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Adventure Filmmaking with Russ Malkin Part 1 – New MZed Course

If you know how to make a video, you already have the unique skills that allow you to go out and make a travel documentary. Now there’s a new course to help you up the ante and make adventure film a career: check out the new MZed course on “Adventure Film”.

“Adventure Filmmaking with Russ Malkin” is MZed’s new course, packed with wisdom and advice for all video makers looking to put their passion on the road. Whether your goal is to send a full production crew and talent to a specific part of the world, or you want to hop in a van and make a movie of yourself exploring your area, there are a few hard-learned lessons you should consider. before going on an adventure.

Russ Malkin is directing with Ewan McGregor and cameraman Claudio von Planta. Image source:

Russ Malkin is a UK based producer/director who has combined travel and film for over 30 years. He is best known for his Long Way series which follows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on their motorcycle adventures around the world. More recently, Long Way Up became the flagship documentary series that launched the Apple TV+ platform. Now Russ wants to share some of the lessons he’s learned over the years so you too can become an adventure filmmaker.

Start watching Adventure Filmmaking with Russ Malkin today by joining MZed Pro

Behind the scenes of the adventure film course

Why do this course? As the founder of Big Earth Productions, Russ Malkin is on the road most of the year. He has created content for many broadcasters around the world including the BBC, ITV, Sky, National Geographic, Apple, Amazon and Discovery. He often works with high profile personalities, such as Prince Harry, David Beckham, Ewan McGregor and Henry Cavill (aka Superman). So it’s clear that Russ is a busy person.

Screenshot from Adventure Filmmaking with Russ Malkin. Image source: MZed

But I remember when Russ first approached MZed to create a course. It was at the height of pandemic cabin fever when creators were itching to get back outside and explore, collaborate, and document their adventures. Russ told me he wanted to give back and teach others how to create travel documentaries, and what better time to spark the adventurous spirit than when filmmakers were coming out of a long period of isolation?

Well, that time has come, as many productions are getting back to work at full speed. In fact, when we shot the course, crews all over the UK were already full. Luckily, we had Korro Films’ amazing Ollie Kenchington to helm production, and he pulled some strings to bring in a wonderful crew to shoot the course. (You might know Ollie from his MZed classes, as well as writing for CineD).

BTS from filming the adventure movie with Russ Malkin. Image source: MZed

So Russ gathered up his notes, met the crew at a modest filming location (see above) and within days managed to share virtually everything he knows about the filmmaking process. adventure. As you know if you’ve seen his productions, Russ pops up on camera from time to time, as he prefers to keep his crew naked while he produces, directs and often helps film the documentaries. So his advice covers everything from pitching ideas, working with talent and finding money, to dealing with broken equipment, exhausted crews and difficult border crossings.

The entire course is divided into three sections: Before you leave, In your adventureand When you come home. The course is released in stages as editing is completed, so Before You Go is currently available to watch, and the other parts will be added to the course soon.

Before you go on an adventure – lesson topics

To give you an overview of what to expect from the course, here are the topics Russ covers for the Before You Go part of the course, which is basically pre-production and planning.

Introduction to adventure

Why go on an adventure? In this first lesson, Russ Malkin talks about adventure filmmaking as a way of life, how he’s been doing it for 30 years, and what you can learn in this course so you too can make adventure filmmaking your life.

From idea to reality

Ideas can come from anywhere, sometimes even on the back of a boarding pass. In this lesson, Russ explains how to develop an idea and turn it into a real adventure.

The research

The devil is in the details, and in this lesson Russ outlines everything that goes into the research phase of your adventure. From team dynamics and planning to route planning, permits, accommodations, safety and how to keep family and fans informed along the way.

The team

In this lesson, Russ walks through the roles of your adventure movie, from director, producer, camera crew, production assistant, DIT, and executive producer, to how to find and select your team, keeping an eye on team dynamics and even joining another adventure team first to give you an idea of ​​which roles fit your personality.

The budget

Before you can find the money to fund your adventure movie, you need to create a budget. In this lesson, Russ talks about preliminary expenses when planning your adventure, insurance and safety, and how to budget for a worst-case scenario to prepare for any scenario.

