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Table of Contents 2



Your Route


Program FAQs


Documenting Your Road Stories

12 Uploading Your Content 14 Road Stories Packing List 15 Road Trip Safety Tips 16 Code of Conduct 17 Emergency Contacts


Our Sponsors

Dedicated to keeping drivers on the road, Sears Auto Center developed Exploring My America: Road Stories to enable the adventurer in us all. As you know, Sears Auto Center is providing each team with the following to complete your journey: • $1500 • $500 Sears Auto Center Credit • HD FlipCam (yours to keep) • VIP Road Side Assistance • And more goodies in this welcome pack

As a featured partner, Bridgestone is providing 4 new high-performance tires, installed free of charge for each of the 21 teams to help you on your trip and beyond.

As a supporting partner, Monroe is providing 4 shocks, installed free of charge for each of the 21 teams to help make your trip a little bit smoother.


Welcome Explorer! Congratulations on being chosen to represent Sears Auto Center for the 2010 Exploring My America: Road Stories. We developed this program out of our love for adventure, storytelling and the open road. From the application videos alone, we can see that many others share our sense of adventure and we are excited to see the variety of stories that are told from all over the country.

At the end of any journey, particularly a road trip, there is a sense of accomplishment that’s not derived from how far you traveled, but how much you have learned along the way. When we step away from our daily routines and explore unfamiliar places, we focus on living in the moment and feel more alive. Take the time throughout your journey to reflect on insights from the people you meet and the unique moments you’ll create with your traveling companions.

This document and the materials included are designed to help you prepare for your trip and guide you along the way. Please read and bring with you on your trip. If you have any questions before or during the trip, please contact our program team (see contact information on page 17).

Have fun as you create your daily content and don’t get stuck trying to make it perfect. This assignment is more about finding interesting stories that people can relate to rather than creating a professional documentary. Tell your story, the story of those you encounter and the story of your overall trip. Be safe and have a great trip!

Joe Finney,

President, Sears Automotive


Your Route: Coast to Coast Casper, WY to Chicago, IL The mother of all road trips, Route 20 is the longest road in the U.S., passing through 12 states start to finish. And if you can’t decide if you want country quiet or metropolitan busy, this drive’s got it all—big cities, small towns, roadside diners, lakes, rivers, two sports Hall of Fames, and two Natural Wonders of the World. Along the route you will travel by the famous Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. At Mount Rushmore you can see the breathtaking carvings of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt on the peak.

Some Possible Pit Stops

• Douglas, WY: Wyoming State Fairgrounds • Crawford, NE: Hudson-Meng Bison Bone Bed • Sioux City, IA: Floyd Monument • Dyersville, IA: National Farm Toy Museum • Galena, IL: Ulysses S. Grant Home • Chicago, IL: Millennium Park These are just suggestions of places that you might want to visit. Be sure to do some research about your route and pre-plan some pit stops of your own. Your trip should follow your assigned route but feel free to slightly veer off of it for interesting side trips.

Sears Auto Center Locations Along Your Route

We require that your team stop by at least one Sears Auto Center location along your route. Shoot some video, use some of your $500 credit (if you have some left) or talk about your new tires and shocks. If you know the location you might visit, please let us know in advance and we will let the manager know in advance. 701 Southeast Wyoming Blvd. Casper, WY 82609 (307) 261-4981

