I know it's been a few days since Halloween ended and I also mentioned I'd try to live blog the Chapel Hill Halloween event. Well, there's a story there and allow me to share.
For the first time since I've been in North Carolina, the station planned ahead and we had a plan. I'm going to park my truck in the PRIVATE alley behind Spanky's, a local bar. We even got permission from the police to be there, even though it is a PRIVATE ALLEY (Can you sense the foreshadowing?). Then string cable to the top of the three story building and go live from there. With a large amount of drunken college students it's better to be away from them. It's like they are moths, once my lights go on, they flock to them and act like idiots. So this plan allows us to: 1, get a great over view shot of all the people and 2, keep the drunk kids away from us... great plan.
I park the truck, I get all the cable unwound from the reel, I climb the fire escape with the cable to the second floor and then use a hand over hand ladder to get to the roof. I tie off some rope drop it down to the fire escape landing, go back down tie the rope to the cable, climb back up the roof and then start pulling the cable up. As the cable is almost to my hands the owner of Spanky's tells me the police are not going to allow us to park in the alley, it's OK to be on the roof, but not parking there. I drop the cable back to the ground and call the station. Come to find out that even though they gave us permission, it doesn't matter now. They are kicking us out of our spot.
I kid you not this is the M.O. of the Chapel Hill police department. Not two months earlier I was at a street festival I was parked by the police right near where we wanted to go live. Two minutes before our live shot an officer yells at me to get out of here. I try to tell him that we are going live in two minutes and I am informed he does not care. The officer in charge (the one that placed us in our current spot) wants us gone. We have to kill our live shot and while I am packing up I have multiple people yelling at me to hurry up.
Back to Halloween, the station calls Chapel Hill PD and the chief is telling us to move to an ally right behind the one we are currently at. It's only and extra 100 ft if cable needed, but now I have to tape down that 100ft. I park the truck and go through the ordeal of getting the cable on the roof. 45 minutes later I am tapping down cable as the station constantly wants to know if I will be ready for the 7pm show. I keep screaming I don't know let me get finished. I'm down to the final 40ft of cable to be taped when Chapel Hill PD once again is yelling at me. This time I'm a fire hazard. If a fire happened behind me the truck could not get too it. Well, that's a lie, there is a pay lot 2 feet away and the truck could easily reach a fire from there.
I once again wind all my cable up, drop the mast and by now I have climbed and descended from that ladder 8 times. By now the station has sent someone and an intern out to give us a hand. Luckily for me I decided to double my dosage of the anti-anxiety pill, because I am starting to loss it. I move the truck to the end of the alley and start to raise the mast. A guy is standing there and wonders what I'm doing. Come to find out he is the owner of the parking spaces. Luckily, after seeing me and hearing my story he allows us to use one of his spots. I thank him repeatedly. I raise the mast and start pulling cable. It is decided at least for the 7pm show we will go from the street. The people that are out there now are not too drunk and won't be too much trouble. As I am running cable, help finally arrives. We use all 500 feet of cable to get it to the corner. It's nice to have help, but no one except me knows how to run a live truck. I go to the street corner hook up the camera call the guy who is at the truck. "Can you see me?" I yell at the phone. "Yes, but I can't hear anything." I go through a couple of steps and then have to run back to the truck, and oh yeah it's 6:50. I figure out the problem and then realize I have not tuned in the truck. I call the engineer and luckily I pointed the dish the right way, I dial in IFB so my reporter can hear the station and run back to my camera. I get there, make some adjustments and we go live.
By now I am soaking wet with sweet and thirsty as hell. I down three bottles of water and plan to figure out how to get to the roof. After 20 minutes we just decide to try getting to the roof. We find an extra 5 feet of slack and come to find out that we can almost get to the corner of the building, we are set for the 11.
The help leaves, the reporter and I go out get a couple interviews early so we don't have too many idiots ruining the shot. I'm thinking things are starting to turn our way. As the video loads we get some lunch at Qdoba. I get a call from some web producers that are at our truck I go over and meet them. As I am leading them back to Qdoba I notice two guys getting ready to climb the ladder at Spanky's. "Hey, we are set up on the right side so if you want to set up next to us that's cool." He gives me a look of confusion. "I'm with JDOG-17!" Then I hear something I never want to hear again "Damn it, they allowing media up here?" I then notice that he is not caring a camera, but a sniper riffle and his partner has a gully sack.
Now I have to put out this fire. I see the guy later on in the night and mention we just want to do a few shots at 11. He tells me he's been burned by the media in the past doesn't want us up there. I assure him that I don't want to show him, because he is not part of our story and we just want this over with. I think everything is fine. I finish up shooting and head back to the truck. I load in my new video as the reporter is almost done writing. It's almost 10 so I'm thinking it wise for me to take my tripod up top and get set for the 11. I don't think Mr Sniper and I understood each other earlier. As I set up my tripod NEXT TO THE CABLES STILL THERE FROM EARLIER. I hear him make a call complaining that we are up on the roof and he doesn't want us there. I thought nothing of it, it's too close to 11 for him to get anything done. 15 minutes later we find out that the chief was informed and called the bar owner and we are now kicked off the roof. The reporter happens to have the chief's number and calls him. She gets him to allow us to do a intro shot and our story, that's all.
We finish up I drop the cable, and take my gear back to the truck. You would think my night would be over, and you would be wrong. Right as I was leaving the station I was told that I need to stay until the morning crew shows up. WHAT? I have to sit there till 3 or 4? I was told they were going to be in at 2 and be there before three. Great, now I'm sitting there with nothing to do. I read a little of my book, went walking around looking at all the interesting costumes.
I get a phone call after 2:30, it's the morning crew and they just left the station. "did you shoot them cleaning up the streets?" Guess what, the station forgot to tell me about that. I them grab my camera and run to the street as they are finishing up. I turn on the camera and nothing. The battery died, I had to run back and get a new one. I grabbed a few minutes of cleaning, the street sweepers were going round and round in the intersection so I grabbed enough video for the morning guys.
They finally arrive and I give them all my video and finally I get on the road to go home, it's now 4:00. I get home and don't get to bet till 5AM! The next thing I know is The Wife is calling me around 1 in the afternoon so I can get up and go to work. I did all that work for about 3 minutes of TV time. Next year I am taking Halloween off and enjoying it.