Ever watch a TV news story on an old house being moved down the street and wondered what it took to make it happen? Me neither, but I’m running a little low in the thesis department tonight - so meet me halfway, would ya? Besides the roving domicile is a time-honored tradition in soft news, like slack-jawed centenarians and dogs in funny hats. I’ve probably shot a dozen over the years (houses, not old people), but that didn’t stop me from making a beeline for New Unit Four the moment someone mentioned a careworn hovel was being rolled from one side of Tyro to the other. As I left the El Ocho compound, trusty intern Miranda Dotson asked if she could come along. I like Miranda; so much I didn’t even ditch her on the way out. A few minutes later, we giggled like school girls as my still unmarked car of tomorrow screamed down the interstate. Tyro, here we went!
A word on Tyro. If you've ever got too much gas in the tank and wanna watch time stand still, I'd recommend the trip. However, if you're looking for a bustling metroplex with lots of exotic shopping, you'll be hard-pressed tro get your jollies in the backwaters hamlet. The dozen or so times I've blown through town (town?), I've never seen more than a tumbleweed or two. Today, however, the streets of Tyro were filled to the gills with giddy citizens, all stretching their neck muscles to see Granny Owens' old house schlep down Main Street. When we rolled up and broke out the fancycam, the excitement reached a fever pitch. One lady nearly fainted at the sight of television in the making as her two burly sons clinked their spit cups together in celebration. I have a feeling my visage may even make it into the commemorative quilt currently being strung together in some Aunt's basement. Hope they got my good side!
God knows they had plenty of time. See, even in a tiny community like Tyro, you don't go rearranging houses without a little legwork. For every few feet the 70 year old house moved, work crews had to pull back utility wires, uproot a row of mailboxes and shoo off a chicken or two. Okay, so there wasn't a yardbird in sight, but that doesn't mean Granny Owens' house moved any faster. Not that I minded (at first, anyway). Every time the house came to a stop so the hardhats could scratch, I switched up my position. That way, my resulting news story would hopefully look like it was shot my a whole team of cameras, instead of some fuzzy-headed dreamer with an adjective addiction. Thus, I continually, thrust, spun and parried my way to the Chiropractor's office, even dropping to The Lotus Position for a worm's-eye-view of the (in)action. Luckily, there was a passing group of cub scouts to help me stand back up.
While I threw my back out of whack, Miranda wisely waited. Actually she ferried my car back and forth, tok some really cool snapshots and fended off the advances of a few frisky drifters. Smart girl. You know, I don't what Miranda's plans are after graduation, but I really hope the time she's spent in the field had given her an idea of how mundane and breathtaking day-to-day newsgathering can be. She's sure had plenty of chances to figure it out; she's asssisted several crews and currently holds the title of El Ocho Intern With a Pulse. Good on ya, Miranda! Thanks for laughing at my every other wisecrack and I'm real sorry about getting us lost like that. If I can ever make it up to you, I will, but for now keep a close eye on my every move. This is your future you could be watching! Now get me a soda, willya?
You're right...I'll get it. Whiel I do, let's talk time compression. It's easy to do in the edit bay, when a mere drag and drop can erase the doldrums of a long morning waiting for that next shot. In the field however, you simply have to hang out, plot your next plan of attack and hope it will all wrap up before the anchor introduces your report. After about two and a half hours on scene, I had enough footage to fuel a documentary: God Shots of the approaching hovel, close-ups of the oohs and ahhhs and more than a few interviews with descendants. But you simply can't put together a report on an old house with a new home without video of said structure settling into place. It's called "closure", ba-bee! Unfortunately, the utility guys insisted on moving every important wire out of the way a process that slowed the home's journey considerably. After much waiting (and no small amount of bitching on my part) Miranda and I were forced to leave with the home still in the middle of the road. I'm guessing the damn thing was in place by the time my story aired, but I won't probably won't know until I happen upon Tyro a year from now. Maybe by then, my quilt will be ready.