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How To Safely Film Protests

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

Today there have been mass protests all over London with various groups attacking police and each other.

Several journalists/Camera Operators have been injured in London and a few attacked in Bristol.

Luckily I was not deployed or working today but I saw the video below which prompted me to share as I felt it was a perfect example of how to approach such an event.

The film was shared by Sky New's Home News Editor David Sanderson. It shows Camerawoman Olivia Prutz and Presenter Noel Phillips withdrawing from the scene as the thugs approach them. Let's break down how they handled it.

1) Olivia has swapped a large camera for a small large sensor camera. This allows her to have a full field of view around her instead of the one side you would have when using a shoulder mounted camera.

2) Olivia has two minders with her at all times. One is looking forward and one who is looking backwards. For most of the time they have a hand each on her backpack guiding her back.

3) The team is made up of five, two delivering the news, a minder and a back walker as well as David himself. As the risk increases they withdraw next to a Police van.

I feel the only thing they could have done to improve this would be some head gear to protect them from anything being thrown.

A few years ago I went on the BBC's Safety and Location Training Course which is recognised by all broadcasters now.

The BBC offer some good advice on filming these events. Some of them can be seen below.

  • If public disorder/civil disturbance are expected, there must be at least two people in a team.

  • Where required, consider use of additional professional security staff / Backwatchers.

  • If faced with direct aggression withdraw to a safe area. Remember you can still cover the story from a distance. Sometimes you get a better story being further away and being able to view the whole picture.

  • Be mindful asking contentious questions where tensions are running high.

  • Park vehicles in accessible but if possible inconspicuous location, positioned for easy departure.

  • Plan positions including emergency escape routes, rendezvous points and fall-back plans.

  • Wear suitable protective clothing for the situation.

  • Ensure first aid arrangements are known including location of nearby medical facilities.

Always tell your employer or Editor if you're not happy on scene. No job is worth being injured for.


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