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stidle
01-06-2006, 05:44 PM
I have lived in arguably "dangerous" areas of Pittsburgh my entire life and have used common sense and stealth to avoid getting mugged or otherwise harassed.

But now that I have a $2500 camera, I'm a little wary. I want to shoot the place that I grew up, I want to capture those vulnerable, rusting parts of the city that make it unique...but I am seriously worried about getting my equipment jacked.

At the same time, this seems like an absolutely ludicrous fear, seeing that there are cameramen who have filmed warzones, ghettos much worse than the places I want to film, etc...(The film "Dark Days" comes to mind.)

Any suggestions on staying safe while shooting in the city?
-matt

Joe Kras
01-06-2006, 05:58 PM
Any suggestions on staying safe while shooting in the city?

Take someone with you that can be your eyes while you're (quickly) setting up. You don't want to give someone the chance to sneak up on you and grab your stuff. It's better if they're big, and look like they can handle themselves. Take only minimal equipment.

Don't shoot at night.

Get in, get the shot, and get out. 5 minutes, max. Two is better.

Always have an escape plan.

Iskandar
01-06-2006, 07:45 PM
That was my same trouble in Naples, IT. That's why I escaped in Japan to film the streets!
In Naples I could get a police escort but I had to pay a fee and filming with a police car behind not always is the best fitting to choot in such particular places...

I gave up.

Still now I am very worry to film out of Japan...

GenJerDan
01-07-2006, 01:30 AM
Yeah. Someone big. Possibly even better, someone big who is a cop (off duty, in uniform, paid with permission of the city...since you'll be getting a permit, too, right?)

Or maybe even better, if it's a "bad" area of town, find the local badass and hire *him* for the day. Probably cheap, since he'll be credited, and ego is often better than money for some.

manglerBMX
01-07-2006, 10:48 AM
i've filmed in some very sketchy situations, hoods of tampa, orlando, philly, pittsburgh, dc, all cities in nc, prague and some other sketchy situations, but luckily i've always had a few guys with me but we were on bmx bikes and the kids and such wanted to see stunts and that keeps people entertained and keeps their focus away from my bag and a photographers bag. and most people that would be in those places(during daytime) are probably stoked on being on tv or whatever you are filming for. so take atleast 1 person with you for eyes, but i wouldnt worry too much as long as you arent late night or anything. but dont try and cause a lot of attention.

spidey
01-07-2006, 11:56 AM
bring a gun.

Nathyn
01-07-2006, 07:23 PM
Yeah. Someone big. Possibly even better, someone big who is a cop (off duty, in uniform, paid with permission of the city...since you'll be getting a permit, too, right?)
Comedy. :)

-Nate

HorseFilms
01-07-2006, 07:40 PM
Just hire my buddy Brian:
http://horsefilms.com/images/NearDeathExperienceSmall.jpg

Mike Parker
01-08-2006, 07:04 AM
I spent three years in Pittsburgh back in the early 80's when I worked at WPXI-TV there. A few suggestions: Make sure your equipment is insured. If you're using you camera professionally, your homeowner's policy probably WILL NOT cover loss or damage to your equipment. Second, (especially at night or in rough areas) have at least one other person with you to act as a second pair of eyes. Third, be sure to let someone know where you're going and what time you'll be back. Fourth, carry a cell phone with you (just in case) and pepper spray and/or a small stun gun. Don't carry a lot of money or credit cards and dress appropriately to blend in.

During the LA riots back in 1991, camera crews were an easy target for thugs. I was shooting for CBS News and carried pepper spray and my .45 Colt auto. My soundman, Ed Springer, was carrying his .357 magnum. For some reason, nobody ever bothered us...

Mike Parker
www.mp-tv.com

galt
01-08-2006, 02:53 PM
I like Mikes advice except about a stun gun. If you are not trained and do not have a big enough stun gun, all you will do is annoy the people you wish to stop. You still have to catch them first... And you could find yourself facing same legal sanctions as if you shot someone using a real gun. I prefer a Glock. Insure your equipment and the Glock is for YOUR protection. I think of mine as a single-premium fully paid-up life insurance policy.

Slimothy
01-08-2006, 03:36 PM
Bring more than one person along. If you plan to make a habit out of it, you might want to think about applying for a right to carry permit. It can be time consuming, but it might save you money/life.

stidle
01-08-2006, 06:49 PM
Most of these seem like reasonable suggestions, but I have to take issue with the suggestion of carrying a gun.

I don't want this to devolve (evolve?) into a political discussion, but don't you think that the likelihood of a confrontation turning deadly increases about 100-fold when you introduce a gun into it -- regardless of whether or not the offending party also has one?

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment, so be it. You fork it over and get left alone. I will have it insured just in case that happens anyway.

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment and you whip out a gun...you run the very possible risk of being injured or even killed.

Mace seems like a decent middle-ground.

Slimothy
01-08-2006, 06:54 PM
Most of these seem like reasonable suggestions, but I have to take issue with the suggestion of carrying a gun.

I don't want this to devolve (evolve?) into a political discussion, but don't you think that the likelihood of a confrontation turning deadly increases about 100-fold when you introduce a gun into it -- regardless of whether or not the offending party also has one?

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment, so be it. You fork it over and get left alone. I will have it insured just in case that happens anyway.

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment and you whip out a gun...you run the very possible risk of being injured or even killed.

Mace seems like a decent middle-ground.
Nonsense poopy pants. If anybody comes within 3 feet of you you're supposed to just whip it out and start shooting. Shoot first-as questions later.

GenJerDan
01-09-2006, 12:30 AM
Besides which, as silly as it sounds, you're more likely to be sued for using mace than a gun. (Pepper spray, more likely...you'll need a permit for real mace.)

Someone standing there with a Mastiff on a leash would work well to keep folks away, if you can't find a big scary guy. :)

Nathyn
01-09-2006, 02:46 PM
As a lover of action films it may be ironic but in real life I don't believe in using violence unless it's really needed. The problem is too many people want to be "hard". If a guy pulls a gun on you and you can get a shot off first, then I'd say cap him. Better you than you.

You have every right to shoot your movie, he has no right to stick you up. Another thing is too many people are willing to just kill you and take your gear. I live in a decent middle class neighborhood but I wouldn't shoot here because I still suffer from the stigma of how things used to be here. And even though 99% of the people here are not theives that 1% is still suspect. Not to mention I live here. If I could shoot around here and drive away that would actually be better for me. But if someone wanted my equipment they could break in and take it because they know where I stay. Seriously, you have a less chance of someone following you out of the hood then you do of them trying to get you while there. I'm all for packing heat if needed but I'm also for responsible use. There's a lot more to guns than just point and shoot. You must educate yourself in use and other aspects to prenvent accidents. Also where will you carry your gun so you can get to it in time. If I lived in LA I'd probably have a concealed carry permit just in case.

-Nate

FilmMakerr
01-10-2006, 02:31 AM
Hey, buy some "Security" Shirts and hats off ebay, maybe 20 bucks for a pair of each, give it to a guy to wear and follow you around. Nothing illegal about that, if anyone asks just say their security guards, cops already know its just a t-shirt and its legal to wear. It tricks people well.

galt
01-10-2006, 07:22 AM
Gosh I am gonna weigh in once more.

If someone if pointing a gun at you, you do not "whip yours out". It is too late, and will likely get you shot dead. If they have one in their hand (not pointed at you) and you do not, it is also probably too late. Quit believing what you see on TV. A super-fast pistol competitor with a competition holster can draw his gun in about 0.7 seconds. I can get 3-5 shots off in that time.

But a gun is a great thing to bring to a knife fight. It is a great thing to bring to a mugging, when there are several guys or just one much bigger than you. It is a great thing to have in your car in a wide variety of circumstances, including being followed or surrounded once you have retreated to your car. It is a great thing to make you feel relatively safe in dangerous circumstances, and muggers smell fear. Only a small percentage of street criminals will have a gun, because the penalties increase substantially in many states. Quite often, just the fact that you do not cower away will encourage them to select another victim. This is especially true for female victims. At some point, even for thieves, flipping burgers is better than risking getting shot. It is a great thing to have if you have to protect someone else, while the mugger is focused on that person, giving you time to get your weapon. It may even be useful after you get shot, to keep from getting shot again.

Anyone who gets a CCW permit generally takes a class on both legal and practical points of when to use it. Reckless use of a weapon is a great way to spend 30-50 years in prison.

Whether you choose to be able to defend yourself or rely on the kindness of strangers is your own personal choice in most states. The best choice is to be somewhere else.

[End of class]

Jon Oskar
01-10-2006, 08:22 AM
Guys, get a life, get laid, dont get a gun!!!! for real, that is about the worst advice i have ever heard. More guns means more guns and if you wana get shot join the army, i hear there are lots of opportunities there for the moment.
Peace :thumbsup:

stidle
01-10-2006, 01:50 PM
"But a gun is a great thing to bring to a knife fight. It is a great thing to bring to a mugging,"

The assumption that a mugging is going to be a knife fight rather than a gun fight is dangerous. Even if there is only a 1/10 chance that the mugger will have a gun, it is not a chance that I'd like to take. Why not just be confident WITHOUT a weapon and get your equipment insured in the chance that you are stuck up?

The fact is that I have a much slighter chance of getting killed if I DON'T have a weapon -- because the main reason excessive force will be used is because the robber will feel that HIS life is threatened when he sees your gun.

"The best choice is to be somewhere else."

This may be true, but the fact is that these are environments that are worth documenting.

Furthermore, as for the "ghetto," and the notion that you absolutely MUST possess a gun to exist in it: these are environments in which millions of people live every day. Regular people. Do you think that every mother, son, and grandparent is packing heat 24/7 just to survive? Do you honestly believe that completely random murders are such a common thing in "bad areas" that you must lurk vigiliantly, in perpetual anticipation of your death, while you are in them? The fact is that if you are not mixed up in drugs, weapons, or sexual affairs, you have a much slighter chance of being shot -- even in the midst of the toughest neighborhoods in America -- as being hit by a car.

And that's that. I'm not debating this anymore.

FilmMakerr
01-10-2006, 01:57 PM
No, don't get a gun, thats the dumbest thing you can do. That security idea is the best one, do it believe me nothing will happen. Strap one of those belts on him too, and he'll look authentic.

spidey
01-10-2006, 02:31 PM
gun!

Slimothy
01-10-2006, 05:41 PM
"But a gun is a great thing to bring to a knife fight. It is a great thing to bring to a mugging,"

The assumption that a mugging is going to be a knife fight rather than a gun fight is dangerous. Even if there is only a 1/10 chance that the mugger will have a gun, it is not a chance that I'd like to take. Why not just be confident WITHOUT a weapon and get your equipment insured in the chance that you are stuck up?

The fact is that I have a much slighter chance of getting killed if I DON'T have a weapon -- because the main reason excessive force will be used is because the robber will feel that HIS life is threatened when he sees your gun.

"The best choice is to be somewhere else."

This may be true, but the fact is that these are environments that are worth documenting.

Furthermore, as for the "ghetto," and the notion that you absolutely MUST possess a gun to exist in it: these are environments in which millions of people live every day. Regular people. Do you think that every mother, son, and grandparent is packing heat 24/7 just to survive? Do you honestly believe that completely random murders are such a common thing in "bad areas" that you must lurk vigiliantly, in perpetual anticipation of your death, while you are in them? The fact is that if you are not mixed up in drugs, weapons, or sexual affairs, you have a much slighter chance of being shot -- even in the midst of the toughest neighborhoods in America -- as being hit by a car.

