ONE OF THOSE DAYS: Verbal Abuse When Filming

This is my account of an event that happened back in November 2019. I made a note of it at the time but didn’t think it was a very Christmassy story to tell when my blog launched. Enough time has passed that I can include this as an update.


The EUMIG MINI 5 (Camera B) in the street from a previous filming session.

Well, have you ever had one of those days? In 20 years working in the media and filming for my own side projects, I have had one or two run-ins with people but usually in the ‘mildly amusing’ and ‘you are quite sad’ category. The very sight of a camera brings out the stupid in people. From guys dropping their trousers to moon, to someone actually walking into oncoming traffic and dancing about making a spectacle and almost getting run over. I tried to explain it was time-lapse and he was a mere spec but he was idiotically oblivious.


Even today when the friendly waitress taking my order saw that I was adjusting the focus on my Eumig Mini 5 ‘Camera C’ and cleaning the lens with a lens cleaning brush, for the first use of my back-up Super 8 camera. In a future article I will explain in more detail what happened with the identical Eumig ‘Camera B’ and why I have had to switch cameras to film the exterior shots for a project to be completed in 2020. However, back to the story. I ordered a coffee and was adjusting the eyepiece and focus. This is very important when using a camera for the first time. It needs to be adjusted to your eyesight, otherwise everything will be out of focus. So on seeing me brushing my lens and peering through the viewfinder across the street the waitress queried in a humorous tone “FBI?” I chuckled and finished sorting out the camera. Task completed, everything ready to go. I paid for my coffee and set up the tripod and began to film the front of the shop we had been using the interior of. Next up a couple of metres to the Caffe Nero across the street.


We recorded some audio synched material in here a few days back. It had been too wet on the day for exterior filming. And for several days in-between. So here I am completing the roll of Super 8 film and getting the shots I need. Simple right? Well no actually. I haven’t been building up to a normal filming exercise. As I am setting up the shot I start to film across the street and into frame walks a woman of about 35 – 40 ruining the shot. But she is shouting abuse and as she gets closer is making enquiries as to what I was doing. “Here you can’t be filming me!” I wasn’t, not until she put herself in frame. Loosely introducing herself as ‘Jenna’ and most certainly off her face on something, she continued to school me in what I was and wasn’t allowed to film in a public space. I tried to politely reason with her telling her that her very presence in the shot was ruining it, hoping to reassure her that it was only the building I was interested in and I couldn’t care less about what she was doing. But ‘Jenna’ wasn’t having it and continued on. She did go back across the street after I told her to go away and I got further shots. As I was filming (silent, no audio) she shouts over “Happy new year DLA!” which sent alarm bells ringing. She thought I was from the council and filming her doing something dodgy relating to benefits. I was mildly amused, if not annoyed.

CENSORED: Typical, there she is on film and with evidence she walked into shot. I have pixelated her face for now (no idea where I stand legally posting a face on-line). But should the government or police require evidence, here she is.

She was delaying the task. An SUV and been inconsiderate enough to park right in front of where I wanted to film, in the meantime, and the driver was going back and forth to the ticket machine. I swiftly moved down another couple of metres and continued filming close-ups of the sign. ‘Jenna’ was back. Demanding some kind of reference number which wasn’t required. She certainly has something to hide and was going bananas. I wasn’t having anymore of her nonsense and verbal abuse. In actual fact I was now packing up having to call it a day. But she was insistent on having some sort of official document which is just not required and she wasn’t getting it.

NO-ONE should take this sort of abuse. PICTURE BY: Jon Tyson


Anyhow this is where something that was a five-minute job and I was out of there, was dragged out and I had to sustain verbal abuse because they thought I was from the government even though I explained in the earlier and more amusing part of the incident, that it is highly unlikely the government would be using super 8 and a 1970s camera in 2019. And when the penny finally dropped that I wasn’t from the government and just a filmmaker working on a project, she just didn’t get it and out of nowhere, starting calling me a paedophile. This is when I started to shake in anger that an abusive woman can intimidate a guy in the street who has every right to be there and has explained that he wasn’t filming them, this is when things go really wrong. Thankfully, everything is fine and I went to the pub for a nice pint after it. I feel it is important to document these things as people might not realise that intimidation can happen to a guy over 6 feet by a woman who is wasted and very ‘in your face’ because she has the wrong end of the stick and in some twisted way, feels she has the authority to behave like that.

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