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TRIPPED UP Synopsis

 

Get ready for a departure from the ordinary adventure. TRIPPED UP tells the story about a travel competition in Europe with a secret agenda, surprise destinations and nine teams expecting only the unexpected. One man controls the destiny of the 18 participants as they follow a mysterious itinerary, then perform unique, hands-on activities that test them more mentally than physically. They may be vying for a cash prize, but they get more than they bargain for in the end. After all, amazing things can happen when you just let go and open yourself up to new experiences. This isn’t reality television; it’s real life — and it’s a trip.

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High-resolution graphical assets

Tripped Up Logo (png)

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Movie Poster (with trim) (pdf)

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Movie Poster (no trim) (pdf)

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Director headshot | Laura Watilo Blake (jpg)

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Cinematographer headshot | Robert Reiland (jpg)

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Executive Producer headshot | Fran Belkin (jpg)

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FILM STILL: Teams navigating a boat in Rotterdam (jpg)

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FILM STILL: Steve Belkin licks his fingers during a chocolate war in Brussels (jpg)

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FILM STILL: Teams dance on stage in Sorrento, Italy (jpg)

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Questions for the Filmmakers

How did you find out about Steve Belkin and Competitours? 

LAURA: I was introduced to Steve — based on our mutual love of travel — by his mother. At the time, he had just formed Competitours and he was about to do a test run with friends and family. I published a story about the launch of the company in a local magazine. Later, he asked me to judge the competition, which at the time looked a lot different from what it is today.


What is Competitours? 

LAURA: Competitours is a team travel competition to western Europe that The Chicago Tribune once called "The Amazing Race for regular people.” Anyone can sign up to go on this 11-day group travel experience, where participants go to several mystery destinations in Europe and perform quirky tasks to earn points and hopefully win a cash prize at the end. The website is competitours.com

 

Why did you decide to make a film about Steve Belkin and Competitours? 

LAURA: I had been wanting to do something about Steve for awhile because of his penchant for travel hacking and extreme traveling. I have a collection of stories about people who go to great lengths to go to, well, great lengths and I was looking for ways to turn it into a video series. As you can imagine, it can be pretty costly to follow around these world adventurers. It wasn’t until Fran Belkin approached me to document Competitours in 2015 that we collectively thought it was possible to do a feature-length film. While the documentary differs from my original concept, TRIPPED UP is the perfect vehicle for getting to know Steve, his entrepreneurial endeavors and his unorthodox approach to travel.


How long was the shoot, and how many different locations did you film in?

LAURA: Except for a few post-trip interviews, we filmed for 11 days in five countries. The trip started and ended in The Netherlands, with stops in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.


How did the participants react to the presence of cameras?

LAURA: Unlike The Amazing Race, the participants weren’t expecting their vacation to be filmed. However, they were given advanced notice of our presence and they could opt out of being filmed if they chose.


Any wild or funny moments during the trip?

With two cameras and 9 teams, we couldn’t possibly capture everything, including some scary moments on the Via Ferrata in the Swiss Alps. Steve (of Team Baby Fishmouth) accidentally dropped his DSLR camera down the side of a sheer rock cliff, narrowly missing other people climbing beneath him. I only heard about it once he reached the top of the mountain.


What projects do you have in the pipeline for the future?

LAURA: I am currently editing a short film for a Cleveland organization called Drink Local. Drink Tap. The film looks at the impact of climate change on those living on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I am also in the pre-production stages for a film that looks at food traditions in several places across the globe. And I’m busy currently promoting Tripped Up and my new book “Ohio: A Photographic Journey."