Mitch Pittman hates excuses. Think a multimedia journalist can’t do the job as well as a two-person crew? Baloney, says Pittman, and he’s out to prove it.
Take the common complaint that people interviewed by solo journalists’ face the same screen direction. That’s because most MMJs are afraid of standing on the “blind” side of the camera where they can’t see how the interview is framed in the flip-down screen.
One of Pittman’s solutions is to shoot “blind side” when he’s talking to people who are accustomed to being on camera, like officials and PIOs. But what if you’re talking to “ordinary people?”
If everyone you’re talking to is a TV newbie, then you just have to read them as you’re chatting before the interview. “Does this person know how to stand still?” Don’t be afraid to politely say to people, “Hey, since it’s just me over here, try to keep your feet as still as possible.” This will keep them in frame. Or, can you have them sitting in a non-rolling chair? Can you lean them up against their pickup truck? Anything to keep them still.
As an MMJ, Pittman tells TV News Storytellers, he moves the camera a lot to change the framing on interviews. As soon as he hears a good sound bite he’s pretty sure he’ll use, he changes the shot. That way, he’s not stuck with a bunch of bites from the same person that all look the same. And reframing also helps in editing.
As you’re logging…you can just find the places where your shot moves, rewind a little bit, and log that bite instead of listening to the whole thing in a time crunch. We’re shooting, writing, and editing ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Beautiful.
Here’s what it looks like, in a story Pittman shot for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.
Just five years out of college, Pittman has already worked in two of the top TV news markets in the country–Minneapolis and Seattle, where he’s now a solo journalist at KOMO-TV. One final tip: if you want to shoot this way, Pittman says, “you need to know how to operate your camera inside and out with your eyes closed.”
Remember, no excuses!