Around this time last year, my co-HQer and the great Geocaching Block Party organizer, Amy, said something like, “Hey Reid, so it turns out we have access to a very large screen for Block Party. What should we do with it?” After a thoughtful pause I said, “What if we hosted a film festival?” Amy did a giddy dance and the Geocaching International Film Festival (GIFF) was officially born. In true “If you build it they will come” fashion, the ambitious idea was a success. We received over 100 submissions from more than 20 countries! After spending three years of telling the stories of geocachers for Geocaching HQ, I was truly inspired to see how the community chose to tell their own. Our inaugural GIFF was such a hit that we decided to do it again this year.
It has now been four years that I’ve been running through forests, crouching into caves, and crawling through sewers to tell the stories of people who love to find and hide geocaches. I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes for good geocaching video, and with the help of the GIFF judges from HQ, I have compiled five tips to up your chances of being one of the finalists for this year’s Geocaching International Film Festival.
1. Less is More
Just because you can submit up to 4 minutes of video doesn’t necessarily mean you should. When I make videos I think, “What is the simplest way I can tell this story?” Then, I add from there if I can’t resist. This will help you focus on what is truly important and keep your audience engaged. Last year’s finalist, Godzilla Goes Geocaching, is a great example of a geocacher who used 1 minute and 32 seconds to tell his story.
2. Global Appeal
How are you going to communicate your love of the game to 9 million geocachers from more than 185 countries? Something that might be amazing for your local community may not speak to the global community. One of last year’s finalists, Geocaching Day, is a story told without dialogue that speaks to the adventurous spirit of geocachers everywhere.
3. Focus on Quality
We understand if geocaching comes before filmmaking on your hobby list—we’re not looking for Hollywood here. We are, however, looking for videos that will look and sound good on the big screen. If you can, use a tripod and an external mic. If you can’t, have your actors speak close to your on-camera mic and use a natural tripod like a tree or your friend’s shoulder. For inspiration, check out last year’s winner for Best Cinematography: Galaxy Cache. For more technical tips, I highly recommend checking out Vimeo’s Video School.
4. Follow the Rules
For real. We had to deny one of our favorite films last year because they didn’t have permission for the songs they used. If you’re serious about being considered as a finalist, I recommend grabbing a coffee, a snack, a highlighter and reading through the GIFF guidelines.
5. Have Fun!
If you’re not having fun making your film, your audience won’t have fun watching it. Though I know they didn’t get much sleep, I’m pretty sure the creators of My Geocaching Addiction had a pretty good time putting it together. Oh, and they just happened to take home the Audience Award.