Thursday, 3 October 2013

18 Must Have Skills Required By A TV News Cameraman.

Not so long ago, i wrote the Top 10 tips to being a TV news cameraman. Well, they were the basics. You see, most TV news cameramen have an inbuilt ability to do things that a great deal of other people are unable to. I have noticed this over the years as i have mixed with lens luggers from a multitude of TV news broadcasters.

These skills are learned from the hard and sometimes bitter experiences we find ourselves in, along with the must have abilities that come from being in a job that requires tact, diplomacy and the ability to function on minimum sleep.

Hello my love... Hmm..? No it's not late, go back to sleep. ( See No 18.)

Years ago, before the manifestation of the ukcameraman you know and love, i was in the Army. The Army taught me much needed skills like the avoidance of authority figures, the making of a perfect egg banjo and the ability to knock one out in a sangar whilst facing the enemy at 3am on stag watch... and to drink heavily. Sadly the BBC won't give me a gun, so these skills are no longer required by a modern, forward thinking, suave and sophisticated metrosexual cameraman.

So here is a list, curated here at the ukcameraman institute of TV news studies during my lunch break, of those skills that are required of a modern day TV news cameraman....

1. The ability to wake up at 4:00am for a breakfast news shoot, get dressed in the dark and leave the house without waking the missus. (Bitter experience has taught us this skill.)

2. The ability to achieve skill No1 at 4:30am after you dozed off, without being late for the live shoot.

3. The well rehearsed skill of finding and getting spot on, the bubble level on the tripod... In the dark.

4. The ability to sense and feel the oncoming rain storm and fitting the camera rain slicker before it hits, and not to tell your reporter.

5. The ability to find the one and only place in a 5 mile radius where you can make a cup of tea.

6. The ability to get along with the one person in any given news room that everyone else hates.

7. The innate ability to flirt with a good looking interviewee / reporter / Minister of State, without being labeled a drooling letch.

8. The ability to convince anyone that it can be fixed with a roll of gaffers tape and a Leatherman tool... And then showing them how.

9. The skill of staying cool and calm when your camera is on and working, when the sat truck engineer screams... "We've lost the signal...!" No, No, No... YOU'VE lost the signal...

10. The zen like ability not to throttle your reporter on the 15th take.

11. The hard won ability, through years of being on your patch, of not needing to switch on your sat-nav.

12. The ability to 'look busy' whilst in the crew room with nothing more than a small length of flex, a pencil and a soldering iron.

13. The ability to know that shit rolls downhill, and not being at the bottom level, sitting next to the new intern.

14. The skill of driving at warp factor 9, eating a bacon sandwich with a cup of tea and not to spill or drop any.

15. The ability to sleep whilst leaning upright on a tripod / in a sat truck / in a hedge / court steps, without looking like the local tramp.

16. The skill of knowing who to avoid whilst recording vox-pops / political interviews.

17. The ability not to laugh at a newspaper reporter, (to his face,) who is filming his news piece with an iPad.

18. The ability to get undressed, have a shower in the dark and get back into bed at the end of a long day without waking the missus. (See No1...)

So there you have it. By no means a full and comprehensive list, and anyway, it's late and 18 skills were all i could think of. So if you have any more skills that the cameraman world needs to know about, please leave a comment... Thank you very much and don't wake the missus.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.