I spent January 17th – 21st in D.C, working with MTV News to provide coverage of the presidential inauguration. I spent my days and some evenings shooting interviews and performances for televised broadcast on MTV. I worked at the following events:
- Shepard Fairey Manifest Hope Gallery show
- Green Inaugural Ball
- Latino Inaugural Ball
- Pepsi, Spike Lee and Howard University Present ‘Refresh the World’ Symposium
- Youth Inaugural Ball
In the evenings/early mornings I changed roles and handled remote digital production for MTVNews.com. This was my first time to be designated by the department as a multiplatform producer (in an official capacity) and a crash course in what that means on location.
My experience in D.C. was amazing, a lot of work and a terrific educational experience. I am very slowly cutting together a mini video diary but wanted to share some thoughts in the meantime.
Here is (some) of what I learned in D.C.
1. Gel insoles for every pair of shoes you bring saves crucial minutes used up by awkwardly swapping them out each time.
2. Gel insoles make the different between horrible back pain + feet pain or just horrible back pain.
3. Getting as much petty cash as you can from production management saves you a lot of heartache in a city without 24hr public transportation. Don’t forget receipts.
4. Using tape on camera batteries helps you to remember which ones are charged/not charged in the field (don’t forget your designation).
5. Often internet connections at temporary production offices really suck. Have your laptop broadband card available at all times.
6. Even if you are going on a shoot with a producer and a production coordinator, it’s a good idea to carry all location contact info on you and a schedule (if you were given one). Be prepared to help your producer hunt down individuals, give directions, initiate phone calls, etc. You are never just a shooter. You are an ally.
7. Sometimes locally hired producers assigned to work with you don’t have any idea what they are doing. Deal with it and move on. It’s easier to deal with it if you have that list of contact info on your body.
8. Researching restaurants near your hotel/production offices/shooting locations BEFORE arriving is a great idea if you can swing it. Hunting for a place to eat, in the cold, blows. Check your production binder to see if a list already exists.
9. Be nice. To everyone. If you can. It helps you.
10. Making a written/portable list of your personal assignments for the duration of the trip (as much as you can) helps you prioritize work flow. This is especially helpful when you are switching from one form of work (traditional production) to another (new media) in the same day, with multiple things due simultaneously.
11. All the hustle in the world to get tape across town for digital production means nothing if there isn’t enough staff to support the work flow. Do your best with what you have.
12. If something isn’t working, ask for help.
13. If an event is black tie, do your best to meet those requirements. I saw shooters who were avoided at events because they were shabbily dressed.
14. Make time to eat at least one normal meal a day, if you can. Bring snack bars.
15. If you get physically thrown off the stage at the green ball after being told you could shoot there, don’t let it get you down. No one is paying you to nurse a wounded ego.
16. As much as it sucks not getting enough sleep, dealing with local event staff who are incompetent and a myriad of other reasons to fall into a negative attitude, remember that you are participating in a historic event, not paying 1,000+ dollars while attending fancy balls and getting most of your meals paid for. Cheer up.
17. Twittering your whereabouts is great but try to find time to call family/friends at least once when things aren’t so crazy.
18. If you share a room with someone, try to arrange in advance that it’s with a person who has a similar schedule. Waking people up repeatedly at 3/4/5/6am when you get in is not ideal.
19. Things will never be perfect or ideal on a remote production/multiplatform assignment. Becoming angry or resentful (even inwardly) forces you to carry unnecessary emotional weight.
20. Seeing President Obama in person is an experience I will share with my children, their children and anyone who will listen to me.
- All of my D.C. photos on Flickr
- You can watch the full ‘Be The Change: Live From The Inaugural’ show on MTV.com.