Training wheelchair-bound camera operators in Bangkok

Written by Patrick Jong Taylor

Jimmie Wing / RedShark NewsWheelchair-bound camera operators?

An innovative four-hour long workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, trains wheelchair-bound participants on camera operation, specifically for shots that use the wheelchair as a dolly.

Most of us either remember or are still working on low budget fare, which are usually mosaics of big ambitions, good intentions, a handful of qualified professionals (if you're lucky), a crew learning their positions and whatever locations, props, costumes and equipment that could be scrounged together on quick notice.

Do-it-yourself attempts to produce a specialized cinematic shot without the requisite professional equipment are hallmarks of the low-budget indie production. A quick Google search will yield scores of DIY projects for everything from camera rigs and lighting to gimble stablizers and sliders. Before the slider came into vogue as an indie staple, countless productions used a second-hand wheelchair to faithfully pull-off smooth dolly and tracking shots. All you needed was the wheelchair, a dance floor (or a relatively flat and smooth rolling surface) and an experienced operator with strong, steady arms.

Experience is, perhaps, overrated. The following video was shot by camera operators after only a four hour workshop and features some smooth dolly tracking work. But what's more noteworthy is that all of the camera operators are physically-challenged. The workshop trained the wheelchair-bound participants in camera operation and tracking techniques. Afterwards, these newly-minted shooters, with the aid of dolly grips, took to the crowded open-air markets of Bangkok and captured the sights while rolling through.

I have no idea if this will start a trend of physically-challenged camera operators finding work on indie productions, but it's at least a reminder that we need to work harder to provide opportunities to those with disabilities. That and the fact that creative people will always find creative solutions to make it happen.

Tags: Production


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