Miss travelling? Yearning to meet new people and explore new destinations and cultures? You need to watch my travel film, Visit Us. I asked 55 locals in 50 countries to share 50 reasons why we need to visit their home towns, post Covid-19. It’s the ultimate in wanderlust and here’s the story behind its creation.
A world without travel
It was mid-March, and London looked like a ghost town from my balcony. Businesses all over the world were shutting down. Offices had closed. Public transport was halted. And the scariest thing of all – an international travel ban had come into effect to stop people from spreading the coronavirus from one country to another.
As a full-time travel journalist, I was incredibly stressed. How does this impact me? Will I be cooped up inside for months on end without a job or an escape? How does a travel journalist travel without travelling?
Through my platform, The Poor Londoner, I’ve been driven by creative, inclusive content. With more and more people increasingly stressed about the virus, potentially losing jobs and a worldwide travel ban, I started racking my brain for ideas to help us come together – from across the globe. And so, the concept for Visit Us was born.
My goal was to have 50 contributors for the travel film, to ensure as much inclusivity as possible. I wanted to deliver diversity, unique cultures, beautiful accents and unheard-of travel spots. In order to bring this to my audience, I encouraged people everywhere to participate. On Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, friends, friends of friends, family and families of friends. And honestly, the response was astounding. Everyone was seeking a positive escape, a ray of hope amidst the gloom and doom.
Collaboration and determination
The requirements for my travel film were simple. All they had to do was email me a 5-10 second video clip giving ONE SPECIFIC reason why people around the globe should visit their hometowns. The idea was to help everyone compile future travel bucket lists, once normality returned. I received around 71 responses which were cut down to 55 in 50 locations.
There’s a line in the film: “how cool would it be if I could just disappear into a map and travel the world?” For the disappearing-into-the-map act, I used Adobe After Effects, however; that three second sequence took me 22 attempts to film! All I had to do was look closely into the world map, and pretend to disappear but it took over two hours to get it right.
Speaking of graphics, I was wearing a yellow jumper and carrying a backpack so I wanted graphic Queenie to also be dressed in yellow and carry a backpack. I wanted her to look as similar to me as possible, so I designed her from scratch on Adobe Character Animator. That was a lot of fun but took a long time…
Then came the toughest part – editing. I reduced 92 minutes’ worth of footage to nine minutes. I wanted to keep it short and snappy. I had to use a range of different software, including Adobe After Effects, Character Animator, Animate, Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Audition and Premium Pro. I would pick the film editing up for a maximum of two hours every day after work (in order for it to still be fun, instead of treating it as a deadline).
This is my first project and travel film involving so many people from all corners of the world. The response I’ve received from everyone has been overwhelmingly joyful. I think it’s also given confidence to those who wanted to participate but were camera shy. I received a lot of messages along those lines.
And last but not the least, Visit Us would not have been possible without everyone who participated. Their enthusiasm and faith in my work keeps me focused, and I’m so grateful for that. A lot of people have asked if I’ll do a part two and honestly, I can’t wait to! Hopefully, in better times, without a travel ban…