Interview with Lat&Long Junkie, the maker of GIFF 2017 favorite: Geocaching is free

At GIFF festival in Tampere, Finland we had a voting for the best film. Geocaching is Free movie from Australia woin the hearts of the audience and was voted as the best film of this years GIFF. In addition, we had a three member jury with members from the Finnish film making industry and one experienced geocacher. They chose Geocaching is Free as the best film of the festival, too. It was our honor to interview the film maker Lat&Long Junkie for this website. While most of the content on this site is in Finnish, we feel that it might be a service to a bigger audience to publish this interview also in English. So here we go.

– What made you participate in the GIFF contest?

I first heard about the GIFF in 2014. My friend Kerrie, who appears in the film, found the GIFF web page and we started looking at existing videos we’d made. Nothing was really suitable so we set our sights on 2015 and we made the film “Geoman”. When I was notified that it was short-listed, the Groundspeak staff told me it was “quite a hit around the office”. This was the year the Block Party was rained out so there was no film festival that year. Groundspeak didn’t declare a winner. Honestly, I think Geoman had a chance to be in third place, but probably not a winner.

– Where did you get the idea for the film?

The idea evolved over time rather than popped into my head. I have been geocaching by car, motorcycle, bicycle, kayak, Segway, bus, train. We had a holiday to South America one year, so I have been geocaching by overland truck, moto-taxi and ship. Looking at the list of transport options, I began thinking of the cost of finding some of these geocaches.

– Many geocachers can surely relate to the story. Where did you get the idea for the movie?

Oh yes, geocachers can relate to the story. I think that is why it was so popular. Most of the audience would have seen themselves spending money early in the film. At the viewings I attended, the repeated scene of the credit card received a bigger reaction each time it was shown. Many of the messages I received through the geocaching messenger service spoke of people seeing themselves in the film.

Is it based on a true story ? 😉

Yes and no. I have never printed money or been in jail. I have however, bought a bicycle and kayak and changed my car to a van with geocaching in mind.

Credit card that was seen multiple times in the film looked like this.

– What is the most expensive item you have bought for geocaching?

I really can’t claim the van as a geocaching purchase, so probably my GPSr is the most expensive item I have bought. The first one was, as in the film, given to me as a present by my wife. I was learning to fly at the time and it had some aeronautical capabilities. It was a Garmin GPSmap96. It sadly passed away in 2015 at the age of 9 years. I have a Garmin Oregon 600 now.

Segwaylla hooning.

– I think also muggles can relate to the film. It does not have to be geocaching that becomes surprisingly expensive when you get into it. Did you consider this when making the film?

No, not at all. The film was aimed at geocachers only. The reason for spending all the money was never explained. Geocachers knew what I was doing and why. Muggles who view the film with geocaching friends, probably have a good understanding of the story line, but anyone else would struggle to appreciate it. The film didn’t explain anything about geocaching. At the end where it is assumed a hoard of FTF hunters invade the jail and I make my escape, you really need to have an understanding of geocaching to see that.

 

– Did you have a group of people making the film or did you do it by yourself?

This film was made with my friend Kerrie. Her geocaching name is PigWig2. Her movie “Geo Early Learning” was a finalist this year as well. She has a Canon Legria HF G30 camcorder. We use that for most things. We both have a GoPro 4 Silver. Both of us make suggestions as we go along. In this film, whenever you see me, Kerrie is behind the camera. In the scene in the café where she hands me the kayak business card, my wife Louise was recording us with her Canon still camera. That wasn’t planned as I had another idea entirely. Quite often the best video is when you’re trying to work out what to do. It’s more natural and we have had many happy instances where we look at the video and think, “that’s pretty good. Let’s use it.”

I should probably say here that I have been married to Louise for 36 years. Kerrie is a dear friend we met through geocaching. I tease her sometimes about being my video wife.

– How long it took you to make the movie?

The first piece of video was shot on 30th September 2016. The final MP4 version was produced in May 2017. So approximately 8 months. Not that I was working on it all that time. I have to work during the week, so weekends are the only time I can work on film making. Also, my friend Kerrie lives an hour away so we can’t just say, “hey, let’s play video today”. It often takes a few phone calls to organise a play date.

Kerrie’s 2000th find.

– Have you been making films before the GIFF movie? What is your experience in film making?

I bought my first Super 8 movie camera in 1976. I upgraded to a better camera after a while and my last piece of super 8 film is dated somewhere in 1983. In 1982 I attended a film making course with the vague hope of getting a job in the television industry. That never happened, but the course taught me there is a lot more going on with film making than just waving a camera around. It was probably around 2005 when I discovered digital cameras could take video. Then it was not until 2014 that Kerrie and I made our first film together.

We have a You Tube channel called wof tam where we have posted our videos. The address is:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCke610e-Wr-FNl__nWZgjIA

These days I spend a lot of time writing a script before we start recording. Not once has the finished film been a faithful representation of the script. I think that’s a good thing, because both Kerrie and I will make changes and suggestions as we go along. If I was to give anyone advice on making a movie, I would say, “have a plan”. You don’t necessarily have to stick to it, but you need something, even if it’s only a list of ideas.

– What was the hardest part in making the film?

Definitely the hardest part was staying within the 4 minute time limit. I had a lot of ideas for spending money, but anything will get boring if you watch enough of it. We kept cutting things out of the script with the idea that less is more. A short film has to keep the audience’s attention. For instance, buying the van in the film took only 10 seconds. The audience only needs to know the basics. When they can fill in the blanks in the story, it speeds up the story and keeps them interested.

Film making on a very sunny day

– Was there any funny incidents during the filming that you would like to share?

There were no incidents that would make anyone laugh out loud, but I can tell you that it is very difficult to pretend to buy a kayak without a salesperson wanting to help you. Also, it is apparently illegal in Australia to use a video camera while filling your petrol tank. In the past we have had situations where we both couldn’t stop laughing, we’d forget our lines or trip over something. Not this time however. I’m not sure if we are getting better, or were just extremely lucky.

Then couple of general geocaching questions:

– How long you have been caching and how many finds do you have?

I started caching in January 2006, so 11½ years. At first I went crazy finding every cache I could. We all do that, right? At one stage, I was living and working on opposite sides of the city. I would find caches every afternoon on the way home and on Fridays when I finished work at 12:30 I would spend the whole afternoon caching. A couple of times, I left work on Friday and came home on Saturday night. As you saw in the video, the van was ideal for camping out overnight. I was really piling up the numbers then and at the time I reached 3000, I was the number 2 finder in the state of Queensland. I slowed down after that and when 4000 passed by I suddenly experienced what people call cache burnout. Finding isn’t so important now. I like to make interesting hides, mostly multi-caches with a lengthy walk involved. Kerrie and I have made a few videos to promote my newer caches. My latest hide is my favourite. “IT” – GC71AN8. There are two ways to find the cache. You can find the six waypoints or walk 900 metres through a storm water drain where you will find a tag that tells you where the final location is. These videos are also on our wof tam You Tube channel.

– What kind of caches you enjoy most? (Cache type or type of container or location…)

I don’t like micro caches very much. I like to find an ammo box or similar. Even if there is nothing to swap, just a log book, it tells you the owner cared a little more to spend some money (geocaching is not free) and make the hide something substantial. As for cache type, I will look at the occasional puzzle, but more often a nice walk in the bush or up a mountain makes the outing more interesting. One of the original ideas of geocaching was to take people to a place you liked and they possibly didn’t know of. Sitting in the middle of nowhere with a cup of tea and a sandwich, looking at the view is always going to make me happy. Of course, I might have nearly died getting there, but when you have to earn a reward, it is always better.

Sitting on top of a mountain

– What is your most memorable geocaching moment?

Before the GIFF events happened this year, that would have been a difficult question to answer. Although, standing beside flowing lava in Guatemala for a virtual cache (GCGCXA) was very interesting. Now of course, it is the reaction to my film. I have received more than 90 messages from 24 countries in relation to my film. Many told me the film won the audience vote by a large margin, others were from people who attended an event and wanted to say how much they liked the film. When the winner was announced, I was disappointed of course, but I think the Vilnius movie was more in line with the theme of the GIFF which was, “The Art of Geocaching”. So although I didn’t win the Signal Award, I won a lot of audience votes at events, I have been offered event log books, geocoins, a T-shirt and even a box of oranges because that’s what they feed prisoners in Italy. Geocachers are such crazy, wonderful people.

Volcano in Pacaya, Guatemala.

– Any greetings you want to send to Finnish geocachers?

To all the geocachers reading this I say, Hyvää huomenta. That is the limit of my Finish language skills and if you are not reading this in the morning, then it makes no sense at all.

I would like to thank everyone who voted for my film. As you can probably tell, I am overwhelmed by the response. I have spent many hours over the last few nights replying to all the messages. Something else you may find strange is that I have never found a geocache in the snow. I have found two earthcaches in Antarctica, but never a traditional. There is not much chance of snow here in Brisbane, Australia. The coldest temperature I have ever known here is only 3°C. We only have ice in our refrigerators and snow is something we see on television. So when you come to my city to find my caches, leave your snow shoes and cross-country skis at home.

Richard (Lat&Long Junkie)

 

61°23° Tampere wants to say big thanks to Lat&Long Junkie for the interview! I hope we can see new film from Australia next year again.

By the way, here is your chance to get good look at the “Just for the Articles” magazine cover that was featured in the film itself.

Just for the articles

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