Part of my business as you know is photography, but the other part of my business is video production. I just worked as a camera operator (videographer) on the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 press junket over the weekend and the New York City red carpet premiere on Monday.
People always ask how I get jobs like this. If you aren’t a freelancer, you probably don’t understand. Warner Brothers hires a production company in California that is known for crewing press junkets. Since this press junket was in New York, the original production company hires another East Coast production company to crew the shoot and for some equipment. This second production company hires me, who found out about me from another cameraman that recommended me.
The press junket was fairly standard this time. We took over a floor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC. We originally were going to set up four rooms to shoot in, but Emma Watson was not going to show up for most of the “normal” interviews. And Daniel Radcliffe didn’t show up for the press junket at all. So we had three rooms which consisted of two cameramen each. One cameraman focuses his camera on the talent and one focus his camera on the reporter. The talent and the reporter usually sit in front of a huge vinyl display with a logo and artwork from the film on it. The room also has an audio person and a producer. The producer’s job is to keep things moving along. He is only allowed to let each interviewer five minutes of time for questions. We could shoot up to 90 interviews per actor, so we don’t have time for extra questions.
For more information on how press junkets work, you can read another one of my blog posts about my experience on the press junket for Iron Man.
There is also a person who checks all the tapes and organizes them and gives their respective tapes back to each reporter at the end of the shoot.
The person that collects the tapes and runs them from each shooting room to the tape check person is called a tape runner. My wife Jen was the tape runner for this press junket. You can read about Jen’s experience on this Emmaus Patch article and see more pictures that she took: Local Harry Potter Devotee has Unusual fan Experience
I was on the “A” camera in my room, which means my camera is on the talent. The actor was Rupert Grint, who has played Harry Potter’s best friend, Ron Weasley, in all of the movies. He seemed like a pretty cool person, but I think all the activity around the press junkets and premieres was wearing him out. He attended the London premiere two days before and then was doing a day of interviews with each interviewer asking almost the same questions over and over again. He was a nice guy and I had him sign Jen’s copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
In this video, I shot the clip of Rupert. I think the compression is a little weird, but it was the only video I could find on YouTube on the moment.
Two years ago I worked on the “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” press junket and was in Tom Felton’s room. He was a really great guy and talked with the crew the whole day.
Here’s the blog post from that junket: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Press Junket
And of course I had to do a Harry Potter themed holiday card that year.
The next day was the New York City premiere at Lincoln Center. I was kind of excited. I’ve done about a dozen press junkets, but this was my first red carpet premiere. We arrived in the afternoon at the Waldorf-Astoria to pick up our gear and learn our assignments. There were ten teams consisting of a camera person and an audio person. We were using older Betacam cameras, which are disgustingly heavy, but Beta has been the standard for news crews. Eventually the standard will be some sort of solid-state drive. Anyway, it was hot and the camera was heavy.
Each camera operator got on a bus with his audio tech and we drove over to Lincoln Center. When we arrived we saw hundreds of screaming fans, some of whom had camped out the night before. Some where outside the red carpet and the lucky ones got seats at the red carpet.
Our stations were towards the end of the red carpet. Our production company was hired to have cameras for reporters that didn’t fly in their own crew. Each of our teams was either assigned two or three reporters. I had two. One was a young kid from the YNN Network, Lights, Camera, Jackson and the other was Ashley Williams from KMAX-TV, Sacramento, hopefully I can get some of the video on-line from their websites. Since I had two reporters, I had to frame up the actor and the reporter with the microphone and after the question had been answered the first reporter had to hand the microphone over to the other reporter and I had to re-frame for them.
The red carpet had several different areas. There was a main stage when the actors first arrived to get on a microphone and say a quick hello to the crowd which was played on loud speakers. Then after the stage, there was a semi-circle with a Harry Potter in big letter where the bigger networks like the E! Channel and MTV interviewed the actors and director and writer. After that, they walked the red carpet where on one side was a short set of bleachers behind a black wall with the Harry Potter logo all over it. On the other side was a velvet rope with our reporters and then a metal fence where us cameramen and audio people stood behind. Rupert Grint and Tom Felton walked the red carpet from the end and went backwards so they could spend time with the fans. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe talked to the major networks and then didn’t come to our reporters towards the end of the line. They spent most of their time signing autographs.
I was surprised that there wasn’t a ton of celebrities on the red carpet. But I got to see a weird hodge-podge of celebrities including: Jay Manuel “Mister Jay,” Michael Chiklis, Matthew Broderick & Sarah Jessica Parker, Seth Green, Joey Fatone, America Ferrera, Sarah Hyland, and Melissa Joan Hart.
And when Alan Rickman finally walked by I screamed my head off, but he didn’t come to my reporters. 🙁
When I wasn’t getting the shots for my reporters I was sending some images from my crappy cell phone camera to Twitter and Facebook and taking other images with my point-and-shoot camera. My twitter account is CElston.
All in all in was a good time and I got paid to do it. 🙂 Next up for me… I’m shooting the press junket for “Crazy, Stupid, Love” this weekend. I hope I’m in Kevin Bacon’s room, because I just found out that I have a Bacon number of 3. Plug in my name, Christopher Elston, into the Oracle of Bacon and see for your self how many degrees I’m away from him.
Please contact me here: CONTACT Chris