Where to begin? Each of my workdays varies. I have absolutely no routine work schedule. I can work for one client on a night shift, then the next day have a 6:00 a.m. call for a shoot in Manhattan. In a case like this, if I’m in New Jersey and wrap up at 10:00 p.m., I now have to drive back to my office in Long Island, unpack all the gear and repack for the next job in the morning. In between, I better not forget to charge the batteries and pack new tape stock.
My workday starts days before the actual shoot. When I get called for a job, the first question is “Where’s the location?” The second is “Are there any windows?” This will help me determine the type of lighting and grip package I need, as well as the call time for location. The next step is trying to pry a shoot schedule out of the producer. This task is near impossible, and if you get one, the chances are it won’t stick. Next, I now have to determine how many people are needed for this particular job. Once this hurdle is complete, it’s time to start calling for a crew. The difficulty level of this task is dependent upon how much notice I have been given for this shoot. As soon as the call comes in, I stop in my tracks to contact gaffers, grips, production assistants, soundmen, makeup artists, as required. If my regulars are not available, I may be forced to work with new people solely on recommendation. The “recommendation” is a common source of crewing and you simply have to have faith in the people who make these commendations.
Day of Shoot
6:00 a.m.: This particular job is a two-camera shoot with a professional football player, a running back for the New York Jets. In addition to myself, I need another cameraman, a gaffer, a grip and a soundman. I meet two of the crewmembers at my office to help me load all of the equipment into my truck. The rest of the crew will meet me at the location in Florham Park, New Jersey, based up on the call time. Once I get to the site, I will go look at the room to determine which angle is the best for the interview. A view of the room will also help me determine which type of lighting I will need. The other crewmembers at this point are loading all the gear onto carts and will meet me in the room.
9:00 a.m.: We all meet at the press entrance to get our press credentials. I leave with the producer and the crew loads the gear into the building. Our subject is in practice until 12–12:30 P.M., which is great because this was an extensive setup, using natural light as well as HMI lighting and a de-saturation look I programmed into my camera that morning. This whole setup took approximately 2½ hours.
12:30 p.m.: Our running back arrives. The interview is done in the weight room of the practice facility. All goes well here. The interview runs about 30 minutes. The producers decide the interview is complete. The setup has to be broken down quickly to allow the team time to start their workout. Our subject then goes to team meetings for the afternoon.
1:30 p.m.: The crew breaks for lunch for an hour. This, however, is a working lunch, as I discuss with the producer how we should handle the next portion of the shoot. This is known as the B-roll—the extra footage captured to enrich the story you’re telling and to have greater flexibility when editing.
2:30 p.m.: We start setting up for the next location. This location is held on the practice field inside the bubble. Once this is complete we wait for him to finish up with the team. Now his day is done and we have him without distractions.
3:30 p.m.: Our subject shows up and we start the fun part of the shoot. This particular shoot was a lot of laughs. We had him smashing footballs and yelling into the camera. I always say there’s nothing like going to work and having fun and coming out with a great piece when you’re done. THAT’S a great day at the office.
5:00 p.m.: We finish with him and start wrapping up all the gear. Everything gets loaded into my truck and we say our goodbyes.
6:30 p.m.: I travel back from New Jersey to Long Island and unload all the gear.
I put the batteries on charge and gear up for the next job. And I don’t forget to send the bill the next day.