Herrick 18 Stories
Captain Mau Gris is team leader for the British Army’s Combat Camera Team (CCT) based in Afghanistan throughout the summer 2013 as part of 1 Mechanized Brigade. Op Herrick 18′s CCT also includes Sergeant Barry Lloyd – video cameraman – and Sergeant Barry Pope – photographer.
A song and dance
It’s been a fun time for the CCT since I last wrote. Life has been dominated by the Combined Services Entertainment (CSE) Show. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum to what we exist to cover but has its difficulties. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending one, a CSE show combines comedy, music and dancing to help troops take their mind off work where ever they are deployed for a couple of hours.
Having directed a music video before I am well aware of the pitfalls of filming entertainment. The combo of noise, movement and lights if not handled correctly can be an absolute and utter nightmare to edit, doubling or even tripling the time it takes to complete a job. This was the first time that I had seen one of these entertainment shows and, like any typical soldier, I was sceptical about the show’s ability to distract me without the aid of alcohol. I was even a bit nervous for the stand-up comics, as sober soldiers on operations would be a tough audience.
I was proved wrong. Within minutes of the first comic coming on, I was relaxed and enjoying the show. So relaxed that I pretty much forgot I was working. Good for morale, bad for work. I realised, as we left the show, that Lloydie would need more interviews to create a video piece. We would have to come back and do the show again. Again, I thought I would be bored. Nope, second time round I couldn’t get enough of the dancers and the band called Front Cover, but still we needed more. The next night promised massive crowds as it was for the whole of the camp Bastion.
Large events like this pose their own problems for the guys – both Lloydie and his Holiness (Sgt Pope) have to contend with the crowd, who don’t like people pushing past them to get closer to the stage. Also moving around a venue that is much larger takes time and can make cutting a bit trickier. Lloyd and his Holiness nailed it – working like madmen to get the shots they needed. To add to the fun we had the talented Brigade Photographer Cpl Simon Longworth along to take some amazing ‘drag flash’ photos (I think that’s what he called them anyway.) We were nearly there, almost enough footage. We had one night to get the last shots that would make the piece.
Sadly just when we thought we had achieved our mission, operational commitments meant that the last show was cancelled. Just when you think nothing more can go wrong! So quick thinking by the guys meant that we worked out that a multimedia piece could still be possible. The Army definition of a multimedia piece is a video that relies fairly heavily on photos or even exclusively on photos with some audio on it. We learned a valuable lesson realising this.
There are multiple ways to skin a media cat in order to get that story across.
See you next time guys. Take it easy.
Follow Mau on Twitter: @mau_gris