3 Days, 3 Nights

Japan Filmmaker Workshop

Jesse Driftwood is going to show you around Kyoto Japan and teach you how to master videos for the internet. With the small streets of Kyoto as your playground, Jesse is going to show you how to find the story, compose your shots, and edit with effective transitions. His unique, cinematic but raw style of filmmaking, translates to any level.

  • Places

    • Japan
    • Arashiyama
    • Kyoto
    • Daigoji Temple
  • Guides

  • Activity Level

    • Level 1: Easy
  • Skill Level

    • Level 2: Good
Moment Travel
Japan Filmmaker Workshop
$0 USD

What we'll do

Film Kyoto, Japan with Jesse Driftwood (@jessedriftwood) as your guide and master teacher. Ablaze with the fiery colors of autumn, Kyoto is the perfect backdrop for a three day filmmaker workshop packed with exploring, shooting, and editing. You’ll spend three nights in a local ryokan, soaking up traditional Japanese hotel vibes in the heart of Kyoto. Steps away from the Gion District, this area is rich with small streets, neon nights, and small omg restaurants.

Jesse will take you on early morning adventures to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, where you’ll see the transition from a sleepy grove of towering bamboo canes to a bustling pathway full of both locals and foreigners alike. You’ll learn to shoot an entire story in one location at the Daigoji Temple Complex, with its winding trails up and down the mountainside.

The schedule is packed with evening editing sessions where you’ll learn techniques for finding and building drama in your edits, keeping people from clicking out of your video, and creating cinematic edits of everyday surroundings. And, perhaps most importantly, we’ll take you to all the best places for local foodie favorites such as yakiniku, shabu shabu, and all the ramen you can eat to help you stay fueled and focused.

Although autumn in Kyoto is generally cool with lots of sunshine, weather can be unpredictable and it might be quite rainy, so don’t forget to pack a rain shell along with your walking shoes!

Your Guides

    Tour Preview



    Day 0: Arrival in Kyoto & Group Orientation

    • Summary:

      Arrive in Kyoto at your leisure, whether it’s from another city in Japan or your home country. Check-in to our ryokan starts at about 3 p.m., but you can always drop your bags early. Explore the streets with our DIY guide, or grab some tea at a tea house nearby. We’ll meet in the evening to go over the next few days and have an early dinner before heading back to the ryokan to relax, get to know each other, and get a good night’s rest.

    • Food:

      Local hotspot for dinner

    • Lodging:

      Local Ryokan or Airbnb

    Day 1: Composing a Vertical Frame & Shooting Effective Transitions

    • Summary:

      Welcome to Kyoto! We’ll start our workshop right after breakfast with a couple hours together to go over the itinerary and answer any initial questions. Then, we’ll dive into some fundamentals of process and workflow, as well as some techniques for shooting in crowded places and finding a story. Once we’ve got the basics down, we’ll hop on the metro to Fushimi Inari Shrine, where we’ll film underneath hundreds of red torii gates. If you wait long enough, you might be able to get a few clips without anyone in them — or you can use other visitors as a focal point of your filming. Our next stop is Kiyomizu-dera, also known as Pure Water Temple. Built in 780, it’s one of the most revered temples in Japan and offers sweeping views of Kyoto on a clear day. From there, we’ll film our way through the Gion District, ending our morning’s adventure at the Hokanji temple, with a stop at a nearby hotspot for okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese pancakes. Head back to the ryokan for a little free time, which you can use for some relaxation in the traditional onsen, or get started on some editing. Later in the afternoon, we’ll have our first formal editing session, focusing on transitions. After a few hours, we’ll hit the streets to eat our fill of ramen, but don’t forget your gear in case we do some impromptu street shooting before heading back to the ryokan. You can continue editing if you’d like, or make it an early night.

    • Photo Spots:

      Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera, Hokanji Temple, Yasaka Shrine

    • Food:

      We'll have breakfast at the Ryokan, enjoy okonomiyaki for lunch, and grab ramen for dinner.

    • Lodging:

      Local Ryokan or Airbnb

    • Video Challenge:

      This day will be focused on shooting 1x 45 second IG story! It can be about anything, but has to be shot that day.

    Day 2: Single Location Stories & Shooting for a Brand

    • Summary:

      This morning we’ll have an early start, hopping on the first train to Arashiyama at 5:30 a.m. Arashiyama is slightly outside of Kyoto, and its most famous attraction is the Bamboo Grove, which will be the first stop of the day. We’ll spend plenty of time meandering through the paths of the towering bamboo stalks, enjoying the feeling of being completely surrounded by green in the middle of such a populous area. As some of the first visitors here, we’ll watch as the grove comes alive with locals and foreigners alike. After getting some breakfast, we’ll hop back on the train and head towards the Daigoji Temple grounds, a sprawling complex of paths, shrines, and temples that will be surrounded by fiery autumn foliage. The reds, yellows, and oranges will be a great contrast to the bamboo forest from early today, and you should have plenty of time to implement some new techniques in your videography. We’ll make our own lunch at a sushi making class before heading back to the ryokan for some down time. You can do a bit of editing, head to the onsen, or maybe take a little nap before we convene in the afternoon for an intensive editing session. This evening, we’ll head back to the Gion District for dinner and a night shoot, where you’ll take on the difficulties of shooting in low light and in crowded places. It will be great for your videos to have shots of the same district in different light/conditions, so we’ll spend some time on the streets before heading back to the ryokan for the night.

    • Photo Spots:

      Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Daigoji Temple, Hanamikoji Dori

    • Food:

      We'll have breakfast at the Ryokan, lunch at our sushi making class, and grab Shabu Shabu (Japanese hot pot) for dinner.

    • Lodging:

      Local Ryokan or Airbnb

    • Video Challenge:

      Shoot 1x IG Post that works as a spec shoot for a brand. We are hitting 3 spots and will work with those locations to shoot an edit for Instagram.

    Day 3: Finding the Right Music & Pacing your Edit

    • Summary:

      We’ll start with a morning editing session right after breakfast so we can go through our footage and learn some final editing techniques. You’ll have a bit of time to pack your bags after we finish our editing session. We’ll drop them at the front desk while we go out for one final shooting adventure to the Nishiki Market, right around the corner from the ryokan. There’s plenty of hustle and bustle in the aisles of this market, with all sorts of foods, spices, and other wares being sold. Finally, we’ll have a farewell lunch of yakiniku before it’s time to collect your bags and head home, or continue with your adventure in Japan.

    • Photo Spots:

      Nishiki Market

    • Food:

      We'll have breakfast at the Ryokan, and a mouthwatering lunch of yakiniku (Japanese barbeque).

    • Video Challenge:

      Today is all about putting the final touches on your IG Story and IG Post. You’ll polish, deliver and post the final assets.

    Where we're going

    Daigoji Temple: Also known as the Temple of Flowers, this complex sprawls across the Daigo-san mountain and is a world heritage site. An important temple for the Shingon sect, the first temple was built in 874 at the top of the mountain. The 5 story pagoda is now the main temple and the oldest building in Kyoto. The perfect place for finding textures and details, we’ll create an entire story in this location.

    Fushimi Inari Shrine: Thousands of torii gates stretch across a network of trails leading to the wooded forest of sacred Mount Inari. With patience, you’ll get shots devoid of people, or you can use the crowds to tell part of your story.

    Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: One of the most popular places for locals and foreigners alike, this pathway winds through towering canes of bamboo that come together above your head and create a sort of tunnel. This is a perfect place to focus on implementing techniques for shooting cinematic vertical video.

    Hanamikoji Dori: The Gion District is full of winding alleyways, local restaurants, and small shrines. We’ll spend time here both during the day and at night so you can shoot footage of the same area with a very different vibe. This is one of the most historic areas of Kyoto, and it’s quite likely you see many Geisha strolling through the streets.


    What You Will Learn

    This workshop will focus on short form storytelling and how to make videos for social media. We’ll dive into my ethos behind shooting for the internet, how I got started and how I’ve made a name for myself shooting vertical video. A few things we’ll learn about…

    How to shoot GOOD vertical video: Shooting vertical video comes down to the same techniques as shooting horizontally, just flipped. We’re going to discuss why vertical is important for social media content, as well as focus on techniques for composing vertical shots while still making your work feel cinematic.

    Finding stories and building drama in your edits: When I’m making videos for the internet, there’s always a punchline, a pay off. But sometimes, that payoff isn’t immediately apparent— you have to hunt for it. Learn how to work with your environment, read what you’re given and turn that into an engaging story.

    How to keep people from clicking off your video: With ever fading attention spans, you have to focus on keeping the attention of your viewer. You are in competition with the entire internet, so we’ll practice shooting & editing techniques that will keep your audience hooked.

    How to shoot and edit effective transitions: Most people have a love/hate relationship with transitions, this is mainly because a lot of transitions seemed forced and take away from the story, rather than add to it. We’ll touch on how to shoot transitions, when to use them, and how to best sell the effect in post.

    How to polish and finalize your edits: Being a skilled shooter and editor go hand in hand. We’ll focus a lot on post production and how to polish and finalize edits. You’ll learn about my need to be precise about certain cuts but also my style of letting things slide when I know I only have an hour to edit. It all comes down to efficiency and prioritizing what makes the edit entertaining.

    How to tell an entire story in under a minute: It’s simple — a beginning, middle and end. What makes this difficult is when you have a minute or less. We’ll dive into introducing characters, your environment, and how to choose what shots work best for your storyline.

    What's Included

    • HotelCreated with Sketch.

      3 nights in a Ryokan/Airbnb (price per person, based on double occupancy)

    • Photography teacherCreated with Sketch.

      Videography and editing lessons

    • CampingCreated with Sketch.

      3 great meals per day (except dinner on day 3)

    • TransportationCreated with Sketch.

      Transportation around Kyoto

    • Ticket-Entrancefee-ActivityCreated with Sketch.

      Entrance to all activities

    • DiscountsCreated with Sketch.

      20% off gear from the Moment Shop

    What's Not Included

    • Airfare to Japan
    • Transportation to/from Kyoto
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Insurance of any kind, including travel insurance
    • Visas or visa processing fees
    • Dinner on day 3