Anyone remember the T.V. show “Max Headroom” – (Matt Frewer – Anyone, anyone.) The pilot episode featured a scene with a camera operator following a riot (or something who can remember), and while he was broadcasting, he was untouchable. Then his operator back at the studio, turned off his camera – the little red light went out, and bam, he was very touchable, and the gang beat him up.
So I’m shooting a reality show on the streets of New York, and we don’t have the crew to block off foot traffic, and while I’m shooting the couple having a fight, some guy grabs my arms, says excuse me, and pushes past me. No reason for that guy to do that, plenty of room to go around, very off putting feeling, and of course I managed to operate the shot, so that it wasn’t ruined. BUT THIS GUY TOUCHED ME, I don’t care if he said “Excuse me”, don’t go touching other people because you are too busy to be bothered to alter your path when you can see something happening right in front of you. It wasn’t as if I was walking into a crowd of people, I was moving in a small circle with talent. EVERYONE else in New York could see us, and not go charging into us. RUDE, RUDE, RUDE.
Look, while I don’t like being touched by strangers, I grew up in N.Y. (Brooklyn actually, G-d’s Country if you will) and have spent plenty of time navigating the crowded streets of Manhattan. So I am used to being jostled. I was in Russia in 1991 with my family, and walking on the street, some guy came up from behind, gently moved me to one side, passed me, and then moved me back. Weird, yes, but that is fine. BUT I’M WORKING HERE – DON’T TOUCH ME.
I shot a short film (called “Totem”) in Washington D.C. during Barak Obama’s inauguration. I lead/followed and Actress five blocks, in the streets, amid chaos just before the inauguration, while I was walking backwards (the footage was amazingly smooth.) I didn’t even have a spotter on that one, so while shooting, I do have an idea of what is going on around me. However when I’m shooting, when I’m operating the camera – I believe I am untouchable. I’m working and so all that matters to the public around me, is to not bother me. Do not touch me, that is so “Effin” rude, and I feel that rudeness ought to be greeted with death. Not always, but most of the time.
It isn’t a unique feeling – that when working the public ought to get out of the way – I worked with Gary Goldberg, and we were shooting a test I was his cameraman on his last film – sadly unfinished, and while we were testing movement for the camera, some people walked by in the background. Gary – G-d love him – started screaming at them, that we were making a movie, and they were ruining it, and they needed to get out of our way. Now look, we didn’t have a permit, or people to control the sidewalk, so while I thought that was a little unrealistic, I admire so much about that incident. Gary’s passion, and his belief that even shooting a test was so important that people needed to notice, and respect it and get out of the way, without being told.
I’m working here, I’m operating a camera, you can see this, so move the hell out of my way. If you don’t see me coming that is fine, I’ll get out of your way, but if you walk up to me and put hands on me – THAT IS WRONG – and if not for needing to cover the scene – there might have been trouble. I’m annoyed at production of course, for not having enough crew to protect me, but there is something more that is underlying when I am shooting.
It is FUN to operate a camera – getting a shot, making the move, oh yeah. I love riding on a dolly, it is AWESOME (I so rarely use that word.) SO shooting can be a blast, and frankly when I’m shooting, and I get into the “Zone” it is cool. Sometimes I feel like a rock star – just me and the shot, lots of fun (I hate when I end up working with dweebs who just suck all the enjoyment out of a shoot.) I really do feel that I am indestructible when shooting, so coordinated – and flowing. When that Nimrod (see definition#2) grabbed my shoulders it was a big shock, and yet still in spite of that A-Hole. I kept the shooting going. I could Channel Samuel L. Jackson, but I won’t (although you can.)
It’s simple, when I’m working, don’t touch me.
Thanks for reading.