2060 Laporte Road Waterloo, IA 50702 (319) 235-8795

Southern Hills Mall 4480 Sergeant Rd Sioux City, IA 51106 (712) 274-4428

7200 Harrison Avenue Cherry Valley, IL 61112 (815) 332-3595

1630 North Harlem Avenue Elmwood Park, IL 60707 (708) 583-1570


Program FAQs How does the contest work? From July 11 through August 28, 2010, visitors to will have the opportunity to cast weekly votes for their favorite road trip team based on content you provide. The team with the highest accumulated number of votes at the end of the week will be awarded the Weekly Prize of a $500 American Express Gift Card. In addition, to our weekly “fan pick,” our panel of judges will reward the team with the most compelling road trip entries. Judging will be based on: Creativity and originality (50%), Production quality (20%), Charisma (20%), Relevance to the Sears Auto Center brand (10%). Weekly Prize: a $200 Sears Auto Center credit. Store credit is subject to additional terms and conditions. People who follow and vote for your content on the website are also eligible to win. Sears Auto Center will randomly pick a daily winner among those who have voted and award a $100 American Express Gift Card. Use your social network (Facebook, Twitter, etc) before and during your trip to tell friends to follow, vote for you daily and increase their own chance to win. All gift cards are subject to additional terms and conditions. Exploring My America: Road Stories participants are not eligible for daily prizes. How often do I have to upload content? Teams will be required to upload content (videos, photo and/or diary entries) each day of your designated Road Trip with a minimum of four (4) videos during your designated road trip. You can use the Flipcam or any of your own equipment. Content must be submitted no later than midnight each day. See uploading instructions (page 12). We review each upload for compliance with our Exploring My America Code of Conduct (page 16). Besides uploading content daily, what else is required of me? We require that your team stop by at least one Sears Auto Center location along your route. Shoot some video, use some of your $500 credit (if you have some left) or talk about your new tires and shocks. If you know the location you might visit, please let us know in advance and we will let the manager know in advance. Each vehicle will be given: Car Decal - We are requiring you to attach the Exploring My America Decals as well as any sponsor logos to your car. See decal package for application instructions. Teams must following specific placement directions. “Road Stories: Sears” decals are to be placed on the front driver side and passenger side doors. Additional Sponsor logos are to be placed on the rear driver side and passenger side doors.


Twitter/Facebook/Gowalla – We are asking all participants to share their experience on the road with their friends and family through your social networks on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. This is in your best interest as you can campaign for votes for your team, increasing your chances of winning. Contact your friends through your social networks before and during the trip to let them know to tell friends to follow, vote for you daily and increase their own chance to win. What if I need roadside assistance? You will be given roadside assistance in case of emergencies. If you need roadside assistance we would like you to call Nate Moulter (in charge of roadside assistance) from your emergency contact sheet on page 17 so we can assist your team with their needs. What if my flipcam or Wi-Fi card doesn’t work? Refer to the manuals given in your welcome kit. If you are still encountering problems, call Aurelio D’Amico for tech support. (See contact list on page 17). Will SAC reimburse money spent on gas, food and lodging? The $1500 stipend you receive is meant to assist you with your travel expenses. You and your team members will be responsible for all costs associated with your adventure, including, but not limited to gas, lodging, meals, repairs, and incidental expenses. What if I want to travel farther on the route? You will only receive $1500 for one week (your assigned route), but you can choose to continue on your route, or to drive other routes and continue to post content. Teams are not eligible for prizes after their first 7 days. How long do I have to complete my route? Each trip needs to cover a period of 7 days (Sunday-Saturday). Over the course of the program, there are 3 teams that begin their journey each Sunday. Your team will compete against two other teams to create the most compelling content and generate the most votes for that week (7 days). Teams can opt to take longer than 7 days to complete their assigned route, but will only be eligible to compete for prizes for content posted the first 7 days of their trip. No additional funding is available for additional travel time. What if I am unable to complete my assigned route? Please refer to the official contract. Any issues completing your assigned route will be handled on a case by case basis. Please contact Nate Moulter if you have any problems (See contact list on page 17).


Documenting Your Road Stories Our expectation is that you document your journey and the people you meet along the way. Tell your story, their story and the story of your overall trip. Have fun creating content and don’t get hung up on trying to make it perfect. This type of on-the-go shooting is more about finding interesting stories that people can relate to rather than perfect camera techniques or professional editing. Because your content will be viewed online, we suggest your daily entries be edited to 2-7 minute episodes. Every impactful story — whether a 30 second television spot or an 800-page novel — follows the general story structure of a beginning, middle and end. As a documentary filmmaker, you can make choices regarding how you portray your subjects. The story that you document is only a glimpse of an individual’s life, so consider your subject’s backstory. Listen closely and follow up on details that spark your interest. The message of your film will be the strongest when you are passionate about the subject. Tell the audience not just who your subject is, but what brought them to the place in life they are now. You choose what the lens of your camera sees and how you arrange the footage.

