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December 01, 2008

PACK YOUR BAGS! tripfilms.com

Over a month ago, right before I started the crazyness with subHysteria, I met with Jamay Liu and Tony Cheng from Tripfilms.

The meeting took place in their unique office located in the east village: "Gramstand Cafe", a cute little place with full WiFi internet connection.  It allows the six people team from Tripfilms to use their place as headquarters.

Tripfilms is... I’ve to stop here, only to preface that something so avant-garde that does not have real competition is difficult yet easy to explain.  Trip Films is the ultimate video reference for the out of ordinary tourist.  For that person that is not only interested in the mainstream landmarks, but is also eager to extend their experience to those hidden and underrated places that are out of the flyers’ kiosk in every city hotel. They start every video with a "Travel Quote", no wonder their tagline is Travel Inspired, it couldn’t be better. I am one of those travelers that really enjoys to live my adventure as a local, and right now, I’ve to say, thanks to Tripfilms, it is really simple. The best thing is that you can find all the mainstream attractions and landmarks without leaving the site, also.

At this point you’re maybe asking yourself “Ok, nice. What this has to do with guerrilla filmmaking? Let me show you an excerpt of how they get their videos!

Film your trip and you can travel on us!

Going on a trip soon? We’re looking for real travelers like you to capture your trips on video.

Make short (1-3 minute) travel diary videos about what you did, where you ate, and where you stayed during your trip, and we’ll help you pay for your travel expenses!

You don’t have to be a professional filmmaker or be going anywhere exotic. If you can have fun on-camera and edit a simple video, you'll be able to make interesting and informative travel diary videos. Just follow the quick tips from our pro filmmakers.

If you’re interested, please apply here. We look forward to hearing your trip ideas!

Now you see it, right? Remember that film you wanted to do in Iceland but you didn’t have the money to travel  there? Well, if you prove to the guys at Tripfilms that you’re talented, creating very interesting and unique travel videos, you might end up doing your location scout in Iceland while your uploading videos for them, and the experience could turn out profitable for you!

Behind Tripfilms is a small crew of very talented people: led by Tony Cheng; Alyssa Cheng, Jamay Liu, Jerome Simmonds, Leslie Tu and Kelly Ferro.

They started really small, testing the idea in NYC, explains Tony: "We start making videos before we had a website, the first thing was to create an interesting travel video of 2 or 3 minutes, with no budget, kinda guerrilla style, one guy, no crew, no lighting just one guy with his instincts about what to say what to do and what to shoot. We started doing that in New York City with some filmmakers friends and we put together 30 samples. We started showing it to people, they really enjoyed it, we did videos about this particularly cute bakery, or this farmer's market, this amazing dumpling restaurant, about coffee shops around the city..."

Right now they have a beautiful website with a solid interface and thousands of videos from all continents and hundreds of cities, from Antartica to Burkina Faso, everything is there.

The network of filmmakers of Tripfilms is growing really fast, right now there are about 400 people.

They know they are exploring and learning as they go, they don't have an absolute strategy about how to conduct the business, but so far, so good, they only started with the website last summer, so there's a lot of stuff to come.

They don't feel they have competition, and contrary of what anyone can think, this fact do not make them happy: "We don't like to be the only guys doing this" -explain Cheng-. I agree with him, a healthy competition could be interesting and necessary, the sole idea to have to confront a new challenge everyday, makes companies grow. Ask Coca Cola and Pepsi.

When I asked about the future of the company, he said between laughs, "well, we need a real office". I'm sure sooner than later this would happen. He also said that the future is to work in the content of the site, make it unique and use all the technology possible to have the best quality. For me this could be a really interesting mix between The Food Channel, National Geographic and Discovery Channel, with the only difference being that it is made by real travelers, some sort of Current TV for Travellers and on the web.

I had to ask this: What about using fiction filmmaking to portray a city or a place? They are totally open to any ideas, in fact, because the core of Tripfilms is the filmmakers, creative minds eager to innovate, they are in talks with some of them to do crazy ideas like making a video of one particular moment in all the different places of the world at the same time. "We loved ideas like that" -Tony concludes.

Ok I got it, where do I sign?

The best way to start is just shooting a travel video, if they like it, then you can apply to the TripVlogger Program. A TripVlogger receive: a $500 stipend for travel expenses, free accommodations, $25 for each (45 seconds - 2 minute) video uploaded and the chance to become a Tripfilms Pro Filmmaker which is the program that allows you to get more lucrative assignments.


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Thanks so much for the nice write-up, Leonard! Unfortunately, Gramstand is closing in a week =(, so we'll have to find a new "office".

In any case, we'd love to get any guerrilla filmmakers reading this blog involved with Tripfilms - there are tons of ways to participate! Just shoot us an email at info@tripfilms.com.

=) Jamay

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