Have you played the game that’s sweeping the world?  SCHENGEN AREA MONOPOLY!

Twenty-six (26 and counting, that is) countries that allow cross-border travel with a single entry point.  Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

In this video, we play a little game.  Can our hero navigate the game board, avoid visa pitfalls, stay out of the hoosegow, and find his way towards long term residency in Spain?


SCENE ZERO  (hook/intro – CAM-ONE)

I see this as opening with government cogs stamping papers, an endless machine.  Sounds of machinery, marching.  Me speaking under it until with a flourish, OMG! we were stopped!  A quick but leading explanation/setup under sad music turning into hope.  Catch attention quick.  The thing they want more of is … how did they beat the bureaucracy?  Camera-One close up, then a pull out for the explanation.  Zoom back in for the final hook.

📍  After months of paperwork and bureaucracy, of endless waiting, we finally had acquired a longer term visa for Spain.  Longer than we had ever stayed before.  And then sadly … (spoken under b-roll of bureaucracy, screeching halt to marching sounds, machinery)

(punch in)  … we were stopped dead in our tracks.  All of that work.  For nothing.  (open)

(music starts)  Now it’s true that stoppage was because of covid, but we had followed the rules.  We understood the various visas and the Schengen Area laws and restrictions.  And since we’re doing the paperwork YET AGAIN, I want to share with you that hard-earned knowledge.

(punch in)  Because as the world reopens, knowing how all this works can only work for you.  (Need sounds of springtime under me with the music drifting away)

SCENE ONE  (Sitting cross legged with back to the chalkboard)

This is more of the intro, extended.  I need to QUICKLY help the viewer understand the game paradigm.  Otherwise it won’t make sense.  But it can’t be long.  No music.

Now I could sit before you and lecture you on everything.  The Schengen Area.  Border crossings.  I even have this fine chalkboard waiting.  But that would be … boring.  For both of us.  My bad back here on the floor, and your having to watch it.

No, let’s do something different.  (hold up cards)   Let’s play a game.

SCENE TWO  (Desk facing the wall)

Elaborating on the intro, so still be quick.  Music here though.  Something playful.  The first voice-over shows game play, dice, people having fun.  On the title, with a flourish, blast up the title/words.  Ta-da!.  Sitting at the desk feels like prep work, not presentation work.

📍  Ever play Monopoly?  Where you roll the dice and then round the board, shooting for fortune and a chance to stay on Park Place?  Well, this is … SCHENGEN-OPOLY.

Schengen-Opoly?  Really?  

OK, our goal is also to run the board, learn and teach you the finer points of visas and the Schengen Area, and then hopefully make it to the end.  Which for me will be Barcelona Spain.  That’s my Boardwalk.  Shall we play?


We should have only spent a minute, a minute thirty setting everything up.  So I see this as digging hard into the game.  It’s a solid entry, not a transition.  European generic music.

** Roll dice and quick cut to announcing: we rolled a blank! – sounds of game pieces tapping **

We rolled a three!  And landed on Schengen Area!  (Need a screen title with the name in the corner, hold up the card as well).

First of all, if you’re traveling to Europe, you absolutely need to understand the Schengen Area.  And yes, it’s pronounced SHIN-GEN.  (Title with phonetic spelling)

The area is not complicated.  It’s 26 countries that allow travelers to cross their borders from each other, with no real restrictions.

📍  Here in the United States, when you are in-country there are no limitations as far as crossing between states.  You want to fly from Virginia to California, you don’t need special papers or permission.  You just fly.  In the Schengen Area, if you’re in France and want to fly to Luxembourg, you don’t need special permission either.  (B-roll of travelers, airports, flying, freely)

Now having said that, you do need your passport (hold up passport), but it’s only really to board the plane.  Control between Schengen countries doesn’t involve a passport kiosk when you deplane, as it did when you arrived in Europe.  It’s like showing your drivers license in the states to purchase your ticket.  So once IN the area, you will not have to go through passport control again while traveling through the area.

📍  Now of course, if you leave the Schengen and want to come back in, you’re going to have to do the whole passport thing again.  Plus customs.  The whole gambit.  So even if you left from Spain to the UK and then flew back into the area via Germany … you’re still going to do the whole entrance riga-ma-role.  You left the area.  (b-roll of inside airports, lines, customs, etc).


We’re still playing, but the camera switch and the topic switch should keep attention.  This needs to stay exciting, as if the game was really compelling.  This is semi-dry, so keep it peppy.  Quick but succinct.

** Roll dice and quick cut to announcing: we rolled a blank! – sounds of game pieces tapping **

We rolled a four!  And landed on Tourist Time Limits!  (Need a screen title with the name in the corner, hold up the card as well).

(Punch in)  When you enter the Schengen Area as a tourist, you’re technically using a “tourist visa”.  But if you’re coming from the United States and many other countries, you don’t need a physical visa.  It’s just assumed.  And it has a time limit.  Three months in any given six month period.

Now this can be confusing.  At the least weirdest level, you simply stay inside the area for a solid three months, and then you stay outside the area for another three.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  (Piece of paper with in and out, flip it over?)

📍  And staying outside of the Schengen means staying outside of all 26 countries.  Not just the one you settled in or entered.  Remember, once in the area, travel within is like being in a single country with no internal divisions.  Again, border-wise.  The laws of each country still apply.  (B-roll of various countries, make them look different.  Quickly move from one to the other, interspersed with flights, people, show movement).

The tricky part comes when you’re moving in and out of the Schengen.  For example … back in 2017 we stayed in Spain for two weeks and then left for Morocco for two weeks.  When we returned to Barcelona after that, we had spent a total of one month of our travels … with half in the Area and half outside of it.  We needed to track total time in and out, all during a sliding six month time window.  (Show titles with math to explain)

(Punch in)  See?  It can get complicated.

