Friday, 31 October 2014

Chronicles of a journalist wannabe #1

I've just spent ten days waking up at 5.30 or 6 am sometimes but rarely later (6.30 or 7) to go on the set of the new film "At the Heart of the Battle" that will be showcased for years to come at the new Napoleonic museum of Belgium. The film, directed by the acclaimed Belgian director Gérard Corbiau, recreates the battle of Waterloo and aims to place, as its title might give away, at the heart of the action, using groundbreaking technology.

I had the luck and joy of witnessing the shoot as a member of the press. Other press organisations visited the set during an organised session (I have a couple of hilarious stories about the most ignorant BBC presenter ever, if you're nice I'll tell you a little later).

Ten days interviewing interesting people, taking some amazing shots of horse charges, troops marching in the sunset light, a cavalier falling off his horse repeatedly. I must say it was very impressive. Ten days of writing features of different aspects of the film.

Ten days in the mud, in all sorts of weather conditions, with a fun and friendly crew. I can't complain. I wrote my pieces, sent them with exclusive pictures, but no one seemed interested. Not the Guardian, not the Times, not the Sunday Times, the English press (apart from the BBC) was interested in the story. The bicentenary of this battle which was won by the British, is of no interest. The major Belgian media? Not interested.

Ten days to be rejected by all. But that doesn't matter, I'll try harder. But for the time being, I'm stuck with these texts and pictures, I could show you some, it was quite something!

The Marshal Ney, leading a charge.

The French under fire.


Ah yes, you haven't forgotten that Beebs gossip. Well, on the press day, I found myself with the special effects team, at the back of their pick up truck as headquarters were a little far from the set. Just before we leave, three people ask if they can join us. They climb with us and identify themselves as the BBC. I tell them it's such a shame as they missed the Duke of Wellington. "Oh, who is that?" asks one of them. I reply that it is only the British guy who won the battle. "She's Italian," jokingly says her colleague to me. To which she adds "you know, in Italian schools we focus more on the second World War, not the First." After a short moment of shock I had to tell her Waterloo was in 1815. To not know these facts is not a problem in itself in normal circumstances but it is when you work for the BBC, a national British media corporation, and are covering the reenactment of the battle of Waterloo. Ten minutes on Wikipedia and she'd known who'd won it and when...

Next week I'll be going to London to attend a seminar organised by One World Media about being a foreign correspondent in developing countries (something I'd like to do), selling oneself and one's stories, getting commissioned, and more.

The following week I'll be attending a two-and-a-half-day conference about inclusiveness in the media co-organised by the EU, in Brussels.

Stay tuned to follow my adventures of a journalist wannabe on a mission to find a job and/or being published.