Published in the June 21 – July 4, 2017 of Morgan Hill Life

The summer vacation season is here. We’re now in the time of year where families enjoy get-aways exploring the world both locally and in far-away places. “Summertime is always the best of what might be,” said novelist Charles Bowden. We agree with the truth of that sentiment … especially here in the South Valley.

We at Life Media Group wish to make this summer an extra special one for local families. We want to give our residents an opportunity to share their summer fun memories with everyone. That’s why we are partnering with Morgan Hill’s Poppy Jasper Film Festival to put together a fun and friendly video-making contest focusing on the theme “2017 Summertime Fun.”

We encourage all residents to tap into their filmmaking talent and create videos between one and three minutes in length showing us the fun they had during the summer. Contestants must send us the links uploaded online to YouTube by Sept. 15. Send them to marty@morganhilllife.com. CMAP and Poppy Jasper judges will select three winners from the entries. The first-place prize is a $100 gift certificate to Ladera Grill in Morgan Hill. The second-place prize is a $50 gift certificate to Rosy’s at the Beach restaurant and the third-place prize is a $25 gift certificate to Rosy’s.

There are plenty of summertime fun activities to inspire a family-fun video starring the South Valley region. We have one of California’s best amusement attractions for young children at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park on Hecker Pass. Kids and parents can make a fun video of themselves enjoying veggie-themed rides and walking through the famous “Circus Trees” that helped to inspire the park.

We encourage families to also be inspired in their video-making by taking a visit to many of the natural wonders of county parks in the region. These include the ranching history of Harvey Bear-Coyote Lake County Park, the redwoods of Mt. Madonna, and the long and winding Coyote Creek Trail that is a nearly 20-mile paved biking/hiking path leading through the beautiful Coyote Valley into the heart of San Jose. We also recommend the ruggedness of the Henry W. Coe State Park which has several trails suitable for young children to discover the wilderness of our region.

Pack up a picnic and head to one of these parks for your video-making endeavor — or maybe just have a fun outing to throw a Frisbee or play tag at one of the many fine local city parks that are in Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

There are also many community events for families to spend quality time filming a video at during the summer months. The weekends kick-off most Fridays with music and food in both downtown Gilroy and Morgan Hill. The Downtown Gilroy Business Association puts on its Fifth Street Live concert series, which includes Moveable Feast food trucks and crowds dancing to the beat of great music. And Morgan Hill holds at the Downtown Amphitheater the immensely popular Friday Night Music Series.

The summer in the South Valley includes two major events that create plenty of opportunities to create a great video spotlighting the spirit of our South Valley community. The Freedom Fest celebration of America takes place in Morgan Hill July 3 and July 4. It features Patriotic Sings at the Downtown Amphitheater, the Independence Day Parade, and the grand finale of fireworks blazing-up the night sky over the Outdoor Sports Center. Also in July, the 39th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will be held with plenty of video opportunities including parents and kids eating garlic-flavored ice cream and enjoying the menu items from Gourmet Alley.

To participate in our “Summer Fun” video-making contest, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. Your smart phone’s video camera is capable of taking good quality images and sound. And you can even edit on the phone using video-editing apps such as iMovie for iPhone and iPads. You might even want to take your creativity to another level with 3-D, creating a virtual reality video using an editing system such as Splash that can be seen on a VR headset such as the basic Google Cardboard or the more elaborate Occulus. We ask that you do not use copy-righted music or images unless you obtain permission from the artist.

What advice might we give budding Steven Spielbergs in making their video of South Valley summer fun? We suggest you tell a simple story that engages the viewer. And show, don’t tell. Allow the images of South Valley you record to take the viewers to the places you go. Show us your friends and family having fun by video-recording them in candid moments where they’re just being themselves doing what they enjoy. Think in terms of “shots” and avoid filming everything you see — that can make editing your video a headache. Instead, have the final video in mind when you’re shooting, and be selective. Try to shoot clips that vary in length. Document the “moments” that are special to your summer memory story. Think of your “Summertime Fun” video as a highlight reel of the special moments of the summer season.

Finally, have fun. If you’re having fun in your video, chances are viewers will have fun watching it. We can’t wait to see what you produced for our “2017 Summertime Fun” contest.