Friday, 21 December 2012

The Festive Freelancer.

Bah, Humbug, as the saying goes. Festive cheer can only go so far. Turning up at a location to film one in a very long line of Christmas related, Dickensian themed stories can whittle away at a man's reserves of merriment, good cheer and seasons greetings.

Christmas frivolity... Says it all really.

I've seen enough false Santa beards and heard too many Ho Ho Ho's. Mince pies all taste the same and the UK's drink driving laws make it an offence to accept a glass of something heart warming at every location visited. Trying to focus after your 7th glass of egg nog is a difficult trick to pull off, as is driving from one location to another, without getting lifted by the Police, followed by a stiff encounter with a baton, pepper spray and an appointment with a magistrate, sans tea and biscuits.

What i'm trying to say, is that travelling around filming everybody else's good times can make you immune to the Christmas spirit. Trying to explain to a small child why you don't want to eat their home made mince pies without saying you've had a gut full is easier said than done.

No i don't want to wear a Santa hat.

No i don't want tinsel on my TV camera.

And if i hear the Pogues 'Christmas in New York', Chris Rea's 'Driving home for Christmas', or Pop Diva Mariah Carey's 'All i want for Christmas' again, for the 5th time today, i'm gonna reach into my sound bag and proceed to do something unholy to your plastic Rudolph with my Leatherman.

Now i don't want to spoil your moment of glory on the telly, but i saw Christmas yesterday, twice today and probably again tomorrow. For this cameraman, Christmas ain't what it used to be, as there are only so many TV repeats i can watch. 

There are other stories that could be told. The sick and the disabled are at the bottom of the pile. Homeless charities are stuffed to the gills and people around the world are starving and displaced by war.

But do not be down at heart..! The monthly retail statistics are out soon and it appears we are not spending enough on plastic toys and gadgetry, resulting in the multi-nationals having to tighten their belts with bigger Christmas bonuses and higher prices due to strategic profit warnings in the gas and electricity sectors.

Oh, and seeing as it's Christmas, us freelancers and self employed are greeted with hearty cheer and festive merriment by way of a Tax demand from those fine fellows at Her Majesties Revenue And Customs. I will pay my way. And in the new year, i hope we as the press, will vociferously attack and investigate those mult-nationals and Fat Cats who avoid doing so, and the Government which lets it happen.

Yo Ho Ho... and Happy Christmas.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Rampant Self Promotion Of A TV News Cameraman.

Hello dear, kind and good looking reader... (There's a reason for my compliments.. read on) I always thought that my readers here were a strange, TV camera wielding bunch who enjoyed the embittered written spoutings of a fellow news lens lugger with a downer on standing in the rain... Them, and my parents.

It turns out that i have literally tens of readers around the world, a few of whom, (Possibly my parents) must have nominated my blog for an award, courtesy of those fine chaps at, for i find myself as a shortlisted finalist in the competition for the UK Funniest Blog Competition.

This blog initially started as a way of writing about the news industry and cameras. In depth views and kit reviews, serious debate and cameraman news. However, since i genuinely can't be arsed with all that, it turned into a bitter and twisted account of my life on the news gathering, freelance cameraman circuit, with an emphasis on twisted.... and a light touch of bitterness.

It would seem that my tales of standing in the rain, eating bad food and being engaged by the lunatic fringe of the general public raises a smile amongst you that apparently deserves recognition. 

And seeing as i have been nominated and shortlisted for a prize, it would be remiss of me not to ask for your kind vote. I don't want to beg, kneel before you or plead with moistened eyes for the chance to win, however this is not much different to how i get my freelance work... So i will.

Those Doodah chaps sent me this picture... For your pleasure.

VOTE HERE..! VOTE HERE..! (Vote for Media Attention)

Should the begging, kneeling and crying not work, i have requisitioned my Grandson's favourite cuddly bear... So... should you be reading and liking my blog and fail to vote... The cuddly bear gets it. I will leave his fate in your hands.

Look into the pleading dead eyes... (The bear, not me) It's up to you... and you alone. USE YOUR VOTE..!

I would also like to point out that i am not in this for the fame, adulation or huge monetary prize. Mainly because there isn't any. There is however, a small prize to be won which i do not have my beady eye on**

**I have my beady eye on it.

Failing that, i will accept large amounts of cash money from any literary agent who happens to be passing by who wants to serialise my writing into a best selling series of books. Thank you kindly.

POSTSCRIPT: In the interests of good old British fair play, i have been shortlisted against these very fine blogs, who are also deserving of your readership... BUT NOT YOUR VOTE..! VOTE FOR ME..ME..ME..!

Angry People In Local Newspapers – celebrating the art of local newspaper photographers who spend their days taking pictures of miserable looking people. (I can relate to this)
·         Best Dad I Can Be - a look at family life from a Dad’s point of view.  Recent posts include subjects such as the Father Christmas dilemma, warning a soon-to-be student son about the dangers of wine, and Movember.
·         The Further Adventures of Oddbloke - recent posts include the plot of a sure fire bestseller, ugly people in advertising, and a walkthrough for Granny’s Garden.
·         Bit Comedy - bite-sized comedy, including the series ‘Texts from my cat’.
·         Sleep Talkin’ Man - the nocturnal utterances of a mild-mannered Englishman, lovingly recorded and broadcast to the world by his wife.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

I Have A Dream...

I guess any cameraman who works in the TV News industry has a similar dream. You wake up one morning and check the media section of the situations vacant pullout in the paper, hoping against hope that a position has become available:

NGH (Never Gonna Happen) TV NEWS.
Chief TV News cameraman.
Bahamas. (Beach Division)
Highly competitive salary, Plus bonuses / Expenses.
3 day week.
Grumpy Englishman preferred.
(Shorts and sandals/socks supplied.)

As i scrape the ice from my windscreen, i think of how my first film could be about the dangers of lounging about in skimpy bikinis in 70 Degree heat on the beach, followed by how to apply lotion in a suggestive manner and avoid sand sticking to your nether regions...

As the zip stuck, all thoughts of the Bahamas became irrelevant.

I turn my news vans heating to 'melt' and as i drive, i subconciously package a very important news item on what's the best drink to keep cool next to the azure blue infinity pool on the veranda. A long island iced tea or a sex on the beach followed by a slippery nipple..? These are the hard facts that i believe the TV News watching public need to know more about, following copious amounts of in depth research.

Outside court, i stamp my frozen feet to regain circulation. I adjust my wooly hat and snap off the icicle from the end of my nose. My mind turns to the very serious news item i could be filming in the Bahamas... Should ice cubes be made from tap or bottled water, and just how many cubes are de-riguer in a frosted glass of rum punch..?

I could be filming a weather item on how the sea temperature has risen from warm to tepid, or how the breeze from the mountains have changed from cool to balmy. My report would include advice on changing out of a sleeveless t-shirt and into a colourful Hawaian shirt, so as not to spoil an evening dinner of lobster and white wine on the restaurant terrace overlooking the bay as the sun sets on the golden horizon....

Right now though, i can't feel my feet. The biting wind is funneled down the side of the court building i am stood outside, turning my cheeks a rather fetching shade of blotchy pink.  Instead of a gently swaying palm tree, i lean against a grimy car park pay and display sign and stuff my hands deep into my coat pocket and shiver.

