Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Dunns River Falls and Jerk Chicken

Bloody body clock! I thought that I had reset it on the plane with lots of best Colombian and with something  herbal that night.  People I know keep telling me they get their herbal stuff under the counter or in some little back street places I never seem to be able to find. I get mine from Boots. Anyway,  I was wide awake hours before I needed to be despite the coffee and the sleeping tablets. So I was just about to get back to that imminent intimate moment between me, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and one of the flight attendants that was on the flight that brought us here when I was jolted into full consciousness again by a text message from David at GMTV in London. After lengthy text exchanges, phone conversations and a few e-mails about yesterday’s debacle I just got ready for breakfast. The rain was still battering down. 

Adrian from the Jamaican Tourist Board met us at the hotel. We had borrowed a set of pa speakers and amplifier for Mr Motivators workouts. Sheldon the driver loaded them into the little mini bus. Then we went along the road to Dolphin Cove. We wanted to shoot a workout and a couple of pieces to camera. Michelle greeted us with the usual pr trained smile and patter. She was very helpful and organised a power cable etc’. After a bit of a discussion about where we were going to do the workout I started setting up the speakers and testing the mix. As I was scurrying about with cables and bits  of kit I was aware that Yiljan and Derrick were in and earnest discussion about when he should be wearing his Lycra outfits and when he should not wear it. Once I had set up we then had a discussion with the folk at Dolphin Cove confirming what the Dolphins do and when they do it. As a result of that brief conversation we changed the location of the workout. I went off to move all the stuff to another position. 

I shot the workout and a few other pieces to camera. Some of them were even in a tiny little bit of sun. The rain had kind of stopped. There were a few, very few gaps in the cloud.

Next stop was just a two  minute drive over the road to Dunns River Falls. It is regarded as the number one tourist attraction in Jamaica. Sheldon, our driver took us up to the security gate. Slowly and very suspiciously the guard came over to the Adrian’s open window. As Adrian calmly explained who we were, what we wanted to do and that we were expected because he had spoken to one of the people in charge and been exchanging e-mails about our shoot the guard looked at us as if we were about to come in to blow the place up. He then mad a call and said that we would need to wait at the normal front gate until various people were contacted to let us in. We stood outside for about twenty minutes before we got the go ahead to go in. The plan was to do a  workout on the beach at the bottom of the falls. We all went down to have a  look. It’s a fair old trek down loads of steps to get there. Although the sun was still hiding away behind pretty thick clouds the place was busy with people from all over the world din all colours shapes and sizes. A lot of the women were in bikinis. Not one of them should have even have considered the bikini as their swim wear item of choice.

Mr M. and me in the gloom before I changed the angle of the shot.

I was glad that we had not dragged the kit the all the way down the steps beside the falls. The electric power that we had been told was there had been taken away years ago. That scuppered the idea of the workout being done. We did do some more pieces to camera and shots of Mr Motivator doing various separate exercises. I shot quite close to the falls. That caused me a couple of problems. The easiest one to solve was sound. the falls are very noisy. Derrick then just talked a bit louder to compensate. The second one was more annoying because there were a few shots of him I wanted to do but couldn’t because we were under a gloomy canopy of trees under a gloomy canopy of cloud. That meant it was fairly dark. Shooting someone with Derrick’s skin colour against white foaming water needs to be lit other wise he becomes a silhouette. I had no lights. I got round it by turning him the other way, but that compromised the quality of the shot.

The next bit of the day was the best. Derrick took us to a place nearby called Scotchies for genuine Jerk Chicken. It was fantastic food. The seasoned chickens are cooked on a huge rack of  wooden poles over a charcoal fire. They are covered with a sheet of corrugated steel. When you order either a quarter or half a chicken it is taken from under the sheet to a chopping block where it is simply chopped up in to bite sized pieces. One of the things to have with the chicken is a sort of long fairly thin cross between dumpling and bread called festival. We had a great meal. It was rushed very slightly because we had to be at the next location The jamaican Grand Hotel at exactly 2:30 to shoot another workout. the time was important because where we were allowed to shoot was being prepared for a wedding that was happening at 3:30. It was a tiny bit after 2:30 when we arrived but I got everything set up quickly. Derrick had found some willing and eager volunteers to do the workout with him. We got it done very quickly. The route back to our hotel took us past a Bob Marley souvenir shop and a Hard Rock Cafe. We did a very quick bit of shopping before getting back to the hotel to feed the material to London. Also on the drive we regained a GPRS signal. Then all the e-mails started flooding about what the programme wanted for tomorrow. It was not quite what we had shot and there was no time to reshoot. Luckily there were ways round the problem by careful editing back at base. I was pleased about that because by the time I got the shots fed to GMTV it looked like being a normal length working day.

Cooking Jerk Chicken the traditional way.

Yiljan and I felt we deserved a quick break with a dip in the pool before sending the stuff back. So we braved the slightly chilly pool to refresh us. There were a couple of hardy kids from New Jersey in the pool. The insisted that we played a game of ball with them. We lasted about 10 mins before we called it a day and got out.

Back at the apartment I ingested the footage in to the computer in preparation for sending it over the internet. It was all in and the encoding procedure was almost finished when the computer crashed producing one of those really annoying blue screens. I was gutted because I would have to sit and do it all again. I did and by that time it was time for food. The restaurant in the hotel that was serving dinner had internet Wi Fi, so over dinner I managed to get the material to London. I was gobsmacked again because by then it was after 9pm. The bloody computer crash meant a normal day stretching out to an abnormal day again.  


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