Wednesday, 30 January 2013

TV News Cameraman Solves World Crisis.

It's a well known fact that standing on street corners for a period of time lets you think. You see, us TV News Cameramen think about all sorts whilst keeping a beady eye on the door we are watching, or whilst in the news van waiting for our next assignment.

Solving world peace... one assignment at a time.

Personally, i have solved the Middle East problem in one afternoon of hard thinking with a luke warm cup of tea and a cheese and pickle sandwich. The current financial crisis is easily worked out in half an hour when you are sat on a cold wall outside court, thereby fixing unemployment, homelessness, the national debt and the retail growth economy all in one go.

Seriously, any passing politician, religious leader or Ban Ki-Moon should just ask the news crew outside. Instead of a very well paid job in a warm office building, attending endless meetings and getting all tied up in diplomatic speak, ask the guys and girls outside for their opinion. We've been thinking about this sort of stuff for years.

We don't go in for religious or racial disharmony. We don't worry about a big fat pension from the taxpayer after a 50 year career in politics. We don't spin out the current crisis thereby taking years to fix whilst costing billions of Dollars and many thousands of lives. No... It's too bloody cold and wet outside, so we get to the heart of the problem, think it through to solve the issue before the next round of crap refreshments.

Here's how it works... I think every meeting of politicians, religious leaders, bankers and the next G8 meeting of world leaders should be held on the pavement, just outside the Old Bailey in London... In Winter. Ask any news cameraman... It's a bastard. But it would sort them out toot sweet, and problems would be solved in no time, probably just before afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches. It would save us all a fortune.

But camera crews don't just think about the important stuff. Oh my word no... For example, just exactly how many squirrels would it take to make a pair of warm gloves..? Five, that's how many, i worked it out.

See..? A cameraman's mind tends to drift. Einstein was wrong when he announced that E=MC2. As Monty Python correctly surmised, it depends entirely on whether the Swallow is African or European. It could be that E=MC2-1.3... In which case we are all doomed.

Truck drivers, i have figured out, overtake each other on dual carriageways at 1 mph difference, not to keep up the momentum of a heavy goods vehicle... No... It's because they are utter, utter bastards.

And i often think... Just what would happen if i had a bottle of Bushmills whiskey, a darkened room, 3 well known female newsreaders, a childs paddling pool and a bottle of baby lotion..?

Oh dear, have i been typing out loud again..?

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Friday, 25 January 2013

Little Known Facts about TV News Cameramen.

We film the days news don't we..? That's it. Not much to it. You would be wrong my friend, oh so very very wrong. TV News camera operators all over the world have contributed to the growth of nations, the appliance of science, the exposure of wrong doings, and are largely responsible for the meteoric rise of the cheese puff industry.

NBC Cameraman Dwight Finklestein, just before ejection from the lunar module of Apollo 13.

 There are a great many previously unknown facts about news camera operators that the average TV News watching citizen doesn't know. For example...

1. The inexorable rise in fast food and coffee outlets is directly linked to the advent of the TV news cameraman. In 1945, just as Army newsreel cameramen came home from the war, a certain Colonel Sanders overheard a passing NBC cameraman say... "I would kill for a piece of fried chicken and a luke warm latte right now." He told his wartime friend, Hercule Starbuck, and the rest as they say, is history.

2. Cameramen are basically lazy creatures. While sitting in a traffic queue one day,  newsreel cameraman, Augustus T. Thruppence, got fed up with shifting from first to second to first gear, whilst dabbing the brakes every five seconds. Two months later, the first automatic gearbox was invented in his shed.

3. Early newsreel cameramen are directly responsible for the Bow Tie becoming fashionable again in the early Thirties. This was due to BBC cameraman Bert Cumberbatch who, whilst operating a wind up film camera, got his tie caught up in the mechanism resulting in his slow strangulation on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice, London.

