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.