And that's that. I'm not debating this anymore.

You were asking for advice. We gave it. Don't bring a gun. Bring a bazooka.

spidey
01-10-2006, 08:14 PM
lol

FilmMakerr
01-10-2006, 08:28 PM
Dont forget the grenades.

Matt Sconce
01-11-2006, 01:03 AM
Bring a knowledge of self defense (Shou Shu, i.e. Moores Karate) is the most brutal and applicable form I have ever seen, in my 21 years of training, for defending yourself against multiple opponents. Bring insurance for your stuff. Bring your big, scary friend in a security shirt, with a big ole stick (Hardwood Bo Staff, legal and fun!) Shoot in the day, or have police escorts for the night. There, I think that about sums it up.

dustino
01-11-2006, 11:46 PM
Furthermore, as for the "ghetto," and the notion that you absolutely MUST possess a gun to exist in it: these are environments in which millions of people live every day. Regular people. Do you think that every mother, son, and grandparent is packing heat 24/7 just to survive? Do you honestly believe that completely random murders are such a common thing in "bad areas" that you must lurk vigiliantly, in perpetual anticipation of your death, while you are in them? The fact is that if you are not mixed up in drugs, weapons, or sexual affairs, you have a much slighter chance of being shot -- even in the midst of the toughest neighborhoods in America -- as being hit by a car.

And that's that. I'm not debating this anymore.

Excellent, excellent point. Talk about not believing everything you see on television... The inherent classism at best (something else at worst) always blows me away when people discuss the inner city. I would be willing to bet that 95% of all violence (murder, assault, battery, rape) that occurs in "rough areas" (definition: urban areas with large numbers of impoverished minorities): 1) occurs several hours after daylight - usually after midnight, 2) involves disputes solely between 2 or more parties involved in illegal activities, or 3) is a case of domestic violence between people romantically involved/intertwined. Sorry, I'm just reiterating your point, stidle.

The best advice is stay away after dark (if possible), travel in a group of at least 2, don't be overly nervous, and treat people with civility and, of course, caution. I would insure a $3000 camera even if I never shot outside of rural Wyoming.

Also, stidle- you are wise to consider these issues. I live in Chicago and worry about the same things. It's those who exaggerate about fearing for your life and needing deadly force as a first rule whose views I find questionable.

Lensmith
01-13-2006, 07:50 AM
I knew this question would come down to someone, or several someones, saying you need to be armed.

I've worked in a lot of places as a staff news photog. Oklahoma City for four years, Detroit for five years, Pittsburgh for five years, Miami for five years and now I've been based here in Nicaragua covering all of Central America for nine years.

Never once have I had to use a gun or bring "protection". Well there was one time in Israel but the gun was with the body guard...but that's the only exception.

I'd like to offer some basic "rules" I follow. If you're going into a known bad situation, have an exit plan before you ever go in.

If you are shooting in a bad area, go in, shoot for a bit and leave. Don't park yourself in one spot and think you can sit all day waiting for your shot. Get in, get what you need and get out.

Trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.

Have a plan. Don't wander in not knowing what you are looking for. Identify what you want and then go after it. It's like fishing. You may have to go out in the boat a couple of times before you get what you want but sitting in the boat all day and night in one spot doesn't work. It just gives people time to spot you, then make their own plan on how to "get you".

Do everything you can to stay out of situations where you will put yourself in conflict with others. Conflict may be part of your project, but it shouldn't be about you.

Shoot from a safe spot. Harder to do with the zoom lens of a DVX which is less than what I would like. Shoot from inside cars. A little window tint does wonders. Just like a duck blind, you'll get the shots if they don't see the camera. There are plenty of other out of the way spots to see but not be seen. The key, again, is to always have an escape route. Don't put yourself and your equipment in a spot where you can't leave when you want to.

Have a plan! Include in that plan the possibility you may not get what you wanted the first time and you'll have to enter the area again later. If you have a conflict, it may mean you can never enter the area again which will ruin your ultimate goal.

Be low key and as invisible as possible. Don't be silly and set up your sticks in the open and then wonder why you aren't getting what you want. An obvious camera will always inhibit capturing reality unless you are in the middle of a street riot or war zone.

Leave the weapons at home. Your best weapon is your own common sense. Knowing when to leave and when to go back in to get more.

Be smart and good luck.

galt
01-13-2006, 08:06 AM
Good Advice John.

Nathyn
01-13-2006, 01:44 PM
If someone if pointing a gun at you, you do not "whip yours out". It is too late, and will likely get you shot dead. If they have one in their hand (not pointed at you) and you do not, it is also probably too late. Quit believing what you see on TV.
Too true.

Furthermore, as for the "ghetto," and the notion that you absolutely MUST possess a gun to exist in it: these are environments in which millions of people live every day. Regular people. Do you think that every mother, son, and grandparent is packing heat 24/7 just to survive? Do you honestly believe that completely random murders are such a common thing in "bad areas" that you must lurk vigiliantly, in perpetual anticipation of your death, while you are in them? The fact is that if you are not mixed up in drugs, weapons, or sexual affairs, you have a much slighter chance of being shot -- even in the midst of the toughest neighborhoods in America -- as being hit by a car.
I do agree here too. It's not a need. But for someone who may open themselves up to being a victim it's something to think about. Also people in those places tend to know each other so it's easier to go for someone outside the neighborhood than the ma and pop store down the street where people may know you.

No, don't get a gun, thats the dumbest thing you can do. That security idea is the best one, do it believe me nothing will happen. Strap one of those belts on him too, and he'll look authentic.
Spoken like a real person whose never been on the wrong end of some real stuff. Owning a gun isn't stupid, it's a choice. And most people who believe owning a gun is wrong live in nice places. While I do agree you could probably get through life never owning one (I personally don't) I would never tell someone not to if the need is there especially a woman living on her own. (I always advise my female friends to learn to defend themselves because they are the victims of most crimes). I believe in education not FUD, even when it comes to guns.

