It’s the second installment of my interview series and I’m so excited to be talking all things “video” with one of the most talented and inspiring travel videographers out there right now, Mike Corey from Kick The Grind. Mike is one of those guys who proves that passion and serious dedication mean a heck of a lot more than training in a classroom. Combining his education in biology, love for travel, and the motivation to teach himself how to shoot and produce videos, has resulted in some incredible travel videography. Seriously, this guy inspires me to step up my game after every video he produces.
I was very excited to be able to talk travel and, more importantly, pick his brain about travel videography.
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a guy who found himself through breakdancing and travel, who still collects bug books, and thinks curiosity is hella sexy. Making travel videos was how I discovered the way of making a living out of my childhood passion: lifting rocks and climbing trees, trying to capture all the things that make you wonder how the world works.
What’s your earliest travel memory?
I come from a pretty adventurous family. One of my first travel memories was in Iceland, jumping over boiling streams and thinking this is what Mordor looked like.
Is there a single travel memory that stands out for you?
In 2011, I was fortunate to have been given an awesome opportunity by Cathay Pacific where I could fly unlimited economy class flights for 80 days. I had free reign to any country within their flight network… which is global. I slept on the great wall of China, dove with sharks, climbed Mt. Fuji, threw tomatoes at the world’s biggest food fight and much more. I filmed it all and was left with a 3 month blur that still floats around my head as being the best experience in my life to date.
You studied biology in university. What made you decide to switch your focus to travel and specifically travel videography?
I still absolutely love biology, it’s a great interest of mine, but I decided to pursue it my own way. I guess the reason was because one day in class my thoughts got stuck on the fact we were cutting down trees for paper to print textbooks on how to study trees… and it just seemed a whole lot easier to just go outside. I grew up with bookcases full of magazines and field guides about animals I thought I’d someday see and touch. Following the breadcrumbs through a biology degree and onward, didn’t seem like it was going to lead me there. Travel videography and photography did.
As a self-taught videographer, what resources did/do you use to learn how to make such compelling videos?
Both those pale compared to where I’ve learned the bulk of what I do: Lynda.com. If I could recommend one thing for the future, it would be to wear sunscreen… and start having some serious dates with Lynda. I went from Zilch to winning 5 travel competitions in 3 years because of that site. If you’re starting from scratch too, it’s a must. Find the time.
What types of travel videos do you enjoy making the most, and why?
Videos capturing things that people didn’t know existed. Swimming with pigs in the Bahamas, magical Thai tattoos that protect you from bullets… I want to pique the curiosity of my viewers, and show them that these crazy adventures are accessible to anyone. I want to pull people away from the postcard-perfect, all-inclusive resort world, and into what travel is really about; discovering yourself and rekindling that childhood curiosity we lose as we grow up. Oh… and anything to do with nature!
Describe your approach when planning and making a travel video.
I think a question people need ask themselves when they get involved in travel video is “Do I want to be a video blogger, or a film maker?” Both create very different kinds of product and have their own separate circles. I’m still trying to figure out where exactly I fit, but what I’ve found myself doing is changing up my style every few months. Making hosted content, then music driven, then with voice over… etc. I need variety in my life and that reflects in my content. So 2 things I ask myself are “How can I make this different from my last video” and “How can I make this different from everyone else’s?”
You were recently in Basilicata, Italy and produced (in my opinion) your best video yet. What was that experience like? How did it differ (if at all) from other video projects you’ve done?
They’ve done something beautiful with that project in Basilicata. They’ve taken a little forgotten nook in the world and sent talented filmmakers there repeated times to tell the story in their own way. What they’ve created is a fairytale land of warm sunshine, smiling weathered faces, and cracked stone. Nona fills you with homemade pasta and wine, and Nono with old stories. This is the future of travel video projects. Our niche is new. You can count on one hand how many years ago HD video became available. There’s not many people taking travel video seriously, but as we do and the industry matures, the need for extremely high quality travel video content will explode. Tourism boards and travel brands will pay top dollar for what the Pro’s can produce, because it’s still a helluva lot cheaper than hiring a production company to do the same work.
Check out Mike’s beautiful video of Basilicata, Italy below.
You shoot, edit, and host all your videos. What’s the hardest part about being a one-man-show?
Everything other than video production. Managing my social media platforms, upkeep on my blog, making new connections etc… is where I usually slack. I’m not saying video production is easy, but I have a hard time keeping up with the extra stuff.
What location or event would you like to capture that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
The islands off East Africa have been my dream trip ever since I did a science project on Madagascar in grade 5. Starting up in Socotra, and travelling down. Those islands are some of the oldest in the world and because of that, have all kinds of amazing animals found no where else.
Video blogging (or Vlogging) is becoming more and more popular every year. What 3 important tips can you give to someone wanting to try it for the first time?
1) Realize that every video is the newest page of your resume. Produce work you’re proud of and always push to get better.
2) Film things you’re interested in. A painter wouldn’t paint asparagus if he hated it, so take that same approach when pressing record. You’ll be much more excited to edit if you love the content.
3) If you’re looking to take it seriously, don’t ever skimp on gear. The better your content, the better opportunities will come your way. Splurging will pay for itself (and then some) in the end.
For more tips on making better travel videos, check out Mike’s latest video for Flight Centre Canada.
Aside from your camera, what one thing can you not leave home without when you travel?
New music, a Moleskine, and a touque.