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Most of us have been there: hiking up a mountain to a 360-degree view, or kicking back on a white sand beach fronted by sapphire-blue water. You think, “this is the most amazing place in the world.” At least I do. The second thing I think is, “where did I put my camera?”
Soon, images of the most incredible place on Earth are streaming onto my memory cards.
If I shoot and edit during that first week, I know the film is going to have a gorgeous honeymoon glow to it. But is that the story I really want to tell? As filmmakers, we dictate how a place looks, sounds, and feels to our audience. What kind of responsibility do we carry? When it comes to films about travel, there are no hard-and-fast standards for how we present a real-life place. Are we at liberty to portray it as a fantasy kingdom of perfection?
Every filmmaker brings his or her own feelings, preconceptions, and prejudices to the filmmaking process. If our intent, however, is to show a place as it really is (to the best of our ability), then we must fight through our affection for it to see what’s really there.
That said, is there anything inherently wrong with making a video that shows only one side of a place? Perhaps the hyperbolic title and over-dramatic music get a pass for this video, which the filmmaker, Marty Mellway, explains is a response to the negativity he consistently hears about a place he’s fallen in love with.
I have always wanted to show people how I see Bali. Most of the time I hear travelers talking about Bali and its all negative. Too many beaches, too many drunk tourists, and too many eat pray lovers looking for spiritual awakening. I want to show them that at the heart of this place there is something that drew people here a long time ago.
In the end, maybe it’s just a matter of making sure your love for a place doesn’t cloud your vision to the point your intention to tell the story is compromised.