I Have A Dream..! Said Martin Luther King.

Me too buddy... Me too.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Top Ten Tips To Being A TV News Cameraman...

Having spent literally minutes in deep thought about what it takes to being a Freelance TV News Cameraman, and perusing the top ten lists of UnstableJobs.Com I took to the interwebs, where you can find a top 10 list to being anything you want to be.

Interested in investing your hard earned cash..? There is a top 10 list on how to give your money to extremely wealthy, clever people who will piss away your money. There are even lots of top ten lists out there on getting your foot in the door of the TV News industry... None of which are any good, they are all mad... MAD i tell you..! So here is my very own top ten list, dutifully researched and verified within a 20 minute lunch break...

1. Get a good coat. Here in the UK, you will spend most of your time freezing your nuts off outside a warm and snug office building... waiting for someone who doesn't want to talk to you.

2. Get good waterproofs. As above, because being the UK, it will mostly be pissing down with rain as you wait for said person, outside the aforementioned warm and snug office building.

3. Learn to speak PR. Only then will you recognise bullshit at 50 paces, and wonder in awe as you enter a multi-billion Pound corporation's HQ building, just as they lay off 500 plus workers. (Refer to No.9 below)

4. Grow thicker skin. When the insults fly in this game, they can be cutting. Getting called a bloodsucking leech by a sports capped, slack jawed fuckwit with an judicial appointment should be like water off a cameraman's waterproofs. (Refer to No.2 above) See..? i don't just make this shit up..!

5. Ignore the pain. Trying to catch a little shut eye in a live truck will leave you with a spine in the shape of a banana. Your pain threshold should be able to cope without industrial amounts of Ibuprofen. (Also, refer to No 10.)

6. Numb your taste buds. No amount of hot chilli sauce is going to spice up the bland, plastic wrapped petrol station food, or Cheese Puffs, which you will consume by the metric tonne.

7. Dullness is your best friend. Only sporadically will the glamour of working in the TV news industry reveal itself. Until then, learn to love Mr and Mrs Dull... and their pet pooch, Comatose.

8. Avoid the TV newsroom. If you are in the TV newsroom, you obviously have nothing better to do and you will be caught. Ego's far larger than yours reside therein, and will have you filming computer screens for a cutaway shot that nobody will use. You must be unseen and unheard.

9. Learn to laugh. Death, tragedy and good old unfairness will stalk you at every turn. Laugh in the face of death, tweak the nipples of tragedy... I could go on...

10. Drink copiously and often. No explanation required.

So there you go then. Hope that helped. I know i didn't mention cameras, college courses, qualifications or how to spice up your CV. You can learn that stuff elsewhere. What matters... What really matters, is that you learn the realities of life as a freelance TV News cameraman. I have... now if you will excuse me, my plastic lunch awaits, it's getting cold out and Mr and Mrs Dull are knocking at the news van's door...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Fictional Action Cameraman.

A good friend of mine, Christian Parkinson, has travelled the world a bit, poking hot glass into some of the most extreme places on Gods green Earth for the delight of TV News viewers and his demanding producers. I wrote previously about him here. You will notice in the picture below, courtesy of, that he is wearing brown trousers. And rightly so. I suspect they have hidden a multitude of trouser coughs when the bullets are flying on the dusty trails of Afghanistan. 

Jason Ackland..? No, your author, CA Parkinson.
Anyway, Christian also likes to show off, sorry, write about his experiences that he has witnessed over the years in the far flung regions of Africa and the Middle East. This time however, he has turned his hand to fiction, with the adventures of Jason Ackland, a rugged cameraman hero of the finest sort. I suspect Christian has based our hero Jason on his own experiences and adventures, filming the action in Afghanistan and elsewhere for the TV News. Or he could be based on me... you know... the good looking, well built, lantern jawed cameraman with appropriate duelling scar on the right cheek... One can hope.

But, only being a short story, with the BIGGEST cliff hanger at the end, it won't take you long to read. And i hope that Christian gets his butt into gear and writes the rest of it toot sweet. Is it the end of our cameraman hero..? What happened to his pain in the arse reporter..? Who shot JR..?

Hopefully, we will find out... You can download the PDF here.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter. 


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Testing.. Testing.. 1.. 2.. Oh Bollocks.

Bloopers, cock ups, call them what you will. When the gods of live broadcasting decide to ruin your day and embarrass you live on air, the only thing you can do is to carry on as if nothing has happened, even if you can't be heard. Take this BBC reporter for example... ( Watch the bottom of his Mic, just as he starts to speak. )

Following what was probably a hard day in difficult filming conditions, all Jeremy Cook had to do was to stand calf deep in flood water and present his report to the nation on the BBC News... Live. There is no chance of redemption, no retakes, no give me a few more seconds. You are on... Now.

And now is not the time for your equipment to conspire against you and make you look like a cack handed equipment wrecker in front of the nations eyes. Poor Jeremy. But there is a silver lining to this story. You see, the piece of equipment that dropped into the water is a wireless microphone transmitter, or better known to us cameramen in the slang term, as a 'Butt Plug'.

I could have written a better title for the search engines to find, such as: 'Jeremy Cook mishandles his butt plug live on BBC News'... But i won't. Poor Poor Jeremy.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Awkward Situations For A News Cameraman: Part 2.

There are a great many people we meet on the news gathering road as a cameraman. The situations we find ourselves in can be a minefield of should i or shouldn't i quandaries that can befuddle a card carrying member of the lens lugger institute.

Also, the invention of HD recording only serves to highlight the things that we, as news cameramen and women pick up on. We see and notice things that others don't before the camera rolls...

'Scuse me, but your nose hair needs a trim...

For example, How do you tell your silky haired female reporter that her ample frontage has become a temperature gauge, and we can all tell that it's pretty chilly outside. Do you shout "Has anyone seen the live truck wheel nuts..?"  No you don't. It's a tough one.

What do you say to a high flying correspondent who looks like his tie was knotted by the Boston Strangler..?

How do you tell the middle aged yummy mummy that the rouge red lipstick she is wearing is also stuck to her teeth, making her look like a extra from a cheap zombie flick..?

Could you tell a prominent politician, pre-shoot, that his shampoo doesn't work and he looks like he's just walked in from a snow storm..?

How do you gently move a bald man who is creating an overexposed hot spot by reflecting the sun into your lens, without embarrassing him or letting on as to why you're moving him..?

These are a test of a true, hardened cameraman. A lexicon of gentle hints, encouraging words and down right lies must be at the tip of your tongue if you are to make it through a working day. But that is not all you should have in the armoury at the bottom of your sound bag. To avoid the embarrassing, a certain level of awareness is needed.

Can you zoom in just enough on the subject to cut out the fact that he has clearly not shaken following his last trip to the urinals..?

Is it possible to anticipate the dork in the background who is about to re-arrange his family jewels just as the interview is at it's peak..?

How do you keep your patience in check, when the suited blowhole in front of camera cannot string more than three words together to form a sentence..?

