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Guerrilla Documentary:Videotaping News Crews

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 11/24/2008

Instead of going after costly news footage, try filming the actual news crews while they are reporting and getting the same footage as they do.

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    Being a Journalist

    A good documentary provides context for the events that it’s chronicling within the rest of the world. One of the most standard ways is by using news footage, which gives a public look as to the events and their affect on the world from the local to international network.

    Oftentimes this footage is expensive and difficult to get, and, for someone with limited money and resources, this can be an impossible suggestion. One way around this is to actually record the news personnel as they conduct interviews and record footage.

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    News Coverage

    During a major event, the news stations will almost always be there to cover it. If you want to get the video of them covering it, you should arrive to the location unreasonably early. This way, you will be able to wait out their arrival and capture all the footage that you would like.

    You may want to try and get some inside information as to when they may show up, but this can be hard to do unless you already have some connections at that affiliate. From here, you can videotape their arrival as well as any interviews they get. There are no restrictions against videotaping a news organization gathering their footage so you should be in the clear.

    This footage will show much of the event coverage without having to use their official footage. Try videotaping them consistently so you can also get “off the record” footage and dialogue from the news agency.

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    Sharing Footage

    If you would just like to get the interviews that they will be filming, then you can position your camera parallel to the news camera. This way you will get approximately the same image that they are getting as they are doing the interview. You will likely have to use an onboard microphone unless you are well acquainted with the subjects and can convince them to wear a wireless microphone for your recording.

    Try to get as close to the news organization as you possibly can, and do not let their protest to your presence deter you. Any citizen has just as much right to videotape an event as any news organization as long as you do not need expressed permission to be at your location.

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    Be Original

    The footage is not going to be exactly the same as the news footage so don’t try to make it look as such. Work with the situation you have, and try to get both footage of the event and of the news organization. In this way, it can end up being a unique point of view in your film.