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.