You see, working in this business is not all about knowing how to rack the focus, light up the dark and expose the world at the correct Kelvin level. Oh no... Tact, tenaciousness, the ability to bullshit and an over capacity in the talking of bollocks, is also a mandatory requirement to shoot the news. You must gently inform strangers of their shortcomings without the barbs of insulting language. You must coerce, codify and conform to the nuances of your situation.

It is not... I repeat not acceptable to inform your interviewee that they are ruining your film by way of their inability to wash, apply makeup, speak the Queen's English or any other filthy personal habits that may manifest themselves on telly as the nation sits down at tea time.. We, as cameramen put up with it as a glorious sideshow, the quirks of the news gathering game, that must be kept in check.

So, if you ever find yourself in front of my camera and i hand you a handkerchief with a wink and a smile, go and check in the mirror... There's something horrible on your face. Unexpected laughter from the cameraman..? Check your zipper.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Ettiquette Of Modern TV News Editing.

In this post, i want to invoke a time of warm memories, expensive machinery, men smoking pipes INDOORS! and loose fitting corduroy slacks, maybe even a bow tie or two. You see, in the heady days of news gathering, not so very long ago, it was the done thing to take your filmed rushes back to the newsroom, where a craft editor would weave a silk purse from a pigs ear. You remember those cosy, warm and affable old editors, who would welcome you into their small fiefdom with a pat on the shoulder, coffee and maybe a doughnut, sit you down and tell you where it all went wrong.

Mobile editing... comfy.

 The highlight of my fledgling cameraman career in those distant times was to be told my taped rushes were in the three machine edit suite, not the usual cut and shut edit suite, but a slightly strange smelling place where a grumpy man with a frayed shirt collar would paste together clips of wonder and enlightenment using fades, wipes and other techno wizardry. Now you young spotty faced TV 'Director / Producers' or 'Shooting PD's' with your boy band hair may not understand this, but it wasn't always digital workflows, ingestion matrixes, DSLR's and low wages. Oh no. The large room would hum to the sound of Beta SP machines, switchers and routers, reel to reel sound tape decks and rows of monitors on which to peruse the editors art. Row upon row of Beta SP tapes on shelves that archived the stories of yesterday, interspersed with new fangled Digibeta tapes which were the cutting edge future of TV News, hinting at a brighter future and big bucks if you could afford the new Digibeta cameras. Oh how i laugh now...

Anyway, I learned a lot in those places. When to pan, tilt or zoom, framing, the art of sequencing and of never crossing the line. Editors taught me on pain of death, DEATH i say, never to over expose or to give them too little edit seconds at the beginning and end of every clip. They also taught me who to avoid in the newsroom, which reporter was boffing the new weather girl and to never ever, choose the strange brown gloop at the breakfast bar in the canteen. Fountains of knowledge they were.

Today though, as you know, is a very different state of affairs. There are no more warm rooms in which to hide and possibly learn a thing or two. No longer is there a bastion of clever talented people, doing clever and talented things with hugely expensive pieces of machinery with moving parts. Instead, i sit in the back of my small Mercedes van in a dark, damp and smelly multi-storey car park in a dark, damp and smelly town centre.

The laptop glows as it ingests a digital stream at 5 times real time. Drag and drop edit timelines mixed with the instant workflow of graphics, mixes and splices from a library of hundreds on the small hard drive. Outside the rain falls. I hear it on the metal roof top of my van. I close the door to keep out the draft and the slight urine tinged smell of the car park. The wind picks up the plastic bags and litter left by passers by. A can of special brew rattles under the van in tune with the neanderthal shouting of a group of youths under a nearby concrete underpass.

Time and technology wait for no man. Things have moved on. From the warm, coffee infused university of the edit suite, to a cold piss stained car park with a lap top. Technology is a wonderful thing. It's at times like this that i really miss the grumpy old git in the 3 machine edit suite, far far away.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Monday, 12 November 2012

In defence of the BBC, British Journalism and a free press.

I know this blog is usually a barrel of behind the scenes buffoonery and slapstick cameraman shenanigans, with a twist of bad tasting food, court steps and the misery of standing on street corners in the rain. There is however, a shit storm in the British press at the moment. The fan involved is huge... The bucket of shit is full... and not many people have an umbrella.

BBC TV News Centre has been reopened as a green room for those 'Standing aside..'

According to the press everywhere in the UK today, the BBC news division is in an awful editorial mess. I say no it isn't. The flagship BBC news programme Newsnight may be in tatters at the moment, having made some quite awful mistakes, errors of judgement, bad journalism, call it what you will. The latest scandal, naming a man as a paedophile, when he isn't, is somewhere around 9.7 on the Rectum scale... sorry... Richter scale.

But speaking as a freelancer who works a lot within BBC News, mainly at a local level, i can categorically state that the business of news gathering, filming, gathering of the facts, editing and editorial decision making still goes on. Dedicated, resourceful, honest and trustworthy journalists, camera people, editors and producers are still preparing the bulletins for your morning, afternoon and evening viewing and listening.

A few people in a small, but prominent part of the BBC News machine have made a few big mistakes. As a freelancer, and therefore a tiny tiny coiled spring in the larger, overall news machine, i have no insider knowledge to impart. I often feel i am the luckiest of people not to be involved as a member of staff, with the internal wranglings, behind the scenes briefings and other internal mechanisms that have to be coped with in such a large organisation, which is not unique to the BBC News.

As i write, Top management at the BBC News are resigning, standing aside, or are thinking of doing so. ( The standing aside green room is getting rather full of management drinking coffee and eating doughnuts. ) A few journalists, senior producers and a manager or two are having to take a long hard look at their careers.

The news is at the moment reporting on the news gatherers, BBC Panorama have investigated BBC Newsnight. Last week, the BBC, Sky News, ITV News and Channel Four News reported that the BBC News are investigating the BBC News. The printed press are in a whirlwind of agendas, axe grinding and bullying. Bloggers are appopleptic. Hundreds of Politicians with their over inflated salaries, pensions and expenses are whinging about hundreds of senior BBC staff on large salaries, pensions and expenses, as the rest of the BBC quietly gets on with the daily business of news gathering on TV, Radio and Online. Quite frankly, it's a right old over inflated mess.

The coming few days and weeks will be interesting not just for the BBC News division, but for the British press as a whole. The wolves are banging at the door calling for tighter press regulation, Government oversight, and tighter leashes for a free press. The Leveson inquiry will soon publish it's report. There is a mess to be cleaned. The last thing we need as a press corps is to turn on each other over mistakes made in the past, present or future, if we have a future, as a free self regulating press.

Those that made mistakes or broke the law whether by design, oversight, or incompetence should be either guided in the right direction, prosecuted or just bloody sacked, depending on the magnitude of the error made.

But i seriously hope that in the frenzy that is engulfing the BBC News division at the moment, and the approaching bucket and fan on the horizon in the shape of the Leveson report, doesn't mean that the baby isn't thrown out with the bathwater by those who have a vested interest in seeing the baby disappear. And there are many who will call for it. A neutered BBC, afraid and hamstrung by past mistakes, and a government regulated press is a bad, bad thing. Not just for us who work in the trade, but for the people of this country as a whole.

I am but a small voice in the great scheme of things. I am a freelancer who works for the BBC on a regular basis. BBC News, both national and local, has a deserved reputation for being unbiased, truthful and rigorous in it's journalism. It is not the only news outlet out there, but the world watches and listens to the BBC. It doesn't always get it right as the past few weeks have shown. But when it gets it right, it can be the best in the world.

