Senior Filmmaker Gavin Hopkins tells us of his experiences travelling abroad for film shoots.
Over the past 14 months I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled extensively with Enterprise Screen. I’ve clocked up ten different countries spread over three continents, some with multiple visits. It’s been fantastic to experience so many different cultures as well as to work on a such a wide variety of projects.
Several people have asked me how travelling with work differs from personal travel. Outside of the obvious “having to work” part there’s a massive difference on how you experience a country.
With work travel you’re usually filming with individuals or groups who are already based in the country. Whether it’s helping you to find some local cuisine, taking you into their homes and places of work or just talking to you about the local area it all makes a huge difference. It opens doors that you would never normally get to see behind and offers a chance to meet and interact with ordinary people from that country that you would otherwise be very unlikely to meet. I feel this leaves you with a slightly more balanced picture of what the country is really like as opposed to the (slightly) faux image that every country presents to the tourists who pass through it.
There are, of course, challenges to our particular type of work travel. We generally fly with between 3 and 6 cases in checked-in luggage and camera equipment in hand luggage. Sometimes finding luggage trolleys at airports is surprisingly challenging and I find myself awkwardly manoeuvring multiple cases out of taxis, into lifts and along endless concourses which can be can be quite frustrating. I’m sure I cut quite an amusing figure for other travellers as I struggle through the various airport assault courses in the vain search for the carefully hidden check-in desks of this trip’s particular airline.
When it comes to the shoots the work hours also tend to be much more full on than our usual filming at home. Part of the reason for this is the need to backup footage immediately after the shoot in the hotel room rather than letting an editor do it back at the office. Between this, reorganizing the kit, charging all the batteries for the next day and catching up on a few work emails it adds the best part of two hours onto any shoot day. I’ve established a system (see above) that seems to work well but after a week of long shoot days it can be a tiring thing to have to go through, especially when your hotel bed is only a few feet away.
All in all though, I find the positives of work travel far outweigh the negatives. As a filmmaker I find it particularly rewarding as new countries and environments always present so many opportunities of new things to film which I never cease to find inspiring. It’s such a privilege to be able see some of the world (and get to film it!) as part of my job and if I’m lucky enough to continue to travel with work you certainly won’t hear me complaining about it!