Research Reflection: Laura Gardner on Travel Filmmaking

My name is Laura Gardner and I am a producer at Artswork Media. I am really interested in travel filmmaking so I decided to research into the industry and look into how new producers can produce their first short film abroad. Travel films are usually documentary style and highlight a certain country or region. Often adventure filmmaking is incorporated as it explores new experiences within a different or exciting place. I researched into this topic from a producer perspective and examined what is necessary when producing a short film abroad for the first time.

What inspired you to research into this field? - is there any experience you've had or any people in that role that have inspired you?

I have always been interested in travel & adventure filmmaking as it encourages people to do something extraordinary or go beyond their comfort zone, and of course it can document some of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world, but what inspired me to conduct this research was my own personal project. I recently went on a trip to Romania to create a short film for the Amicii Dog Rescue charity which was my first short film production abroad. I wanted to prepare myself before my trip by researching multiple areas and getting expert opinions.

Carrying out your research, what did you find out that surprised you the most?

To carry out my research I set myself a question and clear goals: “How to successfully produce your first short film abroad & kick-start you career in travel filmmaking.”

From this research I wanted to understand what key things were essential for a film production abroad and what to expect if you have never produced a short film abroad before.

I used a range of sources including blogs, online articles, workshops and interviews with experts. This helped me create a structure for my presentation and allowed me to include reliable information to support my study. From this I found copious amounts of useful and interesting information and I struggled to keep my research presentation short and sweet! There were just so many tips that I felt were important for a new producer to know when filming abroad. Here are a few tips that I found most useful to my own personal project;

  • Using hand warmers to keep batteries warm when filming in cold weather – This was an incredibly useful tip for me as I would be travelling to Romania which was at the time between -5 and 3 degrees.

  • Taking plenty of snacks – This one seems obvious but it’s so easy to forget to eat something when youre busy filming. Make sure you pack safe foods that you know you like, as you don’t want to get ill or get hungry!

  • Don’t let the camera remove you from your experience – Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! See your trip through your own eyes and not just the lens. This tip came up quite a few times!


What industry experts did you contact?

I managed to get in touch and conduct an interview with Jacqui Doughty, a producer at Walk Tall Media who have produced films in South Africa, China, Germany and the Netherlands. Jacqui has worked as a director and producer at the BBC and has also earned two BAFTA nominations, and won two RTS (Royal Television Society) awards, so her advice on my first short film production abroad was definitely valued!

I also discovered Robin Waldman, Creator of Robin Creative Media when I found his blog article; Tips for filming abroad on video production projects which was perfect for my research. Robin has great experience with travel filmmaking; he has worked directly alongside the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channel and other top broadcasters in Cambodia. Robin has also worked as a production manager for Hanuman Films in South East Asia and oversaw large scale shoots around the globe. After I had read some of his useful and interesting articles I decided to try and get in touch with him to see if he was interested in helping me. He kindly agreed to take part in an interview which was incredibly valuable for my study.

Through contacting these industry experts, what insight did you gain that you don't think you could of learnt through searching on the internet or reading journals etc.?

Both of the experts that I contacted gave me such valuable information which I definitely would not have found out by searching the internet and reading journals alone. They were able to give me honest and personal responses to my specific questions, which were all relevant and useful to my study. They gave me advice on things such as how to find a trustworthy fixer, what to do if things go wrong and how creating a short film abroad can help new producers get into the industry.

How has your research into this field influenced your plan of action and inspired you further to get into the industry? - Do you have anything lined up? 

After I conducted my research into the industry, I was inspired to start planning more productions abroad. After my trip went successfully, I was so thankful of the advice that I was given because it really did help me throughout filming. Although it is a hard industry to get into as it is such a popular aspect within film, it hasn’t put me off trying to produce my own short films abroad and it hasn’t stopped me from planning my next adventure. If I can create a career from travel and adventure filmmaking, then that will be a great bonus to one of my growing hobbies.