-Nate

Jon Oskar
01-13-2006, 09:48 PM
Lets put it like this! If you need a gun in order to shoot a documentary i think you may be in the wrong profession. And contrary to what you are saying, only a person with no experience of the hood would suggest you to get a gun for that purpose.
The key is preparation, take someone with inside knowledge along, maybe something like a social consultant, charity worker, religious organization that works in the area and knows his way around. This will get you a much better access to the people and might yield an interesting story. Write a script, have an idea what you want to say, start presenting it to people, if you are about meaning full content V.S. exploitation and sensationalism, you will be surprised how people will come to gather to help you make it happen. Guns are for pussy's and paranoiacs that make the world a worse place and in the process of defending them self's contribute to a society of violence.

dustino
01-14-2006, 11:36 PM
Guns are for pussy's and paranoiacs that make the world a worse place and in the process of defending them self's contribute to a society of violence.

I'm no gun advocate. In fact, I got into a discussion/argument with a member here who implied my aversion to gun advocacy was because I was "scared" of them. I found that to be very patronizing and living up to a certain stereotype that gun advocates are individuals needing to prove their masculinity/virility.

Similarly, your saying that guns are for "pussy's" (should've been "pussies" while I'm being self-righteous) sounds no better and ruins any creditibility your argument would have as being reasoned or thoughtful.

Ralph Oshiro
01-15-2006, 12:41 AM
I would be willing to bet that 95% of all violence (murder, assault, battery, rape) that occurs in "rough areas" (definition: urban areas with large numbers of impoverished minorities): 1) occurs several hours after daylight - usually after midnight, 2) involves disputes solely between 2 or more parties involved in illegal activities, or 3) is a case of domestic violence between people romantically involved/intertwined.Not true in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area. I used to drive around with a police scanner in my car all the time . . . violent crime happened at all times of the day . . . 3:00PM in the afternoon, 9:00PM on a Tuesday night, 6:30AM on a Saturday, etc. Mostly included robbery of just people on the street and retail establishments. Many robberies, however, were commited using only "bodily force" so that the criminal could avoid an "assault with a deadly weapon" or "armed robbery" charge, if caught.

Belial
01-15-2006, 12:52 AM
Number 1. Get a permit. Doesn't cost much and you will have the PD at your disposal. Number 2. Big guys are intimidating. Bring a couple. Number 3, get a news ID block for a mic. It helps. Number 4. Like the fine man before me said -- get a gun.

Jon Oskar
01-15-2006, 09:53 AM
Have a little sense of humor, gun crazy DVXuser on a hunt for crack heads. How can one resist? :grin:

dustino
01-16-2006, 11:17 AM
Not true in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area. I used to drive around with a police scanner in my car all the time . . . violent crime happened at all times of the day . . . 3:00PM in the afternoon, 9:00PM on a Tuesday night, 6:30AM on a Saturday, etc. Mostly included robbery of just people on the street and retail establishments. Many robberies, however, were commited using only "bodily force" so that the criminal could avoid an "assault with a deadly weapon" or "armed robbery" charge, if caught.
Fair enough. After re-reading my post I expected to be disputed on that estimate. I guess my main point (poorly stated in my prior post, admittedly) is that common sense and awareness will avoid most conflicts and that "rough areas" are not full of people ready to kill or mug any "outsider" who enters at any time. Yes, be very careful and cautious - know the difference between Mayberry and Crack Row, and take necessary precautions. But the idea that inner-city America is comparable to Falluja in that one must have a deadly weapon to enter is an idea I find irresponsible on a number of levels.

SilverWolf
01-27-2006, 07:21 AM
Wow I just stumbled on the post and found it very interesting. Now i'm not one to debate whether guns are right and wrong and would not do so in this forum. My only thing to add is. No matter what situation you are in know how to depend yourself and be smart about it is key.

To some people carrying a gun is how they feel most safe. I wouldn't tell someone who has been training in martials arts for 30 years and is an expert at knife fighting to go buy a gun when he's only been to the range twice in his life. That wouldn't be the smartest decision or best use of his resources. Whether you have have a gun, rock , blade, stun gun , mace or just use your hands if you aren't smart about and don't use your brain you have already lost. In any type of situation like that you have to stay calm , coolheaded and think.

The truth is if I was a criminal or a mugger I would be very afraid of anyone willing to defend themselves.

spidey
01-27-2006, 09:38 AM
shot in a crap hole this last weekend and underground garage with bums tak lots of peopl will you and have some protecting the camera.

mdlis
02-01-2006, 09:46 AM
There's been some really good advice above...but here's my 3 STEP method...

1. If you bring a gun and flash it, you will be shot by that guy who pulls out a bigger one. And then your crew will be shot too by that guy's crew, who will show up suddenly with more guns.

2. If you go sneaking around for shots, and people in the neighborhood realize what you're doing, then they will front you for being the sneak that you are.

3. If you're too scared and unsure of shooting in that "dangerous" neighborhood, then you shouldn't at all because chances are someone will approach you (maybe even kindly) but you will react to it akwardly, which will provoke something bad to happen.

I've worked on projects in what most people would consider quite dangerous locations (Detroit - Murder Capitol, from the oldest housing projects in the USA to 6 Mile) with anywhere from a 2 to 40 people crew and have never had a problem (and hopefully never will). Here's the secret:

1. It's THEIR neighborhood that you're in, not yours. If you bring a gun to THEIR hood and flash it, that means YOU are the one starting trouble.

2. Bring a crew you're comfortable with, people who you know won't react to things stupidly. And let everyone know that they should answer honestly to any stranger who asks what you're doing. Don't act suspiciously.

