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How To Behave If There Is A Camera Crew Around

Here are some pointers about how to behave when the cameras are around. We thought we might as well share our tips.
There are a few points at the bottom about how to avoid bad publicity or embarrassment but let us start with the basics.

1. Perhaps the hardest of all things to do is to behave normally. Not to play up to the camera but also not to fight shy of it.

2. In general crews will prefer you not to look at the camera at all. The fly on the-wall format looks most natural if you completely ignore camera and any accompanying personnel.

A TV camera can be intimidating

3. Try to act naturally. This can be much harder than it looks.

4. If you are just in the background and it is business as normal, concentrate on what you are doing and do your best to forget the camera.

5. On occasions you may have to do a bit of acting. For example to film a set up shot.

A set up shot is used to introduce someone who is either about to talk in the final film, or to intercut between different segments of an interview.

If you are going to be interviewed, the crew may well want quite a lot of footage of you arriving at work, walking through reception, getting in the lift, taking your coat off, answering the phone and so on. In the end only a few seconds of each sequence will be used but the programme makers need a lot to give them the editing options.

I remember once trying to coach a very senior businessman to simply walk past the camera for a set up shot (see below for what this is). As soon as the little red light went on he was transformed from a normal fatherly bloke to a mass murderer trying to single out his next victim. It took over an hour to get a usable 20 seconds.

Anyone, whether starring or not, may find themselves asked to do some simple thing several times, so it can be filmed from different angles and later cut together. Think of a football game and they way the director moves between different views from several different cameras, depending on whats happening on the pitch.

If recorded, there is usually one camera not several, and the crew have to film the same sequence several times. So for example if you are making a phone call they may need it three times: once in a wide-shot, once with a close up of your hands dialing and once with a close up on your face. Be patient. There is a point to all this.

Editors need plenty of footage to choose from. Some bits of advice are so obvious they are barely worth mentioning having a relatively tidy desk, wearing sensible business wear rather than ripped jeans and avoiding shouting or swearing while the cameras are around. The crew probably wont mind any of these things, but your boss might.

Some less obvious tips

6. When talking in an interview or whilst being filmed, avoid being too bland. You dont have to be positive and Pollyannaish about everything. Just dont criticize a named person or organisation.

7. If you are fitted with a radio microphone, normally clipped onto your lapel with a battery pack at the waistband, remember not to keep it switched on when you got to the loo, out for a cigarette or whilst discussing the virtues of your mistress versus your wife. Such incidents have happened so many times to that they warrant their own page on Wikipedia. Dont add yourself to the list.

8. Dont turn down make up. British reserve is such that we are inclined to shun offers to make us more glamorous or iron out natures imperfections. Dont. Cameras and in particular TV lighting, can be unflattering and may well make you look washed out or sick even when you are perfectly healthy.

9. Check what is on the walls in the office. Remove any page 3 pin-ups or similarly inappropriate material.

10. Finally try to be enthusiastic. People are often rather downbeat about their jobs because familiarity or detail has made the project boring. Try to think of the big picture and remind yourself of the good you do, the complexities the team have overcome or the improvements of the modern day over fifty years ago.

Lindsay Williams is the MD of The Media Coach. With international experience, her London based firm provides expert media training. Go to http://www.themediacoach.co.uk for more information.

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