Frequently Asked Questions

How is Documentary Trips different from other filmmaking workshops?

There are very few destination video workshops like ours on offer. Most workshops on the market are affiliated with universities, colleges or film schools, requiring commitments of 1-4 years. Our workshops generally run for 5-10 days and cost much less than the other options. We're like the original travelling film school, but instead of buildings and books, we have the planet and some awesome cameras! Although there’s less of a time commitment, we would argue that, given the immersive and streamlined nature of our approach, our students emerge just as well equipped for documentary fieldwork. Hands-on learning begins the moment you step into a Documentary Trips workshop. Many comparable workshops are also generally geared toward still photography, which has it’s parallels, but is a completely different art form. We offer a framework that’s tailored to motion pictures using cutting edge tools and approaches. And unlike many institutional workshops, we strive to customize the workshops to your skill level, needs and even personal interests. Lastly, by joining our workshop you become part of the Documentary Trips family, instantly giving you access to professionals with broadcast experience and your own network of invaluable contacts.

What is included in the workshop price?

The workshop fee includes all instruction, accommodations, meals (usually all inclusive, depending on the trip), local fees (such as taxis, entry to National Parks, etc.), as well as access to cameras, sound and post-production equipment. Transfers to and from the airport and day trips when filming in groups are normally included in the cost as well. Independent work may involve added travel costs depending on the needs of your particular project. Notably, the cost DOES NOT include air travel, medical insurance, alcohol, or extra costs incurred from independent projects. Perhaps most valuable of all, however, is the relationships and network you’ll build with both the Documentary Trips’ instructors and your fellow participants.

What type of camera & equipment do I need?

We will provide access to a range of broadcast cameras and sound equipment during instruction. Camera kits will be available for groups during field work, as required. However, we find that most students prefer to bring and use their own DSLRs, mirrorless, or camcorders, which is highly encouraged!
Much has changed in terms of camera technology in recent years, ever since films like Slumdog Millionaire and shows like House pioneered the use of DSLRs. Nowadays, cameras such as the Sony A7, Panasonic GH, or the Canon 5D lines are regularly used in documentaries, and even on Hollywood sets, alongside cameras that are vastly more expensive. After all, if Soderbergh can shoot a film on an iPhone, then so can we.

How much filmmaking skill is required to join a workshop?

None whatsoever. We customize our curriculum to the skill levels and interests of our participants. If needed, we start with the basics, and if you’re truly committed to the process, we fully expect to turn your skills from zero to hero within a few short days. If you’re a seasoned up-and-comer, on the other hand, we happily skip the basics and delve into advanced filming techniques in more challenging environments. We strive to ensure that our workshops are attended by participants with similar skill levels, but in the event of a mixed group, we offer specialized workshops, materials and access to instructors to ensure that all participants get the most out of their experience.

Do the workshop attendees work in groups, or can we work individually?

Your participation in seminars and group work is always optional. Most of our workshops offer the opportunity to actually film your own mini-documentary. As with professional crews, this usually involves teamwork, so most people will choose to join a group with fellow participants- just like how the pros do it. Plus, memories are better when shared! However, you may choose to work independently, or as a small group of your own choosing (eg. with your significant other, travel partner, family, etc.). It all depends on what you want to do. Just let us know beforehand and we will strive to make it happen to your expectations and on budget!

What is the age limit?

As a rule of thumb, the minimum age is typically 18 years old. Although, we will consider participants as young as 16 years old with written parental permission on an individual basis. There is no upper limit!

How many people take part in each workshop?

Our workshops typically consist of 5-10 participants and 3-4 instructors from our international team, including local experts (unless otherwise stated).

What are the accommodations like?

As documentary filmmakers, our routes are determined by the field opportunities and the story, not by the nature of the hotels. Usually accommodations are in the 3.5 - 4 star range at hotels, lodges or villas. There may be some exceptions depending on the particular needs of the trip, such as trips to remote locations where hotels don’t exist, or trips to higher-end locales (like Bali). Accomodations details will be specified in each trip itinerary.

Is local travel included?

Generally, yes. Most workshops offer group transfers between the airport and hotel. Also included is local transport for field excursions and group filming (generally 3 round-trip transfers per each 5-day workshop). If your project needs go beyond this, there may be added costs, but that’s entirely at your discretion.

What is the cancellation/ refund policy?

If we can find a replacement for your spot at full cost (and at no extra cost to us), we can provide a 100% refund. If we cannot find a replacement, you will lose your deposit, or potentially the full cost of the trip if within 30 days of departure.

Do I need to get immunizations before I travel?

We strongly recommend speaking with a travel doctor prior to departure. Specific health and travel information will be provided for each workshop.

Do we have down-time to relax and explore on our own?

Independent exploration is encouraged, and may even be a part of “finding your story.” There will be ample opportunity to relax and hit the pool, beach or town if that’s what you prefer to do. All workshop components, from the morning to evening programs, are entirely optional. You may choose to attend only those that apply to you, and skip the group work or field components entirely. Or you may prefer to attend every session that’s offered and stay up late editing your documentary with our help. Your schedule is entirely in your hands.

I’m an experienced photographer looking for an advanced course to get me into videography. Is there a workshop catered to me?

The answer is that virtually all of our workshops are perfectly suited to you! In fact many of our instructors began their careers much in the same boat, with a background in stills. You may find that your group consists of many people in the same situation. Or you may find that you have an advantage compared to other participants, in which case you may prefer to skip certain seminars and instead spend your time in a one-on-one with a director, or familiarizing yourself with our video and audio gear with a camera operator. In other words, we’ve got you covered.

I’m a senior citizen / person with limited mobility and have always wanted to do my own documentary project. Should I be worried about my limited mobility and/or energy?

Not at all! If you don’t feel up to a jungle adventure or a sunrise hike, we can coordinate a day trip that will suit your mobility and level of energy. Your workshop schedule can be entirely customized to your comfort level.

I would like to buy a camera in preparation for this workshop. Do you have any recommendations?

Purchasing a camera for this workshop is not necessary, but if you want to start making your own videos, it is, of course, ideal to have your own camera. Shooting in the field is fraught with uncertainty and there is always some risk. The best advice we can offer when buying a camera for documentary work, is buy the best camera that you can afford to lose. Whether that’s a Panasonic GH5, a Canon C200, or a RED camera. Feel free to contact us with questions or if you want more specific advice on equipment!

What is the difference between a Trip and a Workshop?

We have something for everyone! Generally speaking we offer various types of experiences, from adventure trips (like wildlife and scuba dive trips), but we also offer Workshops. The Workshops offer a unique opportunity to learn documentary from active pros, as well as getting your hands on top broadcast gear. These workshops usually have 3-4 instructors who are hands-on with guests. Other trips, like wildlife and dive trips, tend to be more casual and are geared towards the general public who - while they may love watching documentaries - don't necessarily want to learn the ins and outs. Rarely, we also have "Join the Crew" experiences where guests are invited to join an actual shoot for a broadcast or online project. Watch for these announcements on our Facebook and Instagram as they tend to pop up at the last minute with very limited spots.

Why are some trips more expensive than others?

Good question! You may notice that we offer a variety of experiences. Our regular adventure trips (like wildlife and scuba diving trips) tend to be more affordable and are open to all. These are led by 1-2 guides, and although you will have ample opportunity to learn from your hosts, the setting is a relaxed one. We also offer Documentary Workshops. These tend to be more intensive, involving 3-4 instructors, and include access to broadcast video gear. This increases costs.