5 Film Genres GIFF Audiences Love

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Attention film-making geocachers and geocaching filmmakers! You now have 58 days to plan, write, film, edit, and submit your original short film to the Geocaching International Film Festival! That’s less time than you had yesterday and more time than you’ll have tomorrow.

The film submission deadline is August 1, 2018. Learn about submitting a film.

Before you perfect your plots and acquire your actors, read on to learn about five film genres that made successful showings at GIFFs of the past. Of course, your film need not fit perfectly into any of these categories, but we suggest using them to kick off your GIFF brainstorming session.

#1 | You Might Be a Geocacher If…

This type of GIFF film is built around an inside joke or experience that only a geocacher understands. It invites the audience to laugh along—or groan in sympathy—with the narrator as she encounters a comical, frustrating, charming, or eyeroll-inducing situation, one that most geocachers encounter at some point during their geocaching careers. Here are some examples from previous years:

Geocaching Is Free (2017)

A Cacher’s Worst Nightmare (2016)

It’s Not About the Numbers (2016)

NYC Caching: Muggle Madness (2016)

My Geocaching Addiction (2013)

The plots in the five films above could be summarized in a single sentence that begins with, “You might be a geocacher if…”. For example, with the film Geocaching is Free, the sentence would be, “You might be a geocacher if you end up spending half your monthly paycheck on geocaching gear.” Of course that’s not true for all geocachers all the time, but many a cacher has faced the temptation of buying the newest GPS, the most waterproof hiking boots, or the latest in tupperware technology in pursuit of a cache.

The key is that the audience can participate in a collective giggle at the humor, a groan at the irony, or a head shake at the folly of the situation the narrator has encountered. Note that this genre of film is the least interesting to muggles… at least until they’re converted!

#2 | What if?

In November 2015 the world asked, “What if ballerinas geocached?” and California cacher stingrayabbray answered. Her film, How to Geocache Like a Ballerina, was a huge international hit.

The film genre we’re calling “What if?” is the polar opposite of the “You might be a geocacher if…” genre. It takes a familiar part of geocaching reality and inventively twists it on its head. What if one day all bison tubes turned into bisons? What if the cachers become the cached? What if two geocachers got married, had a kid, and that kid was actually a lock-n-lock? (FYI, that last one is already taken!)

Check out these imaginative finalist films from recent years:

The Future of Geocaching (2017)

Little Geo-rge (2017)

5 Lesser-Known Souvenirs (2016)

Geocaching, Orchestrated (2016)

How to Geocache Like a Ballerina (2015)

The Future of Geocaching (2015)

Signal (2015)

GeoDouble (2014)

This genre is inexhaustible, so it’s a pretty great one to start with if you’re in the beginning stages of brainstorming. The only limits you’ll face are technical, logistical, and of course, those set forth in the submission rules.

#3 | Personal Story / Drama

Not every film has to be funny. (You’re joking! No, I’m literally not. That’s the point.)

The GIFF finalist films from the past few years might make it seem like comedies are received better than serious films, but the list of finalists is often more a reflection of submission trends than an audience preference for comedy. Geocaching HQ receives far more submissions of humorous films than serious ones, so most of the finalists have been comedies in recent years. That being said, we truly love watching earnest stories about geocaching, and if they elicit more tears than laughter that’s fine with us too.

The 2016 Signal Award Winner was an uplifting story about how geocaching changed one woman’s life. It joined a strong contingent of lovely and sometimes intense films that show off why geocaching is special.

The Art of Geocaching (2017)

A Life of a ‘Change’ (2016)

GeoLove (2015)

The Ubercache (2013)

Remember the Fallen (2013)

The Two Mountains (2013)

We called this genre “Personal Story / Drama” because it sounds classier than “not funny”. But “not funny” is actually what we mean and we’re excited by the breadth of sub-genres. Documentaries, romances, fantasies, biographies… all contain an untold number of fresh plots that are ripe for the picking.

#4 | Musical

Not everyone is singing the praises of musicals, and we haven’t seen too many of them pass the judges’ table. But we think there’s a real chance this year for someone to make it to the finals with geocaching’s next big dancing or singing hit. (The author of this article would like to disclose at this time her complete and unequivocal enthusiasm for all musical GIFF submissions. She is not, however, a current GIFF judge).

Only five musical films have ever made the finalist list in the past:

That’s Not Trash (2016)

When I Geocache (2016)

How to Geocache Like a Ballerina (2015)

Geocaching Freak (2015)

Spend a Little Time With You (2014)

Why so few? Probably because adding an original musical score (or original choreography!) to a film requires a daunting additional modicum of effort. It can also be difficult to seamlessly layer music and/or dancing over an element of geocaching without it feeling forced. An effective option for someone creating a musical submission might be to choose a particular element of the game as their focus, then add music or dancing. For example, That’s Not Trash is a catchy pseudo-rap that pokes fun at the fine line between discarded objects that can be used for making geocaches, and pure garbage.

If you’re going this direction with your submission, it’s important to remember that the musical part of your film should be able to stand on its own without the backdrop of geocaching. In other words, the song should be pleasant, interesting, or entertaining to listen to and the dance performed well enough to be enjoyable or interesting to watch.

#5 | The FTF Hunt

Let’s talk briefly about the FTF hunt as a plot tool in GIFF films.

It’s been done.

Great, now that that’s taken care of, let’s move on to the next genre…

Alright, alright. Of course you can still make a creative and finalist-worthy GIFF film about an FTF hunt. But we’re telling you right now—it’s not going to be easy. Because it really has been done before. Eight times in four years, in fact:

FTFever (2017)

The Art of Geocaching (2017)

Spitting the Dummy (2016)

The FTF Hunter (2016)

The Deadliest Cache (2014)

First to Find – The Woodland Hunt (2014)

FTF (2013)

FTF Huntress (2013)

It’s easy to understand why an FTF hunt makes a good film plot. There’s built-in tension, because the fate of the FTF is hanging in the balance. There are heroes and anti-heroes. And it’s a plot that’s easy to twist: there was a third geocacher all along, and he’s first to find; the cache itself was muggled, and nobody’s first to find; the final cache is up a tree and our hero is afraid of heights! No denying it, FTF hunts are fun to imagine on the screen.

But because we’re so intimately familiar with how FTF hunts work both on screen and off, anyone pursuing this as a film idea really needs to do something totally unique. Maybe the production quality is stunning and the acting and dialogue exemplary. Maybe it’s based on the true story of an FTF hunt that went totally wrong in a way we’ve never seen before. Perhaps it imagines what an FTF chase might be like with a very specific and unique cast of characters. Whatever the case, if you submit an FTF hunt film to GIFF, know that it may be judged against all other FTF hunt films ever submitted. Do your research. Watch previous FTF-themed finalists to know what’s been done.

Good luck!

Six Do’s and Don’ts for GIFF Filmmakers

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The Geocaching International Film Festival is returning for another year of epic geocaching moments captured on camera.

If you’re a filmmaker, a geocacher, or something in between, GIFF 2018 is your chance to have your geocaching film viewed by thousands of people on movie screens all over the world. Submissions are due August 1, 2018.

But before you start filming, check out these do’s and don’ts of making a GIFF entry.

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1. Do read the Submission Rules

This one is pretty straightforward. You can find the rules here.

There are 1497 words on that page. Now, we know that’s a lot of fine print to digest. Here are some tips for making it through:

  • Find a comfortable spot to sit
  • Keep a snack and water nearby for stamina and hydration
  • Do take the rules seriously! We hate having to turn down awesome films because of small, preventable guideline problems.

2. Do watch films from previous years

For inspiration and context, it’s generally helpful to get to know your peers. Don’t know where to start? Check out the films from prior years for a nice variety of genres. While you’re watching, try to pinpoint one thing each film excelled at, and start to make a mental list. Then when you set out to make your film, you’ll have some ideas of what you might want to make your film excel at.

3. Don’t use music without permission

It’s in the submission rules too, but it never hurts to mention this one again. We see so many submissions come in with background music that the filmmaker doesn’t have the rights to. Yes, it definitely would be neat if you could open your film with a sunrise shot accompanied by music from The Lion King. There may be a way to get permission for that, but it’s probably expensive and difficult. Instead, we recommend using one of these free, fair-use music resources to source your tunes:

4. Do show, Don’t tell

Film is visual medium—you’ll have your audience on the edge of their seats by keeping the voiceover and dialogue short and sweet. Be merciless with your final editing. Bad lines aren’t like your children. You’re allowed to give them up if they’re awful.

5. Don’t sacrifice quality

Many GIFF filmmakers are geocachers before they’re…well…filmmakers. Which is completely fine. Your experience producing a film may not match your experience finding nanos. And let’s face it—this isn’t Cannes and it’s not Hollywood. But we do prefer videos that look and sound good on the big screen. Invest some time in figuring out how you’re going to make the audio clear and the visual crisp.

6. Do seek advice and listen to feedback

Most filmmakers will work as a team with at least one other person. This is helpful considering the work it takes to produce a GIFF film. But it’s also helpful to bounce your film ideas off of others before the final product. Collect your closest friends or family and show them your storyboard (or whatever you’re using to brainstorm). Keep in mind that your film shouldn’t be shared beyond those you consider your filmmaking team in case it becomes a finalist!

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Submission deadline is August 1, 2018!

How to Submit a Film