A mist-covered rice paddy, sunrise parkour on the beach, and a stunning aerial shot of hot air balloons over Bagan. These are a few of the scenes entered into an online travel film festival aimed at drawing young, social media-loving tourists to the Mekong region.
The videos show tableaus that travelers come to Southeast Asia for: otherworldly temples, packs of beach dogs, rustic rental huts, and silhouettes of palm trees. But, since they were made by everyday travelers, they offer a pretty fresh perspective.
The Mekong Mini Movie Festival 2018, now taking its second round of entries after awarding 12 winners last year, is the collective brainchild of Destination Mekong, Mekong Tourism, and Khiri Travel. The concept is to collect and share a selection of one-minute movies about the Mekong region online, made by amateur filmmakers, who enter for the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip around the region.
The film festival is part of the larger Mekong Moments campaign, where travelers can tag their photos with the hashtag #mekongmoments to expand the reach of their content and connect with others that love the Mekong region.
The payoff for both campaigns, organizers say, is new interest from millennial travelers, who put more trust into content created by their peers more than the ones that get churned out by flashy marketing companies and ad agencies.
Coco Travel recently met up with Mekong Tourism’s Executive Director, Jens Thraenhart, to hear more about the user-generated video project and see some of the first round of winning videos.
It’s Thraenhart’s hope that, even if viewers of the short films weren’t planning a trip to the Mekong, they might start to consider doing so after they see the awe-inspiring shots from the movie festival — of monks on the beach at sunset, lush green mangroves, colorful longtail boats, and so on.
After viewing these clips, anyone might marvel at how non-professional filmmakers have the kind of skills to create these shorts. But the majority of them were actually shot with smartphones, with post-production done on online editing apps. Thraenhart says that many people are creating content like this anyway, for themselves and their friends — so the campaign just offers them a larger audience. Many modern travelers are so tech-savvy and motivated to share their journeys with others, however, that it’s not uncommon for them to travel with small drones, tripods, GoPros, and camera stabilizers.