Visa #NotATourist - Trinidad
online spot | 60-90 seconds
MOFILM | Texas 2016 | Visa
I love travel. I know most people do, but for me travel is more than just a week away from home; more than some days at a resort. For me travel is a life-support system. Travelling improves my life leading up to the date of the departure, recharges my creative juices and provides ample visuals and memories to process and publish. Tourists go abroad to reenergize and relax; travellers spends their energy abroad and need some rest after they return home.
I'm tellin' ya, I'm serious about travelling and I don't just go to the same resort in the Dominican year after year. When I see other people travelling to places I've already been, that makes me want to go where few would even think of going.
Ever spent a day at a geothermal spring in Iceland? It's lovely - and you should go at some point, even for just a weekend!
- 31 days, 5 countries, 12 cities with nothing but a backpack and a companion? Done that.
- A month in Paris with weekend getaways around Europe? Done that.
- You like high-speed trains? A fan of the TGV? Me too, albeit The Shinkansen got to me first.
- 12 hour-driving days through the American Southwest? Done that.
- Scandinavia in the fall; Caribbean in the summer? That makes no weather sense, but I've done that.
- A train ride with the locals into the Moroccan desert without air conditioning? Done that.
And when everyone will finally discover Iceland for themselves, I hope to be island hopping from Chile to Australia. I'm tellin' ya, I'm serious about travel.
This #NotATourist campaign hits me very close to heart - I feel like I'm part of the target demo.
Visa's #NotATourist campaign is a perfect extension of its motto “Everywhere you want to be”. It is perfectly suited for travellers and people afflicted by wanderlust. And specifically travellers, not tourists. Tourists are people who wear socks with sandals, bring fanny packs stuffed with local cash to Paris, sleep in Best Westerns and eat McDonald’s everywhere they go. Travellers, meanwhile, collect experiences, not tacky souvenirs. Travellers are always looking for the next adventure, they hang out with the locals, they eat food they can’t even pronounce, and they don’t even always pack socks with them. All they need is a passport and a Visa to explore the world.
The idea of this film is to show 2 such travellers as they experience Trinidad.
In the past, #NotATourist campaign spots showcased unique stories taking place in Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. When it comes to island locations, there are even a few spots with people swimming and surfing. But even those can come off a bit touristy. Trinidad, unlike many islands in the Caribbean, isn’t an island for tourists. There aren’t any resorts on the island, nobody to ‘hold your hand’, and seldom amount of tour buses. You need to be a mighty traveller to explore Trinidad.
However, what Trinidad lacks in tourist-friendliness, it makes up with gorgeous vistas, unique biodiversity, amazing food and people. The concept of the film is to show 2 travellers exploring these unique aspects of Trinidad via 3 connected vignettes.
The first vignette is of a couple waking up in the morning at the Asa Wright Nature Centre’s inn. A remote location inside a tropical forest, it’s early morning and a very tranquil setting. Our heroes walk over to have breakfast on a veranda and while they are having their coffee, dozens of hummingbirds hover near and around them. Our couple takes in this unique experience - “how many people get their breakfast interrupted by hummingbirds?!”. We see our female lead share screen time with hummingbirds.
This can be edited down to a stand-alone 15-second spot, with a tagline along the lines of:
“I take my coffee with a view” #NotATourist
“Hum along to the tune of nature" #NotATourist
Then they get up, grab the keys to a rental car and head out through the winding, mountainous roads of Trinidad to their next destination. As we visually explore the beauty of the place through the eyes of our heroes, they pull over to a merchant stand that’s selling local snacks - nuts, fruits you can’t even name, and “chow” - pickled local fruits like mangoes, starfruit, pommecythere, etc. There’s a local man buying chow while our heroes try to decide what to get. They look joyous - like a kid on Christmas morning - but clearly lost in the variety of the unknown. They local man notices this, tries to explain what’s worth getting and ultimately lets them try some of what he had just purchased. This moment of sharing, kindness, and cultural exchange can be edited down to the second stand-alone 15-second spot. The tagline could be something like:
“Wherever I go, I eat with the locals” #NotATourist
"I try something brand new everyday" #NotATourist
After getting their snacks, our heroes proceed to get to the beach. They get out of their rental car and head to a beautiful spot on the beach, surrounded by palm trees. As they sit down to enjoy their chow, a soccer ball rolls up to them. They notice a small group of locals - of the same age as our heroes - playing 2-on-2 beach soccer. Our heroes look at each other and realize that the food can wait and they’re up for another adventure. They take the soccer ball and join the game. We see our heroes play the game briefly and score a goal, after which every person playing the game rejoices. Thislast vignette could be edited down to another 15-seconds spot, with a potential tagline of:
“It’s the people, not places, that make travel special” #NotATourist
25-35 year-old adventure seekers, who blend in with the locals and prefer unique and unexpected experiences over pre-ordained cookie-cutter postcard moments.
The best part for me is that I understand the target demographic, as I fit within the age range and traveller attitude of the audience for this spot. I’m 28 and I’ve been afflicted with wanderlust for the all of my 20s.
Throughout the entire film, the tone would joyful, sweet and personable. We want the audience to connect with the characters on some emotional level. At the beginning - part one - would be a bit more clam than the other two. Then parts two and three would be more playful and vibrant, especially the towards the very end.
We want to maintain a happy tone throughout - our travellers are enjoying their experiences and it needs to be conveyed to the audience. As the story progresses, they shift from being wondrous and become more adventurous. And the tone would shift with them.
