Sled hockey and the frequent challenges of newspaper video

Shooting video for a newspaper can be really exciting. You never know what the next day has in store for you, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that I always need to be prepared to drop what I’m doing or react to news that is happening right in front of me, even outside of work hours.

One thing, though, that is and always will be a challenge is parachuting into a story for a couple of hours, hoping the person its about wants to share the intimate details of his or her life with you… in front of a camera, no less…. and after he’s already told his story to a reporter and photographer. That was the case for this story I shot for the Globe a couple of weeks ago: “Wounded But Winning”.

Mike, a retired Army staff sergeant, has an incredible story, although if you ask him about it, he’ll probably tell you it’s old news. He lost both of his legs during his second tour in Afghanistan when his vehicle was hit with an IED. However, on that particular Tuesday evening when I met up with him before his sled hockey practice in Dover, N.H., he didn’t really feel like talking about it so much. This is definitely understandable; we were in a public space, surrounded by friends and strangers, he was gearing up to have fun. But it can be a bit frustrating as a reporter who is sent to capture that information for a day-turn video. I only had that evening to gather all the content I would need to edit together a short, compelling, complete video story for the next day.

Luckily, though, the action of the sled hockey practice and the insight Mike offered about the benefits of sled hockey, particularly to amputees, worked on its own. While I felt a bit disappointed in myself that I failed at collecting those dramatic details, I realized in the edit that the details about how he was disabled were less relevant in this piece, which focused on the present instead of the past. You can only do your best with the time and resources you have. Don’t make excuses, just be resourceful.

While in no way perfect, the video ended up being short, simple and fun. Also check out the written story by Brian MacQuarrie here.