Photo: D.Bond/Shutterstock

How to: Have a Good Idea

by Joshywashington Aug 18, 2011
Where do good ideas come from? Here’s a look at the nature of ideas with 6 of my fellow travel vloggers plus David Lynch.

IDEAS: Sometimes they come in moments of inspiration, sudden ‘ah-ha!’ revelations. Sometimes they slowly percolate, bubbling and growing in your conscious mind until all the pieces fit.

On a recent press trip to Puerto Rico, six travel video creators were assembled in San Juan to shoot, edit and show their videos in a span of 48 hours. Everyone went about the project differently, some planned well in advance, some faced unforeseen challenges, but everybody made a video that was distinctly unique, a reflection of their ideas.

Watching everyone’s videos I got thinking about where ideas actually come from and how different people actualize creativity.

After our time in Puerto Rico I talked with JD Andrews, Kelley Ferro, Matt Stabile, Cailin O’Neil and Ryan Van Duzer to ask them,

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Matthew StabileThe

It’s essential to have a framework of ideas when you’re shooting. That said, the idea usually comes to me organically in the moment.

As I shoot, usually about 1/4 of the way in, I start to either see a theme or see a direction I can take the video. There are plenty of good filmmakers that head out with an idea, shoot with that in mind, then go home. More often than not, it’s not until I’m poring over an hour or two of footage back at home and begin editing do I see a “story” start to emerge (sometimes it doesn’t).

I’m always weary of being too structured (in life as well). Sometimes, the best ideas and sequences emerge out of nowhere when your camera is in hand, and I’d recommend avoiding being too rigid in your filming plans.

Shoot, play around, and see what comes of it. This has often led to my favorite videos and sequences.

Ryan Van Duzer

My inspiration for producing videos comes about 3.4 seconds before I hit the record button.

I hardly ever plan ahead and let the excitement of the moment take my story. Most of my videos are adventure based, so it’s hard to know what will happen.

I think the unpredictability of the situation is what makes them fun. My videos are pretty simple as well, they usually tell short stories of brief travel moments. Not every video I make is amazing, just like not every adventure in life is amazing…I just get what life throws at me and go with it…and if I come home with boring footage, I jazz them up with explosions, sound effects and pretty girls in the editing room.

Kelley Ferro –

For me, it’s all about the people. I try to let people drive my videos. But it’s not always easy to find the ideal personalities that can really characterize a place. You can’t just show up and expect for them to flock to you.

So in order to try to put myself in the best possible position, I do my homework ahead of time. I always buy guidebooks, poll twitter, email friends and friends of friends, scour my favorite travel blogs, and of course, watch Tripfilms videos, to prepare me as much as possible before I go.

However, usually the second I land in the country, I rarely have the need to look at them again. I’m prepared enough to have a general idea of highlights and significant things to check out, but now it’s all about getting the local perspective. I try to talk to as many people as I can.

More often than not, a few local hidden gems will keep coming up in conversation and those are the ones I will pounce on. I never would have found Pierre Loti Café, a cliff side open air bar that overlooks all of Istanbul if I didn’t start talking to a German tourist. Or I would have never had a night of dancing and beach bonfires at Las Brisas bar outside of Tamarindo if I hadn’t had made friends with bar owner’s son.

My advice is prep before you go, but when you get there, just start talking and be open to completely changing your plans based on the locals that you meet!

Cailin O’Neil

I actually don’t really have a process for coming up with good ideas. If I am going on a trip my destination creates my ideas and most of my videos take place in the moment.

There is only so much preparation that you can do ahead of time when filming a travel video but the rest is just left up to fate and what you come across when you are just about to press that record button.

With video I can go as far as having tours booked,and knowing what city I’ll be in but I never really take it much further than that unless I require an interview from someone specific or when the thing I want to film is only available on certain days.

I choose to do it this way and feel like it gives my videos a more organic feel. Some people need to know what exactly they are going to do and others can “wing-it”, I think I’m best at the winging it part even though I can sometimes regret that decision. I really love going out and shooting bits and pieces then coming home to edit, thinking that I’ve got nothing to put together and then all of a sudden I am able to pull out the best video I’ve ever made, I guess I just like the thrill of not knowing.


When creating videos, inspiration for me comes from music. I hear the music and then I can see the video in my head, then I go out and capture it.

An important part of a video to me is music, but inspiration can be anything. You can be inspired by an idea, look around, a picture, a place, a smell a sound. Just be open.

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it ~ Albert Einstein

Filmmaker David Lynch compares ideas to fish.
Some fish are little fish, they dart about near the surface. By brainstorming ideas you cast a wide net and see how many little fishies you can bring in.

But the Big Ideas, the Big Fish, live much deeper and are harder to get to. David uses his little fish that he has already caught to bait the bigger fish he wants to bag.

David Lynch on Ideas

So how does one catch the Big Fish?
Where do ideas, whether good, great or genius, come from?
How do different people go about catching their Big Fish, reeling it in and cooking that puppy over the open flames of inspiration?

Steven Johnson offers one answer; ideas are seldom formed a moment but are a process, almost a way of life…

Steven Johnson on the process of good ideas

How have your good ideas come to you? What factors are crucial to creating an inspired, idea-ridden environment?

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