Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Street shots

Videoing in the street is always challenging. Almost anywhere that you put down a professional looking camera someone (usually wearing a uniform) will come up to you and tell you not to do it.

So when a Middle East tv company asked me to do a couple of outside broadcasts with its correspondents reporting on the riots I was filled with trepidation.

For one thing the video I'd seen on tv showing the looting was truly hair raising. Camerapeople were taking risks that I thought were unacceptable. Don't get me wrong. I've been in a few riots

But these guys (and yes it was blokes) were running with the looters and videoing them as they emerged from shops with stolen plunder, a crazy risk to take. People tend not to like it if they see you doing that!!!

Fortunately I didn't have to do anything like that. We were strictly videoing the clear up operation. Some of the buildings were still smouldering but that was it.

Then there's the problem of language. It's very difficult to select the best take when you are videoing in a language you don't understand. And when you are sending out stuff at the ridiculously slow speeds offered by Virgin broadband in North East London right now, and the news programme is going to be on in a couple of hours time, you have to get it right first time.

What surprised me was that despite the extremely heavy police presence no-one told us to stop. They didn't even look askance at us.

The only official who talked to us (Croydon Council's press officer) seemed positively friendly.

It's the same at demonstrations. Despite enormous police numbers no-one ever stops you videoing anywhere in London. This even applies to Trafalgar Square which is a legendarily difficult place to video in.

Is there one set of rules covering street videoing most of the time and another when there are large numbers of police officers on the streets?