3. Be very respectful of EVERYONE you run into (especially the homeless and thugged out looking dudes). In fact, the key is to approach them BEFORE they approach you. In a professional manner, let them know what you are doing. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if you say you are making a movie, they will answer with a very enthusiastic "Can I be in it?" Find a way to include them, and pay them if you have to, after all it's their neighborhood. One time we had a neighborhood bum, whom everyone on the block knew, patrol our area all day in exchange for $10 and some leftover chicken bones. If anyone approaches you for money, give it to them, but make a deal where they are doing something for you too. You can't shoot in Beverly Hills without paying for a permit, so you shouldn't think that shooting in the ghetto is free either. (But at the same time, don't act like a dumb lil' suburban kid and let them know that you're weak, because I guarantee you they will take advantage of it.)

Just remember, those people are more weary of you than you are of them, especially because it's you that is the stranger in THEIR neighborhood. People in the "hood" know everyone who belongs there, and will be quick to spot out any outsiders. On that same token, they NEVER see outsiders come in to make a movie! Use that to your advantage. Who doesn't want to be part of a movie?

The most important thing to remember, however, is that people in the hood always carry this one thing, and that's RESPECT. And if you carry respect too, I guarantee you will receive it.

SilverWolf
02-01-2006, 09:25 PM
I totally agree with you statement mdlis

Lensmith
02-02-2006, 06:10 AM
"If you go sneaking around for shots, and people in the neighborhood realize what you're doing, then they will front you for being the sneak that you are...
..The most important thing to remember, however, is that people in the hood always carry this one thing, and that's RESPECT. And if you carry respect too, I guarantee you will receive it."

Please understand I was not promoting "sneaking". I was promoting positioning yourself where you are not obvious so you can capture some reality. I feel there is a difference.

There are times shooting from a hidden location is the only way to get what you need.

The respect thoughts are on target. Everyone deserves it and you reap what you sow.

penfever
02-04-2006, 05:46 AM
Anybody here ever seen "Kids"? A docu all about capturing the reality of people on the street. mdlis is right - respect is key. People all want to be represented in a way that they approve of, regardless of where they live and how much money they have. So your attitude in making the documentary will have an impact. If you want something 'real', don't hide, just make friends and stick around until they forget you're there, like real documentaries do. Get invited places, do favors, help out. You'll get plenty of 'reality'.

Lensmith
02-04-2006, 06:24 AM
[quote=penfever] If you want something 'real', don't hide, just make friends and stick around until they forget you're there, like real documentaries do.quote]

This hide/don't hide thing is not a black and white issue.

Many times there are some unavoidable issues where, if you want true reality, making friends and being seen in the open is going to mean you never get anything "real".

Drug deals, prostitution, all manners of criminal acts will never be captured without being unseen.

You have to judge each situation. Time frame...the amount of time you are given to produce your product...is always a variable which can also affect your hide/don't hide decision.

We all want the same thing. Reality.

How you get "honest" reality is the key.

A perfect example is a story which ran on Dateline last night about computer predators. They set up a sting with lots of hidden cameras capturing these guys (51 in all) who were looking to have sex with kids they met on the internet. You saw the guys come to the house looking for the kids they'd thought they'd encountered online. Then surprised coming face to face with an adult, the reporter Chris Hanson. Later, full out-in-the-open cameramen. Do you think "making friends" and not shooting from hidden locations was going to get them "reality"? No way! You'd never have seen or heard these guys come in the door, from the look on their faces, each obviously expecting sex from a kid. The key material for the story would have been impossible to get if a camera crew was sitting out in the open!

No video, no story. What was shown was a reality that proved the validity of the story. Something, again, which would not have been achieved by "making friends" or paying off people in the neighborhood to be a part of your production and end up on camera.

We shot a doc on the street gang MS-13 in El Salvador. They've spread into the US so many of you in the states may have heard of them...or you will be soon.

My point is we did a bit of both. Make friends to get some vid and interviews in some locations. Shoot from a hidden position for other stuff. With some subjects, no matter how small the camera, no matter how long you have to "make friends", you aren't going to get "reality". These were basically kids. Dangerous kids, yes, but still, once the camera was on, they were acting. Being cool. Showing off. Not true "reality".

I appreciate the sentiments of those who feel there is only one way but, in my experience, one way thinking never encompasses all the real life variables involved when it comes to capturing true reality.

Oh yes...we didn't have a gun with us either. Just our smiling faces, basic camera gear and a ready escape plan in our heads if things took a turn for the worse.:thumbsup:

bdt09
02-09-2006, 02:49 PM
I wouldn't worry about it too much, just use common sense. Realize younger people account for the majority of the street crime and that it coincides with school hours, so perhaps shoot in the morning when most kids are in school. Also random violent street crime is usually pretty rare, you’re more likely to be a victimized by an acquaintance of yours or fall victim of white collar crime.

Geno
02-14-2006, 10:29 AM
Sorry I joined this discussion so late. All this talk about packing heat has me laughing (nervously) People seem to think that popping a cap in someone is justified in order to protect ones "gear" No attention is paid to the real price which is the sanctity of your conscience! Did I do the right thing? This will haunt you for the rest of your life and for what? If your documentary is about shedding some light on the problems of the harsh reality of urban life and you think you can make a difference by informing the public of those realities, then I wish you all the luck in the world. I think respect goes a long way. If you can't talk thier talk and walk thier walk, then I would leave that film up to someone who can, but if you go in there without some common ground, packing heat, expect trouble!

im.thatoneguy
02-14-2006, 10:00 PM
Sure bring a gun. It'll be a nice present for whoever mugs you.

In the time it takes for a crazy to travel 10 feet and stab you, you'll have sucessfully shot yourself in the leg.

Use the time tested technique. Run like hell and drop your gear.

