Thursday, September 13, 2007
Video journalism's special forces
There's no bravado, we had no prior recky, but the camera and experience would give us the edge.
Videojournalism is technique not technology.
The big crews arrive, stating their aim. We arrive wanting to be invisible, working within an ecosystem which comes closer to capturing the moment.
The traditionalists want to rearrange their ecosystem: You stand here, let's rehearse the questions, can I get you to say it this way, oh and if you don't mind walk from this point to that.
Ours is best served undisturbed. Go in, get the story, and come out. Often the "in" can be embedded. Stay with the subject enough to feel their pain, emotion, their story.
The construct is personal, the camera becomes a subject in itself. It's technique not technology.
The art of one person making films is not new. It was born the very day early cinematographers unveiled their box cameras and cranked away at moving trains, scaring to death cinema audiences.
But then it grew, cinematographers developed their craft and invited in directors to handle scenes an actors, and sound personnel to operate "car-size" sound equipment.
We've come full circle and both the gear and techique look to a new language of telling intimate and rich stories.
Video journalism today hovers between grafitti in a world of classical paintings and fake impressionism; personal tags and expressionism, and dogma film making eschewing all thats cumbersome.
There are many styles, but above all the key is that one person skilled in drawing out people, understanding how to construct on the fly, possessing a visual literacy, can tell a range of different stories - from a 1.20 piece to a series of hour long docs, will with little fuss.
The most archaic tool of news decision management is the agenda. It's not scientific, reliant instead on good judgement developed from years of experience, but even the wisest would not deny that what's good for the goose may not be good in the source.
What you want may not be what I want, but it doesn't make it less important.