4. Sciatica is a painful inflammation of the nerves in the lower back. Most TV News cameramen will suffer from back problems. The medical term 'Sciatica' was actually named after an Italian American cameraman, Pauly Sciaticalli, who was always on the sick with his bad back. He is also responsible for coining the terms 'Bastardo' and 'Yo Mamma,' during visits to his chiropractor.

5. Sleeping sickness was until recently, thought to be caused by the Tsetse Fly. Further investigation by the World Health Organisation has revealed however, that the cause originated from a small ball of fungus, found in a TV live truck in East Anglia, UK. This is why, whenever you open a live truck door, everyone is asleep inside.

6. TV News Cameramen also have a hand in the world of fashion and Haute Couture. The size of the leg pockets on a pair of cargo pants were directly linked to the size of tapes and batteries carried by a TV news cameraman. Modern, small SD cards have now rendered this obsolete, resulting in the sacking of 250 sweat shop children who made them.

7. TV News Cameramen used to be paid huge sums of money until recently. The International News Cameraman's Club of Grand Bahama has now moved location to a bedsit in South East Peckham, London.

8. A little known fact about Moon mission Apollo 13, was the inclusion of NBC TV News Cameraman Dwight Finklestein on the flight. Unknown to his superiors at NASA, Finklestein smuggled aboard 6 packets of cheesy puffs to eat whilst on the long flight. The moon landing never happened due to a cheesy puff escaping its packet and getting lodged in the air tank pipes. Finklestein was airbrushed from history following his ejection from the lunar module on re-entry to earths orbit, just after Commander James Lovell punched him in the face.

9. The term 'Press Scrum' originates from the original Latin saying, 'Informitus Scrummagius.' It was first used when scribes and sketch artists from the Rome Herald rushed to the scene of the assassination of Julius Caesar.

10. The word 'Cameraman' is now somewhat of a misnomer. Women camera operators have always formed a large percentage within the TV news industry. Modern terminology of the word also now includes producers, runners, interns and the cleaner. Also it appears, anyone with a smart phone.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.       

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Book Review: Shooter In The Crosshairs.

This particular TV News cameraman related book came out quite a while ago. I've been wanting to read it for a long time, but never quite got the time to sit down and do it justice. Over Christmas, however, work slacked off and the wife bought me a new sparkly Kindle. Time to get reading then...

The book... Go buy it.

Written by Rick Portier, it portrays the life of Brock Nicholls, a network TV News cameraman who, following an unfortunate incident involving the Klan, a court case and a willingness to use his fists whilst live on air, finds himself in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, working for a low rent TV News station, filming low rent TV News for a low rent boss.

Why Brock is there and how he gets out of his current predicament are the backbone to this story so i won't reveal more here. Suffice to say, a news story passes his way that can get him back to doing real news and he takes his chances. Set to the backdrop of TV newsrooms, cameramen, reporters and bosses that you want to slap, this book has an air of reality that most of us who work in TV news will instantly recognise. It's believable, honest and accurate in it's portrayal of life in, and out of the industry.

The story that Brock chases is as old and as realistic as it gets in the southern states of the USA, and is told with honesty and realism that can easily be believed. This story of the Klan, small budget TV news and the cameraman involved turn this book into a must read if you have not already done so. It's punchy, well written and flows easily through the story making the book a joy to read. I heartily recommend it. You can buy the book HERE.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Stockbridge Stakeout Blues...

Stockbridge, Hampshire, UK. Picture if you will gentle, kind reader, a small, historic village nestling in the rolling green countryside of rural Hampshire. Ducks on the pond, cosy pubs with open fireplaces and antique shops lining the single Georgian era High Street. A rural idyll if you will…

Over the last three days, i and around 15 or so of my fellow members of the Fourth Estate found ourselves waiting outside one of the large historic houses on a country lane, just off the very end of the high street. Suffice to say the owner, a once popular celebrity from the 70's and 80's had been arrested under various articles of the Things You Shouldn't Do Act 1953. (Section 16, Savile Revision, Sub Section 4)

Of course, the newspapers and TV News outlets sent their finest photographers and camera crews to wait for him to show his face and get a few choice words in his defence. Nothing doing… He didn't show, and in all honesty, nor did i expect him to. So we waited… and waited.

