Travel Channel Academy Spot


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We are offering courses in NY, LA, DC, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

Advanced 10-day Seminars in Thailand, Australia and South Africa.


29 responses to “Travel Channel Academy Spot

  1. Let me know some more about it. Im interested.

  2. Ok Chicago if you want to know if it’s worth it then in the words of Ben Elton “Do the math’s”

    Math is not my strong suite but here is how I break it down.

    The course is $2,500 plus travel and accommodation.
    The camera, well according to Michael’s video can be as cheap as $800 but sound apparently does matter so let’s round the total kit package up to $1500 for camera and radio mic, tripod, etc.

    You must have a Mac with FCP on it so??? $2,000 for a halfway decent setup?

    I can’t tell you if you will learn anything useful at the boot camp but apparently that is not the point. According to Michael you get to make contacts and in his words “you can’t buy that!” oh wait you just did.

    Ok now you are ready to book a holiday. I checked out an Ethical Adventure holiday site that should be worth a story they average from $1000 to $4000 for a week, so let’s say you spend $2000.

    Of course if you’re going somewhere like that you need travel insurance, health insurance, oh and as your filming liability insurance, I’ve got contacts so I can get all that for about $900.

    You shoot, Michael advocates a 20 to 1 ratio so you shoot a lot. In fact you’ve probably only got time to one story in that week. Most who post on the travel channel seem to only manage one in a month.

    So you’ve spent about $8,900 and there is no guaranty that anything you have shot will end up on the Travel Channel. Also if you get in trouble or have you stuff stolen you can expect the Travel Channel to deny all knowledge of your existence.

    So what do they have on their web site?

    Well from what I can see the average story is about 3min long so at best case scenario at $400 per min that’s $1,200… congratulations.

    For a pitiful $8,900 you made a staggering $1,200 back if you are lucky.

    But isn’t it worth it to know your story is been seen by… oh hang on according to the times viewed after 3 months most of the stories I looked at have less than 93 views… even the most viewed one there has under 2,000. Filming yourself with a cell phone lighting your farts gets more views on youtube and don’t bother asking me for a job I wouldn’t hire anyone gullible enough to do this course.

    Maybe I have the math all wrong. I look forward to being corrected.

  3. Dear Stephen,
    Well, yes, you do have it pretty wrong. We have now done 12 Academies, with 40-50 people in each, so I have a pretty good feel for how these are working.

    I was quite surprised when most people who took this showed up with their own gear. They don’t have to buy it, they already have it. And some of these ‘amateurs’ have some pretty impressive stuff.

    The majority are Apple/FCP owners. While some show up with small Canon HDV cameras, some show up with Z1s or even Panasonic P2s. These are not pros. These are people who are shooting video at home for fun.

    While the network gives them extensive support, the vast majority of people who show up and take the course don’t want to be Travel Journalists, per se. Many simply want to learn to make video – some for their websites, some for their businesses, some for the Travel Channel and some with the idea that they want to create pilots (not the original idea here), but not just for Travel Channel but for a whole wide range of players. One couple (and we get lots of married couples actually), live in Arkansas and want to create content for the Gospel Music Channel. Another works for an NGO in Africa and wants to make video for the NGO. All of this, of course, is fine with me.

    I don’t think the vast majority of people taking this expect to see an immediate return on their tuition investment…with the emphasis on immediate. I do think they look at this as a first step to a new skill that has lots of applications, and that’s fine with me too.

    When we first did Current.TV with Al Gore, we were all astonished at the number of people who had their own gear and were getting into this on their own. I am continually amazed at how this number continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Even if I did 100 people a week, every week for the next 20 years, I would not even begin to scratch the surface of the interest and the demand that is already there.

  4. So what you are saying is I’m wrong because the math is actually worse?
    People have spend a lot more for a lot less return?
    Wasting money on kit they can’t use they come to you course and pay more to be shown how to turn it on in four days, no actual craft taught and make contacts they can’t use but that’s ok because one day they might be able to do something with it… maybe?

