the real task

12 Nov

“Aperture. You’re up”

OMG my heart jolts like a defribulator machine has just been placed on my chest. We’re next. Time is ticking loud in my ears. We huddle again rethinking and rediscussing what, when and how we can do our task. Remember the brief. Vertigo.

10 mins later they return. Huh ? What? Is that it ? We quickly work out there was a technical hitch. They were returned to the pen. Off they go again. We wait. Nervous. Wow ! Crazy unknown thoughts are running through my head at break neck speed.

Myles comes through the door. Smiling. Quiet. Andrea and the others following. Awesome they whisper. Awesome. “Can’t say anything though” They sit. I can see the adrenaline running through their bodies. I can feel it running through mine.

“Exposure !” My heart rate must be close to 200bpm. I know. I can hear it in my ears. Or is it Mbali’s or Pauls or Pierres from the other side. I am totally deaf to all noise. I walk behind the crew onto the set.

Craig meets us. The brief : Heroes. The sub brief: Vertigo. Our task is about to start. “….As a team…. You have to work as a team…you can split into 2 but that’s it. Let’s go and do the intro. “How long do we have ?” I ask. “Until it’s over” is the answer. OMG. How long is that ?

“We start to huddle and chat but everyone is panicked. W equickly relasie that someone needs to go up the stairs. It’s the best place to be. The sub brief is vertigo. We gotta go. I know I want to go, but its high. Physically my fitness could get me. I say to Pierre “ both of us can’t go ! One of us has to stay down.” To be honest I don’t know why I felt that but I did. Is uppose to help with Mbali and tasmin. In case they needed camera help etc. Pierre says “ Well I am going !”
And your task starts… now…” The loud barp barp of the fire engine is frightening. The chaos is all encompassing. The firemen shout tasks and checks to each other. Like a well oiled machine. We run. Scattering like rice dropped on the floor.

click. click. click.

Pierre and Paul have gone up.

I keep thinking of Craig’s words “ you have to stay as a team”. “Tasmin how u doing ? “ “Mbali where are you “ I talk constantly as if this shows team “ keep shooting” “look for your angles” Panic. Panic. Shoot. Where’s the sun? What settings? Technical stuff actually went totally out the window for me. If only I could stop and take a breat. I know what I should be doing but the panic in my soul is not letting me. They could say “stop at any moment” I think. I know in my heart and soul taking 200 photos a minute is not going to help my cause but I can’t help myself.

It’s weird, cos for all the noise my ears feel muffed. The doef doef of my heart is deafening. I am shooting like a crazy woman. Like this is the last chance I will ever have to photograph another thing.

The crew are everywhere with their cameras. Sometimes in your face, but I am already starting to see through them. I am already not bothered whether my ass is in the air or that my muffin top could be muffening.

I suddenly think. Hey they gonna get the ladder to go up. I can hear Pierre screaming and shouting in the building. His voice echoing all the way from the top.

Gotta shoot this. I ask Mbali and Tasmin if they wanna climb on the fire engine. I am team, right ? (Don’t wanna be like Pierre taking all the good spots !) they both are nervous. I’m gonna do it. As I start to climb up the stairs some shouts. I am petrified I am not allowed up there. But after all it was just another shout, not at me. Oh I am being pathetic. I stay up on the fire engine as the ladder is being hoisted to the top of the building. I shoot. As the fireman goes up I shoot and shoot. Vertigo ! Remember the brief. Pierre and Paul are hanging off the edge of the building at the top. The fireman gets to the top and I wait and wait. I think about changing lenses! My heartbeat settles down.

I know I haven’t got great shots. I know I have lots of shots. But don’t think anything really amazing has happened. The rescue of the victim is happening. But it’s all at the top. Regretting not going up. I am thinking about where are they going to go when they come down. Thoughts speeding through my brain. Mbali Tasmin and I are together again. Waiting. nervously chattering. But it is clearly pointless to take any more photos at this stage cos nothing is happening. The victim is slowly brought to the ground.

The ground team hit the floor running. “BP. STAT.”
“ Metal on the floor” “ RE-sus” “Re-sus”.
Short demanding commands that get my heart rate up again.

All 5 of us are trying to shoot round one stretcher and someone is always in your shot. Pierre lies down in the front. His screaming and panic has gotten to me. He is really over the top but I cannot say anything. Paul is quiet but certainly doing his thing. Mbali is trying to lead us but is a kind soul and doesn’t want to be demanding. Tasmin simply clicks every now and then.
“Give us all a chance Pierre” I scream. “When you are finished. MOVE!”

High fives all round. The emergency is over. The suspect lived. Task one is over. Phew. Manic.

We chatter very excitedly amongst us. I wanna know what happened at the top. We share our experiences with each other. It was intense.

Interveiw time. “Did you get the shot ?” “ I hope so”. “ Why did you separate yourself from the team?” Now if you knew me you would know that I am totally team. I would never separate myself. Never intentionally do anything against the rules. I am a little woes like that. “ Did you feel like chickens without heads ?” “No” I respond. “We had a plan” . what ? I can’t believe I just said that. I can’t believe I said we were all doing what we had planned to do when I knew that we all scattered.

We walk away. I feel defeated. I know my shots are crap. I know. But still. I am worried cos the interviewers crucified me. Or so I think. We are instructed to not show the others our photos but we can talk about our task but not show them what we got.

This is hard. Cos are you honest with the other teams ? Say you did awesome ? To psyche them out or say actually our task was crap. We had no fire. We had not much to photograph that was in anyway amazing. Flat light. And simply manic. Should I tell the others that Pierre is a panicker. Could they use it against us in the future?

I call our team to one side. The criticsm for not staying together is really bothering me. I want everyone to know what they said and the response. Yes please believe me I am shaken by it. Hind sight is easy to see that it is no big deal but right now I think OMG what were they on about ? A door opens. The sound guy comes out and says
“ should I get a camera for this “ ? Damn. Now I wonder if he will go and tell the crew. Will they use it against us. Ok so the paranoia sets in.

It’s done. Back to the pen. No chairs. No table. No food. No drink. Just the pen. We sit on the floor.

“Team optical” your turn. We watch from a distance. Amazing, they have fire. Backdraft. Man we bummed out choosing vertigo.
The day must end. I am tired. A 16 hour day has just caught up with me.

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