Examples of Documentary Storytelling Expository Mode — Voice of God

The narrator’s voice is generally omniscient and tells the viewer what the meanings behind the visuals are. We tend to think of the narrator as “God-like” due to the authoritative commentary that is spoken directly to the viewer and generally accepted as truth. There is a linear, chronological flow; there is cause/effect, and a problem/solution paradigm. In this sense expository documentary has the most in common with narrative fiction film. Examples include An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and Earth (2007) as well as many nature documentaries.

Observational Mode — Window to the World

The narrator in this type of documentary is more so the camera itself than an individual. The filmmaker is generally absent and, like the style suggests, the viewer tends to observe life without interruption. It is important to note that although we may be seeing things without a narrator as a guide, we are not necessarily seeing the whole picture. Though the goal may be for the viewer to make his or her own decisions, they may not be presented with all the facts. Examples include Michael Jackson’s This Is It (2009). The techniques were used in fiction films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999) and District 9 (2009).

Interactive Mode — Filmmaker as Participant

In this style, the filmmaker is present and his or her role is to guide the viewer through a story by contextualizing his or her experiences with the viewer. This is often


accomplished with series of interviews and footage tied together with the narrator supporting a clear thesis. The narrator makes the rules and forms the story exactly the way he or she wants the viewer to experience it. Examples include Supersize Me (2004) and Bowling for Columbine (2002) as well other films by Michael Moore.

Camera Techniques

On the road, your story will change and take its own form as you film and edit. Here are some tips for filming that can apply to interviews and other footage. Ultimately, it’s your story to tell. Don’t let these hold you back from capturing a once-in-a-lifetime moment because the lighting and sound isn’t perfect!

Shooting to Edit

You probably will not have a lot of time to edit your footage together, so think about your final product as you shoot. At the same time, be sure to let the story evolve on its own through your interviews and footage. Remember that what you see on the camera will be slightly different than the video you upload. Try to move slower than you think is normal when panning or adjusting the camera. Keep in mind that video looks better if you move the camera closer rather than zoom. When you have your main footage of an interview (the A Roll), consider adding additional footage (the B Roll) of other things such as the surrounding environment. Show the audience what else is around you and include footage to enhance your story. You are able to keep the audio of an interview while showing different visuals. Try it out to see what works best depending on your intended message.

Capturing Light

Capturing light on a camera for a documentary can be tricky depending on your setting and the time of day. To get the best shot, you will most likely need to play around a little to find the best angle. Try to avoid shooting a subject in front of a window or against a bright sky, which will cause the subject to be silhouetted. The key to good lighting is not a Hollywood-ready lighting kit, but patience. As a basic rule, try to keep the sun behind you when filming outdoors.

Recording Sound

Make sure the sound around you is not distracting. In particular, try to stay away from or minimize your exposure to street noise or lots of talking. It is often difficult to tell how loud surrounding noises will appear on camera, so be sure to ask your interviewee to speak loudly and clearly. For best audio quality, hold the camera close to your subject. Be sure not to record any music that may be copyrighted. When editing, you will be able to remove all of the audio from a particular shot; however, you cannot remove just one noise such as outdoor music or a highway. If you choose to record a voice-over to accompany your video, follow the same rules regarding a quiet space to record. The audience will have trouble paying attention to your words if they can’t hear.


Shot Composition

A great story is one that stands out and does not always require narration to tell a story. You control what the audience sees and how they see it. Here are basics to consider when capturing your story.


