We are starting a series highlighting our most active Stringrs.
Today, we speak with Megan Eza.
Eza is from Coventry, Connecticut and has been a Stringr user since December 2016.
She tells us a bit more about her experience:
Shooting footage for Stringr has been an eye opening experience. I’ve been at news stories as they are happening, and help create stories for people in my city and state. My favorite stories to do are public interest pieces. Most of the news stories I capture are fires or motor vehicle accidents, but every once in a while there is a neat story that comes around and it is fun to get footage of. I remember this one, where a man had given $1400 to a Salvation Army bell ringer at Wal-Mart. I was able to get some great footage of the store and an interview with the man who collected the money. I got some great shots of both the bell ringer describing the gifter and Wal-Mart customers donating to the bucket. The request was about 15 minutes away and took less than 20 minutes to film, but I got $95 for the footage and was able to see my work on the nightly news. It was even used in the news highlights segment.
Did you have professional experience shooting video prior to shooting for Stringr? If so, what was your experience?
I have some experience filming and producing prior to Stringr. I actually shot all the training and promo videos for Safe Roof Cleaning LLC; I also helped create the scripts, directed and assisted in finding the location for the films.
I also began a company for the purpose of promoting art (BNE Publishing) and have created many videos for the company.
What has been your biggest challenge in shooting footage?
One of the biggest challenges in filming can be finding the right lighting. Filming at night can be tough because there’s often not enough light to give a good shot of the scene, especially if you are filming an accident. When the scene requires you to take a shot of emergency vehicles but everything else is pitch black, the footage can be difficult to make out. And on extremely bright days it can be hard to see the screen and the sun can create glare.
What advice would you give to other Stringrs?
One of the handiest tools I have found to help with lighting and many other situations is equipping my phone with a telescoping lens. I have one that screws into the phone case and can provide some extremely valuable footage at times when it is impossible to get too close or when there is a situation where lighting is a factor. Mine was actually a gift, but you can find them on Amazon.
The telescoping lens can block out extremely bright light and prevent whiteout or glare and it can also focus in on a small area of light, like where a group of first responders are working to get a clear and focused shot that helps show the event. If you are using a telescoping lens it is almost imperative to use a tripod as the additional zoom will cause even minor movements to make the footage appear shaky. I’ve gotten great footage of fires, repair crews and car wrecks using this method. If you can’t use a tripod with the lens try doing a nice even pan and it should come out pretty good. You may be able to get a good shot just holding it but even the slightest breeze will make it shaky without the tripod.
I would also suggest heading out nearly as soon as you see the requests if you plan to go (unless it’s an event-based request), get footage from as many angles as possible, and upload as soon as you have a strong signal and are done filming. I have set the alerts to require a response before they go away, that way I don’t miss one just because I forgot to look at my alerts.
If you are shooting a crime scene, first responders like you to have something reflective or at least really bright, and I have found that the first person to ask is typically the first person to get an interview. So ask for an interview! I’ve had other major networks recording my interviews because I was the one who asked first. Fire chiefs (the white hard hats) often give interviews, but the police rarely like to make a statement at the scene. I have also been able to get interviews with bystanders and others at these scenes but always keep in mind the tenor of the situation, as often when taking these interviews it is not a happy event.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have really enjoyed filming for Stringr. I never knew I had an eye for this sort of thing, but I’ve been finding this to be something I really enjoy. I’ve also found it rewarding to go out the day after a snowstorm and take home $400 after about 4 hours. Plus I saw some really interesting people and accidents. It’s not every day a tree falls in a house or an oil tanker runs into a car and flips over spilling thousands of gallons into the sewers, but that day it happened.