How to Make an Amazing Bike-Travel Film Your Friends Will Actually Want to Watch

May 23, 2018 - Karin Turer is the director of the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival.

bike travel film making, schusler

As the director of the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival, I see more bike-travel video than just about anyone, and with GoPro and other helmet cams making it easy to shoot on the go, our festival receives more and more submissions each year. But the news is not all good, and more is not always better. 

Here are five tips for making a festival-worthy, bike-travel film, helping you avoid creating something reminiscent of the stereotypical, post-vacation slideshows of the 20th century.

The 90-second rule

If I don’t know some basic facts really quickly, your film is not going to hold my interest … unless you are Danny MacAskill. For bike travel films, in that first minute and a half I should know who you are, where you are, and why you are there. It sounds crazy but I’ve gone back to our favorite films over the years, and it’s uncanny how the best films never hit 90 seconds without this information.

Keep it short

We occasionally have a winning film clock in over 30 minutes, but the vast majority of our films are under 10 minutes ... even the ones from the pro filmmakers! 

It’s not a music video — again, if you are Danny MacAskill, go on bouncing your wheel on improbable obstacles. But if you are a mere mortal, I want to hear your voice — hearing you speak about your adventure in your own words is really powerful. That said …

It’s not a blog either

On the other hand, I get plenty of entries where people go too far with the talking. We don’t need to hear nightly feedback on “today was a really hard day” — this is the video equivalent of posting about your daily lunch choices on Facebook.

Just do it! 

It’s easy to decide that filmmaking is for other people, or for people with fancy equipment. I get a great entry every year from a German guy wandering the world on his bike, and I know his equipment is minimal and he does his editing work in a tent or at Internet cafes.

And one more thing

If I just took the first entries I received, I could easily put on the MEN’S Bike Travel Film Festival, or even the Witty & Quirky Thirtysomething British Men’s Bike Travel Film Festival. But I like to see a wider range of adventures, and so does my audience, so I work hard to represent women’s voices, older people’s voices, immigrant voices, the disabled community’s voices, children’s voices, and international voices. So help me out, make the world a better place, and share your story!

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The 9th Annual Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival will visit theaters in Arlington, Salem, and Northampton, Massachussets, and Danbury, Connecticut. Shows are between May 30 and June 8 and will raise funds for Adventure Cycling Association and other local charities. The Arlington festival also features a Cookie Showcase — a full dessert buffet with treats from a dozen local bakeries! 

To find out more and buy tickets, please visit www.ciclismoclassico.com/filmfest.

Photo by Joey Schusler, courtesy of the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival

Comments

Erik Douds

Thank you for taking the extra time to include many communities. I have ALWAYS aspired to make a short film and want this to be the year. Sometimes I am afraid to focus my story on life with type 1 diabetes. Yet, many could resinate hearing about the challenges obstacles we overcome to simply get out and ride.

Keep an eye open for a submission.

May 25, 2018, 2:22 PM
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Karin Turer

Hi Erik! Thanks for your kind words. Your story is exactly the sort I'd love to hear! We actually did get a submission a few years ago about someone doing a long-distance ride with Type 1 Diabetes. We didn't end up using it because it was too long for our festival, but I will look forward to your submission. Thanks again for your comment and happy riding!

May 29, 2018, 11:22 AM
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