Like alot of misunderstood trades, the TV news photographer never fares too well on the silver screen. Be it a lighthearted romantic comedy or a political thriller, the guy (or gal) behind the big lens usually comes off as some socially awkard ruffian more comfortable with his camera than other people. Okay, so that's not so far off the mark, but still, movie-makers seem to go out of their way to deride the role of the television news videographer.
Sometimes it's the technical things that gets the photog nation's goat. In the widely-panned 'Up Close and Personal' (a horrid defiling of the Jessica Savitch story), Michelle Pfieffer and her news photographer go Live(!) from inside a lockdowned prison WITH NO CABLES ATTACHING THEIR CAMERA TO THE LIVE TRUCK. This may seem like a little thing to the viewing public, but one would think camera-knowledgeable cinematographers might notice this type of thing. And it's not just the lack of cables, carboard cameras, phtogs who narrate as they shoot and laughable shooting posture mars most cinematic potrayals of the lens-toting set.
In fact, only two portrayals are widely embraced by the photog nation. The first is pretty marginal but worth mention. Hank Azaria plays 'Animal', a daring news shooter chasing the planet's most buffed-up lizard in the inane remake of 'Godzilla'. Far from a multi-layered portrait, Azaria does nail the scene in the rain, behaving exactly the way I'd expect most of my friends to if ever assigned to pursue a giant reptile through Gotham City. He even has deck troubles.
Sadly, the patron saint of on-screen photogs is still Chris Elliot's cameraman character in 'Groundhog Day'. I liked the film, as well as Elliot's scene-stealing performance of an ancillary role. Something about his character's sardonic defensiveness and skeevy attitude endears him to most every photog I've quizzed on the subject. But come on - we're still talking Chris Elliot here as the absolute pinnacle. I mean, did you SEE 'Cabin Boy'?
Someday Hollywood will get it right. Hell, maybe the first realistic take on us lenslingers could be the biopic of a certain mid-market fluff meister, a seasoned hack who squints through a dusty lens by day and bloviates about it on his blog by night...Hey, it could happen!