    Try running that as an ad and see how many suckers roll up… I bet Cliff still would 🙂

  5. Last week I got a call from a young guy who wants to learn to shoot and edit. He was made redundant and spent some of his cash on a JVC HD cam and kit. We meet up for coffee and I ran him through his camera and edit system. Latter this week he is riding along with me and I’ll be training him to shoot… properly.
    If he is up to speed in the next couple of weeks I’ve got two regular corporate gigs I can give him.
    All for a phone call, a coffee and a good attitude. That’s value for money.

    Or he could have spent $2,500 on a course that gives him nothing but a lighter wallet.

    Be interesting to see in a year how that one guy is doing to any of the group of 50 you “train”

  6. Dear Stephen
    What I am telling you (as your second post so clearly points out) is that this is happening all on its own. Your phone call from a young guy who bought a JVC camera (not my choice) is but a tiny grain of sand on an ever growing beach.

    That you give your advice and training for free (or for a cup of coffee) to this one person either means you have the heart of a saint, or that you feel your advice is only worth a cup of coffee. Only you know the answer to that. I have trained probably 7,000 – 8,000 people. That would be a lot of coffee and a lot of my time for cups of coffee. Maybe you don’t want so much coffee, and perhaps if 7,000 of your countrymen in NZ came to you for training (and soon perhaps they will, as more and more people want to do this), maybe you will say, ‘hey, my time is worth more than a cup of coffee..and so are the skills I am teaching’. that decision, of course, is entirely in your hands. But I know what my time and the skills I am offering are worth. Yours too, I bet.

  7. I don’t think anyone would complain about the quantity of your work, it’s the other “Q” word we choke over.
    Ask yourself what is it worth to me to have a reliable trained guy I can call to hand over the small projects that aren’t worth my time but still keep my relationship with the client?
    Having someone I can call on who can actually do a job if I recommend him? Is that worth a bit of mentoring to me? You bet.
    Of the huddled masses that stumble through your course how many actually go on to do something?

  8. I would say that of the “huddled masses” (and at $2k per person, they are not so huddled, believe me), probably half go on to do something. that something might be creating video for their own website or for something they have a real interest in. Of those, probably another half really get into play with the channel. the channel has already hired two grads to full time jobs to travel the world with a video camera – one year contracts each with all expenses paid. There will be more. Overall, I think its a pretty good start for anyone.

  9. pencilgod – as far as I know, you haven’t posted any of your work out in the open for others to determine for themselves as to the merits of your claims that you work exceeds anyone else’s work here – prove it.

    What are you afraid of?

    Detractors seem to expend great amounts of egoic emotional energy here deriding, even bordering on slander, those who see things differently, yet when called out to show what they are made of, they quietly cower away – why is that?

  10. Cliff let me explain to you the fundamental of this business.

    Clients call us and pays US well for our skills.

    Clients do not call YOU and do not pay you because you have no skills, even thou you think you do.

    In the end the judges of skills are not us, not Michael, not you, nor anyone posting on blogs, clients are the judges, and a good balance in our checkbook is the judgment.

    The success in this business is not measured by looking at videos, is measured by how many days a years one gets hired to work, meaning that his skills are in demand.

    It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

  11. nino’s a little grumpy tonight !

  12. Lets see if I can explain this so you can understand it Cliff.

    Once-a-pone-a-time there was a happy magical land where professional cameramen gathered to talk about TV stuff. They frolicked happily and swapped stories about silly reporters.

    Then one day a man in black appeared. “I am the messiah!” he said in a scary voice “and you are all dooooomed!!!”
    “Why?” asked the cameramen (some of whom preferred to be called Photogs)
    “VJ’s are here. Adapt or die!!!” he laughed evilly.
    “But aren’t they just a new name for the old OMB’s?”
    “No completely different and I know because I invented them. You are all dead. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
    “Couldn’t there be room for both? A mixed economy.”
    “No! The whole world will be VJ by next week you are dinosaurs!!! Extinct!!!!”
    Then the man in black disappeared in a puff of smoke.

