Last week I was filming a fundraising event at the House of Lords for the charity Fishing for Forces (www.fishingforforces.org) and it got me thinking. Events coverage seems to be an all-encompassing term to include everything from major sporting events to small private functions. I’ve been wondering if its possible to define certain qualities and techniques that apply when covering any event, or is the range simply too diverse?
As a freelance camera operator, I’ve covered a pretty varied range of events, from large outdoor venues like The Millennium Stadium or The Royal Bath and West Show, to extremely intimate and private ‘events’ such as funerals and formal ceremonies. Although the spectrum is broad and it goes without saying that each event is unique, I think there are certain skills it is vital to have for successful Events Coverage.
1. Expect the unexpected! When filming a live event, its almost a guarantee that it wont all go to plan. The ability to think on your feet, quick reactions and a flexible approach are all essential to cope under any circumstances.
2. Discretion is the better part of valor. OK, I don’t think valor is particularly necessary but discretion certainly is. Although it is more important at smaller, more intimate events like weddings, the ability to blend in is always an asset. It enables events to unfold naturally in front of the camera and is the best way to get candid, relaxed shots which offer a realistic representation of the event. Obviously at events like lectures, exhibitions or sport this isn’t that relevant, but in those circumstances being discreet probably applies more to not getting in the way and blocking someone’s view – or a fire exit!
3. The customer is always right. As well as a diverse range of venues and types of event, the purpose and output is often varied as well. You might simply be providing a straightforward, no-frills record of the event – for example you might be filming a lecture which needs to be distributed to nationwide employees. Alternatively you might be creating a once-in-a-life-time, all-singing, all-dancing DVD package for newly weds. Whatever the event, its vital to establish the expectations and this requires plenty of pre-event research. This enables you to make sure you have the right equipment for the job and focus on what is important to whoever has employed your services.
I think that’s probably enough to be getting on with for now. As ever, there is room to add your own ‘must haves’ to the list…