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Re: Lawsuit day in the life video work -ever done it?

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Tim Wilson
Re: Lawsuit day in the life video work -ever done it?
on Oct 2, 2018 at 5:34:51 am

[Mark Suszko] "Treat every frame like you're handling evidence"

[Mark Suszko] "No "bloopers". No re-takes. "

[Mark Suszko] "You may have to witness very personal activities and moments, things that most people will find embarrassing"

[Mark Suszko] "If you mess up one time, you're done."

So much good stuff here, but I did want to pull out a couple of bullet points.

I'll also add my one and only experience with this, as I observe that the videographer in this case really is like a court reporter -- discretion, invisibility, professionalism, and zero mistakes are the MINIMUM expected of you -- with the additional dimension that Mark mentions, that if you leave the slightest opening for it, one team of lawyers will come after you, guns blazing.

Mess up badly enough, and you'll be the subject of a lawsuit yourself, when the other team of lawyers sues you for malpractice that blew up their client's defense.

The big thing for me was that it can be draining to be in the room for these. There are almost never any happy people in the room, and some of them can be in considerable physical or emotional pain.

I was hired for one of these at the recommendation a professional acquaintance -- hardly a friend, but we were both in the Rotary and Chamber of Commerce, had some friends in common, etc., and I had a reputation for taking my work seriously (not a common thing for craftsfolk in this part of the world), so he had his lawyer call me. They knew that the other side was hiring a videographer, so he wanted "one of his own" to make sure that there was no monkey business.

I think he thought his case was a slam dunk, but the other side's lawyer eviscerated his professional standing before they even got to the merits. Eviscerated.

I was doing my level best not to listen to the details. Foremost, it was none of my business, and I was sweating bullets to make sure that nothing went wrong with my recording, which I knew was going to be evaluated not only against the other videographer, but also a court reporter -- yep, two court reporters and a videographer. That's how high the temperature was running in the room. I didn't get the sense that there was world-record money on the line -- nothing like the cases Mark was talking about -- as much as the sense of people being seriously, seriously upset.

But really, I didn't want to know. I didn't know this guy all that well, and this was surely one of the worst days of his career. One can only hope for this fellow and his clients that it was the worst day of his career. It was that bad.

So I honestly don't have any idea if my acquaintance was the plaintiff or the defendant, and I sure don't know how it was resolved, but man, he didn't exactly look me in the eye when he thanked me for coming, and I wasn't thrilled about sending the guy a bill for documenting his getting chewed up and spit out so thoroughly...but of course I did, and of course he paid it the same day, and of course we consciously maintained exactly the same level of relationship forever and ever after, no more intimate and no less cordial, because of course, it was just business, and it was a small town, and sometimes you see things you'd rather not, and sometimes people see you in positions you'd rather not be seen in, but whaddya gonna do, amirite?

(I'm keeping this vague on purpose of course, but you should know that it was a professional matter, and nothing that involved the kinds of improprieties one hears about these days. I can also easily imagine having to record testimony vastly more distressing than anything I saw, which really does have to enter into your consideration of whether or not this work you care to undertake on a regular basis.)

Even if I didn't know the guy, and even at that ultimately minor amount of trauma, I never wanted to be in a room of that temperature again. Huge amount of adrenaline in there. It was super easy money for me, and somebody's gonna make that dough doing perfectly honorable work, but that was my last time doing it.

My guy's attorney was pleased with my work, my price, and my comportment (which, underscoring Mark's point again, MATTERS A LOT), and tried to engage me for other gigs. After the second offer, I told him no need to ask again. I've got a lot of respect for anyone with the fortitude to do this work, but I was reminded once again what a delicate flower I am. LOL

So that would be my additional advice. Be ready to stand in a room for hours on the worst day of people's lives, at best watching them reliving the worst day of their lives in front of hostile strangers, and do your job flawlessly, while keeping your empathy to yourself.

That said, there need to be people out there doing the job with gravity and dignity, who can also do it perfectly, every time. If that's you, go for it. You just have to be the videographer you'd want pointing a camera at you on the second worst day of your life.

Piece of cake, right? 😎


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