A Quick Retelling of a Camera Guy’s Worst Nightmare

So I rock up to “The Standard” in Darlinghurst, complete with a bag with a tripod, two cameras and a few other odds and ends all prepared to film the Shanghai show on May 16th (opening for Dr. El Suavo, Neil Hamburger and Jay Katz). I am then given a third camera and tripod I requested from Chantel, the band’s keyboardist.

After discussions with the bandmembers, venue staff, promoters et. al I finally decide to set up. My camcorder in the crowd getting the full show, my pocket-camera on the stage, and me rocking a DSLR on handheld. In situations like this, I can’t help but be pretty impressed with myself.

“Yeah, I’m totally a pro.” I think to myself, trying to remember which ring on the DSLR was the focus (turns out it’s the one at the front).

So the show starts and I -being without backup, I make the sprint from the stage camera to the in-crowd camera flicking them both on. Finally flick the DSLR  on and start doing my thing. Shanghai are playing well, I’m making sure all the angles are alright without being “that guy” who just hogs the stage so nobody else in the crowd can get a decent view and then the second song comes on. Halfway through, the stage lights shut off. I check the viewfinder, nothing. half a minute of black screen, great. I keep recording anyway for redundant audio backup, hoping this is all part of the act and Luis (Shanghai’s frontman) forgot to tell me. It was a comedy night, after all. Perhaps a little planned technical disaster was on the cards.

Turns out it wasn’t.

Two guys jumped down the front with torches to try and light the band (which admittedly, looked kinda cool on my end), then Shanghai ended up having to take a break so they could fix the issue.

“Fixing the issue” meant shoving a light just offstage to the left, and later, a coloured light at the front (during the last song, “The Hitter” no less. Though it did go for eight minutes and include a cover of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz”). Wasn’t the prettiest gig I’ve recorded, but hey it worked. In fact that’s how the lights were right up until Neil Hamburger was on stage.

For those not in “the biz” of filmmaking or photography, let me enlighten you here: See that giant ball in the sky that makes everything hot? Our job -regardless of role, requires that giant ball to be on it’s best behaviour. Granted, we also use artificial light as well, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. So imagine our delight once we’re shooting in -as far as the camera is concerned, pitch black. Even the bandmembers were commenting how off-putting it was (hell, if I can’t do my job in the dark, I daren’t think about playing guitar in the same conditions. Hell, I can’t even play guitar well as it is). While a good gig is indeed a good gig, the hellish, disastrous and downright hectic ones are usually the ones you remember best.

Besides, if the lights worked, I couldn’t have something to talk about here now, could I?

 

NOTE: This was originally posted to Screaming Silence 18/5/2012. I dunno exactly what the future holds for the site, so crossposted here for posterity. Original Article Here