Howdy. I’m Travis Gilmour – a dad, husband, and documentary filmmaker.
I grew up on a family farm in the Willamette Valley. Our nearest neighbors there are about a mile away, and I am related to many of them. I’m 36, but when I was a kid we had “party” phones lines shared with those same relatives. Yes, we could drive to Salem when we needed to, but that wasn’t home. It took 40 minutes to get to my school on the bus. My high school graduating class was 48. Growing up in a rural place has been one of the greatest assets in my life.
I started working in the public media (PBS/NPR) world pretty much straight out of OSU, when my wife and I relocated to Alaska in search of work and adventure. We piled into our dusty Mazda with all the stuff we could fit in it, and drove the 3,000 miles in 3 days. At the time, I was a freshly minted English major stepping out into a bad economy. None of us really knew what to do.
After I landed a job in Anchorage, I realized I would have to make of it what I really wanted. Postings for “Documentary Filmmaker” are pretty rare, no matter where you are. If you’re 22 with no experience, the most common advice is to go back to school. That meant I had to learn how to be a storyteller of some kind myself – video, audio, online – it didn’t’ really matter to me.
Much of the initial knowledge that I used to become a filmmaker came from the internet. Questions like “what does journalism pay?” “what camera do I buy?” “what editing software is best?” or “where can I find music that isn’t copyrighted?” were definitely in my google search history. You could find good advice, and you could find lots of junk. Thinking back on it now, it’s hard to imagine I made it this far.
They say that if you want to master something, you have to put in the “10,000 hours” of study, practice and failures. I’m not sure if we ever truly “master” anything, but I know I’ve done more than 10,000 hours at this point. And nowadays, a big part of what I try to do with training is to try to save you the bulk of the time and energy I’ve put in. I want to share the knowledge and insight I’ve gained working on hundreds of video projects since I started.
What is Coming Home
You have likely heard the folks at KWSO talking about a new project called “Coming Home – Warm Springs.” This is a part of a nationwide grant, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The aim is to tell stories in our country’s rural areas. Sue Matters at KWSO and I have been working together for a few years to find a project like this that would be a good fit for Warm Springs. And, being who we are, we wanted to do it a little differently.
Our “pitch” to the funders, and now to you – is maybe deceptively simple. What if, rather than bring in folks from other places to tell the stories in Warm Springs, we invested our energies into you – the people who call it home? What if we worked to give you the skills, the tools, and the space to tell your own stories? What if we could encourage a group of people with stories to tell, and let them take the lead?
The way we’re moving forward with our plan (for now, at least) will take place here, on the KWSO website. I’ll be writing a series of articles that describe many of the key elements of the “how to” in learning and growing as a filmmaker and digital storyteller. Many of the essential qualities you need to be successful at this – curiosity, a desire to know and learn and help your community, deep knowledge of the place you call home – you already have.
As folks start to get interested and engaged, we’ll work to expand it in a more interactive way. We’ll find a path together to learn the tools, skills and techniques you can use to build your ability to identify stories, plan how you can tell the story, and actually produce a finished product.
My hope is that by putting this information together in one place, online, we can create a roadmap for expanding this project together. I believe we can produce some of your story ideas into meaningful professional quality videos for you, your family, the community, and people who may never even visit Warm Springs. There may even be opportunities to expand what we do, and help a project like this grow in other communities.
In the meantime, stay tuned. As we publish material here on kwso.org, we’ll also create ways for you to stay up-to-date on when new posts are published, ask questions, share your experiences and have fun with it.
In the meantime if you have questions, or what to connect with me directly – feel free to email: travis @ videodads.com