Cameraman is king

All in one week I drove a racecar on an actual racetrack in Dallas, Texas, and rode in a hot air balloon in Sedona, Arizona, at daybreak. What amazing experiences. But the real story that week is when hiking (or trying to hike) in Sedona with my parents. I had such an epiphany on documentaries in what I THOUGHT was an adventurer being filmed in dangerous and precarious positions.

Here’s what happened. My mom wanted to get some good video of our hike in Verde Valley. At every bend in the trail, she would advance ahead of us, turn on the video camera, and call out for us to continue. Climbing that mountain took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

I got to thinking about documentaries. You see the adventurer on the big screen, trudging through death-defying cave crevices and snowdrifts. We see the anguish in his face, in his efforts to cheat death.

But wait. Who’s holding the camera? The cameraman. He’s ahead of the adventurer. He’s already forged the trail. He’s taken the viewpoint and set the shot. Authors do that. We are unseen. We focus your attention on the characters and what we want you to see: the willing suspension of disbelief. We are hit with this with every news report or friend’s telling of his day. Take your own camera shots.

That week was great fun. I experienced life in the cockpit of a racecar as its engine screamed down the track and from the basket of a balloon watching shadows withdraw their reach across the sagebrush as the sun rose. I was my own cameraman. I remember the thrill, the driver jumpsuit and helmet, and the mimosas in the champagne glass while standing on sandstone dust. While I enjoyed my hike with my parents, I remember mostly the waiting and having to ignore the cameraman filming me. But we got a heck of a hiking video. (hey mom!)

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