Friday, October 2, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Elementary Challenges

Pat Henderson

Earlier this week I went to Coolville and Amesville Elementary schools to cover the possible consolidation of the two schools. I figured it might be a bit of a challenge to get school administrators to talk about touchy subjects, such as budget cuts and parental concerns, but to my surprise – it wasn’t the administration that I had trouble with.

The superintendent was very willing to share any information he had. We got all the information we needed and I was really glad that we were getting things done in a timely fashion – but then the problems started rolling in.

Now We Need Video
The challenge came as we were looking for video to go with the story. I had thought that we would just take video of kids around the school, in class and on the playground – but that idea was shut down when the superintendent told me I couldn’t shoot video of any of the students, for legal reasons. I definitely understand the issues with shooting kids (with a camera, of course).

So there I was, in the school, kids running all around, trying to think of how I could get some eye catching video without actually revealing any of the kids' identities. Now, let me just tell you something. You try taking a camera into an elementary school, explaining to the kids that you have a camera because you are from the news, then trying not to reveal their identity. It’s impossible.

The problem with the situation is KIDS WANT TO BE ON TV. I was trying to shoot some video of the playground and kids playing from far away – that way you couldn’t tell who they were. However, this plan was quickly foiled when a strapping young lad with curly blonde hair decided to scream “LOOK! IT’S THE NEWS!” Then literally every single child on that playground stormed the camera. Yes. Stormed.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can barely handle my 2 little cousins let alone 50 – 100 elementary school students dying to get their 15 seconds of fame on the local PBS station. I think I heard more reasons why these kids should be famous and why they deserve to be on the news than I have had days in my life.

Getting Creative
I ended up going into the school stairwell, on the 3rd floor and shot video of the entire playground through a window so that the children didn’t know I was there. The video was a bit blurry because I was shooting through glass, but it actually worked out because you really couldn’t tell who anyone was. It was just blurry enough. =)

So – that leads me to how I actually got my video. I ended up getting pretty creative with it and decided that since I couldn’t really have many shots with kids that I would need to step it up. I used a lot of design principles – such as rule of thirds, extreme close up and vantage point – and thought that my video ended up really working in my story. My favorite shots were the ones shot from what my photographer and I called the “midget view.” (Just a low vantage point that represented the student’s perspective).

In the end, I was really proud of the work I had accomplished. There were some challenges along the way, but I was able to make it through and I think the product ended up really well. It was definitely a learning experience! Check out the story below.

Possible school consolidation story on Athens MidDay

No comments: