The Film

How To Shoot A Feature Film With A Cast & Crew Of One

I want to share some detailed behind-the-scenes thoughts on the making process behind Janapar. Those of you who’ve been reading since 2007 will take a trip of nostalgia reading this Q&A. For others, it’ll be a new insight into what kicked off this whole project, and how things have changed along the way. (This article was originally posted on the news page at

Is it possible to be taken seriously as a first-time filmmaker if your director, DOP, camera operator, sound recordist, driver, fixer, logistics manager, stills photographer, voiceover artist and lead talent are all the same person?

James Newton and Tom Allen think it’s possible, and they’ve got some very convincing evidence to prove it. In this Q&A, they talk about their feature documentary Janapar, and how Tom went from having never picked up a video camera to shooting a Raindance-selected feature film — in the space of a single project.

The Janapar 'production office'

First of all, can you describe the film and your involvement in it?

Philosophy Of Travel The Film

The Double Edged Sword Of Independent Film

I’m incredibly fortunate to be working with James on making Janapar. Not only is he a very talented producer-director, but he is one of the few with enough ambition (or recklessness) to turn down numerous well-paid TV gigs in favour of his own independent film.

It’s an inherently risky business we’re in here. The majority of independent documentaries are passion projects. Most will never see a penny of profit. A startling proportion will bankrupt their makers.


Other People's Adventures

3 Journeys In Progress You Should Be Following

I dip in and out of a multitude of blogs these days, in between finishing up my book, writing my own blog and getting ready for Janapar’s release. But there are few which exude the sheer quality and craftsmanship to hold my attention long-term.

Here are the best examples I know of in three traditional storytelling media: film, written word, and still image.

Film: Brazil 9000

Aaron and Gareth are barely out of the starting blocks on their latest journey, but they’ve set the bar incredibly high with this professional-quality video intro. It alone beats most of the trash on Nat Geo Adventure, let alone Youtube.


Their previous photography and video work, plus their dedication to storytelling and cultural immersion (speaking as they do Portuguese and blogging in both languages), plus the access they’ll get through travelling by foot, bicycle and canoe, hints at the beginning of a hugely promising tale of adventure.

Visit →

Written Word: That Emily Chappell

If I could have written my book with half the eloquence and insight of Emily, I’d be… well, actually, I’d probably still be in a state of self-loathing, convinced that my labour of love had in fact emerged as a pile of complete and utter tosh. That’s just me.

Expect no heroic-looking self-portraits, nor endless mentions of distances covered and altitudes conquered. Instead, expect a truly fascinating account of this ex-courier solo cyclist’s inner monologue as she embarks upon the second year of her round the world journey.

Visit →

Still Image: While Out Riding

Cass Gilbert has long been a name in the cycle-touring world. I remember using his Out There Biking resources and his extensive contributions to the Adventure Cycle Touring Handbook as inspiration for planning my own early journeys back in 2006.

Cass’s focus on slowly uncovering the road less travelled — particularly the unpaved back-country roads — brings him and his lens into contact with a world that even the road-based cycle tourist rarely stops to see. He has a talent for capturing evocative images of life’s overlooked detail, never failing to leave me both envious and awestruck.

Visit →

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What’s your favourite travel blog, and why? Join the discussion in the comments.

The Film Upcoming Events

Meetups: Plan Your Journey, And A One-Off Opportunity

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and stories and meeting up with like-minded people, I’ll be taking part in plenty of events over the next few months (hence the new calendar you’ll see in the sidebar of the site). Here are details of two during September:

Guest Posts

The Moment I Actually Began To Enjoy Bicycle Touring

Earlier in 2012 I cycled from Vancouver to San Francisco with my brother Ben, who was a complete newcomer to life on the road. I asked him to share his experience of getting to grips with cycle-touring.

Strangely enough, it was on a night of torrential rain in a northern Oregon forest that I actually started to enjoy travelling by bike.