Did this get your attention?
Today, we're going to talk about 'getting aggressive' in your shooting and video production.
For about ten years I produced a series for TLC called Trauma, Life in the ER.
It was 'real life emergency room stories', shot, needless to say, in real life.
The photo above, by the way, is one of Julia, a 22-year old mugging victim who was attacked on the streets of Moscow (Russian, not Idaho), and came home after the attack, unaware that her mugger had plunged a knife into her back. Her parents noticed it (I'll bet they did) and took her to the hospital where this photo was taken.
We never did an episode in Moscow (though I bet it would have been good), but we got a lot of knife attacks, including one guy who wandered into Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida with a 12" bowie knife sticking out of his head. (His neighbor had come home unexpectedly to find him making love to his wife (the neighbor's wife, not his own)).
In any event, I have used this as a classic example of 'getting close to the action'.
There is an old expression attributed to the Dutchess of Windsor who said, 'you can never be too rich or too thing'. To this, I would add, 'you can never be too close'.
Now, closeness makes some of us uncomfortable.
We don't want to 'bother' people. We prefer to keep our distance.
In video or filmmaking, this is death.
You have get really aggressive.
You have to shove yourself in there to the very heart of the action. You can't be too concerned about 'getting in people's way' or 'annoying them'.
At the end of the day you are going to be measured entirely based upon what is on the screen - nothing else.
No one will care if 'everyone in the room really liked you'.
Does not mean a thing.
The only thing people care about is what they see on screen.
Did you have the courage to shove yourself into the midst of the action, or did you hang back?
Many years ago when I was running a world-wide video news organziation, one of my journalists asked if he could go to Chechnya. There was a massive civil war raging there at the time and he spoke Russian fluently. It was dangerous but he said he would take the risk. He wanted me to buy him a helmet and flack jacket, which I was happy to do. Also plane tickets, bribery money, hotels and so on, but it seemed a good investment. he said he knew the territory well and would bring back a great story. And off he went.
About a week later, he called me and said he was at the heart of a major battle for control of Ossettia. Tanks. Airplanes. They were bombing the city and thousands were being killed. It was a terrible thing to see. The Russian army was massacring Ossetians and the world had to know. I read about it in the papers at the same time, and indeed there were not images. He told me he was at the heart of the battle with his (my) video camera.
I called Nightline at ABC News and told them I had all this exclusive fantastic stuff from Chechnya. They were excited. "Are you sure its good?" they asked. "The best! The guy knows the region, he speaks the language and he's got a video camera. He's right at the heart of the action". Great, they said.
I told him to shoot as much as he could and then FedEx or courrier or something the tapes back to me asap. ABC News was in.
A day or so later, a box arrived with 4 Mini DV (thats what we shot in) tapes.
I screened them all.
From what I could see on the tapes, our 'correspondent' was about 30 miles from Ossetia. If you looked really carefully a the images, you could see a thin, pencil thin line of smoke arising from the landscape.. maybe...
This, according to his 'notes' was the heat of the attack.
Needless to say, it was a long long time before Nightline took my calls again.