Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shooters on the Loose

Those of us who squint for a living do so with great conviction. Don't believe me? Jostle a pro's shot and standby for some - ahem - passion. That's what happened today, mere seconds before the above clutch of law enforcers burst through the door and waved their weapons this way and that. Sure, it's just a drill. But tell that to a campus cop hopped up on cold coffee and young man's ambition. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

"You didn't get my message?"

Indeed I hadn't, but when an assignment manager asks you that first thing in the morning, they may as well just say, "You're late!" Suddenly, I was. Thirty miles down the interstate, Elon University police officers swarmed the same dormitory over and over again - chasing the ghost of Virginia Tech from room to room. They'd been doing so for ninety minutes when I saddled up; in less than an hour they would promptly stop. Did I mention I was late? I was, and while I didn't break any new land-speed records, I'd be lying if I said I lollygagged. When I did arrive on campus, a trusty PR buddy handed me the dorkiest of eye protection and whisked me through doors of the aforementioned dorm. Inside, steely eyed professionals scanned my every feature while scratching the itch on their trigger fingers. And that was just the camera crews!

"You need to get behind the line, Tee-Vee!"

An oak tree in an SBI golf shirt pointed to a wall of photogs at the far end of the wall. They looked pretty miserable packed together like logo'd sardines, but as the last fish to arrive I had no choice but to join them. First though, I had to squeeze past a scruff of young deputies waiting their turn to terrorize Elon's first responders. With their backward ballcaps, high dollar shades and practiced thousand yard stares, they looked like deckhands from 'The Deadliest Catch'. I however resembled Jimmy Buffet's roadie and silently wished my tropical print was instead a manly shade of camouflage. It wasn't, so I dragged my happy ass past them with my chest ouffed up and joined the mass of elbows and zoom lenses behind the line. As I did the camera pack formed around me, until my Sony and I hugged enough sheetrock to steady my shot. At the other end of the hall, the SBI trainers loitered and joked as the campus cops took their position outside. Scanning the waistline of every participant, I performed a hard target search for any sign of flash-bangs and mercifully came up empty. I hate flash-bangs...

"Please, DO NOT do this now!"

I peered over my camera and spotted the owner of that request. A cable channel one man band who will remain nameless stood nose to nose with a print photographer from the nearest paper, their mutual displeasure showing in the scrunch of their shoulder blades. There they stared and mumbled for what felt like forever. I tried to look around to see if the cops had yet to notice this budding scuffle, but the crush of others all around me prevented any new perspective. So I looked back over at the bowed-up duo and muffled a chuckle. It ain't the first time I've seen two photogs threaten to throw down on scene, but it was the first time I've seen it happen in the presence of twitchy-fingered SWAT teams. Suddenly I heard a voice ring out and realized it was my own...

"Fellas, fellas..."

That seemed to settle the offensive. With a few mumbled curses, the two photojouralists turned their attention down the hall - just in time for last drill of the day to commence. I crawled into my viewfinder and steadied up my shot. When the campus cops began yelling commands from the other side of the door, I realized I wasn't rolling and jabbed at the RECORD button. As they poured in through the door and hoisted their handguns, I wished I'd captured the cameraman stand-off. Now THAT would have been a great Web Extra...


Weaver said...

"You didn't get my message?"

Isn't that really code for...."I forgot to tell ya...get your a$$ in gear..."

Regards from Florida!


Anonymous said...

Here's what I got today from Assignment Chick as I sat down at 4:10pm to edit 3 VOSOTS:

"Are you done editing; how long will it take you to finish?...can you 'run' downtown to the theater and do a couple quick liveshots for 5 & 6pm!?!?!"

No concept of drive-time, distance, set-up, NOTHING!!!
And of course you'd think the one person in the room who SHOULD know that all livetrucks were ALREADY accounted for DIDN'T!