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Filming in a conflict zone is one of the most hazardous jobs a journalist, cameraman can perform. There are a lot of unappreciated freelance journalists that constantly put their lives and well-being on the line by covering the stories that many aren’t willing to cover.
These conflict zones are plagued by warfare and these journalists are either caught in the middle of it or they can even become targets themselves. With that being said, these brave men and women provide a key role in keeping the world informed about the ever-growing conflict brewing abroad. For those that are merely interested in the process of war zone correspondence, filming media in war zones, or plan to do it themselves one day, there are many things to learn before setting out to do so.
Not anyone can just go out to a conflict zone and rolling the camera. There are many different things that can arise and a filmmaker or journalist needs to be prepared for every single one of them. A lot of people in war zones die simply because they’re too far away from a hospital and the crew doesn’t know how to handle the situation. The Rory Peck Training Fund is a great way to get the proper training for doing media in combat zones. It teaches people how to assess risk, spot danger, and give the crew first aid. It’s very easy for someone, unaware of the warning signs, to get caught completely off guard and immediately find him or herself in the middle of a shoot out.
This is a tactic that a lot of hikers use. Even with protection, there is a chance that the crew, or someone in the crew, could get abducted. No one wants six hours to go by before people actually start wondering where they are. It’s key for any member to keep everyone informed to their location and movements. This helps when someone has been gone for too long or they don’t check in when they promised, necessary steps can be taken to insure their safety.
No one would take a vacation in Paris without learning a little bit of French. The same goes for moving into a war zone. Being able to communicate with the local population is absolutely necessary for the safety of the crew and for the safety of the locals. Two groups of people shouting at each other in a different language is frustrating and it causes completely unnecessary commotion. Learning the language will make interactions with locals a lot easier and they can even help answer questions.
Needless to say, it’s idiotic to go out into the battlefield in just a dress shirt and jeans. The crew should all have helmets and Kevlar jackets. Having a bag filled to the brim with all the necessities is also a good idea. The contents of the bag should be well thought out and prepared before anyone even goes anywhere. An absolute necessity is some sort of survival kit. If danger arises, which it very well may, a survival kit will be instrumental in saving lives. Also, take into consideration actual filming equipment. While every journalist or filmmaker wants the highest quality things, the crew needs to be able to run with it. Something light and durable is much preferable to getting the highest possible video or sound quality. Everyone should also have their IDs, press cards, and visas.
Being a journalist or filmmaker in a war zone is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. A key aspect is making sure that the rewards are worth the risk. Too many journalists die trying to get that “perfect shot.”