Today’s Fellow Travel Video Blogger is with Joshua Johnson aka Joshy Washington aka the original Travel Media Ninja of www.TravelMediaNinja.com and MatadorTV.com . I first met Josh through the Matador Network when he featured one of my videos on MatadorTV and of course we became instant Travel Video Blogger friends! Full of energy, knowledge and humor Josh has given other people the nicknames of Travel Video Ninjas, but now with his blog of a similar name you can easily see that he is a Video Ninja that we would all like to be, to learn more about Josh keep on reading! :)
Who: Joshua Johnson
You Should Watch: Road Trip Montanna: Yellowstone
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your website and what got you motivated to start traveling? How did you get the travel bug?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest of America and as a kid the woods were my stomping ground. If the sun was out we couldn’t sit inside and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we couldn’t veg out on the Nintendo, we had to go play outside, which was in my case many acres of forest, swamp and creek. I would roam for hours, mapping my routes through the woods, building forts and climbing trees. So When people ask me about how I got started traveling or knew I loved to travel I always think back to the afternoons spent traversing the forest. That is where my sense of adventure and discovery took root that later developed into a love of travel. My first trip abroad was nearly 3 months in Italy tramping around with a backpack full of novels, I was 21. That was when I began to understand that the same principals that guided my childhood jaunts through the forest apply to the world at large.
My website is my place to express myself and to engage the community outside the companies I affiliate with or am employed by. For a long time I didn’t have a real site, I published on other sites and communities but I decided that I needed to building a place that is truly mine, hence www.travelmedianinja.com
2. You are also an editor with Matador Network and run Matador TV, how did you get involved with that?
It was 2007 and I was living in Saigon when I sent David Miller, Matador’s senior editor, a travel narrative. He worked with me to edit it and it was published in Traverse. This was a long time ago and the site was still very young. I saw the importance of engaging with a community of like minded people who love not only to travel but who embrace the creative expression that travel inspires and I decided that I wanted to be involved. You know, at college it was writing groups, then poetry slams… I needed support, camaraderie and I saw Matador as a place for that. I had no idea that I would be involved for the next 4 years, taking on a leadership role and I had no idea the company would evolve to the powerhouse it is today. It was just one of those things that happens day by day. I began to implement video for Matador and became a contributing editor for The Travelers Notebook, a Matador flagship site. I wrote for TNB for a year and then launched MatadorTV… I think that is how it happened…
3. How do you pick which films are featured on Matador TV? Is there anything new and exciting happening with Matador TV soon?
I have two kick ass interns at MatadorTV, Lindsay Clark and Eric Warren. The three of us search for videos that we find inspiring, interesting and entertaining. Some of those vids are super amateur travel videos that epitomize ground level media, some are documentaries with a budget or professional videos. I guess it is all a matter of what is catching our eye. We want to provide a variance of travel related content that is fresh daily. We want to feature content that people will want to watch, that they will get stoked for. This means all kinds of video makes it MaTV… I am always stoked to discover new travelers who make video a part of their creative expression.
As for what is coming down the pipe for TV, well I can’t talk about it now but, yeah, there are going to be some new elements coming soon that I think people will like!
4. Why did you decide to incorporate video into your personal website and blog?
I didn’t decide, it just happened. What people should know is that there was no grand strategy ever, nor is there now, I am doing what entertains me, what fulfills and challenges me…video is a part of that. Sometimes video is more important than other times, sometimes I go months with editing a vid…it all depends. My wife is an actress and it was her idea to bring a video camera along to our 2.5 month trip to Costa Rica after we got hitched. We shot some silly vids and that was that. When we went to Southeast Asia she had the idea to film and edit along the way to upload to a new site called YouTube. Well, an invading army of ants destroyed our computer early on but we still shot footage and blogged like maniacs. When she returned she opened up her personal YouTube page and became a partner with 20,000+ subscribers. She was in many ways my video sensei, she showed me how to edit ( and she is self taught ). It became apparent to us that social media video was going to be enormous so we got serious about it and did video journalism for a website, did some consulting and private jobs and focused on branding with video online.
