Friday, 21 March 2014

A TV News Cameraman, A Duck, And An Unknown Suspect.

It's a rare occurrence when you are asked to film a court case and nobody knows who we are looking out for. Mostly we have a fair description or even a newspaper picture of our errant quarry for reference, before stalking the court steps in search of an arrival sequence for the evening news.

Failing that, look out for a slack jaw, dribble on the chin and a general Neanderthal looking bloke in a pair of Nike running bottoms, trainers and a hoodie with disturbing looking stains on the front. If you are new to the news business don't worry... They will generally find you.

Today however, my description of our suspect was thus: 'A Man.' Detailed i think you would agree.

Film anything that moves they said... Anything...

 And so it was that i found myself filming every man who walked towards the general direction of Winchester Crown Court... every... single... one... for the next two hours or so until 10:30, when he was due in the dock for sentencing.

Having phoned my news producer i asked the questions any tv news cameraman would ask. "Any idea on age..?"

"No." came the reply.

"Black guy or white guy..?"


"Does anyone know anything about this guy..?"


"Ahh... OK..."

It shouldn't be too difficult i told myself as i filmed the first man who walked into view. He was a casually dressed middle aged man, greying hair, small goatee beard, red checked shirt and dark glasses. Never mind i told myself, only a couple of hours to go. Obviously i hadn't taken into consideration that Winchester was holding the annual look like a suspect day, nor that every person entering court today had a male entourage of Lady Ga Ga proportions. Quite obviously, courts 1 to 10 were in full swing.

I thought at one point that my luck had turned when a man with a black beard and an eye patch walked into court. ( No really... I shit you not. ) An in depth criminal profile worthy of Cracker led me to believe that this was obviously my man and that i could now go for an early lunch. It was the Pirate who did it... Wrong. I now have it on good authority that he was a lawyer of some repute.

On turning the camera left, the lens settled on a bunch of hard looking geezers walking into court who wouldn't have looked out of place at a heavily tattooed, armed robber convention at the Blind Pugh pub, having a memorial drink to the Kray twins and were looking for a fight. This, i decided was not going to be my day.

I resolved that nothing, nothing was going to get past me today. I shall get my man... as the Mounties are fond of saying. He shall not pass without the withering gaze of my lens settling upon his features for the news watching public to gawp at on the 6:30 bulletin.

I was now hitting upwards of 60 clips of randomly wandering men. Short ones, tall ones, old ones, young ones, slim ones, fat ones, hairy ones and bald ones. If it moved it was rendered to a digital HD stream.

My filming frenzy was interrupted when my reporter phoned to say that he was in the building talking to his lawyer before his sentence was passed. She gave me a good description of my suspect and hoped that i had indeed captured him on the camera.

Indeed i had. After two solid hours of filming every man in the Winchester area, i found him where he appeared at the very beginning of my thumbnail clips... He was a casually dressed middle aged man, greying hair, small goatee beard, red checked shirt and dark glasses.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.