And finally... When the enquiries and Leveson are all over and the fan stops spinning, those covered in shit will have a decision to make. Clean up and wash off the stains, or take the lumps with you, 'cos you are stinking up the place. And those with an agenda to rid us of a free, self regulating press can do the same. The door is that way.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Monday, 22 October 2012

Thanks Krishnan, you were of no help whatsoever...

I had occasion yesterday to be invited to a free curry lunch by the owner of my local house of Indian subcontinental cuisine. It was a thank you to locals for spending many hundreds, if not thousands of pounds over the past ten years for his most loyal curry eating patrons and lager drinkers. Attended by local businessmen and councillors, even the Mayor, I felt privileged to have been invited.

Drinking beer and telling tales...

However, word got out that i was a TV News Cameraman, so i spent much of my afternoon fending off local news story pitches by local businessmen, people with political axes to grind and those just wanting to get on the telly.

"Is the Prime Minister really a total arse..?" People would ask. "Would you like to come and film my  collection of early 1950's war comics..?" and "You should do a story on fiscal spending at the local council... Shocking." Suddenly, between bites of Tandoori chicken and onion bhaji, this local TV cameraman has morphed into the BBC Ten O'Clock News and must display my fount of all knowledge about the state of the nation, foreign policy, political responsibility and celebrity goings on.

Salesman: "I sell this particular type of widget... You should do a story on widgets."

Salesman's wife: "My Sisters friend's boyfriend's Uncle used to play football for Ipswich..."

Left wing agitator: "Those Tories... Total lunatics when it comes to standing up for the working man. I blame Thatcher. What do you think should be done..?"

I was as polite as I could be, trying to blend in. Eventually, people began ignoring me again. As the Kingfisher beer flowed, I found myself sitting away from the others, with a group of normal working blokes from around the local area. Builders, decorators, office wonks and the like. Anything to get away from the local politicos and business types.

It wasn't long before the inevitable question that stalks anyone working in TV reared its head. "Who's the most famous person you have met..?" I tried to impress by mentioning heavyweight TV News personalities and in a panic, a journalist of high quality sprang to mind.

"Krishnan Guru-Murthy once tweeted me a thank you for some pictures i sent in for Channel 4 News." Blank faces stared back at me. I changed tack. "Err.. i had my hand up the jumper of Debbie Harry once. I've met Barry from Eastenders... and..." The eyebrows of around ten middle aged blokes rose in unison... "WHOA THERE... Back up a little... You've grabbed Blondies tits..?" That wasn't what i said no. Too late. "Hey fellas, this guy's fondled Blondie... felt her tits and everything..!" The pride i felt as a news cameraman when Krishnan tweeted thanks to me obviously meant nothing to these guys. I tried to explain. "No No No... i was fixing a mic and..."

The next half an hour saw my curry go cold as i tried to explain to those around me that i had not in any way shape or form fondled Blondies tits with a follow on to a full blown sexual relationship. I met her for half an hour or so whilst i did an interview with her backstage before a gig for the local news, that was all. Disappointed, they gradually drifted away and the normality of being ignored resumed.

A small chap, who was a little the worse for wear alcohol wise, sidled up to me and said, "So... this Krishnan Guru chap..." At last, someone who wanted to talk to me about what i do for a living. "Ain't he the one with the loud ties and funny socks... Channel 5..?"


The bloke walked away. From now on, I am telling everyone that i am a long distance van driver. Which isn't very far from the real truth. I sat back down and drank my beer in silence.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.



Friday, 19 October 2012

Awkward situations for a news cameraman: Part 1.

I placed my camera on it's tripod at a respectful distance. I wanted to film the group of people in front of me, but didn't want them to know i was specifically filming them. Or for what purpose. As they sat and unpacked their takeaway burgers and fries, cokes and side orders, i rolled.

As the Death Star approached, i switched to using 'The Force'.

Trying to film them anonymously was hard. As they faced each other across a large wooden outside table, faces managed to pop into my viewfinder. Big, large, round faces. The faces kept pushing more fries into the holes at the front, along with about a third of a burger in one bite, washed down with sugary goodness. I concentrated at their midriffs. cracks of arses revealed themselves in large quantity. Bellies protruded from underneath too tight T-Shirts. Bingo wings flapped.

Are we getting bigger..? Are we killing ourselves with fatty foods and sugary beverages..? This is why i was filming. The news has taken upon itself to see, to find the truth, however much it wobbles. My task was to find the overweight amongst us, and film them eating their dinner without revealing their true identity for fear of national embarrassment on the nightly bulletin.

As i focussed in on another gargantuan burger mastication scene i looked up, they were looking at me as i was filming them. One, then two, until finally, the whole family were staring in my direction. I could see them talking about me with general nods in my direction, between mouthfuls of prime beef and potato. I was going to have to explain myself.

As they finished their meal the larger of the two men aimed his not inconsiderable frame in my direction. His bulk getting larger as he filled my vision with girth not seen since the Death Star made its first appearance.

Death Star: "Wotcha filmin' mate..?"

His wide neck glistened with a film of sweat, brightening the colours of the union jack tattoo just below his collar. I wasn't going to lie to the gentleman, as he blocked out the sun, ready to destroy the feeble planet with his overwhelming might.

Feeble Planet: "Oh, nothin' much, just a film for the news about fast food and the dietary need of the British nation as a whole, with an emphasis on glandular over expansion within the general patronage of said establishments."

Death Star: "Oh, right. You weren't filmin' us woz ya..?"

Feeble Planet: "No.. no.. no.. just, y'know, general burger joint scenes..."

Death Star: "Nice camera..."

Feeble Planet: "Thanks."

With that, he turned as nimble as an oil tanker, and rejoined his family, who by now had eaten his fries and finished his coke. My luck was seemingly coming to an end and not wishing to push it further i packed up and left the scene in search of another. My encounter with the Death Star a mere fleeting threat of annihilation.

The news watching public would not be aware of the bravery of this particular rebel of the news alliance, and the dark protruding secrets of the Death Stars exterior would be broadcast for this sector of the galaxy to watch.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Sharp Focus Ain't All It's Cracked Up To Be...

I suppose that it was bound to happen sooner or later. I was hoping for later. After years of squinting through a viewfinder, and committing to broadcast the good, bad and the ugly of general life, my eyes have said enough. In fact, i think they may be on the verge of retiring and turning into a couch potato slob, who drinks beer, eats pizza and watches daytime telly.

Sometimes, sharp focus isn't all it's cracked up to be...

They have seen a lot these eyes. It's just that now i have to hold life a little further away in order to be able to focus, and my arms are no longer long enough. I think that most news cameramen would like to be able to hold life a little more at arms length. Further away. It's a wonder that eyes don't have a tilt switch that shuts them down every time you have to film something unsavoury.

Take yesterday for example. Standing on the very spot where a Father has killed his two children and then himself is not a pleasant story to film. The flowers surrounding the scene, the grass scraped back to bare earth to remove the last trace of evidence and the life blood of three people who have not had the chance to live their full lives. The tearful writing on memorial cards i read were heartbreaking, life unexpectedly ripped away leaving those left behind to write a goodbye note.

