American EU Dude
A week in the life of…
…the videographer who shoots exterior views of the European Commission every day
This is the inaugural edition of a (potentially) recurring series in which Berlaymonster presents first-person accounts from the real people, personalities and policy personae who power EU politics.
We begin with one of the European Commission’s truly unsung and unseen heroes, whose work has achieved near-cult status: the camera operator who makes video b-roll of the Berlaymont every day for broadcast on Europe by Satellite.
The videographer – who declined to be identified, citing a desire to one day work in film – sent us this account of a typical week:
Most people hate Mondays but I like them. It’s a new week! Nobody has looked at or even thought of the outside of the Berlaymont for a couple of days so it’s all fresh. Sometimes I like to come at it from an unexpected angle, as if emerging from the Metro. I then pan left slowly, maybe catch a fonctionnaire striding purposefully past, then over to the flags, holding the camera for a few seconds and… bam… nailed it. One take baby!
Raining this morning. That’s always nice because it justifies me coming out here every day to take some shots of the flags, the windows, the entrance, the signage, to prove that it’s not just the same scene over and over and over again. You may not see the differences but trust me, they are there. Some days the wind isn’t blowing the flags quite as much, or the light hits the security guards just so. Today, it all looks a bit… wet.
This is the Commission’s big day – the College is meeting! Not that you can “view” this from the “exterior of the European Commission” (Ha ha, see what I did there!) but sometimes the camera captures a certain vibe. Back before COVID you used to sometimes see journalists slumming past, heading towards the sliding doors – a sure sign that maybe something interesting was about to happen. Now only my camera can convey the weight of the day. You need to feel the imminence of an impending read-out. One time I tried using a dolly zoom but the shot got edited out by the EbS suits. I don’t have final cut.
Do I ever have doubts about the work? “It’s the same thing every day,” the critics say. “It’s an insurance-company building with some flags in front of it.” Yeah, maybe. But only a true professional can make that kind of subject matter sing. That’s the challenge and I’m not going to back down from it. I don’t believe the rumours that I could be replaced by a system of drones. Hold on, the wind’s kicking up again…
Ok, I admit, it’s a crap job. No appreciation for my work at all. And I’ve checked the numbers: You’d think the ratings for “Exterior views of the European Commission” would be better than they are for “Daily online EC press briefing”, but actually they’re about the same. I’m making art out of nothing and the only people who see it are the same sad group of viewers who tune in every day to watch a bunch of journalists with silly eyeglasses and bedhead. I’ll need to start on the gin now to get me through until Monday again. I’ve got some right here in my camera bag.