How to find the money

Now we come to the defining part of planning your adventure movie: finding the money to pay for it. In this lesson, Russ provides insight into pitching your adventure, working with publishers, distribution companies, sponsors, tourism authorities, philanthropists and grants, and personal advice on persevering in the face of challenges. funding challenges.

The talent

Who will be the storyteller of your adventure film? You might be considering introducing yourself or using voiceover, but Russ also has some tips for working with celebrities and other talent that generate interest and audience for your project.

Logistics and Planning

In this lesson, Russ walks you through the logistical planning of your adventure, from choosing your route and creating a schedule, to checking safety training, vaccinations and passports before you leave. . The key is to be prepared for logistical issues so they don’t become major setbacks during the trip.

Camera equipment

When filming an adventure, Russ advises to keep it small, fast and nimble. From camera choices and audio recording to bonus shots using gimbals or drones, on an adventure it’s important to be prepared for equipment failure when you expect it the most. less.

Last checks

It’s almost time to go on an adventure, but first you want to make sure everything is in place. Do you have PR photos for your sponsors or do you plan to take them during your trip? Are your friends and family ready to take you away for a while? Have you organized all your notes? Finally, you are off on an adventure!

Who will be in front of the camera? Talent Tips in “Adventure Filmmaking with Russ Malkin”

Russ Malkin in the Long Way Up trailer. Image source: Apple

Working on this course, I learned a ton of wisdom about travel while making movies, but for me the most impactful part of Russ Malkin’s course is his advice on talent. Of course, for many of us with a bit of video production skills, we could very easily go out and create a travel documentary featuring ourselves. You can go out this weekend and film yourself exploring a nearby area, add some voice-over or vlog-style narration, upload it to YouTube, and see what happens. It’s already much more of an advantage you have over others who don’t know how to shoot or edit.

For many of us, however, we don’t have that magic sauce when we’re on camera. And so if you want to travel while filming, you’ll have to find on-camera talent. Russ found success with actors and took them out of their comfort zone into the wild world off the set.

But as Russ points out, you don’t really know if the talent really clicks the camera until you try. Some people are born artists and can create an extremely successful brand by going on an adventure near or far. For these talented people, brands and sponsors can naturally gravitate around them, turning a weekend of exploration into a career.

Henry Cavill in a Big Earth production. Image source:

But for you, it might mean an entirely different approach. Maybe your talent will be someone in your network or someone you have to introduce cold. An influential person, or an embedded audience, will naturally be more appealing to viewers and funders than an unknown person. But it’s not just social media influencers that have celebrity-like appeal. Maybe there’s a local businessman, athlete, chef, or respected scientist. Taking someone on the road who already has specific experience can even give you ideas of travel destinations and people you’ll meet along the way.

Adventure cinema isn’t just about combining travel and video, it’s also the product of putting a certain person in a unique environment and seeing what happens. I hope your brain is overflowing with ideas. For more tips on how to take your ideas and turn them into a real adventure, this course from Russ Malkin on MZed is a must.

What else do you get with MZed Pro?

As an MZed Pro member, you also have access to over 300 hours of film training, and we’re constantly adding more courses (several in production right now).

For just $30/month (billed annually at $349), here’s all you’ll get:

  • Over 40 courses, over 600 high quality lessons spanning over 300 hours of learning.
  • Highly produced courses by educators who have decades of experience and accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award.
  • Unlimited access to stream all content for 12 months.
  • Download and view offline with the MZed iOS app.
  • Discounts on ARRI Academy online courses, exclusively on MZed.
  • The majority of our courses provide an industry-recognized certificate upon completion.
  • Purchasing the courses would cost over $7,600.
  • Course topics include cinematography, directing, lighting, cameras and lenses, production, independent filmmaking, writing, editing, color grading, audio, and even how to cast. a YouTube channel.
  • 7 day money back guarantee if you decide it’s not for you.

Join MZed Pro now and start watching today!

Image source: MZed

Full disclosure: MZed is owned by CineD

Where would you travel if you could create an adventure movie or series? Let us know in the comments below!