Camera Caper is another example of the kind of creative project that seems to have taken a sharp turn because of of Covid-19.
The Covid Street book would not be under way at all were it not for the pandemic, but the situation is a little different for Not the Gear host, author, and creator Dan M Lee’s Camera Caper. The disease didn’t create it, but it sure changed things, and perhaps for the better.
The pre-Covid plan
Before the pandemic took hold, Dan and Adam were regularly on the phone planning a photography road trip to be caught on camera, and in discussions with studios through a Hollywood agent. It all seemed very promising, even it it meant spending so long on the phone Dan is now known as Adam’s “boyfriend” by his 4-year old.
As fans of Top Gear from the heyday, the pair were well aware of the need to provide an element of chance to enhance the trip. Anyone can go on a road-trip, and the market is already flooded with preachy photography tutorials – to work on TV it needed that little bit more.
The pair had – and have – no trouble getting into arguments, but needed the means of directing those into useful discussion. Dan, too, was keen that the trip include unplanned elements and Adam suggested rolling a dice to decide between some of the weird and wonderful locations the USA would offer (fun fact: the USA has a Spam museum).
The show format that Dan, Adam and their agent hit upon didn’t quite have producers wandering from off-camera with envelopes (the world has moved on, and TV budgets have not), but it’s certainly fair to say that Dan didn’t stop at the dice, or just wait when the news turned sour.
Covid Changes Plans
Eventually – and in fairness noticeably quicker than their respective governments – Adam, in London, and Dan, in New York, did come to accept that international travel wasn’t safe or practical. The further step of an extended period inside a vehicle with circulating air might not be the most rational plan. Moreover the threat of being quarantined (or being forced to remain an unwelcome guest of the USA for an undetermined period) had very little appeal.
It was also by no means guaranteed that an airline which took you to a country would still be trading by the time you wanted to go back. All of those worries were enough to slow Adam down, but Dan’s creative juices were unaffected. In fact the dice solution had never been enough for him, and now he began seeing the proposed road trip not as a TV series but as a game, to be enjoyed either for those planning road trips, or those conducting them.
In other words, Adam was a bit disappointed that his road trip and much deserved outing at as a superstar seemed, like so many things, to have fallen prey to a Covid-19 induced hiatus. “Perhaps in a few months,” he thought, while at the same time devoting more and more time to the increasing effort required to manage the growing supply of #CovidStreet images.
Game On for Dan
No, nothing to do with Samantha Janus (that’s an obscure British comedy reference there, well done if you got it). Dan didn’t stop thinking about the game, and didn’t stop working on it. In the UK, with schools closed, Adam had other worries. He’d have what felt like a little chat about cards being “quite a nice idea” or something only to find out that – what seemed only moments later – Dan was choosing the colour and type and printing a draft set.
Dan, too, was not shy of the “boring” or potentially expensive bits of the work, so while others might make the mistake of not contacting patent lawyers, Dan certainly did. Similarly as the idea developed (mostly) in his mind, he didn’t let lockdown stop him talking to software developers, designers, and even a videographer.
The result has been something that started as a way to make a fun TV show work better becoming something which could make any road trip more interesting. A set of cards can be shuffled and drawn to suggest subjects and provide just enough of a rule to help select your next destination without using town names that would leave you stranded.
If you imagine being in one location and working your way toward another, each time you set your sat nav for the next leg of the journey, the game will compel you to take explore the local map that little bit more, and inevitably result in setting a route that little bit beyond the beaten track.
Making a Test Run
At this point, it was time to invest a little mode, and while Adam did a little bit of playing with InDesign files (he does, after all, have a background in publishing), Dan took his own wallet to the printers and bravely committed to a small run to make sure things were working, and to give him something to put on camera. The result was, frankly, pretty exciting – it already looks good.
Time for a Kickstart
It has to be said that developing games and getting patents is not exactly without cost. There are app developers. There are the aforementioned lawyers. There are designers. There is time spent on boxes and there is time spent making sure the whole thing works. It’s not an accident that the specific letters for next location occur the number of times they do in the pack – things have been checked.
Sadly wishing money will appear doesn’t make it so, and to his lasting regret Adam isn’t blessed with a magic money tree either, but – as we’ve already established – Dan is confident he has a product people will love and the internet has a solution for this situation: Kickstarter.
So what exactly are you Kickstarting?
After some experimentation, the plan is to launch the Card Game, make the TV Show and produce a Book via Kickstarter. Investors can expect the game to include some extra special elements just for them, so if you want to take a look at what’s on offer, look at the Kickstarter Page.
For a bit more detail, you can see the designs of the Move Card and Challenge Cards that make up the Card Game on the CameraCaper.com site, as well as sign up for a newsletter to be kept abreast of the developments.