There is a lot of pressure that comes with being a cameraman. Not only do you have to focus on all the details of filming a hunt, but you also have to be a good hunting partner. It can be hard for some to stay as focused as the hunter even when you aren’t the one who is going to pull the trigger. With this in mind, I think it is important to talk about the intricacies of being a cameraman. After all, it is a challenge to film a hunt and doing it consistently adds to the difficulty. If you are going to step up to the role of being a cameraman you will need to adopt certain traits.
The Will to Hunt
A true cameraman’s will to hunt is the same as if he were the one doing the hunting. Regardless of how long the hunt takes or how difficult it becomes, a great cameraman maintains good spirits. It can be demanding to follow around your hunter sometimes seemingly aimlessly in the woods, especially when it starts to look like things aren’t going to go according to plan. The fact of the matter is that your hunter feeds off of your attitude and behaviors. The Law of Transference is very relevant when hunting and filming. If you are slow, slouchy and disengaged then you will transfer those behaviors to your hunter. You may get frustrated with each other or with the hunt more easily and nothing will get accomplished. Lastly, have the drive to always want to go hunting. If you don’t then you need to reevaluate why you want to film hunts. Overall, it’s very important to maintain a positive attitude and show your hunter that you going to work hard until the job is done.
The Eyes of a Hawk
Think of yourself as a co-pilot. After you check the audio and manual controls, you’re looking for the target to engage. Look where your hunter is not looking. Typically, the cameraman is positioned offset either to the left of the right facing nearly the complete opposite direction as the hunter. It is important to visually cover the hunter’s back so he can focus on what is in front of him. During times when the hunter is calling, you want to keep a sharp eye for incoming animals. If the hunter is trying to retrieve his bow from its resting place the cameraman must be the eyes even during that brief period of time. Things can change in less than a minute, so the cameraman’s visual assistance is of vital importance.
Cool as a Cucumber
Think of the moment of truth and about all of the emotions that are experienced during that short amount of time. The last thing a hunter needs is for his cameraman to hype up the situation even more than he needs it to be. Erik Barber from Midwest Whitetail, who films and produces the show, suggested that the cameraman should help slow things down for the hunter instead of chirping in his ear. So maybe instead of saying, “Wow look at that giant! What a beast! No pressure!” A good cameraman might help the hunter through his pre-shot routine, align his focus on the animal in a non-distracting way or help him calm his nerves in some way. Creating hype or letting emotions prior to shot get the best of you can cause problems. Save the excitement for after the shot and focus on what is right in front of you. Keep it straight business and do your job; including helping your hunter execute.
If you write it all down on paper, the list of tasks and roles that a cameraman has to fulfill is actual quite extensive. Even though they are behind the lens and they are often not recognized for their work the cameraman is the fulcrum of a successful filmed hunt. If you plan on being a producer or filming your buddies hunts, take the time to do a self-evaluation prior to hitting the woods with your camera in hand. If you don’t already possess these traits, then I suggest you adapt quickly if you want to be a great cameraman.