I put my newly minted glasses on. The words leapt into sharp focus. My camera filmed the scene in colourful, crisp and sharp high definition, coverted to a stream of 1's and 0's for later broadcast. Lifting my eyes from the viewfinder i saw that the cards were no longer a hazy fuzzy jumble of words. They remained in sharp focus through my brand new set of lenses resting on the end of my nose...

I took my glasses off. Sometimes, fuzzy is good.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

To Boldly Go Where No Cameraman Has Gone Before...

"Are you sure..?" I asked my News Producer as he told me the location for this evenings live into our local news programme.

"Yep... I'm sure." came the reply.

Ende of the Worlde... I am about to drop off the local maps...

So i find myself cruising down the M4 towards the outer reaches of my broadcasting remit. To an area of banditry and pestilence, otherwise known as Swindon. My Sat-Nav asked on more than one occasion to 'Please perform a u-turn now...' I could almost hear the pleading tone of her electronic fear of where she was directing me.

I ignored it and pressed down the accelerator and further into the nearly unknown.

As the M4 turned into the A419, which in turn turned into a single lane and then a dirt track, my Sat-Nav proudly announced that 'Here be Dragons,' and 'Go no further... Ende of the Worlde...' I really was on the outer reaches of BBC South Today.

You see, we spend a lot of time where most of the news action happens. Cities, large towns and conurbations close to home, where the news is easy to reach and easier to get back to the ranch. We forget sometimes that the outer reaches exist and that things do, in fact, go on there. Swindon has electricity you know. And people. Apparently, they don't even live under a feudal hierarchy. Who knew..?

As i pulled my news wagon into the car park and unpacked my camera gear, i felt as if the local populace may surround me with pitchforks and flaming torches for such a display of witchcraft. But no... It turned out that they were travelling salesmen, just as bemused as i at finding themselves near Swindon. It's that kind of town.

Ah... dear, dear Swindon. A town largely ignored and villified by a mocking few. But not i... no longer. For i see a comely buxom wench milking the local cows by hand. She turns to me and in a slight, almost West Country accent with a Bristol twang, she says... "Alright my luvverrr..?"

I am smitten. In Swindon.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Great To See You Again...

This happens quite a lot to us news cameramen. There we are, minding our own business when some complete and utter stranger hurries over to us and greets us like a long lost friend.

It happened to me yesterday. I was filming an innocuous shot of Southampton port when a jovial chap saunters over and says, "Great to see you again..!"


I raise my eyebrows and smile at him. Nope, still blank. My brain is shuffling through an internal rolladex filing system...

File: Released killers: Empty. (Phew)

File: Grieving widowers: Standby.

File: Crackpots: Various... Standby... Still searching.

"So, how's the camera going..?" He says, instantly trashing about fifteen and a half years. As I've only had my new camera about six months or so. That narrowed it down a bit, as my mind flipped through the pages of the last 16 years. "Oh good... Err... Thanks." I reply.

File: Celebrity Chefs: At the docks..?

File: Local Politicians: Possible. Standby.

File: Perverts / Ex Lovers / Dopeheads: (Same file) Searching...

Nope still nothing. "You remember me... A month back, at the union demo. You showed me your camera..."

File: Socialist Agitators: File found. Discarded 16/8/12... No interest.

"Oh yeah... Listen, must go as I've got a lot of stuff to get through... Nice to meet you again... See you soon... Yep... Yep... Bye..!"

Honestly, some people think that us news cameramen remember everyone we meet. Well let me tell you, I can't remember what I was doing two days ago let alone remember a half arsed conversation on a street corner a month or so ago. It's nothing personal. It's not that I don't like you. (Although I probably won't) it's just that unless we meet more than six times in two days you will get filed under...

File: Unknown.

Paul Martin is ukcameraman on Twitter.

Monday, 17 September 2012

What Lies Beneath...

This is a tale for both news cameramen and TV Journalists alike. For the cameraman, a lesson in looking before you kneel. For news journalists, a metaphor for not believing everything is as it looks. You see, i was filming at a country show with farmers and countryside folk who were gathering for their annual shindig of animal showing, machinery twiddling and cider drinking.

It's a place where the suburban elite come to eye their countryside cousins with suspicion and the country folk eye them back with derision. Farmers try to teach the suburbs where their food actually comes from, and the suburbs whisper that there is something nasty going on in yonder countryside tool shed, that sort of thing.

Anyway, there i was filming a rather large piece of live steak in the cattle tent. 'Bullocks..!' i here you say... No, it's true. Whilst doing so, i knelt down in the fresh looking straw that surrounded the uncommonly clean beast which was ready for show.

The beast turned and sniggered... Right in the sweet spot.
I realised something was amiss as the warmth oozed through my trouser leg and that funny squelch sensation connected with my brain. I knew what i had done without even looking down to inspect the damage. I filmed my shot and stood up. The face of my reporter, Ben Moore, lit up. A guffaw of unsympathetic laughter erupted as he started to take picture evidence that yet again, he had landed his cameraman in the shit.

That Icky feeling...
However, despite the laughing and the unsavoury comments hurled at me by my reporter and assorted countryside folk, i carried on filming and ignored the people avoiding the smelly bloke walking towards them and the innocence of children when pointing at me and saying 'Daddy, that man smells of poo..'

Oh, the humiliation.

But herein lies a lesson for anyone out there who are just starting their Journalistic career or are thinking of doing so. It is a metaphoric lesson learned by yours truly whilst kneeling in the brown stuff... Here it is.

The picture before you looks as it should. It is clean, tidy and is a true representation of what people are telling you. (Clean Straw) Nothing to see here. But look a little closer. Apply a little pressure (Kneel) and you will feel a strange sensation. (Squelch) Apply a little more pressure and something that was covered up (Shit) will rise to the surface. The lesson here is that no matter what the PR machine tells you, there will nearly always be something foul smelling and brown just beneath the surface... If you kneel hard enough.

Oh yeah... and shit sticks to trousers.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Chillin' Wiv Da Yoof....

We news cameramen are always banging on about the variety of differing filming jobs we get. And it's true, we get to meet and film with the scum of the earth to the highest of society and everything in between. Whilst on the road of doom, we listen to a lot of music and radio.

Last week, i found myself surrounded by musical hipsters, music journo's, bands and groupies backstage at the Reading Festival.

The BBC Reading Festival popular music beat combo reporting dream team.

Any of you younger readers out there would be creaming their pants right about now at the thought of actually being paid real cash money to attend such a gathering. Me..? Water off a ducks back. You see, my interest in music sort of faded away at the mid eighties, when hair was big, leggings were spangly, and makeup was heavy. Back in the day, i could body pop with the best, sweat to the disco beat and crick my neck dancing to Aga-Doo.

We even got to interview one of the hippest, up to date Radio 1 DJ's, Greg James. Tall, handsome and impossibly good looking, destined for the highest of status within the community of today's youth, with their bangin' choons, wicked mixes and chill out anthems. I had to ask my young, hip journo who he was.

So, i hefted my TV camera around the festival with a dignified grace of a man who still listens to The Stranglers, Squeeze, Ian Dury and the Blockheads and possibly a little AC/DC. I mentally blocked out the pumping bass of today's popular music beat combo's from the stage and filmed vox-pops with the drunk, the wasted and the intellectual cream of today's festival going public. All in the name of news. And news it was, as many of the bands appearing on stage were news to me. I've even stopped listening to Radio 2 ( The future home of Greg James when he hits 35+ ) Bloody noise.

I hope the news watching public are grateful for what we put ourselves through, but at the end of a long day, i get into my news truck, wipe the blood from my ears and tootle off home to the soothing sound of some proper music. The Sex Pistols, Sham 69 and The Ramones. That Sheena... she's been a punk rocker for longer than i care to remember. 

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

No Smoke Without Fire... Are You My Next Story..?

I have only been back on the news trail for a few weeks now and already the wheel of local news is turning at much the same rate as it always has, including what i like to call the 'wheel of same old stories'. Work as a TV Cameraman long enough and you will see a pattern emerge. Different people, different places, but the same story.

Fire scene No 3.

 One of the hardy perennials of the news industry is the unfortunate case of people who perish in house fires. Sad stories one and all. So why do i find myself filming the same stories..? I guess it's because no matter how many times we broadcast such tragedies to the general population, many of them still don't get the message that the vast majority of the deaths that i report on could easily be avoided by having a smoke alarm installed.

I filmed three such cases yesterday which occurred over the past year or so, resulting in the local Coroner bouncing up and down screaming that something should be done. And it should. I bet though that the vast majority who saw my report will not act upon the advice given.

I felt so annoyed that yet again, i had to spend a working day looking for relatives of the dead, friends and family who wanted to talk about the sad demise of someone they knew and loved. We, as journalists don't relish this task, we would rather the grieving be left alone to grieve. However, if i am destined to cover more stories of people who died for the want of a smoke alarm then i will. It's my job to try and educate and inform people as to the dangers of not having a smoke alarm or not maintaining it so that one day, it won't be your house i visit with my camera to film your sad, but oh so preventable death...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Friday, 17 August 2012

My Dander Has Risen.

The blood is pumping again. I've re-found my news Mojo and my dander has arisen... In the words of the late, great Frankie Howerd... Oo'er, Missus. Yep, Olympic silly season is now over and my attention returns to chasing after the lost, the dead, the wrongdoers and the nay saying, lying, shysters of the business and political world.

But first... The unions. Together they stand. Brothers and Sisters united in proletarian angst against the management. Fighting the Bourgeoisie for the rights of the working classes. Normally, they gather in tight groups on street corners, flags fluttering, brazier burning, hatred seething. Picketing the entrance to big business, handing out leaflets to passing cars, singing their slogans on the kerb and breathing in the fumes from a working day in the city of Southampton.

"Oi.. Barry, fancy a drink..? They do a lovely iced latte frappe at the cafe de malmaison..."

But look guys, i have a better idea. This is the south of England. Just down the road there are harbour side cafes, ice cream vendors and bars. Couldn't we all just move about half a mile along the road so you can vent your spleen with a nice iced latte..? That would be nice eh..? We could do the TV news interviews following a nice drink with a Danish pastry under a sun umbrella at the local eaterie, followed by a brie and bacon baguette with sliced tomatoes drizzled in extra virgin olive oil.

In the words of the great working man's icon Homer Simpson... Mmmm, Brie.

I reckon that all the news could be done in this way. Press conferences in the local pub. Police appeals for information at the local diner, that sort of thing. Come on Britain, we can do this. It certainly beats hanging around street corners, basement rooms and Police stations.

So let's get a new, improved union slogan trending. When the massed, helmeted ranks of an oppressive police state stand before you, I will hold my camera aloft to film the news. You will link your arms in brotherly union and chant...

"What do we want..?"

"Fair pay.."

"When do we want it..?"

"After a brie and bacon bap.."

De-camp the angry mob to the nearest eaterie, preferably a french style cafe with street seating and umbrellas called the 'cafe de malmaison' or equivalent derivative. Do that, and i will follow you anywhere you want to go.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

From The British Press: An Open Letter To Julian Assange.

OK Julian, we've had enough of standing around doorways waiting for you to appear. Street corners can be cold and miserable places to be, especially in the rain. So please do us all a big favour and make your escape plan... Now.

Being basically locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy has got to be getting a tad tiresome now, for you and for the press so i have hatched, during my lunch break, an in depth daring escape plan for your perusal. This is for your benefit to...

A: Escape.

B: Give us press types something to speculate on, whilst waiting outside.

I have written a book on this very subject...

 I have come up with / shamelessly ripped off movie plots, to aid in your escape from the clutches of William Hague and the British Government, the Swedish Government and a good old waterboarding session from the CIA.

Escape plan 1: Build a glider entirely from toilet rolls in the loft space.

Escape plan 2: Using a spoon, dig a tunnel to the underground, whilst cleverly hiding the soil in the pot plants and window boxes of the embassy.

Escape plan 3: Build a jet pack, James Bond stylee. This would enhance your international man of mystery persona and give us outside something totally newsworthy to film. ( I would really... REALLY, like to see this )

Escape plan 4: Burst out of the front doors on a scrambler motorbike and head for the wire at the border. Except that the border will be quite watery. ( I Haven't thought that one through yet...)

Escape plan 5: Disguise yourself as an Ecuadorian wind flute player, with blanket and large hat / moustache, and walk shamelessly out of the door. Or is that Peruvian..? Dunno...

The above is a five point plan of escape for you to ponder over the next few days. I came up with them in the space of five whole minutes, so i'm sure you and the embassador can come up with a few more over the coming days.

But please Julian, i beg you, give us press types something to film / photograph / write about / speculate on. We've got nothing out here....

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Slow News Day...

I have noticed over the last few days that real news, you remember, stuff that happens outside of the Olympic games in the real world, have tapered off somewhat. So what a relief it was that i came accross this story from the BBC Website...

So it would appear that the PC's from the Met are not so PC with PC'S from Wales. So i did a little investigating of my own to get to the very bottom of the matter...

Following BBC reports that a full scale internal Police inquiry by the Directorate of Professional Standards of the Metropolitan Police is to be launched into what has now come to be known as 'Stickergate', I have contacted a source from the Dyfed Powys Police.

Inspector Bronwyn Jones told me,

"The Met boyos have not only placed stickers on our vans, but have also placed plastic penis extensions over female PC's truncheons, filled unattended police boots with jelly and gaffer taped false rubber tits onto our helmets, it's just not on you know." **

Efforts to contact the Metropolitan Police by me in regards to this matter proved unsuccessful. On hearing these unsubstantiated allegations of Met Police Officers interference with Welsh Police property, gales of laughter could clearly be heard over the line.

Metropolitan Police investigations are ongoing.

** May contain traces of lies.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Sunday, 5 August 2012

So... Who Are You..?

It was an innocent enough question from the lanky G4S Olympic security spod who blocked my way to where i wanted to be here at the Olympic Games. Just doing his job… But the intricacies of a freelancers TV life are not, i assume, part of the training for the G4S Olympic door security course 101. You see, us freelance cameramen can lead a confusing life as to who we are actually working for, when so many TV companies are in the hiring and firing loop. International man of mystery… That's me.

"Your papers please..."  *using comedy German accent.

I approached with my Olympic accreditation at the ready, which quite clearly stated that i was working for Razor TV.  Door spod, impressively alert, then spotted my Press card with the BBC logo dangling from my waistband… He did his job, spotting an anomaly in my identification papers.

However, I must admit that the piss taking, wind up merchant within me reared it's ugly head. I smelled blood and decided to see just how far i could go before the door spod's head burst, or i was dragged away by LOCOG henchmen to Lord Coe's London dungeons and a kicking from Mayor BoJo. 

Door Spod: "It says there that you are with the BBC…"

Me: "Yes, it's my press card, which is issued via the BBC. I'm not working for them today though… I'm working for Razor TV"

Door spod: "Razor TV huh… Not the BBC..?"

Me: "That's right, Razor TV… via the Associated Press"

I could see a dark cloud of confusion descend on door spods face. His too close together eyes narrowed. I could almost hear the clanking of the wheels inside his head as he tried to make sense of what i had just told him. And then he asked me another question…

Door spod: " So… Let me get this straight. Who are you filming for today..?"

Me: "The Chinese…"

As soon as the words spilled from my lips i realised what i had done and now door spod was in a state of complete and utter confusion. He looked at me. He looked again at my accreditation. He looked again at my press pass.

Door spod: " So… Err… Who exactly are you..? And who do you work for..?

Me: "Oh, right… I'm Paul Martin, Media Attention Ltd."

Door spod: " 'Scuse me..?"

I stood there as straight faced as i could. Door spod was a pleasant enough chap and i couldn't inflict any more witty repartee upon his already overloaded security brain.

Me: " OK… Look… Sorry... I'm Paul Martin of Media Attention Ltd, which is my company. I have been hired by Razor TV to film for the Associated Press who, in turn, have been hired by Chinese TV to supply me to film stuff for them. My press pass is issued on behalf of the UK Press Card Authority, via the BBC to accredit me as a bona-fide news gatherer in the UK… Does that make sense..?

Door spod: "Ah right… OK… So who are you working for again..?"

Me: "Razor TV, AP, Chinese…"

This was the tipping point. Door spod was either going to call his supervisor, or make a lone decision. I stood there, expressionless, having realised that G4S door spod had actually done a good job and questioned me, at length as to who i was after spotting the accreditation / Press pass anomaly… and he hadn't let me through yet. He checked my passes once more.

Door spod: "OK… On you go then. Have a good day…"

Phew… Result.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Racking Up The Miles.

I dread to think just how many miles i have driven over the last sixteen years. Us cameramen drive... a lot. Sometimes, a couple of hundred miles in one day is not uncommon. Driving from one story to the next racks up the mileage to the point of having the insurance company laugh and rub their hands in greed at how many miles i drive per year... Bastards.

A sight not often seen. Empty roads.
We call ourselves TV News Cameramen, Photojournalists or Camera Operators, in fact i would describe my job as follows:

'Driver. Waiting Specialist. Tea drinking, cheesy puff eating street lurker and occasional cameraman.'

That about sums it up. I see more interesting things on the road than i do filming the news. I've seen people doing truly disgusting things in their cars as i drive by, illegal things and things to make a man spaff snot onto the dashboard in wonderment of other peoples stupidity. The usual stuff, like texting and phoning whilst driving is a daily occurrence. I watch people pick their noses and eat the resulting finger food. I've seen them slap the kids, put on makeup, shave and eat their breakfast at speeds of up to and surpassing 70MPH.

The driving public of this nation is a story all it's own. Ever seen a man read the paper whilst steering with his knees..? I have. I once saw a Nissan Micra pass by with no discernible driver that i could see, at the lights up ahead it turned out to be a very tiny old lady, peering through the steering wheel.

Also, i've had more close shaves than a Gillette product tester. I've sat in longer queues than a Wimbledon tennis final and used more fuel than your average mission to Mars. I spend more time in my news van than i do with my wife and seen more twinkling red lights ahead of me than there is in a Soho whorehouse.

Now, if you will excuse me, i have a knocking sound under the bonnet of the van that won't go away. It could be that badger i ran over last Thursday...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Accredited for the M.E.S.S.

The next few weeks could get awfully confusing for us TV and Press types. Today i travelled into London to sign for my Press and Cameraman accreditation, which in itself, was a surprisingly easy task. My name was on the list and i was set to go.

Press accreditation. ( Security Guard I.D. not included. )

Many of you will know that a Major Event of Summer Sports ( M.E.S.S. ) is going through security and copyright issues. The security issue being a lack of security bods leading to Her Majesties Forces being drafted in to cover the shortfalls. This i have called the Big Insecure Gateways of the Major Event of Summer Sports. ( B.I.G.M.E.S.S. ) So, why am i calling it the Major Event of Summer Sports ( M.E.S.S. )? Well, due to what appears to be an alarming clampdown on companies associating themselves with copyrighted Logo's, words and images of the M.E.S.S. it would appear that i may come a cropper if i, or my company, associate myself with this M.E.S.S. that other, much larger companies and conglomerates have paid millions of pounds to be sponsors of the M.E.S.S. Following so far...? Good.

So, i can't say that i am filming the Olym, 2012, Games, M.E.S.S. without illegally using words or phrases that have been paid for handsomely to associate with. I can't show the logo's or anything else without the fear of being hanged upside down outside the LOCOG's ( London Organising Committee of the Olym Gam ) offices. See..? Confusing.

As for security, it appears that i may have to become my own security guard.* I will turn up at the M.E.S.S. and stop myself at the B.I.G.M.E.S.S, quiz myself as to my intentions, frisk and pat myself down including a deft but confident squeeze of the groin area, check my own camera equipment and then, following a few Umm's and Ahh's, refuse myself entry for no apparent reason because i have not been trained to do so.

It may appear that my name will not be on my own list. Bloody security.

*May contain lies.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Man Responsible...

Out of the blue, on a beach in Bournemouth yesterday, i quite literally bumped into a man with his two daughters. I recognised the face straight away, the name came a few moments later. It was the man who started my career in TV News.

Craig Henderson and Daughters...

 I've been a TV News cameraman now for nearly 16 years. And despite all the bellyaching and moaning i do on a daily basis, i actually love my job. I don't think that i would want to do anything else. To get this grizzled and adept at being in the right place at the right time has taken all of those 16 years to perfect.

There is a reason why i became a hard bitten, sanctimonious old cameraman with a penchant for greasy food, world class whingeing and a good eye for a visual story. You see someone, 16 years ago, gave an unknown bloke with a camera a chance to film the news. That man was a BBC News Editor called Craig Henderson... The very man i had just bumped into.

I have written before about how i started as a news cameraman, and articles about how and why i did what i did, to survive my first few years. But none of it would have happened if it were not for Craig. I like to think he saw in me a future world class documentary film maker that would go on to win Bafta's... or even an Oscar... Yeah right.

What he actually got was a newsman who wanted nothing more than to film the news and get on in his chosen profession and build a successful freelance career. I like to think of myself as a cameraman that can be relied upon to do his level best for those that hire me, and to tell good, visual news stories. I have been freelancing now for nearly 16 years, for the BBC, ITN, SKY, ITV, and many foreign broadcasters, so i must be doing something right.