Sound & Music
The music would dominate the sound scape and drive the story forward, while allowing for environmental sounds to come through. The leitmotif would be a light, uplifting and island-sounding-but-not-tracky track, not unlike the leitmotifs of existing #NotATourist spots.
Perhaps one of these compositions might work their way into the final edit:
Filmic, bright lighting and vivid, not dissimilar from the visual palette and hues used in previous #NotATourist spots. We aren't going for the highly stylized Sin City look - instead, a natural look that doesn't distract from the characters and the story, but one that is appealing and fitting to a tropical locale.
We’ve got three distinct environments - we want each one to have presence, but not to have drastic changes between them and create decoherence. Instead, we can adjust the lighting modifications gradually while maintaining similar colour grading for all three parts. Part one would be a little darker and most green - it’s in a tropical forest after all. Part two would be a bit brighter, but with more sunshine creating a warmer atmosphere. Part three would be look most sun-bathed, with yellow and blueish hues from the sandy beach and the water.
Take, for example, the On Mexico Time spot. The music is a bit to mellow and the pacing is too slow for what we’re going for, but it’s a great example of bright, filmic lighting that’s consistent from location to location.
Likewise, the Last Wave spot is too mellow and is too atmospheric, but makes good use of consistently bright and vivid palette and is cohesive despite its myriad of locations.
We want the camera movement to be fluid and steady. Nothing too jarring to distract us or take us away from the story being told. Unlike the previous #NotATourist spots, that are more static in their design, this film would be more dynamic in the camera movement and editing style. We aren’t going full Requiem for a Dream 2000 cuts per movie - just normally-paced, story-motivated cuts.
Consider this Get Covered spot. The colour and the voice-over doesn’t fit our style, but it’s a great example of good pacing in the editing.
The benefit of casting local Trinidadian people is that is allows for a great diversity in the cast and hence a global appeal for the spot. It feels derivative to only cast white and black talent in an ad taking place in the Caribbean. Trinidad has significant Arab, Indian, Black, and Chinese communities to allow for a diverse and unique cast. We also subvert the expectation of depicting most travellers as Caucasians.
Late 20s, any ethnicity.
An adventurous type, she's always up for a challenge. You get an energetic vibe from her - makes you think that after a 16-hour trans-Pacific flight home, she'd have the energy to go on a date immediately upon landing. Athletic and active, she takes travel seriously. She's already seen the Colosseum, been to Miami in February, and knows where to find the best jamón in Madrid - she's looking to expand her horizons beyond the “standard travel package”. You might even say she's a competitive traveller. Looking at her friend’s Facebook travel photos doesn’t make her jealous - she doesn’t want to go where her friends have been, she wants to go where her friends wouldn’t even think of going.
Late 20s, any ethnicity.
A highly approachable, dependable, and adventurous-but-not-crazy type. He's the kind of guy you'd bring home for dinner and your grandmother would get along with. Your dad would be happy to talk about football or tennis with him, while your mom would be glad the two of you are going on a month-long trip to Thailand. He has that aura of "the world is my oyster" to him, not afraid of what's around the corner.
Looking for friendly and approachable look, people you wouldn't mind having a conversation on a train with.
Comfortable, breezy and ready-for-anything. She’s an energetic, up-for-anything person, so her clothes need to allow her to live life to the fullest, rather that restrict the range of actions she’s able to perform. Perhaps a sleeveless top with shorts, or a short summer dress with shorts underneath. A collared top with short sleeves is a possibility.
Casual with a bit of style. Also breezy and a relaxed fit. Perhaps a collared shirt with Bermuda shorts.
In part two, the local man could be wearing a short-sleeve collar shirt and shorts. He looks like he’s going about his day, rather than appear to be heading to the beach.
In part three, the people playing beach soccer would have swimming attire, more active-wear than fashion-wear - shorts and no top for guys, swimwear for gals.
Going for that natural look with as little makeup as possible. Our heroes are on a trip, not a runway show. Perhaps a bit of powder on the guy to take care of blemishes and some lipstick, mascara, and light powder on the girl.
Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge
Asa Wright is one of the top birdwatching spots in the Caribbean, providing a unique ecological zone that mixes South American and Caribbean biodiversity. It’s also a favourite spot for hummingbirds, as the bird feeders are abound at their lodge.
Maracas Bay beach
Trinidad’s most popular beach on the north shore of the island.
North Coast Road
The winding, tight curves of the North Coast Road with the mountain on one side and the ocean on the other would look incredible in our spot.
Trinidad doesn't have a huge film industry, hence all of the essential equipment would need to be brought to the island. This includes all camera and sound gear, as well as lights and grip equipment. Thankfully, the director has access to this free of charge.
The expensive part is flying down with the gear to Trinidad and transporting it during the shoot - the airfare, gas and car access takes up the transportation budget.
A local producer, being the local contact, access and driver is another expenditure.
Wardrobe, hair & makeup, and props - because those would be obtained on the island, it wouldn’t be possible to return those after the shoot (Trinidad doesn’t have the same lenient exchange policies as Canada).
The talent budget is for hiring 2 locals for the lead roles for 2 days of shooting and some extras for the remaining scenes. Talent expenses mostly involve food and craft costs.
Trinidad is an ethnically diverse place, which would help in the casting process, but casting itself would also require some time and money to get done.
Crew expenses - hiring a few people for PA-ing, gripping and set security needs.
Location - getting access to Asa Wright and the snack stand merchant.
Other expenses include paying for cell phone services in Trinidad and disposables (e.g. batteries for lights and microphone).
Sound and editing - hiring people back in Canada to do post-production on the film.
Examples of my work
Action | pt. 1
Action | pt. 2
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.