OK, I’m not going to do more math, but I will leave you with a warning.  Sure, you could simply say that your addition was faulty and just ignore the days in and out.  And likely no one is going to come arrest you and drag you over a border because you overstayed.  But besides it being a bad idea to chance getting caught and not being allowed back in period … you’re a visitor to these countries.  Be respectful.  If you want to stay longer, plan on staying longer.


I want this to feel like a story within a story.  Be intimate.  Show emotion and make a connection.  This needs Spanish music.

** Roll dice and quick cut to announcing: we rolled a blank! – sounds of game pieces tapping **

We rolled a five!  And landed on Staying Longer!  (Need a screen title with the name in the corner, hold up the card as well).

📍  Now there are 26 countries involved here, and they each have their own individual non-tourist visas.  Way too many to recount here.  Hell, even just in Spain there are too many to go through in a single video.  But there is a commonality involved in each because of the Schengen Area.  (I see this as a dim montage of countries and a scrolling list of countries over top, with voice over)

When we decided to move to Barcelona back in 2020 … and failed because the country closed for covid … we had in our hands something called a Non-Lucrative Visa.  It meant that we were going to become residents of Spain.  Our time requirements were actually flipped.  Instead of how long we could stay within, we had rules for how long we had to REMAIN in.  Six months and a day out of every year, we had to be on Spanish soil.  (Show titles with math).

(Punch in)  Which brings us to two parts in this chapter, one being … Does crossing over into another country in the Schengen count towards residency requirements.  And the answer is no.  (Show sub-title)

📍  Our NLV stated that we must be IN SPAIN, not in the Schengen area.  So if you do pursue a longer term visa … like a student or a work one … be aware that the Schengen Agreement almost certainly isn’t going to be a part of your residency requirements.  (Roll footage of Spain)

Now having said that, if we did want to spend a couple of months in France while we were there with our NLV, we could cross that border freely … even after three months … because we were already legally INSIDE the Schengen Area.  The fact that we were allowed to stay for longer periods of time inside the entirety of the Schengen was granted by Spain.  The other countries would honor it.  

(Punch in)  So again, the Schengen Agreement is about crossing borders, not the requirements of your non-tourist visas.

SCENE SIX  (Cam-2)

Again, this is personal.  This is my story.  Informative, yes, but make a connection, get folks interested in the pivot and want to hear more.  Music is very upbeat.  Everything point to possibility. 

** Roll dice and quick cut to announcing: we rolled a blank! – sounds of game pieces tapping **

We rolled another five!  And landed on Go Back Three Squares!  Ah!  Guess we have to restart.  And for me, that means using a tourist visa again.  Why?  Let me quickly describe what we’re going to do, because it’s probably closer to what YOU’RE going to do.  (Need a screen title with the name in the corner, hold up the card as well).

📍  Starting January 1st of 2022, we’re going to travel the world.  Make a big looping circle around it.  But we want to spend some serious time in Spain because we love it so.  We could have again pursued a NLV, but that would have forced us to stay within a single country for half of our planned trip.  Which wouldn’t have been a bad thing.  I’m still planning on living there more or less permanently eventually.  But as far as 2022, we need flexibility.  (Obviously b-roll of travel, world spinning, etc)

(Close up)  So we’re going to enter and exit the Schengen Area often, visiting here and there.  And that complicates the math because we need to keep aware of that rolling six month window.  So at anytime during those rolling six months, we cannot exceed three months inside the Schengen.  And it’s going to be close, so I need to be really on top of the numbers.

(This is going to be the 20 seconds, so wide.)  If you’re thinking about longer term travel to Europe, as in up to three months, knowing the Schengen Area is key to your trip.  See how well you can play the step in step out game within the 26 countries of the area.  And watch this space as our trip gets underway, because I’ll be relying on all of you to help me with my own math.

📍  OK, last roll.  DOUBLE SIX!  That means we get to go to …


So, how do I envision this one?  It’s obviously coming from search, so it has to be informative.  Chapters and lessons sort of thing.  But that’s also pretty dry.  I think it needs a story, and that story is us.  How we used a tourist visa everywhere.  Tried an NLV.  Thought about others.  And why we decided to play the in-and-out game this next time.

So what’s the three-part?  That was the setup.  The conflict was balancing time.  Paperwork hurtles and additional obligations.  Spain closing.  The overall resolution is back to managing time.  Doing more research and deciding what’s the next avenue to try.  Goals for the current trip.

Within each there are also three-parters.

But how does this feel, director-wise.  The hook/intro needs to grab attention.  This isn’t just another visa video.  I need to let folks know right up front that I have recent and direct experience!  At both failure and success.  This is real life they’re getting.  So the hook needs to be tearful and fearful.  And the intro needs to set up the entire board, ready to play the game.

The body feels just like that.  A game.  In fact, I wonder if there is a way to create “The Visa Game”.  Where I try to move my player piece around a board, landing on squares and having to do something.  I can see a monopoly style board with me being in the center, rolling dice, watching the piece move.  (How to do THAT is a question).  Then either getting something or going backwards.  Need the game to be easy to understand, hence monopoly.

The final section when I hit resolution is winning the game.  Unless I end it with the current game of chance, rolling the dice and being so close to residency, and then fade to black just as the dice rolls.

The thumbnail could be fun.  You don’t see many monopoly thumbnails.  Especially with my face in the center, looking apprehensive.

As far as motion graphics, it looks like “rolling dice wooden” gets me some interesting b-roll.  Then pop up a monopoly looking graphic next to my head with whatever I landed on.  Each roll is a chapter.  Once I read the card (and fake that with index cards) it’s show-not-tell with images about the chapter.

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