FIRST he walked from LA to San Diego, capturing the journey for his video series The Walkstars.
Then in Scootstars Peter putted across America on scooters that max out at 29mph documenting the interactive journey in 31 episodes.
His latest travel video adventure, inTransit ,takes him from his native lands of LA to Panama, only utilizing the slow travel of public transportation.
inTransit episode 12
This week I caught up with Peter to talk travel video and the creative process.
How would you define your travel style?
I usually have a loose outline of where I’m going and take it from there. I’m alright with deviation. I don’t like to make reservations or plans, it stresses me out. But sometimes I have to.
Where were you when you realized that you loved to make travel videos?
I realized I enjoyed making travel videos when I noticed there was a potential audience to watch my videos. Thanks to YouTube and other outlets I was able to reach a larger audience. Otherwise, the videos I made were just for my friends and me.
An actual place would have to be midway through my attempt at walking around the island of Oahu. I was in my tent on the North Shore looking back at the footage I shot that day and thought “this is pretty cool, I think I might be onto something.”
Your videos have an intriguing aspect that sets the context for the travel, such as taking public transportation or a slow-ass scooter. Why is it important for you to have this framework?
It’s important because it helps me respect distance and time. You don’t know how far you’ve been or how far you’re going unless you’ve experienced it along the way. The challenge gives me the ability to focus on my surroundings. By taking it slow, you truly appreciate the good times whether it’s the cold beer at the end of the day, a warm shower, or the simple fact that you’re alive and doing something exciting.
Travel is a metaphor to life. You have your ups and downs, literally and figuratively, your peaks and valleys. Ok enough of the philosophical stuff, I guess I had to get it out. Sorry about that, I guess that’s what travel could do to you.
Do you travel to make videos or make videos while traveling?
Well, not sure how to answer that. If I’m visiting a place, chances are I won’t film. If I’m “traveling,” chances are I will. I like to put emphasis on the act of traveling, the action of getting from one point to the other. Otherwise I don’t believe I’m traveling, I’m just temporarily relocating. I think that’s the distinction I’m trying to create from other “travel shows.” Keyword here is “trying.” So if I’m going to film, there’ll be some thought / planning on the production side.
How did you get started creating media? What is the most important thing you have learned while making travel vids?
Growing up, my brother Dan was the director and I was the actor in our backyard film projects. He was into stop motion, editing, sound mixing, etc. I learned a lot through all of this. We always made videos for school projects, easy A’s.
Fast forward to 5 years ago, I got a video camera of my own as a gift and just kept filming stuff. I joined YouTube a few months after it came out and released some music videos/skits. Some got featured, which back in the day would give me a couple thousand views. I was amped on that and kept trying to find my niche.
I was addicted to those views. I created a series called “The WalkStars,” where a group of us walked from LA to San Diego. I’d film during the course of the day and then release an episode that night, creating a semi-realitime experience. As my audience grew, I was hooked on creating content.
The most important thing(s) I learned from making travel videos is that you could never shoot enough footage. Also, that when things get awkward you need to make it more awkward by whipping out the camera. That’s something I keep reminding myself to do. It’s easier said than done.
What aspect of creating your vids do you enjoy most?
The anticipation of traveling and then the release of a video. I love picking out production equipment and then trying to pack it all for the road.
What was your inspiration for inTransit?
Not sure. There are a lot of things that inspired inTransit. I think it was my senior year in high school. I would get out of class early and didn’t want to wait for the bus. So sometimes I would walk home which was about 6 miles away. Funny thing is, by the time I got near my house the bus was either trailing behind me or a friend would offer a ride. That got me into walking.
Growing up, our family used to travel a lot. Oftentimes we would take long road trips. We drove around Europe for 3 months in a camper van, down to Mexico from Chicago and all over the United States. So I guess it was in our blood to take part in these long distance journeys. I have to thank my parents for forcing us out of the house and onto the road.
Before inTransit, my brothers rode their bicycles across the United States. I didn’t go, so that also had something to do with it. I remember making a video/photo montage of their trip when they finished. I think I was secretly jealous, but still very proud.
What kind of crew did you have along with you?
Just myself and a camera guy I met off craigslist who is now a very good friend. My girlfriend joined us in Mexico City. She was our field producer. It was great that she was able to experience this type of travel. She was great at it! I like to keep the crew light. Mo’ people mo’ problems, no people no problems. You know what I’m saying?
What was your biggest challenge filming In Transit?
Probably being both a director and actor. You can’t run away from yourself, so it was hard to be motivated on different levels. That and not wanting to film a scenario, but forcing it. Like I said before, the awkward moments where you make it even more awkward.
So what is your next travel media scheme?
Not sure. I have a few ideas. I don’t want to commit to anything just yet. I hate saying I’m going to do a particular trip and then not pull it off. I’ll keep it in my head and then when the time comes, I’ll do it. There are so many possibilities out there. I’m also open to see what my audience is interested in.
Favorite Book: Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemmingway
Last song Peter listened to: “Can you Discover?” – Discovery
Favorite Destination: My parents house in Illinois. They’re super cool, and I have a great time with them.
Keep up to date with Peter’s latest travel video antics as the inTransit saga continues at www.intransit.tv