When things go wrong the instinctive reaction is to run away, however it is rarely the best policy. As we always say to people who cut themselves on our carving courses, you need to understand what happened so it doesn’t happen again.
I just had a bad experience where some folk I had filmed for randomly asked for all the footage I had shot when our agreement was that I was just to provide sound-bites for a website. I responded instinctively by saying “no way”, but I initially struggled to explain why, which caused some upset.
However, now I am a little wiser about what is special about the way I film, which has developed because much of the recording I do is as research observation rather than for broadcast. I use very low-key (but hi-tech) equipment, I have developed non-intrusive techniques for filming, I work hard at, and am very successful at, integrating myself with the people I am filming. So I get up close and personal, and tend to capture really authentic action rather than a performance for the camera.
This means I also tend to capture things that shouldn’t be recorded; stuff that is maybe too personal, or impolite, or might make whoever I am recording look unprofessional. So, I am exceedingly careful about the footage I use, I never use anything that I feel would betray the position of trust I have been placed in. If it is borderline, I might ask, but only if I know the person well, if not I wouldn’t even risk asking. I do not feel I could hand over that responsibility to someone else, so there is no way I could part with unedited footage.
Whilst the incident was unpleasant, I now understand what I do a little better … and I will make sure that others do to when I film for them! So to finish with a little video about the work I did for my Phd research: