September 8, 2018

September 25, 2017

I started shooting multi camera sports for ESPN in 1980 or 81. They were a new cable sports network based in Bristol, Connecticut that nobody thought would last very long. I only worked three or four years with them because the money working as a single camera DP was much better.

One time we were doing a live football game from the Yale Bowl in New Haven.

Right before air, (in fact during the commercial break just before Bristol went to us), all the cameras just died. There was not a lot you could do way up in the stands but wait. As the commercial break was ending, the power suddenly jerked back on and we were immediately on the air. 

After the game, as we were wrapping cables, we heard the story. Some kid had pulled the master power plug from the truck. The Chief Engineer jumped down out of the truck and found the cable just lying on the ground. With no time to spare, he

executed a “Hot Stab” by jamming the plug {pulling about 80 amps} back into the truck. Miraculously everything came ri...

September 8, 2017

Soundman Jeff Hayash and I once did a very arduous shoot in the Lone Star State.

Eighteen days in a row in the middle of a Texas Summer. No cool Hotel rest but a sleeping bag on Church Basement Floors the entire time. The shooting was almost all hand held, the subject matter, deeply disturbing. The Producer from LA was rather high strung. We shot an average of 15 thirty minute Beta Tapes a day, never less than 10 and sometimes 20. We shot everything that moved…

Driving back from a day’s last location to our Sleep Church, the Producer asked… Jeff “What was that last tape number ?”

Jeff:  “Number 42”

Producer:  “You have it ?”

Jeff:  “Well, it’s in the back”      

P:  “You sure”

J:  “It’s in the back”

P: “That’s fantastic stuff we shot… You sure you got it ?”

J:  “Yes, It’s in the back…” 

P:  “We should go back. You might have left it”

J: “No, I’m sure it’s in the back”

Another 15 miles down the road and several failed attempts to contact the location. More worry about...

August 8, 2017

$700 BRAD

Many years ago I, was DP on an early cable program called “Idea Notebook”. It was a home improvement show and our talent was a young lady who turned out to be a very capable host. The engineer was Tom Schoenwandt, the gaffer was Bill Barrett and the utility guy was Ed Maher. The Director was a very intense first timer.

The Producer rented a house on Long Island for a week and on the last day, in the last hour, our talent was building a small wooden box. Since the Director wanted this scene all in one take, Bill had everything she needed carefully laid out. Wood, saw, hammer and nine brads, the tiniest of nails, all lined up.

It was hot and humid with a thunderstorm moving in. The house was a spider web of cables and I was getting more nervous by the minute. Each clap of thunder jolted the lightning phobia I had, dating back to my Tornado Intercept days out West. We were shooting with a three tube Ikegami camera, connected to a small remote truck parked in front of the house and...

August 7, 2017

The legendary CBS Newsman had the ideal order for Five Stories in a program.

{Assuming that each had an equivalent news worthiness}

#1 Put Your Second Best Story First {start with a bang & keep audience watching}

#2 Put Your Weakest Story Second {get it out of the way}

#3 Put The Next Weakest Story Third {your building to a big finish}

#4 Put Your Third Best Story Next To Last {building to best story}

#5 Put Your Very Best Story Last {end with a bang}

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     We all think we know the names of the major American networks, but ask a rushed,

     frustrated and exhausted crew member what those initials really stand for… 


                    Caucasian Broadcasting Corporation or Can't Broadcast Sports



                    Political Bull-Shit




                    No Bonus at Christmas




                    Extremely Slow Paying Network




                     And my favorite…




                      Always Be Cheap





    Of course, network crews are rarely rushed, frustrated or exhausted.