5. Aside from yourself, do you have any favorite people that make travel videos? Anyone that has inspired you or whom you just enjoy good content from?
I should say that I don’t really know what we mean by “travel videos”. I use that term to mean all kinds of media as long as a place is featured, an adventure is afoot, a journey is being undertaken or the content has an affinity with travelers.
Off the top of my head here are a few guys that make videos I really like.
Emil Kaminski of Monkeetime ~ For his antics, energy and often creative editing and storytelling. Emil can be crass, amusing and is often times very funny.
Daniel Baylis ~ I just started watching Daniel and what I immediately like is the simplicity of his vids and the consistency.
Peter Bragiel ~ Peter is awesome, inTransit, his latest project is one of my favorite indie travel video series. I like Peter’s vision, he frames his videos around a central concept – like taking a scooter across America that maxes out at 29mph. His editing and storytelling is also tight.
Fitz Cahall ~ The voice of the Dirtbag Dairies and writer/producer for The Season, Fitz has a great voice and a knack for storytelling. I really respect what he has accomplished and am always stoked to see what he is up to next.
Ryan van Duzer ~ I like watching Ryan for his high energy adventurist outlook.
David Adams ~ A pro. To me Adams is the Indiana Jones of the professional travel media.
6. What has been your favorite travel video that you have made to date?
My favorite video is the last video I uploaded just as my favorite beer is the one in my hand! So that would make this my new favorite ~ Inside / Out Argentina .
7. Did you have any previous filmmaking experience?
8. Do you have any tips for other people who are wanting to start making travel videos?
Just start doing it. Don’t over think it. And find your own style, don’t try and imitate someone else, find your voice, discover what kind of videos you want to make. It takes a while to get a stride going so don’t feel like you have to create something mind blowing your first time out… just start from where you are at. Make the kinds of videos that tell stories, that present a new perspective. Make videos for you. And know your strengths; if you are not good on camera don’t stand there and yack at the lens, use more voice over. If you have an awesome eye for photography, create inventive shots…
But the thing is, whether it is writing or video is just to start… and don’t stop.
9. What equipment do you use? Camera? Editing program? Type of computer?
I have two Canon Vixia HF100’s, edit with iMovie and am a Mac.
10. Vimeo or Youtube?
11. How do you go about promoting your videos? Suggestions for other people to promote theirs?
The usual, engaging in a YouTube community dialog, Twitter and FB… I don’t really too much about the promo actually, maybe I should be more proactive about it. I think the best advice for promoting any social content is engaging with the community, commenting on blogs, watching other people’s videos, sharing content… you have to be a part of the conversation going on if you want people to be interested in what you are creating…
12. How long do you suggest a video should be 2min? 10min? A good length to keep people watching but not bore them?
As a rule shorter is better, in my book. But if you suck, are boring or whatever, 10 seconds can be too long…on the flip side if you are entertaining then 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes…it doesn’t matter. We know that people have short attention spans online, very short, so a good strategy is to keep it short and sweet. Personally I like videos that are between 1-5 minutes. The same principals that applies to writing; cut the fat, keep it lean and mean, if you can lose a word – lose it, applies to video I think. Only show the good stuff, keep it trim, don’t run on and on. Have one of your friends watch it and see where their attention wanes, ask for feedback. It is probably true that we find ourselves more interesting than we actually are so having a good understanding of how other people react is important.
13. Aside from Matador TV are there any other websites that filmmakers should be trying to get their content on to?
I like Tripfilms a lot, there are a ton of vids and they have really awesome incentive programs. The community there is huge too, over 10,000 vids uploaded. Of course YouTube is the big daddy but people need to engage with each other more, you can’t just upload and check out. If you don’t already, video makers need to have a personal website that catalogs all of their videos so that beyond the social sites there is a branded home for them to live.