Vacation videos can be the most painful videos on the planet to watch. Want to make yours better? Shoot the Quest.

Every vacation is a quest, grasshopper– a journey in which a person or group travels in search of something– in this case something that involves a lot of sunscreen. The great thing about quests is that, unlike most vacation videos, they’re interesting!

Sometimes your quest is literally, your destination: Perhaps it’s a struggle to get to grandma’s house, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, or the top of the Eiffel Tower. But sometimes it’s not about a journey to a place, but what you do when you get there: 8 year-old Matthew scours Disneyland hoping to meet Mickey Mouse. Or your quest is what you do when you get there: The family hikes to the top of Mt. Marcy. Jasmine and Jeremy tour Europe for two weeks on $50 a day. Dad tries to relax at Fourth Lake.

To discover your quest, consider who the vacationers are. What do they want out of this vacation? What will they have to do to get it? Then shoot the answer. Another way to think about this: Your video will ask (and eventually answer): “Will (the hero) get where they’re trying to go, or succeed at what they’re trying to do?” On your day-trip to rural New York, will your husband find an old garage with parts for the 1968 Harley he’s rebuilding? We don’t know– which makes us much more interested than we would have been watching random shots of barns and cows.

By focusing on a who and what they want you’re creating a basic story structure that makes your video compelling. We (the audience) hang on just to see how it comes out.

Best of all, it’s easy!  You don’t need to do a lot of planning.  Just think about your quest, and whip out the camera for a few short shots whenever something interesting happens along the way.

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