in response to an earlier blog written by TAC Publisher and agent, Ralph Franklin, on where travel adventure filmmaking is heading. He shows how the  travel journalists field is changing.)

By Frank Klicar

I would like to share the following with you. It shows what other travel journalists are doing to keep in business. Here is the first report:

Active Gail Mooney has recently screened “sneak previews” of her feature documentary Opening Our Eyes, a film about people making a positive difference in the world. The film is the culmination of a round-the-world trip that Gail and her daughter, Erin Kelly, completed last summer, seeking and filming change-makers on six continents. The first sneak preview took place on July 17 at the State Theater in Traverse City, Michigan, followed by another screening in Detroit at the UM Detroit Center. Link: www.openingoureyesmovie.com.

Several TRACS members have already gone on the “indy” circuit rather than giving the traditional travelogue presentation. This seems to be a trend among other travel journalists as well.

Now, here is the second report:

Photographer Len Kaufman has expanded into video. His two most recent videos -—one of Franklin County, Fla. and the other of Chattanooga, Tenn.—were both done on press trips organized by Associate Geiger and Associates. (Links to those two videos are below.)

He writes, “Many corporations and destinations, large and small, have found that YouTube is a very effective and economical way to get their message out.”

Another video, done on a press trip organized by Associate Gayle MacIntyre has, as of this date, received almost 77,000 views.  The link to Len’s YouTube channel is theOTHERHollywood.

These people are doing short promotional videos for local visitors’ bureaus. The income is probably not great, but it is certainly a nice supplement to their other income.

What many travel journalists have had to recognize is that their previous business model was no longer viable. They have had to make a paradigm shift in how they earn their livelihood. This is what travelogue makers have to do. All this talk about how high definition or 3D or some other technology is going be the magic bullet in bringing audiences flocking to the auditorium is nonsense. Travelogue makers have been using the same business model for decades with little change:

1920′s: Lowell Thomas uses silent B&W movies, with musical background (often a live orchestra) and narrates live from the stage.

1960′s: Travelogue producers use silent color movies, with recorded musical background and narrate live from the stage.

1990′s Travelogue producers use color movies with optical track containing musical background and narrate live from the stage.

2000s: Travelogue producers use video with synced soundtrack of music and effects and narrate live from the stage.

Other than changes in technology, we have been doing the same thing for nearly a century! The fact that we lasted so long attests to the quality of the business model. But times have changed, dramatically, when it comes to information distribution. Other than a few seniors who are looking for the social aspect of a travel show, no one under 60 is remotely interested in paying money to watch what is unfortunately, in many cases, a well produced home movie narrated by someone they don’t know. You want information on a particular country? Go to your iPod or Kindle. Want to watch a hour long travel program with high production values for FREE (or at least no more than your monthly cable bill)? Check out the Travel Channel, the History Channel, even the Food Channel.

The days of the travelogue are NOT over. However, the days of presenting a live travelogue in an auditorium for a paying audience are indeed ending. Forget trying to create new venues – it is not going to happen. Start concentrating on different ways of marketing your product, as reflected in the two reports I included above.

When I retired back in 2005, it was not because I didn’t enjoy making travel films – it was because I saw the business model was collapsing. So, I switched to the internet and did some stuff for Travel Video Postcards and Travel Weekly. My short video on Dubrovnik won the award from the British Travel Media Association as the best online travel video for April, 2009.

There is still money to be made, folks, but NOT in the way we have done it for the past 100 years.

Chattanooga: http://www.youtube.com/theotherhollywood#p/u/0/8HxUIkCAP1E

Franklin County: http://www.youtube.com/theotherhollywood#p/u/1/3VdtTLwPPu4

The Other HOLLYwood: http://www.youtube.com/theotherhollywood#p/u/13/RXD8BBCSTAM