Six Things to do when traveling around the Caribbean to film. March 22, 2017
Last February, we had a video assignment in the neighbouring (and beautiful) St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Based in Barbados we consider ourselves a regional company, and always get excited about overseas assignments. Exploring new territories, meeting people and expanding our brand. The task ahead seemed simple enough Arrive safely with equipment in tow, go to the briefing, and then go around the island to four different sites capturing footage and interviews from stakeholders. It was an amazing experience that reiterated the importance of these six simple things which could make life much easier when travelling to film in the region.
As Caribbean videographers, sharing more of our experiences is a way to prepare colleagues for unfamiliar territories; and in the hopes of starting a trend of knowledge sharing, here are Six Things to do when traveling around the Caribbean to film.
- Prepare ahead of time:
This cannot be overstated… Preparation is key. In our case, we had just returned from a two-week trip and had to be in another country ready to be briefed and get to work by 10:05 the following morning.
We know that preparation time is sometimes limited; which is why it is always a good idea to have a set travel kit checklist ready. This list should contain the necessary equipment for the average video project (Cameras, tripods, lights, microphones, etc).
If you don’t have a list, try to begin packing at least two days prior to travelling and double check your bags the night before leaving. Remember your passport, and have your boarding pass to hand (having a mobile boarding pass on your phone is efficient). Also ensure your phone is fully charged, and data roaming and voicemail are turned off to avoid any surprise charges when you return home.
Remember, we are only human and things can be missed, so the earlier you prepare for travel, the better.
- Add an extra day to your trip if the budget allows:
We were in St Vincent for just two days — one of which was an entire day of filming — and we were scheduled to leave the following morning. This was a bad idea because it is hard to get everything done in a new country in one day.
Always give yourself an extra day of wriggle room. Remember things can go wrong, and having an extra day gives you time to get additional footage or reshoot any footage that you may not have gotten right the first time.
Even though we arrived a day before the actual filming, an extra day after would have given us time to shoot more cutaways, network, or even sightsee a bit. Something as simple as a shot of the airport with the country’s flag blowing in the wind could come in handy in the future.
We suggest you make the most of the opportunity, because that shot you may need a year or two from now doesn’t have to be a plane ride away.
- Travel Insurance…. Always get it:
Always get travel insurance. Do not compromise on it, or you could have great regret. Travel insurance protects you in the event of theft, delays and lost of luggage and even medical emergencies.To add another layer of safety, go through an insurance broker.
Contrary to popular belief, insurance brokers don’t charge you any extra money and when things go wrong, you can call them and they will try their best to resolve the matter. This works for us every time!
- Know your airline; it could avoid costly surprises:
Traveling on Liat, it is best to put all equipment in one bag and pay the overweight fee as it is cheaper than getting an extra bag. On all other airlines we’ve travelled on, you pay more for overweight luggage and less for an extra bag. Weird, we know; but it is useful to know. Don’t even rely on our word; for each flight (even if you’ve travelled on the airline before) check their baggage policy to see what will work for your situation.
- Declare your equipment to Customs before leaving:
If you want to avoid being charged duties on the equipment you are travelling with, you may want to declare it to customs at your home port.
Make a list of each piece of equipment you are taking with you and the serial numbers. This list must be stamped by customs before you leave and then presented when you return.
The Customs Officials are often understanding and lenient, however, on our last trip we sensed they are becoming less tolerant with people not respecting the process.
So, even though it is very tedious, make your list and check it twice. It could save you a lot of headache and unnecessary expenses.
- Always try to network:
Meeting new people and making connections is a sure way to generate more business. While in St Vincent, we were fortunate to connect with one of the island’s leading video producers. This link was made as a result of starting a conversation with a complete stranger, who then suggested an introduction to a producer since we work in the same field. This has led to a new connection and possible leads on business in St Vincent which we are now exploring. We are eager to see where this new relationship takes us.
We hope you will put these six tips into practice next time you travel for work and will share your experiences as well. Let’s continue to learn from each other!1