I was recently in Barcelona to make a music video for Terry Jee’s latest release, “Break Your Heart.” On gigs where there’s barely any budget at all, I travel alone as it’s not worth hiring another person to assist. Making music videos is not my bread and butter, it’s just a hobby I enjoy for now. Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to make one with a pretty decent budget!
None of the actors were auditioned, I selected them all from their profiles and hoped for the best (what else can you do on a no-budget shoot?!) – Fortunately they were all good and took direction well. So I flew out, met the artist and immediately got to work.
Unfortunately on this occasion, my luck ran out. On the very first day of filming, the artist and one of my actresses were asked to look after my primary camera gear bag whilst I was off filming a beach scene with two other actors. When I returned to them, my bag was gone. It would seem some dodgy folk had spied my camera bag and the thieves worked together to distract both of them whilst an accomplice snatched it. They only had to turn their heads for a moment for a guy to just lift the bag and make off on a bicycle. My beautiful gear was gone.
After an upsetting couple of hours at the police station running through the long list of stolen gear, I was in shock wondering how I was going to cope without the majority of my equipment. Part of me felt angry that the people I left in charge of it hadn’t looked after it properly (particularly as I had taken time to make them aware of the dangers in this city). Barcelona is a beautiful city by the way, but its high population of thieves make it very ugly indeed.
Although my heart wasn’t quite in it, with minimal gear, I did manage to complete the shoot, but I wasn’t able to shoot half of what I wanted.
I felt the pain of using lenses I wouldn’t normally use under certain conditions. For example, all the night shots you see in the video were taken with a lens I use only in daylight hours (all my fast lenses had been stolen moments earlier). My Steadicam portable (the ‘Merlin’) was also in my kit bag so I had to make do with the SteadyTracker (CobraCrane) – Another piece of equipment not quite suitable for that scene. I couldn’t even use my sticks as the plate to bind the camera with the tripod had also been lost in the theft. My new iPad 3 that I used for playback and to work out DoF and light settings was gone too. The stolen camera gear really made me want to quit the shoot – Simple things like spare camera batteries and even the battery charger were now gone. I had to waste a few hours zooming around Barcelona looking for a store that would sell replacements. Not good. Even my filters – Oh god, my awesome Singh Ray filters that cost a few hundred dollars each were snatched. Would the thieves even know the value of such items?
It was a very depressing journey back to the UK, let me tell you. Fortunately however, I’m please to say this story has a happy ending. My insurance company were amazing and they foot the entire bill for replacement. I find myself very, very fortunate. Although I’ll be expecting my premiums to rise next year, I plan to stay loyal to them for life! But never again will I agree to travel alone with my gear on a shoot. There has to be enough budget to hire someone whose only job is to look after the kit. This has been a lesson well-learnt.