    For a long time nothing much was heard of the man in black. Well aside from rumours of disasters and failed businesses following him but aside from posting press clippings and regular appearances in the land to tell the cameramen they were still all doomed… just next week maybe… the cameramen thought they had nothing to worry about.

    One day the man in black told the cameramen they were even more domed than before but he couldn’t be bothered telling them that any more so he was off to a magical land of his own where he was king and there were lots of stupid trolls who would do anything he said.

    Some of the cameramen (who played too many Paladin characters in D&D games in the 80’s) thought if they journeyed to this land they might help save the trolls but it turned out that the biggest troll liked being stupid.
    So he lived happily unhappily ever after.

    And that is our story so far Cliff. Can you spot your bit in it?

    Actually I must be the real stupid here as I just wasted my lunch break writing this.

  13. I’m never Grumpy or Dopey, always Happy and occasionally Bashful, sometime I get Sneezy during allergy season and Sleepy at nighttime, and I live only 45 minutes from Disney World.

    Which one is missing? Hint: “What’s up …?”

  14. Hey Stephen
    I cannot help but notice that both you and Nino have posted comments based on Fairy Tales, and within only a few minutes of one another. Is there something going on here that you might like to share with the rest of the group? 🙂
    -The Man in Black

  15. Stephen, work-in my seven dwarfs into your story and you really have a winner.

    Fantasy, how appropriate.

  16. Just coincidence… that and a desire not to talk too far over Cliff’s head.
    I don’t think I’ve ever actually spoken to Nino off a message board.

    BTW Nino the secret planning meeting next tomorrow will be a bit late as I haven’t been able to download my new version of google Earth Domination maps.

  17. “The Man in Black”

    That would be the wicked witch, she was also wore black. As the story goes the poisonous apple was later replaced with a $900 consumer camera and those who took a bite were turned into permanently unemployed VJs.

  18. In this case, I am more inclined to the Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones characters – battling against those big bugs in their big vans and using new technology to save humanity.

  19. Is that how you do it? “Look into this light flash and you will forget all my previous VJ failures… in fact they were all successes! Beautiful shining successes!!!”

  20. We got something here.

    Man in Black try to stop aliens from invading earth, after everything failed bad VJ videos sent the horrified invaders back into space.

    When did this board turned silly?

  21. I can not believe even today people do not realize a good opportunity when they see it. In an industry as tough as ours to gain entry for a mere 2,500 of investment you get hands on training from an experienced producer, training in a specialized genre and direct access to the Executives with whom you will be pitching concepts to eventually. To me this seems a good value and time well spent add the fact that you could potentially start with a job on the network then start your own series is fantastic. keep up the good work see you soon.



  22. i learn more in 4days than i learn in the few years studying video.

    Thank you Kelly, Tina and Michael

  23. Duane Halgrimson

    I learned a lot also in 4 days at the academy. I also learned that as with with other occupations/industries nobody wants somebody else to get ahead without them paying their dues/hard knocks. The academy basically took the Mystery out of film media.
    Nobody wants to be told they wasted their time. In New Zealand they call it Tall Poppy syndrome when somebody does something not with the crowd/different. They cut the offending off, the tallest poppy. I call it tribalism.
    John Delorean the Car guy wrote a book called On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors more then twenty years ago, Whats the latest about General Motors ? Thank you for the class !

  24. What’s the latest about John Delorean?

    Yeah, didn’t think you’d really want to compare the two.

  25. Is someone looking for content? How about I compare the two, three , four? Hope I do John Delorean and Travel Academy right.

