Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The TV News Cameraman And His Email Careers Advice Centre.

Now, I'm no seen it and done it all TV news cameraman. You may say that I am a suave, sophisticated and incredibly good looking sort, with an all pervasive charm and wit, and who am I to disagree..? But here at the ukcameraman Institute of TV News Studies we get a lot of emails asking about the route into TV news camera work.

Be a TV news cameraman, and get an eye piece surgically attached to your face. (Please read our terms and conditions.)

I have no problem with this. Putting myself out as a news cameraman blogger and interweb D-List celeb, I expect and get a lot of emails asking the very same question. So here is a reply to an email that I received yesterday...

"Thanks for taking the time to email me, and thanks for taking an interest in the blog, I'm glad that you enjoy it.

With regards to being a news cameraman, the best thing to do is to make contact with the local BBC / ITV newsrooms and tell them who you are. We don't really work with scanners here in the uk although social media is a good way of finding and following up on stories and making all important contacts where stories regularly occur. (Emergency services / Companies / Politicians etc.) a good, old fashioned contacts book is a big bonus.

Personally, I am hired by the local newsrooms as and when they require my services, on a story that they want to cover (breaking news) or a story that they have planned for that day. As a freelancer, I come in as second choice after the staff crews and other freelancers with contracts, but I have been on their freelancers call list for many years and I am very well known to them.

Should you film anything newsworthy I'm sure they will take a look, but it is difficult to sell stories to them on spec unless you are well known to them or have something spectacular or interesting for them to warrant broadcasting it. The best route into a newsroom is to become known to them as a freelancer with the right kit that they require, or being extremely lucky at being in the right place at the right time. Bare in mind that different broadcasters require different recording standards and kit.

For example BBC are now using XDCam/DVCam, ITN and ITV are still using just DVCam at the moment and SKY News use P2. Contact them, send in a CV and make a call or two, but don't become a pain. Give them time to reply as they have many other applications for different roles within a newsroom, see what they say depending on what kit you have.

Another outlet for news video is of course local, regional and even national newspapers who don't have such a rigid requirement when it comes to recording on a certain bit of kit. DSLR's and other cameras are commonplace for use on the web. Make a film or two in the style of the paper, (do some research) and contact them. You never know.

Good luck."

I know that the above is a short and somewhat pithy reply with very little in depth advice and my personal contacts list, (If you come for my contacts, I will have to kill you.) but I hope it gives the recipient a small pointer in the right direction with something to think about.

I do try and reply to everyone who takes the trouble to write to me. I remember very few did when I was first starting out, which I found incredibly frustrating at the time. I have however, written about this very subject in a little more depth on this blog before, and if you have any news gathering ability whatsoever, you should be able to find it...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.