My freelance career started as a self taught man. No qualifications or TV courses, No recognised camera training course or leg up from an inside friend. My only leg up into the TV News broadcasting industry came from a man who saw something in me that nobody else did. I had been ignored, forgotten and ignored again by every other broadcaster that i approached in my first few months of looking for TV work. After 6 months of rejection letters and indifference i very nearly gave up. But one man at the BBC, Craig Henderson, gave me one days work and a chance to show that i had what it takes to work in this industry that i love to work for, no matter the verbal machinations i deliver on this blog. That one day has turned into the past 16 years...

None of this... the blog, my company Media Attention Ltd, my ever burgeoning camera equipment and my families general well being would not be at the place we are now, if it were not for that one man... who gave a chap a break and started something that for me, shows no sign of ending any time soon.

I gave Craig a hearty handshake, and finally said a proper thank you for doing what he did all of those 16 years ago. One of his Daughters then turned to us and said...

" Dad... That's when i was born..."

Sheesh, She knew how to make two grown men feel very, very old...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.


Another day on the torch camera, and another day getting drenched... The evr popular Olympic Torch Relay weather spot from yours truly... Day 5.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Whinging Cameraman Thinks Again.

You have probably got the impression that i can whinge and moan quite a lot about my job as a freelance cameraman in the TV News industry, and boy can i do that. There is after all, a lot to whinge and moan about. But... there is also a quality side to doing what i do. Take this week for example.

I am currently scooting around the Southern counties of this fair land covering the Olympic Torch as it makes it's way to London for the games. I forget how many times i have seen the torch, and the amount of towns and other places in which i have seen and filmed it. I have stood in wind and rain, been expected by my producers to find time warps and driven like a lunatic to make it work. It's been a tough week. The hours are long and there are more to come.

I sometimes forget however, just what it is i do. I travel and experience some of the best things happening in my region, and i get paid to do so. I get to play and film with all sorts of gadgetry and cameras. Things that people would dearly love to do and things most people don't get to witness. My route today lets me take my lunch break in the Bournemouth area... Look... ( Office and desk bound people should look away now. )

Where's the blonde, nubile lifeguard in red swimsuit when you want one... Eh...?

 How many people get their working lunch break in a place like this...? Or get to do their job of work at a location like this...?

Yours truly at work... Windswept and interesting. And it beats an office.

 OK, so i get rained on and a little tired. But it ain't all bad is it..? I don't work in the same office day after day, looking at the same ugly people, doing the same repetitive tasks. I get to see stuff, experience it, film it, get paid for it and then, watch my hard work on the tellybox when i get home... If i get home. I should really stop moaning.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.  


As it seems to be gaining a little popularity, here is another weather update from my Torchcam travels... No rain yet today, but boy was it windy in Dorset.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Crowds... You Gotta Love 'Em... Or Not.

'Scuse me... Ahem... Excuse me... Can i squeeze through there please...? Sorry, 'scuse me... Mind yer backs please... COMIN' THROUGH...!!

Crowds... Children... Fragile. Do not hit with hard cameras.

It's enough to make a cameraman weep. Crowds. People... Thousands of 'em, getting in the way, obstructing the free flow of the broadcasting industry and teevee news. Yesterday, on Olympic Torch following duties in Winchester, my colleague and BBC reporter for the day Briony Leyland, literally dragged me through a solidly packed town centre in pursuit of an interview. As she remonstrated with the police officer escorting the torch bearer, i think she may have forgotten that we were tethered via a mic cable, as we careened through the crowds in hot pursuit of our quarry.

I could feel the bumps as contact was made with heads, backs and faces by my elbows and camera, and the combined mutterings of 'Ouch' 'Oi' and 'Ooyafuckah' as camera made contact with skulls, Circa 6 to 8 MPH. This being Winchester, i even got an 'I say... steady on old chap..' Great fun.

It's just that the general public have a nasty habit of wandering aimlessly about with their thumbs up their arses, mobile phones clamped to heads and toddlers clamped in hand. They don't look where they are going. They get in the way.

Bloody general public. Think they own the goddamn place with a right to wander, cow like amongst the streets without a care in the world, looking at things, talking, enjoying themselves. Don't they realise that a man has work to do...? Eh...? The news doesn't film itself y'know.

Anyway, i'm off to clean the blood and snot off of my camera before it sets.


Pissed off cameraman weather update, Day 3, Olympic Torch relay.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Squeeky Bum Time.

News Producers... Need i say more...? Well i'll show 'em. This week you may be aware that yours truly is covering the Olympic Torch relay around our green and soggy land, on the behest of the BBC. Long days screaming around the countryside with your hair on fire and smoke eminating from every car tire.

Squeeky bum time... Will your hero make it...?  'Course he will.

Not only that, our producers have given us cameramen the  herculean task of flitting between one overcrowded destination to another, with little time in between. ( Usually 3 locations per cameraman, per day. ) This can be a tiresome task on normal news gathering days, but when your next location is potentially filled with around 40.000 people... that's right... FORTY THOUSAND..! and their cars, it can fill a cameraman with the fear of God that he won't be making to his next filming location.

This almost happened to your intrepid torch bothering lensman today when i was required to drive between Winchester and Andover, with an hour to do it in. Piece of piss did i hear at the back...? Well, please bear in mind that me and my van were in competition with thousands of other people and cars who wanted to leave Winchester at the same time... So it took me 20 minutes just to get out of the car park.

Now, one thing you need to know about us lens slingers, we know short cuts. Routes that only us, tramps and policemen will know. So thanks to a little knowledge of backroads and a willingness to drive down a one way street the wrong way, can save a little time and the ire of your news producer who i know is doing this just to test me. I'm sure they look on a map, see that locations are only three inches apart and say "No problem... It's not that far..."

Driving to Andover... 'twas a piece of piss.

So as i arrive in Andover with 3 minutes to spare and abandon the van on double yellows. I run into the town centre leaving a trail of Grannies and small children in tears behind me. I turn on the camera and hit record... just as the Olympic Torch rounds the corner and hoves into view. Quite simply i had around a spare 5 seconds or so, or i would have missed it.

So there you go, news producers of this world... Give it your best shot. It's like water off a ducks back. Speaking of which, it's still raining from time to time here in good old Blighty. Looky here... I'll prove it.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Soggy Olympics... Day One.

Just a short post today as i am quite busy over the coming week, what with wringing my clothes out and trying to find dry socks... That sort of thing.

I know i go on and on about our good old British weather, but for Christs sake is there no let up...? Today is day one for me following the Olympic Torch around the South of England, and it hasn't stopped yet. If i get much more of this i think it's a possibility that i may be found dissolved at the roadside, a sort of puddle of cameraman porridge.

On another note, i had my first brush with Olympic security today at Dorney Lake, where the rowing will take place. For a large puddle in the ground it sure is well protected. Nothing serious, and not the security teams fault, but when your name is not on the list, or accreditation has not been issued, problems like this will occur. I did however, manage to get on a school bus who were on their way to see the torch... I think the beard and the grump gave me away though. I hate to see little children cry.

Turn off the engine sir... Trousers down, bend over... This won't hurt much.

 Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter