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Filmmaker Focus: Kelly Needleman

Paulo Palha

Sixteen-year-old Kelly Needleman shares his insights and tips on starting a successful filmmaker career.

At Travideo, we’re all about celebrating creative talent and encouraging people to broaden their travel horizons. With this in mind, we decided to chat to our network of professional filmmakers about what inspired them to explore the world of film and photography and (most importantly!) what’s on their travel bucket list.


First in our series is the talented Kelly Needleman — a sixteen-year-old professional filmmaker from the U.S. with a passion for exploring the world’s most beautiful landscapes. Being so young, Kelly is a fantastic role model for aspiring filmmakers, proving age and experience isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to travel films; what’s important is your creativity, skill and passion.


Since Kelly began focusing on his creative career, he’s gone on to build a diverse portfolio filled with time-lapse features, drone footage and more. Exploring everywhere from Italy to California, Norway to New York, this young prodigy is already making a name for himself in the industry.


Kelly Needleman

Q: What got you into videography and what was the first travel video you ever made?

Kelly: Before I began creating short films, I primarily photographed landscapes. I then moved on to record through time-lapse video, inspired by the beauty of nature. It was a natural progression from photography to filmmaking — I wanted to document and share the spectacular sites I was lucky enough to experience. My first travel film was “24 Hours in Norway”.


Q: What’s your favourite camera to use for shooting video?

Kelly: Over the past year, I’ve been using my Canon 6D DSLR camera for all of my short films. I have also incorporated drone shots from my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This footage is showcased in my recent film, “Flying Over Italy”, now available on Travideo. I am currently looking at cinema cameras such as Blackmagic and Canon C200 for future films.


Q: What’s the best destination you’ve ever visited to shoot a video?

Kelly: My favourite destination was actually my most recent venture — a trip to the Dolomites in Northern Italy. The natural beauty of the area combined with the amazing cloud formations and fog movements created such dramatic footage of this epic location.


Q: Which destination is at the top of your travel bucket list and why?

Kelly: One location at the top of my bucket list is Patagonia, South America. Thankfully, I’m fortunate enough to be visiting this beautiful place in the Spring of 2019. I will be traveling with a group of friends for a 2-week camping trip, where I’ll be documenting our visit to hopefully create another travel film.


Q: If you could give one piece of advice to budding filmmakers, what would it be?

Kelly: Never give up: keep shooting and creating content at all times. Teach yourself new techniques and experiment with editing to enhance your footage. Post and share your films online and get feedback from other filmmakers.


Q: How would you recommend turning filmmaking from a hobby into a job?

Kelly: It’s all about taking risks. I may only be sixteen-years-old, but thanks to perseverance and self-belief, I’m a self-taught professional filmmaker and photographer. I’ve started my own production company, creating short films for clients. I’ve just finished writing a script for a feature film, with plans to shoot and direct this summer. My goal is to keep creating quality work while studying at a Film & Business college. My advice is to create, collaborate and work out of your comfort zone. Always push yourself to the next level and beyond.


Kelly’s stunning video, ‘Flying Over Italy’, is now available to watch on Travideo. Check it out!


Also, follow him on Twitter and Instagram and check out his page on Travideo to keep up to date with his work.

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