Let each scene tell a story. Consider what is in the background and where the eye looks. If you interview someone with lots of motion behind them, it will be hard for the audience to focus on your subject. You can easily change your framing just by repositioning the camera or moving closer.

The Rule of Thirds

Imagine the view through the camera divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Try to place your point of interest at the intersection of two lines; this tends to be more appealing to the human eye.

Framing and Leading Lines

Use lines in the environment to direct your viewer’s focus to a subject. Framing of a subject by his or her surroundings can alter the meaning and complexity of a shot.


Trying different angles for your shots can manipulate not only what is seen, but establish different meanings. Low angle shots (where the camera is looking up) tend to evoke power in the subject.


Editing Basics

Though you will not have a lot of time to edit, a major part of storytelling is the way it is told; it is about how you tie images, sound and emotions together to create a memorable experience for the audience. No matter what software you are using, here are some ideas to think about when putting the pieces together.


All editing software comes equipped with fun transitions to use between one clip and another; but be careful not to over do it. You do not want your viewer too distracted with effects.


Not only can you take interview audio and put it over other images, but you can record your own voice to narrate the story as well. Different documentarians use different styles, not all of which involve the filmmaker as a participant in the film. In many cases, the strongest stories can stand alone without narration. On the other hand, if you are discussing your experiences, your voice is vital to the narrative.

Soundtrack / Music

Remember to keep copyright laws in mind when adding a soundtrack. Though you cannot use the work of others, you can compose your own music using software like GarageBand® (Mac) or ACID Xpress® (Windows).

Still Images

Still images are powerful resources for film. Try mixing some of your own photos into the project. If you feel like there is too much of a contrast between still images and video, try applying the “Ken Burns Effect” in iMovie which slowly pans and zooms across your image.

Editing Software iMovie® (Mac OS X®)

If you are editing with an Apple® computer, it most likely comes preinstalled with iMovie®. For tutorials and help using iMovie, visit

Windows Live Movie Maker (Windows 7®, Windows Vista®, Windows XP®)

Depending on what version of Windows your computer is running, Movie Maker may or may not come installed. If it is not, you can download it at ­


Interview Tips

• Prepare some questions, but follow up on what intrigues you and excites your interviewee. • Interviewees are talking with you, not the camera. • Show respect and empathy — be attuned to emotional cues and address them if it is appropriate. • Ask open-ended questions that will further your dialogue. Try to stay away from yes-orno questions. • Be an active listener at all times and maintain eye contact throughout. • Often, some of the most important and intimate experiences are shared during pauses in conversation — don’t be afraid of silence! • Don’t have people restate; rather, ask for clarification or an explanation of the thing you want them to restate. This is much better for conversation flow. • Remember to interview people for stories not just facts. As you film, consider how you will edit the interview together to tell a story. • Think about whether you want the interviewee to be looking at you or directly at the camera. One person can film and the other can interview. This can make an interview feel more like a conversation. • Be careful of your voice while filming. If you do not want to be heard during an interview, use non-verbal affirmations such as a head nob or smile. This will make your project professional and expedite editing.


Documentary Ethics

Your job as a documentarian is to create a story by weaving together the experiences of others. Be careful how you portray your subjects and never change their stories to fit your own.

Respect Your Subject and Their Story

When you conduct an interview, your subject is putting his or her story into your hands. In many cases, that story might be very personal. The most important thing you can do as a documentarian is to respect your subject. At all times, remember that what the audience sees and hears is equally as important as what they do not. Though you can edit interviews, do not remove the interviewee’s words to alter their message. Be extremely careful that the story you deliver is the same as what they tell you. For example, let’s say in the course of a ten-minute interview your subject forgets something or says something incorrect while the rest of the time they are very poised. If you put only those moments into your video, your subject will likely appear much different from whom they are as a whole. Use your judgment and always remember the privilege you have as a filmmaker and storyteller. ­­­

Avoid Defamation

As you put pieces of interviews together, it is occasionally acceptable to paraphrase what someone else says, though direct quotes are generally better. Defamation, more commonly regarded as libel and slander are not only disrespectful to your subject, but also generally illegal. If someone says to you, “I lived on this farm my whole life with my family,” it is not acceptable for you to say, “He lives a lonely and dull life on the family farm.” If your subject did not say it, do not say they did. Of course, you should never make up facts or alter a story by leaving out key details.