    Ok. First John passed away couple of years ago. But the book he wrote basically took the Mystery out of car manufacturing and actually marketing. It didn’t take any more to make a Caddy to a Pontiac to a Chevy. You just had to create a marketing plan for each economic level of buyers and appeal to the segments of the level. This is when General Motors sold half the car stuff around the WORLD and probably paid a quarter of the income for NBC, CBS, ABC in advertising.
    Remember the saying by GMs CEo? “Whats good for GM is good for the United States “!

    The corporate culture /tribalism in GM/General Motors was of white shirts and black suits period. No casual fridays, no gray suits, no turtle necks. Stay the corporate thought process and move up the corporate ladder . Reminds you of tall poppys syndrone? John, an tall engineer 6ft plus ,quit when he could have been in line for CEO of the whole GM shibang. I can only speculate that he saw the possiblities of technology and changing social and economic trends and being a gambler couldn’t resist. I got a neighbor who owns one of Deloeans cars and still swears its the best sports car for the money.

    Fast forward to today. GM is trying to still be the know all, fit all, car company for the world.
    But they have only about a quarter of the market. Just like CBS, ABC,NBC even Fox etc are trying to still appeal to the supposed masses. But just like GM , everybody, meaning countries around the world literally has a car manufacturing plant meaning , With the internet anybody has the technology to reach a individual, group, or masses. With videos with computer automated controlled camcorders now eliminating the skills needed for camera operators it’s the STORY period.

    I know of People you can call and have a vehicle/car made literally by ONE Person.
    That is Technology.
    The possibilities of digital filing are literally limitless. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth millions of words. There will always be countries, groups , companies, and individuals trying to CUT the TALL POPPYS that grow around us, But what if everybody is a TALL POPPY? That is Technology also.

  26. thanks pencilgod, you actually are the only honest one here, and carolyn smith they should have taught you how to proof read at the academy, this is definitely a scam.

  27. What a weird coincidence—On Feb 11, 2008 when the above comments originated, I was just coming home from the Travel Channel Academy in DC. I am an engineer/toy designer with NO Artistic or filmmaking experience and when I left the class, I said to myself ” whatever comes of it, this is a new creative outlet for me and I LOVE DOING IT”.
    Since then I have acquired all the expensive gear you describe (Z1, Mac Pro with FCStudio 2, etc). I shoot all the time and don’t even know why. I edit when I’m not shooting and don’t know why. Picasso never sold a painting in his lifetime but he painted and didn’t know why. I am no Picasso, but I feel that this is such a broad and powerful medium and the subject matter is INFINITE. The more I do it, the more I learn.

    My friends think I’m crazy, but who cares! When they watched my piece about a crew of 80 year old Habitat for Humanity volunteers being robbed at gunpoint, and rescued by the residents of the ghetto community, they cried and thanked me for showing it to them.

    It has taken me from vineyards, to pottery studios, to homeless shelters, to hot air balloons, and to places with such amazing poverty. I was given an hour long grammer lesson by a homeless street musician in Portugal. When I edit the film of him I have tears in my eyes. My computer is full of short films ov varying quality, but the experiences have enriched my life and gotten me out of my cubicle.

    I don’t have the slightest idea what to do with any of my films. I can hear Michael Rosenblum telling me my camera was shaky and I made too many establishing shots of the outside of buildings, but it is my film, not his.

    I sold two shorts to the TC this summer and made peanuts, but who cares!

    It mey be true that $$ is the scoreboard but at any endeavor, you need to walk before you run. Tiger Woods put in EIGHTEEN YEARS of focussed purposeful practice before He earned a nickel playing golf. I know we are all so much more talented than Tiger, so maybe we can earn money after only two or three years of developing our skills.

    If immediate money in the video business is your goal, go to Best Buy and sell cameras. But if you believe that you have something unique to communicate, step out from behind the counter, grab the MF camera and go tell stories about something.

    Or just give up and make it easier for guys like me to compete!

  28. Thank you Charlie, in fact I am also an engineer, or studying to be one. I found an interest in film and I think I have very unique ideas. Your comment has shown me that this class will keep giving in more ways than one. Thank you.

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