The Press... Disliked in posh rural communities...

Now, for a rural lane, we began to notice quite a few cars passing by, turning around and passing by again. Intrigued, curious locals coming to have a look at all the commotion. After the first few hours, following silence from the locals when asked questions and the raised eyebrows at the collective parking prowess of photographers, we settled in for a long quiet wait for him to show up. 

Well dressed people in Range Rovers, Mercedes, and other expensive 4x4's came, had a look and went. Then something curious happened. Windows started to wind down and various expletives filled the calm air. The shaking of heads and the tuts of the brown corduroy and tweed set, turned into something all together more sinister.

It started when a crusty looking, silver haired old farmer type, gently came to a halt, winds down his window and…


Without a bye-your-leave, i may add. The shock had me exhaling cheesy puff pieces and nearly dropping my coffee. He then turned up again about an hour or so later…

"I hope a big truck comes down here and wipes you all out..!"

From there, it became a regular habit of various locals to drive by and hurl their insults at some perceived slight that we had inflicted upon them, their small village and their errant neighbour.

A quiche wielding posh woman helpfully stopped by to inform us of our collective folly of standing on roadsides whilst nothing happens, in the vain hope that we will see the error of our disgusting ways…

"Why are you here..? You disgust me… Leave them alone… You ought to be ashamed of yourselves..."

She then floored her accelerator, nearly taking out an oncoming car, who then stopped and blamed us for his near accident by proclaiming that we were… and i quote… "A bunch of tossers.." He then drove away, leaving no doubt in my mind, via the medium of the well known hand gesture, just what my right hand is for on dark, lonely nights…

My vision of a genteel, polite and comfortable rural Hampshire village was left in tatters. In all honesty, never have i been so comprehensively and regularly sworn at, tutted at and made to feel like a piece of something unmentionable on the bottom of their well heeled Wellingtons. And let me tell you, i've been in some of the worst, run down and unsafe places in the UK, and been made more welcome by the local hooded youths.

I imagine that letters to the editors of 'The Times' and 'The Daily Telegraph' are dispatched, post haste to London:

'Dear Sir,

May i make plain, and formally register my disgust and anger that my village of Stockbridge, Hampshire, had the awful misfortune to be overtaken by hordes of Papparazzi over the past few days. Their unkempt, threatening appearance frightened my wife to such a degree, that she has now cancelled our village cheese, wine and wife swapping party, which was our turn to host.

The comely young widow, Mrs Phillpot-Mayhew, at No 42, has had her bedroom curtains drawn for the past two days to confound the prying lenses of the press, convinced that she is about to appear on Page 3 of The Sun. As such, i can no longer see her in a state of undress at 7am, whilst eating my toasted crumpet one handed, and listening to the redoubtable Mr Humphries on BBC Radio 4.

Also, having bought every paper and watched all of the TV News channels, (For research purposes you understand) i have seen mention of our village and indeed, just what my neighbour has done to infringe on the offences against the Things You Shouldn't Do Act, 1953. (Section 16, Savile Revision, Sub Section 4)

It must be said that in them being here, it shines a bad light onto our village. My 16 local cousins, The Stockbridge Village Litter Committee (Armed Wing) and the Women's Crotchet Institute are in full agreement, to such an extent, we made it clear to the photographers in plain, coarse language that only they can understand, just what we thought. (Minutes available on request)

This intrusive hullabaloo must end Sir, to restore the peace, quiet and carnal secrecy of our small village. They are not welcome. What goes on in Stockbridge, stays in Stockbridge.'

I Remain Sir, Yours Faithfully,

Colonel Charles Farquahar-Dicke-Splashe, DSO. (Rtd.)

But that's just my imagination. What actually goes on behind the twitching curtains of Stockbridge i shudder to think, but they seem very defensive over something. Right now my imagination is in overdrive at the thought of Mrs Phillpot-Mayhew at No 42… Crumpet anyone..?

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter