TurnHere's Travel Videos

Susan Gerhard August 18, 2006

Now that your shampoo and shaving cream are under surveillance, you may require that extra ounce of motivation to get on an airplane and actually go somewhere. As entertaining as travel writing has been over the years, it’s no match for the power of images in conveying the taste, touch, look, and feel of a destination. Think about it: Ten minutes of Tsai Ming-liang’s Taipei v. a chapter from a “Let’s Go” book? You get the picture. But while every traveler with a camera is not necessarily re-creating a Wim Wenders’-style take on America (in the era of easy uploadability, it was only a matter of time before inept personal travel blogs would overpopulate YouTube), there is one resource on the Net where some of the best travel videos have congregated, and it’s aptly named TurnHere.

I stumbled upon the Emeryville company’s quirky cache of three-and-one-half-minute travelogues via a video about one of my own much frequented ‘hoods, 22nd and Mission, in San Francisco, by indie director Mario de la Vega (director of “Robbing Peter,” which was nominated for four Independent Spirit awards). Marc Capelle — San Francisco native who plays for American Music Club as well as the Porchlight series — narrates a journey to the Make-Out Room that climaxes with the revelation that the hole-in-the-wall bar and performance space actually turned down the City’s most famous music legend’s proposal to shoot a music video there. The bar didn’t want celebrity, and neither do TurnHere’s videos. They generally feature local characters offering up the local character — urban legends, indigenous delicacies — as they walk, drive, and inhabit a place.

TurnHere’s Director of Content, Kelly Duane (the artist behind indie-music-inflected “Monumental: David Brower’s Fight to Save Wild America”) says the site is designed “to help the traveler get an inside look into all that is local around the world.” That would be music, food, kids, cobblestones, cachaça, and pulke. The company does commercial work for high-end luxury real-estate agents, universities, hotel chains, and cable TV stations in support of its editorial projects, creations by the likes of de la Vega, Chris Kenneally and Danielle Franco (who previously made “Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating”), and Kelly Whalen (director of “The Fire Next Time”).

SF360 asked Duane for some of her favorite travelogue shorts, Bay Area and beyond, in the growing TurnHere collection.

1. 22nd & Mission

When you reach the Make-Out Room, you have arrived.

2. SF Tango Life

The City That Knows How learns something new.

3. The Gourmet Ghetto

Think globally, eat locally, from The Cheese Board to Chez Panisse.

4. D St. Western Addition

D Street: Great barbecue, busy cops, The Independent, and medicinal herbs.

5. Ferry Plaza

More food for foodie thought.

6. Filmmaker’s Portland

See what became of Drugstore Cowboy’s low-rent hangout.

7. Hollywood Nights

An arty, color-saturated tour of H-wood’s moody, historic streets.

8. I Love NYC … Pizza Pt. 1

Crazy Legs Conti makes a triumphant return to the table.

9. Hell’s Kitchen, NYC

A sewer artist stomps on rooftops, offers reasons why the term “Clinton” won’t stick to Hell’s Kitchen.

10. West 70s

A singing tour of the West Side’s stories, from John Lennon to the Babe Ruth.

11. Brazil, Central Market

How much for that bottle of cachaça?!

12. Solvang, CA

Archival footage makes the short about this Danish-kitsch enclave 150 miles north of Los Angeles more than a Sideways glance.

13. Mexico City

Coyoacan, “place of coyotes,” cobblestones, churches, elote, pulke!

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