Thursday, 9 May 2013

Is A TV News Cameraman The Font Of All Wisdom..?

As a TV news cameraman I often find myself in interesting places. Places that the ordinary public and tourists pay good, hard earned, cash money to visit. You name it, I've probably filmed it at some stage.

There is however a problem that sometime occurs when standing about with a TV camera in interesting places. People always... ALWAYS... approach you and ask what's going on. The truth can sometimes be a little less exciting than what they were possibly expecting.

Go on... Ask them what's going on.

This is where, as a cameraman, my deep knowledge of the world rises to the surface and i may commune with my inner sage that lies deep within.

You see, I hate to send members of the quizzical public away with a dull explanation of what it is that I'm actually filming. I like to give them a sense of wonderment, excitement and a tale to tell their grandchildren. I like to imply that my job is more glamourous than it actually is on a day to day basis.

The Old Bailey in London is a case in point. It is the Central Criminal Court where the larger, more complex and important criminal cases are heard here in the UK. This does not mean however, that it is exciting to your average passer by or more inevitably, a tourist, who will ask the nearest cameraman...

"So what's going on here then? Anyone famous..?"

It may be that I am covering a complex fraud trial, a murder most foul or another errant politician caught lying, but this is not what my intrepid questioner wants to hear. And who am I to let them down with tales of dullness and eye watering criminal ineptitude..? I file through my mental rolladex...

"They discovered Lord Lucan running a battery hen farm in West Sussex."

"They are trying a Chinese betting syndicate for the illegal passing of Donkey sperm for that of Shergar..."

Or my absolute favourite...

"Some guy's up for stealing Elvis Presley's jock strap from the British Museums rock 'n' roll exhibition..."

These tales of faux criminality must be told with a straight face. Your average questioner may be no fool. When told about the guy stealing Elvis's jock strap, look for the rise in your questioners eyebrows. If their eyes narrow, they may be skeptical, let them go. If their eyebrows rise you've got 'em and are free to reel them in...

"Yeah... They caught him in nothing but the jock strap climbing up the outside of Buckingham Palace with a rose between his buttocks asking to see the Queen and singing 'All shook up'..."

"Wow..! Really..?" Comes the usual reply.

"Oh yeah... He was only caught when a naked Duke of Edinburgh rugby tackled him as he climbed through the window as he shouted 'The King is in the building'... The Duke is giving his evidence today."

If you ask any bored TV News Cameraman a question about what is going on, we will always have an answer and a well rehearsed back story on any given subject. You will always get an answer... It may not be the absolute gospel truth, but you will always get an answer.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.