Uploading Your Content Teams are required to upload content (videos, photo and/or diary entries) each day of their designated road trip with a minimum of four (4) videos during their designated road trip. Content must be submitted no later than midnight. Each day Sears Auto Center reviews each upload for compliance with our Exploring My America Code of Conduct (page 16) and then posts to by noon the following day. We do not recommend the use of the Verizon 3G USB Modem for uploading your videos or photos, due to the fact that 3G is not very fast. Instead we suggest using Wi-Fi (coffee shops, public libraries, your hotel) for uploading that content. Use the Verizon Modem for emails, standard web surfing, etc.

1. Login

Open your web browser and go to On the right side of the page, you will see this box. Fill this out with the log in information you were given.

2. Start Uploading Your Files

After you log in you can choose to either click “Upload” or “Drag and drop files here”. You can use either one to upload your videos, photos and blog text.

Here are the formats you can use:

• Videos: MOV, MP4, MV4, AVI, WMV • Photos: JPG • Text: Word, TXT

3. Select Files for Upload

This box will pop-up. Click “+ Add files” to select the content you wish to upload. Please make sure your content is named under this format: “Dayxx-Filename-Date.ext”

Some examples:

“” “Day06-RubberBands-072010.doc” “Day04-LakeHouse01.jpg”


4. Upload Files

Click upload once you’ve chosen your file(s) and wait for the loading bar to reach 100%. Note that your account has 15GB of storage available. If you start to run out, please let us know.

5. Add Comments & Tags

Once a file is uploaded, please click the Comment button to leave some comments, notes, etc. for your entry. Also click the Tags button to add some tags for when it is posted on YouTube. Please be as descriptive as possible. Note the time, date, and location in your comments.

DO NOT email, share or otherwise distribute this file to anyone. Doing so will nullify this entry.

Remember: • All entries must be submitted by midnight in your time zone every day. • Content coming after this deadline will be posted the following day. • Make sure your videos don’t contain any copy written songs or material for which you don’t have the rights. • Make sure all your exported video is no higher than 480i quality. 6. Get Some Sleep

And then do it all again tomorrow!


Road Stories Packing List Vehicle Essentials

• Transmission oil • Brake fluid • Windshield wiper fluid • Jumper cable • Spare tire • Extra battery • Driver’s License • GPS/Maps/Directions • Spare keys • Power adapter for electronics • Tool kit • Tire pump • Motor vehicle registration • Insurance information • Car manual • Flashlight • Batteries • Flares • Fix-A-Flat®

Food Essentials

• Snacks • Water • Juice • Cooler for beverages • Plastic plates, forks, knives, cups • Trash bags • Resealable plastic bags

Items to Fulfill Contest Requirement • Flip Video™ Camcorder • Laptop and all necessary chargers, cords and accessories • Emergency contact sheet • Rules of conduct • SAC route details & documents


• Magazines • Books • Mad Libs® • Games • CDs, tapes, or iPod® • List of attractions to visit

Personal Necessities

• First aid kit • Toiletries • Toothbrush/toothpaste • Glasses and contacts if needed • Sunglasses • Moist antibacterial wipes • Prescriptions • Cold & headache medicine • Notebook • Pocketknife • Sewing kit • Sunscreen • Identification (bring extra forms of identity such as license, passport, and social security card) • Mobile phone and car charger • Cash • Credit/debit card • Towels • Pillows • Blankets • Earplugs • Paper towels • Purse/backpack • Hiking materials • Beach attire • Umbrella/rain jacket • Extra clothes/underwear • Shoes for different types of activity • Watch


Road Trip Safety Tips 1. Plan Stops Ahead of Time

Divide the route into segments to travel each day, but allow for exceptions. Once you know your path, plan when and where you will stop to take breaks. Even if you do not think you will need to stop, get up for a quick stretch and bathroom break. If you get tired, be sure to take extra breaks.

2. Follow the Road Rules

Stick with what you learned back in driving school: don’t speed, buckle your seat belt, never drive intoxicated, and be aware of the environment. Things can change without a moment’s notice and you need to always be ready.

3. Be Aware of Different State Laws

Keep in mind that laws regarding speeding, texting, phone use, etc. differ by state. If you don’t know if something is legal, it’s best to just not do it. You may want to check into these rules ahead of time.

4. Avoid Distractions

Dnt txt wen drivin (That is, “Don’t text when driving”). Not only can it be illegal, but it’s extremely dangerous to use a mobile phone while on the road. Though driving can begin to feel automatic after a while, it’s easy to get distracted or lose track of your speed.

5. Get Sleep

Only drive if you are fully rested. Driving drowsy contributes to around 100,000 accidents every year. Take a break (no matter the time of day) or ask someone else to drive for a little. Do not put yourself and your passengers at risk by taking your eyes off the road.

6. Deal Appropriately with the Weather

If you experience limited visibility, slow down and pay attention to markers on the road to avoid accidentally drifting. Be sure not to speed during storms or you will risk hydroplaning. If you are worried about your safety or it’s just too difficult to drive, pull over as soon as it’s safe and let the storm pass.

7. Be Proactive about Safety

Put together a plan in case of an emergency. Some vital components of an emergency kit include water, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, blankets, snacks and a charged mobile phone to call for help if necessary.

8. Keep Important Items Within Reach

If you are going to want a snack or change the CD, put these items in a convenient place to access when driving. Plan for any tolls you might encounter on your trip.

9. Be Aware of Your Car’s Needs

Make sure everything is as it should be so you do not run out of windshield wiper fluid on a long road and put some extra in the car to be safe. If you have car troubles, be ready with jumper cables, flares, and the necessary tools to change a tire. Stock up at Sears Auto Center before you go!

10. Don’t Run on Empty

If you know your car’s miles-per-gallon and the distance you are traveling, look at a map to determine when and where to refuel. It is better fill up with a quarter-tank of gas than be stuck on a road for a hundred miles without a station.


Code of Conduct While participating in the Sears Exploring My America program you and your team members will be required to adhere to a certain code of conduct. This code includes but is not limited to the following: • No illegal activities. • No underage drinking or drug use. • No nudity or pornography in uploaded content. • No inappropriate language in uploaded content. • Content may not contain any offensive or defamatory statements including but not limited to words or symbols that might be considered offensive to individuals of any race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic group, nor include threats to any person, place, business, or group. • Content may not invade privacy or other rights of any person, firm or entity, including, without limitation, any third party trademarks or copyrights. • Portraying the Sears Auto Center brand in a positive or neutral light at all times while on the trip. • Team members may not portray Sponsor or Sponsor’s brands or products in any way that might tend to subject any of them to public contempt, scandal, disrepute or ridicule.


Emergency Contacts In the case of an emergency, whether vehicle or personal related, please contact the following individuals.

Nate Moulter – Roadside Assistance and General Inquiries

Work Telephone

(617) 972-1836 (9-5pm EST)


Mobile Phone

(617) 312-8897

Christopher Donnelly – Roadside Assistance and General Inquiries Work Telephone

(617) 972-1884 (9-5pm EST)


Mobile Phone


Ned Debary - Roadside Assistance and General Inquiries Work Telephone

(617) 972-1818 (9-5pm EST)


Mobile Phone

Aurelio D’Amico- Tech Support

(617) 312-8897

Work Telephone

(617) 972-1846 (9-5pm EST)


Mobile Phone

(781) 632-4495


Coast to Coast — Segment 1 Welcome Kit  

Segment 1 Coast to Coast

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