Roaming with Rocinante: A Cinematic Adventure with Alex Armitage

Embark on an adventure with filmmaker and photographer Alex Armitage as he shares insights on inspiration, advice for aspiring creators, and his use of Musicbed in his work.

Filmmaker Alex Armitage

When he’s not sharing his thoughts on the latest gear on the market, filmmaker/photographer Alex Armitage is documenting his North American road odyssey while traveling in Rocinante, his trusty Toyota 4Runner. Read his interview below to hear more about what keeps him inspired, his advice to new filmmakers, and how he utilizes Musicbed to find the right music for his adventures.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Alex Armitage: I started my full-time YouTube career making videos about landscape photography which involved mostly tutorials and in-the-field content. Six months into that, I reached a crossroads after losing my full-time job and home. I decided to live in my SUV and travel the country. I’ve been doing that for nearly three years now and over that time my channel has shifted from being more than just photography. I’ve been healing, growing, and experiencing the world in ways I never imagined I could. This journey has become a story I get to share and inspires me to create every day I wake up. 

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

One of the biggest downsides to turning a creative expression into a job is constantly pressuring yourself to keep creating. Some weeks are harder than others and I’ve learned that it’s okay to step off the gas and not beat myself up too much. I go through waves of creativity and periods of feeling uninspired. Years of going through this I’ve realized the best thing I can do to keep motivated and inspired is not burn myself out trying to force it when it just isn’t there. Find hobbies and interests that have absolutely nothing related to what I normally do. Many times I find inspiration in other aspects of my life. I’m constantly reminded that much of the creativity I have comes from my experiences in life and I can’t find that without letting myself experience new things. 

Alex Armitage taking photos in a swamp on misty morning

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

The most engaging stories are carried by visual context and unobstructed music. Take a documentary, for example. The footage during some documentaries can be completely terrible. Low quality, off-axis, shaky footage, you name it. Yet if it’s giving context to the story you’re absorbing, it doesn’t matter. If anything, some of that footage can be more impactful than a perfectly filmed piece of cinematography. Music can do so much in a story that it’s too long to list. For me, it’s what carries the viewer’s emotions through a scene or between scenes. 

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

While some of my content has a clear story that presents itself from a challenge in the day. An example would be trying to capture sunrise at a location and continually coming back over and over with no results. Eventually, after a week of trying, finally found results. I didn’t write the story though, I simply conveyed my experience to an audience. I think that distinction is important because many people craft stories or ideas first and then execute them. Many of the stories on my channel are simply about my experiences in life. Not every video I make has a specific story but there is a narrative I’ve developed for all my content that really just represents my story as a photographer. 

How important is music in your work?

Music is a big part of my videos as an expression of what I want to share in many of my stories. The majority of creators in my genre use audio without vocals. Music is incredibly important in my personal life so I like to share what I find in ways that enhance the moments in my videos. A lot of time there are traveling or transitional scenes in my work that exist to just show the beauty of nature. Filling those periods with music that fits the scene is highly important while enabling me to express a bit of my own personality in my work. 

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators just starting their careers?

As someone who focused a lot on gear in the beginning, I can say it’s just not that important. Yes, it can be fun to read about or get excited about. No shame in that, but I recall spending a lot of time reading rather than doing and that’s where the cost came in. I’d spend too much time focused on the wrong things rather than just trying to make stuff with what I had. I thought “If only I could have this or that,” and it hindered my speed of growth. Technology has come so far that many people out there are just creating with their phones. Heck, I have all kinds of equipment and many times found myself recording on my phone to tell the story instead of trying to perfect its presentation. Do more, regardless of who or what it’s for. I promise you that trying it for yourself will teach you more than any amount of video or reading material can serve you. 

Alex Armitage standing in front of the northern lights

How do you balance pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client or audience wants to see?

I think I don’t have a good balance here. I don’t follow the advice of sticking to a single genre or lane when it comes to creative strategy on YouTube. Sometimes I want to share a story about how I got a photo and other times I want to talk about an editing technique. Life is more than a single subject and photography involves a lot more than one thing. Thus I probably hurt myself and my growth a lot by remaining varied in what I make videos about. 

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

Reminding yourself that no matter how much you put yourself into your work, how well or poorly it does has no impact on who you are as a person. Your self-worth is not tied to what you create, no matter how much you put into it. There are so many outside factors that determine how well things are received that have absolutely no correlation to your work or you as a human.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

This is one of my favorite videos I’ve ever created for my channel. It tells a cohesive story wrapped up in an overview of my year. It’s hard to call this a project but I presume every week’s video is a project in some ways. I imagine it resonates with me so strongly because it feels genuine and truly shows just how much I grew in a single year. Yet it wasn’t until I created it that I realized just how far I had come. I remember when that year ended thinking “Did I do enough this year?” Then I went back and created this video and completely forgot so much that happened. I was reminded of the times I struggled and flourished. Overall putting it together ended up being mostly for me and I think that’s highly important for such a personal project and channel. At the end of the day you have to make something that fulfills your happiness and if you aren’t, then why are you creating at all?

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

A lot of the time I’ll start with genres and just listen to What’s New. Mostly because I’ve listened to everything released in the last two years in each of the genres that I use the most on my channel. Many times I’ll branch out to other genres when I want new work. I spend hours listening to music just trying to find things that resonate to my ear. Many times as soon as I hear a song I can envision the type of scene or visual it would work well with. 

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

I’ve tried other music services and none match the quality. Musicbed has hands down been the highest quality subscription licensing I’ve used. 

Explore a curated playlist of Alex’s go-to music for his films—available to license only on Musicbed.