SilverWolf
02-14-2006, 10:40 PM
Sorry I joined this discussion so late. All this talk about packing heat has me laughing (nervously) People seem to think that popping a cap in someone is justified in order to protect ones "gear" No attention is paid to the real price which is the sanctity of your conscience! Did I do the right thing? This will haunt you for the rest of your life and for what? If your documentary is about shedding some light on the problems of the harsh reality of urban life and you think you can make a difference by informing the public of those realities, then I wish you all the luck in the world. I think respect goes a long way. If you can't talk thier talk and walk thier walk, then I would leave that film up to someone who can, but if you go in there without some common ground, packing heat, expect trouble!

I don't think anybody said anything about popping a cap in someone to protect their gear. I was referring to protecting yourself and your crew the gear is material and can be replaced. If someone get "heat" to keep their gear safe then they should stop and think about what they are doing. It would be smarter and safer to just get insurance on your equipment.


Sure bring a gun. It'll be a nice present for whoever mugs you.

In the time it takes for a crazy to travel 10 feet and stab you, you'll have sucessfully shot yourself in the leg.

Use the time tested technique. Run like hell and drop your gear.

That statement doesn't really make sense to me and the reason being. If you are going to carry a gun to protect yourself knowing how to use it might be a smart idea. Now when I say know how to use it I don't mean know how to pull a trigger. I mean know how to recognize violence, how to avoid it, how to determine whether lethal force is required or even justified, what the legal aspect of using said force is and then lastly how to shoot and shoot accurately.There are many things that go on before the first shot is fired and carrying a gun is a big responsibility.

Also, I'm waiting on my background check to come through so I can pick my gun up this weeked and rest assured that I've heeded all my advice as well

im.thatoneguy
02-16-2006, 02:21 AM
So you're going to decide the legal and moral ramifications of your actions in less than 3 seconds? Because that's about how long you'll have.

Unless you're planning on getting into some sort of prolonged gun-fight your handgun is going to do you little to no good.

SilverWolf
02-16-2006, 04:47 AM
Those things are decided before you purchase a handgun. I know what consititues self defense in the eyes of the law for my state and I know how to recognize what is self defense. Guns are valid means of self defense. If they weren't then off duty or undercover police officers wouldn't carry them. Are you going to walk up to and undercover officer or off duty cops and tell them that there is no reason for them to carry a gun because they won't be able to determine in enough time whether or not it's justified to pull out? In almost all violent encounters the situtation never started violent. It was always escalated or had warnings signs that it was going to and reaching that stage. You should read the book Gift of Fear and it explains a lot about recognizing Voilence and Hostile encounters before it happens.
Now obviously retreat is your first and best option. If you can run away then that is what you need to do and not try to shoot it out john wayne style, but in a situation when you are unable to retreat and couldn't diffuse the situtation with reasoning. Then you need to use whatever means of defense you have available.

Luis Caffesse
02-16-2006, 05:41 AM
Anybody here ever seen "Kids"? A docu all about capturing the reality of people on the street.

Kids wasn't a documentary. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113540/?fr=c2l0ZT1kZnx0dD0xfGZiPXV8cG49MHxrdz0xfHE9S2lkc3 xmdD0xfG14PTIwfGxtPTUwMHxjbz0xfGh0bWw9MXxubT0x;fc= 1;ft=6;fm=1)
(unless you're talking about another 'Kids')

Medialuke
02-20-2006, 07:40 PM
Hey, I would suggest like yall have said earlier on maybe hiring a cop, they aren't that expensive, at least where i come from ($20/hour). I have filmed in the worst parts of Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, and Las Vegas all of which besides Mexico I was in a large group, so i would say bring as many people out as you can.

Good Luck.

SilverWolf
02-20-2006, 08:23 PM
good Idea MediaLuke. Hiring a cop definitely sounds like a good idea. Unless of course he busts you for not having a filming permit lol

FilmMakerr
03-09-2006, 01:31 AM
good Idea MediaLuke. Hiring a cop definitely sounds like a good idea. Unless of course he busts you for not having a filming permit lol



LMAO

discs of tron
03-09-2006, 01:12 PM
it's telling, and somewhat ironic, that the first 2 people to recommend guns are in places where (respectively):

a) guns are completely illegal, and
b) where the toughest person you're likely to see would make richie cunningham look like a young mike tyson.

insurance is easy to get, and will pay for itself. if you rent your dwelling, check out rental insurance, which is quite cheap. to cover the deductible, tell the agent that the camera-mounted mic was a neumann, which you got on ebay and don't have a receipt for it. or your bogen tripod was a vinten. hell, get a little more creative and you might get yourself an hvx. i'd much rather be responsible for ripping off an insurance company (and theoretically causing a tiny increase in rates,) than for getting myself or someone else wounded or killed over something worth a few weeks' salary.

the advice about being respectful and using common sense is the only valuable advice that's been offered here so far.

and if you're really looking to capture those rusting vulnerable parts of the city, maybe you should consider scoring a bolex. your footage will look better, with higher resolution and progressive scan at multiple frame rates. your footage will outlive every videotape known to man by a factor of 10, and nobody (except maybe homeless film students) would think that it was worth anything. pull out the dvx in a controlled situation where you're comfortable and you've established some trust and respect with your subjects, and where you definitely need synch sound. if 16mm is too much of an ordeal for you, consider shooting super-8. nothing says "urban blight" like kodachrome, and even a really high end s8 cam would look like an obsolete relic to the uninitiated.

and part of doing this is assessing why you're doing this in the first place. i'm not calling out the original poster, but if you're shooting stuff that you can only shoot from inside a car while strapping a 9, then really, why are you shooting it?

are you hoping to improve the lives of your (implicitly homicidal) subjects? are you trying to prove yourself a tough, macho but sensitive "journalist" type like james woods in "salvador?" are you trying to tell a story that "must be told," or one that's been told 8,000 times? if, like the original post suggested, you're trying to visually study the fading beauty of a fallen neighborhood, the worst thing you're likely to encounter is people wondering why the hell you'd bother filming some crumbling-ass building. act like you know what you're doing and folks will typically assume that you do. don't step out of a benz in a burberry suit.

