Many times I’ve wondered why so many people like to sit and complain about something and then, when the option comes for them to get up and do something about it, they remain seated and seem to come up with a reason that they are disinterested in action. And this is after moaning and moaning about this thing or that stuff or “those people.” And it was just so important that it’s worth taking up all that time and energy to talk about.
This is probably where phrases like “bark is bigger than bite,” and “walk the walk, or talk the talk” came from. And it stands to reason that those doing the most talking, or barking as it were, do the least walking… or biting.
Well, I’m proud to say that I’m a biter.
Hey, before you put your head in the gutter, you know what I mean. I’m talking about putting action behind my lust for adventure and for producing a world of media for us all to share.
When I was growing up, I always threatened to do things. Normally they amounted to the more annoying things related to being a stubborn and unruly child. But as my mother somberly recalls, I’d always actually do them. So she grew to know my claims as solemn promises rather than empty threats. And there have been only a few, very purposeful times in my life where this has not been the trend.
I can’t recall if it was for the satisfaction, or if it was my plan all along. But I like to think that I have always been a man of action because this is just something we should all embrace: doing what we say we will do.
Having said that, I have always talked about the traveling and the writing and the photography that I’d someday publish. And I always knew that I’d be doing it, too. But until I started traveling, all I could do was fantasize. Of course, my family traveled a lot when I was younger. And I got to see a lot of the states. But when I’d write in my journal or take my video camera and make little mini-movies with my brother, they would always be firmly grounded in our current location.
And so I’d wait. Wait until the time of my life when I could finally break free from the shackles of normality and trade the mundane for the magical.
And I have realized with growing profundity over the course of the last nine years that I have finally made good on my youthful promises. I’ve finally been able to climb over this giant challenge that I made to myself (and indeed to the world I’d consigned myself to explore) when I was younger. And I have gone out into the world, produced a heap of photos, published several books and made a library of movies — all while traveling and seeing the grand planet that I knew was out there when I was a kid.
Why this whimsical trip down memory lane in an otherwise travel-focused blog? Well, apart from releasing the blogs in January, I have been focusing on my latest film. And along with taking up much of the time that I’d normally be blogging, it’s taken a lot of effort, too.
So much effort, in fact, that I have not gotten much sleep since the turn of the new year. And the process for this film started even farther back than that.
In the last year, I spent nine months gathering footage for my feature length film in Taiwan. In doing so, I covered more than 5,000 miles on trains, cars, motorbikes, planes and boats — not to mention 20-or-so miles of hiking — while gathering 70-plus hours of footage, on which I spent the last two-and-a-half months and hundreds of hours cutting, composing, recutting and editing so that I could release it by the due date of February 28 (the official anniversary of the last day of filming).
And in that time, I’ve sifted through 114 Gigabytes worth of data spread out across 2,866 files from 68 folders of completely original media; and composed and added 15 musical themes and 215 soundtracks; all to produce one full length, two-hour film and more than four hours of extras and outtakes.
And this is in addition to editing dozens of photos, revamping two websites, editing 50-plus pages of my latest book, keeping up with this blog and shooting two weeks worth of footage for future media productions here in Malaysia.
In my personal life, last but not least, I was dealing with a lengthy personal challenge, moving halfway around the world and getting a job working as a college professor in a new place with very limited accommodations and still being expected to be at work on time and perform as I would under much less demanding circumstances.
Whew! Now THAT’S busy!
In any case, I’ve finished the film as of 9:30 last night. And I am now awaiting the first render to finalize, which takes about 16 hours on my computer. I will watch it for the first time in its completed form tonight and check for errors, transitional problems, good flow and all the other things that a good director should be watching for.
And when I am satisfied that it is worthy of the global audience, I’ll be releasing one more of my childhood dreams to the world.
I am very excited about this latest release. It will be twice as long as my longest documentary to date. And while that’s not necessarily a good thing in today’s fast paced, watch-on-the-go, five-minute YouTube videos, at the very least it will hold the potential to bring me into the realm of serious travelers and respected documentary filmmakers. And that’s the exciting part — among all the other very fulfilling parts that come along with the finality of a year-long project.
This latest film was captured more like a journal than either of my two preceding films. It wound up being 1:58 (1hr & 58m) and I was the only camera operator for most of the footage. So many of the shots are handheld, pointed at myself and I even had to coordinate shot sequences so that I could later edit with that sequence in mind. So not only did this project require a lot of forethought and planning, but it was also the result of a lot of introspection and taking lessons from what I learned in my journals and my previous filming expeditions. I wanted that “gonzo journalist” style in this latest one. And I think that my planning helped me achieve that.
And while I did keep journals from all of the places and experiences in this film, I never released them here on my blog. So this latest doc also has a sense of nostalgia in that I am able to blog through one of my videos. Trust me; it has the personal touch that comes through in this blog. So I am happy to finally see it come to life.
As always, the film will be available for free as a 720/30p YouTube video. But if you’d like to purchase a Full High Definition 1080p copy, it will come with all of the extra short films that were created, many outtakes that were not used in the feature, lots of HDR photos and trip journals. And because you’re a subscriber of this blog or because you are subscribed to my YouTube channel or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll also get all the production photos, planning and script notes, a PDF of a signed script (originals available) and photos from the road that will never appear online. It’s all ready for immediate download; all for $8.99!
Please visit the Travel Geek: Documentary Taiwan film page for more details and to view extras from the trip. And when the film becomes available, I will update the blog and post the final details.
Thanks to those of you who have commented, shared, sent feedback throughout the filming and subscribed to my YouTube channel. I hope you continue to share, comment and enjoy these as much as I enjoy making them. I like knowing that I have created something for people to share and that makes the world a little bit better during the time that I happened to have visited.