Most of the Royal family are regulars on the ‘royal visit’ circuit- and it wasn’t until I filmed one of these Royal visits in Stockport that I got to appreciate the organisation and detail that went into such an event.
Firstly maybe due to security, or maybe just it was last minute, but I was booked to film a Royal visit at very short notice- the day before in fact. The Earl of Wessex as he was then (now the Duke of Edinburgh, or just Prince Edward to Stockport folk), will arrive at 10.47am I was told. I thought that’s quite specific.
Then sure enough, at bang on 10.47am, the Royal car arrived and pulled up outside the new Council building Prince Edward was officially opening.
I’d already been instructed to wear a suit (it’s quite awkward operating a camera whilst wearing shirt, tie and jacket, and I’m not a fan of ‘dressing up’), and a technical aside was that Prince Edward will certainly not be wearing a radio mic!
I knew the route that the Prince would walk around the building, and from experience of filming actuality / fly-on-the-wall type of TV where you can’t really control the speed of people moving around, it can be easy to end up running after the subject being filmed and once you end up filming someone from behind it can be really difficult to get back in front of them without appearing to be some kind of manic Marathon runner carrying a camera.
The technique I use is to constantly be walking backwards to get the action, if someone goes in a room then avoid being in front of them in this instance as you will end up with them walking out of the room and there you are stuck behind them!
Off subject- I once filmed a police raid on a house of illegal immigrants and ended up stuck in a bedroom with four suspects as I had followed the police in but not factored how I would get out- a bit awkward.
So, Prince Edward was surrounded by many security officers. I had already been ‘gently’ pushed back as I was ‘getting too close to The Prince’ (my instinct was to get close enough to hear any conversation by using the camera top mic as he wasn’t wearing a radio mic).
Then I witnessed what at first was quite a strange thing to see and hear, but afterwards made sense. Once inside the building all these stone faced security officers suddenly all started making random small talk with the Council staff- ‘How long have you worked here, do you live in Stockport’ etc. I almost wanted to tell them to be quiet. But then I realised why.
Basically a well known famous face has just walked into the building and all of the staff waiting to say hello were pretty dumbstruck and silent. Which means my camera can hear every word spoken by The Prince- ideally not what they want, especially if someone unintentionally asks a really awkward question (we all say silly things when nervous). So the security officers were encouraging chat amongst everyone so you couldn’t hear what was spoken, but also I expect to relax everyone as well. It was just strange to see all the Security do this at the same time.
The visit went well, with the video still online here- https://youtu.be/Gr4otMiXY0g