In the 1987 movie, Broadcast News, Albert Brooks plays a news writer and reporter who experiences a horrifying on-camera moment. He is given the opportunity to realize his dream of anchoring the nightly news. He sees the cameras, feels the pressure, begins to sweat, and is a disaster as an on-air personality. Being in front of the cameras at Make48 is nothing like that.
I had my first experience “on camera” as a middle school teacher doing our morning news show. I am one who avoids talking to large crowds for fear I might freeze. I found that speaking to a camera was totally different and much easier than speaking to a room full of people. In my mind, the camera doesn’t really care what you do or say, so I didn’t have to be nervous. I found the same ease during my filming experience with Make48.
Cameras are everywhere during the competition. The opening ceremony felt somewhat like being at a sporting event. There were cameras, of course, but also a large crowd. Your chances of being caught by the camera were pretty small. Even then, if you were filmed, it was a minute snippet of sitting in a crowd looking at the stage.
Things changed once the work of designing and prototyping got started. The founders wanted to capture what really went on in the idea development process. We were instructed not to look into the cameras; we tried to forget they were even there. Camera crews roamed the rooms in search of good footage. While working in our group of four, the camera would stop by the table, get close in with the overhead mike, and try to capture the conversation. We were so deep in thought and discussion it was easy to ignore the implications that hundreds (Thousands? Millions?) would be watching us at some point.
We did realize that some things were going to make good TV. We had our Tool Tech, Stan, welding our product’s frame and grinding the metal. Welding throws lots of fire and sparks and the camera crews always rushed over. We also tried to be funny, but the four of us joke around a lot anyway. One moment we wished they had captured was the girls falling off their chairs and laughing loudly when Stan’s grinder started shooting a shower of sparks in their direction. True to their words, though, no one asked them to “act” the scene again because it would have been a good TV moment.
So, in a nutshell, after a few minutes of experiencing the cameras filming all around us it was easy to go about our business without giving them much thought. I am extremely glad I did not forego the amazing experience because of this aspect of the competition.