lensmith's earlier posts were sensible, but the description of the dateline show has nothing to do with "reality." setting up a "sting" operation has nothing to do with documenting reality. when you induce someone to commit a crime so that you can arrest them, it's entrapment. furthermore, it' exploitative, designed to appeal to lowest-common demoninator moral outrage and self-righteousness, and has nothing whatsoever to do with addressing the problems of pedophilia. any psych 101 freshman could tell you that shame won't change these guys' pathologies for the better- most of them are likely consumed with shame already.

i would've liked to see chris hanson get buggered by one of those guys, on camera. that would've been some gutsy journalism.

and speaking of pedophilia, "kids" is not a doc in any way. it's a narrative movie with a script, actors (at least one of whom has become quite well-known,) a dp, and a director. the director likes to hang around filming androgynous kids in states of undress. he does so in his other films, and he launched his original career as a photographer by doing so. he also likes to make images of self-destructive young people, using drugs and brandishing weapons.

he's been able to make a career of doing so because there is a market for titillating footage of pretty, young people in dangerous situations. the same market supports pieces like the aforementioned 60 minutes piece and probably most docs about street gangs or the other "realities" and "criminal activies" that lensmith thinks it's essential that we document (again.)

i like a titilating hbo "hookers undercover" type doc as much as the next guy, but perhaps it would make sense to start thinking about the "realities" that our cameras help to construct.

SilverWolf
03-09-2006, 06:50 PM
it's telling, and somewhat ironic, that the first 2 people to recommend guns are in places where (respectively):

a) guns are completely illegal, and
b) where the toughest person you're likely to see would make richie cunningham look like a young mike tyson.

insurance is easy to get, and will pay for itself. if you rent your dwelling, check out rental insurance, which is quite cheap. to cover the deductible, tell the agent that the camera-mounted mic was a neumann, which you got on ebay and don't have a receipt for it. or your bogen tripod was a vinten. hell, get a little more creative and you might get yourself an hvx. i'd much rather be responsible for ripping off an insurance company (and theoretically causing a tiny increase in rates,) than for getting myself or someone else wounded or killed over something worth a few weeks' salary.
This is ok information





and if you're really looking to capture those rusting vulnerable parts of the city, maybe you should consider scoring a bolex. your footage will look better, with higher resolution and progressive scan at multiple frame rates. your footage will outlive every videotape known to man by a factor of 10, and nobody (except maybe homeless film students) would think that it was worth anything. pull out the dvx in a controlled situation where you're comfortable and you've established some trust and respect with your subjects, and where you definitely need synch sound. if 16mm is too much of an ordeal for you, consider shooting super-8. nothing says "urban blight" like kodachrome, and even a really high end s8 cam would look like an obsolete relic to the uninitiated.

and part of doing this is assessing why you're doing this in the first place. i'm not calling out the original poster, but if you're shooting stuff that you can only shoot from inside a car while strapping a 9, then really, why are you shooting it?

are you hoping to improve the lives of your (implicitly homicidal) subjects? are you trying to prove yourself a tough, macho but sensitive "journalist" type like james woods in "salvador?" are you trying to tell a story that "must be told," or one that's been told 8,000 times? if, like the original post suggested, you're trying to visually study the fading beauty of a fallen neighborhood, the worst thing you're likely to encounter is people wondering why the hell you'd bother filming some crumbling-ass building. act like you know what you're doing and folks will typically assume that you do. don't step out of a benz in a burberry suit.

lensmith's earlier posts were sensible, but the description of the dateline show has nothing to do with "reality." setting up a "sting" operation has nothing to do with documenting reality. when you induce someone to commit a crime so that you can arrest them, it's entrapment. furthermore, it' exploitative, designed to appeal to lowest-common demoninator moral outrage and self-righteousness, and has nothing whatsoever to do with addressing the problems of pedophilia. any psych 101 freshman could tell you that shame won't change these guys' pathologies for the better- most of them are likely consumed with shame already.

i would've liked to see chris hanson get buggered by one of those guys, on camera. that would've been some gutsy journalism.

and speaking of pedophilia, "kids" is not a doc in any way. it's a narrative movie with a script, actors (at least one of whom has become quite well-known,) a dp, and a director. the director likes to hang around filming androgynous kids in states of undress. he does so in his other films, and he launched his original career as a photographer by doing so. he also likes to make images of self-destructive young people, using drugs and brandishing weapons.

he's been able to make a career of doing so because there is a market for titillating footage of pretty, young people in dangerous situations. the same market supports pieces like the aforementioned 60 minutes piece and probably most docs about street gangs or the other "realities" and "criminal activies" that lensmith thinks it's essential that we document (again.)

i like a titilating hbo "hookers undercover" type doc as much as the next guy, but perhaps it would make sense to start thinking about the "realities" that our cameras help to construct.

Do you feel proud of yourself? Somewhere in there you went totally off topic and stopped adding to the thread and started taking away from it.

digitial dan
03-12-2006, 10:59 AM
Most of these seem like reasonable suggestions, but I have to take issue with the suggestion of carrying a gun.

I don't want this to devolve (evolve?) into a political discussion, but don't you think that the likelihood of a confrontation turning deadly increases about 100-fold when you introduce a gun into it -- regardless of whether or not the offending party also has one?

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment, so be it. You fork it over and get left alone. I will have it insured just in case that happens anyway.

If you get stuck up at gunpoint for your equipment and you whip out a gun...you run the very possible risk of being injured or even killed.

Mace seems like a decent middle-ground.


I have to disagree with your first sentence. If the opposing party has a gun and know you don't have one, your risk of getting blown away is overwhelming. If someone pulls a gun on you and you pull one on him or her, then it becomes a level playing field. That person will think before pulling the trigger. Of course you have to size up the situation everytime. Because in some cases, you will have to pull the trigger first (kill or be killed) or else you will be toast. Generally speaking, you can learn to size up thugs with guns and know if they are serious or not.

If they make small talk and want money then you are pretty much safe. If they pull a gun and demand money in a threatening way, you are always better off shooting them first because 9 times out of ten if you don't get the first shot in they will kill you before you know what hit you.

Just some words of advice. Better you be alive than some thug with a gun. And these days people really don't care about human life, they will blow you away for fifty cents.

Bigb
03-21-2006, 02:43 PM
Five letters GLOCK

SilverWolf
03-21-2006, 02:50 PM
Or HK USP :grin:

I must say I love my gun and no i'm not an over compensated tough guy

Bus No. 8
03-30-2006, 12:48 PM
Forgive me if what I'm about to say has already been said in this thread, but I didn't have the time (or the stomach) to wade through all of the posts about guns and pedophilia.

It's interesting that you cite "Dark Days" as an example of a dangerous environment (because of the people who live there). The beauty of that film is that the filmmaker didn't just come in with a noble idea of capturing and capitalizing on the beautiful decay of desperate lives. He made that film with the very people that it was about. The project of documenting that story belonged to everyone you see in the film, and so there was a real investment from all of them, and stealing or damaging the equipment would have harmed the community, not just the attractive and young white guy who brought it in.

I think there is a really important lesson there for any of us who want to make a difference, or serve our own artistic ambitions, by documenting the poverty or desperation of "other" communities. I don't think we're doing anybody any favors if we choose to tell their stories without involving them in the telling. And if we make the effort to connect with people in the community and involve them in the project (to whatever extent is mutually acceptable), so that the community has an emotional and intellectual investment in the project, then we suddenly have a huge security network protecting both ourselves and our equipment.

I would say that if you're shooting anywhere in the US (as opposed to, say, Irag) and you feel that you have to bring a gun in with you, then you probably don't yet have any business filming in that community.

Robert

SilverWolf
03-30-2006, 02:55 PM
Forgive me if what I'm about to say has already been said in this thread, but I didn't have the time (or the stomach) to wade through all of the posts about guns and pedophilia.

It's interesting that you cite "Dark Days" as an example of a dangerous environment (because of the people who live there). The beauty of that film is that the filmmaker didn't just come in with a noble idea of capturing and capitalizing on the beautiful decay of desperate lives. He made that film with the very people that it was about. The project of documenting that story belonged to everyone you see in the film, and so there was a real investment from all of them, and stealing or damaging the equipment would have harmed the community, not just the attractive and young white guy who brought it in.

I think there is a really important lesson there for any of us who want to make a difference, or serve our own artistic ambitions, by documenting the poverty or desperation of "other" communities. I don't think we're doing anybody any favors if we choose to tell their stories without involving them in the telling. And if we make the effort to connect with people in the community and involve them in the project (to whatever extent is mutually acceptable), so that the community has an emotional and intellectual investment in the project, then we suddenly have a huge security network protecting both ourselves and our equipment.

I would say that if you're shooting anywhere in the US (as opposed to, say, Irag) and you feel that you have to bring a gun in with you, then you probably don't yet have any business filming in that community.

Robert
I don't have any problem with your post but it might have been a good idea to at least read the whole thread especially since you are resurrecting this one. What I think we tend to miss in situations like this is that some people feel safer with a gun , knife , brass knuckles or something that they can control in a not so familiar enviroment that "may" be dangerous.
Thartley on the forum successfully thwarted 2 attackesr with nothing but a pen and her witts so it's clear that there is no substitue for common sense. There is nothing wrong with carrying a gun on a film shoot or regular life for that matter. if you are in a "dangerous" neighborhood the "dangerous" people in the neighborhood probably have some type of weapon anyway and they shouldn't be offended if you have one.

However I do totally agree with your point about networking with the people in the neighborhood because that will definitely keep you safe. So the moral of the story is carrying a gun is cool but having common sense is cooler

Bus No. 8
03-30-2006, 04:12 PM
"So the moral of the story is carrying a gun is cool but having common sense is cooler" - Hmm, not the moral of my story. Except the common sense part.

But you're right about reading the whole thread. I did eventually and saw that several people made very good points, some of which were similar to mine. As sometimes happens to us all, I started by responding to a specific piece (the use of "Dark Days" as an example) and felt compelled to keep going beyond that.

SilverWolf
03-30-2006, 06:21 PM
so what is the moral of your story ?

HowdyDoo
03-31-2006, 05:20 AM
I have shot in some of the scariest parts of LA, Chicago, and Las Vegas. I have been robbed at gun point, had my car destroyed, been pelted with rocks, and had a shotgun microphone stolen by a crackhead.

The best advice I can give is to have as little equipment on you as possible. House the camera in an unsuspecting backpack or bag. ALWAYS bring friends. Dress down (including shoes) and don't keep any equipment visible inside your parked car.

*Project no fear if approached.*

It is my personal experience that the best safety precaution you can implement is CASH. Carry a small amount of cash. I know that sounds stupid, but if you are mugged at gunpoint, you're more likely to keep your camera (if it's hidden in a bag) if you have 20 bucks to give the mugger.

I have never found pepper spray to be wise. Blind or not, if the guy gets mad and pulls out a 22 at short range, he's gonna shoot you. $20 - $40 is the best way to leave a situation with your equipment and more importantly, your life.

You should also know, that if you choose to carry a gun, destitute people often have nothing to loose. Pulling a gun can easily escalate a situation and push the attacker in the wrong direction. If your gun happens to be effective in thwarting the attacker, be prepared for a possible retaliation later on if you continue to shoot in the same area.

djgvinny
04-16-2006, 09:42 PM
i got good advice, if the crack head are the problem here what to do
buy 100$ worth of crack , spread it like bird seeds , crack heads will be busy for good 10 minutes, you better get your shots in 10 min, or else:kali: