Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hurry Hard!

Took the 45 minute bus ride to Pinerolo today. Managed to watch the Canadian Women's Curling Team get beat by Switzerland. Stopped in to say "Hi" to Vancouver colleague Susan Young who is working on the curling coverage. She told me that there are no relief EVS/Tape operators for curling...this may be the end of my workless streak.

I didn't have long to talk to her because I had to take the bus back (I nearly missed it). It leaves for Torino every 2 hours. She has a relief day tomorrow and is coming to the IBC to visit. Hopefully there will be adventures to tell.

One little theory about Curling though. There was about 7 of us from the relief crew watching the games. I was the only Canadian with the 2 Americans, 3 Brits and an Aussie. I had to try to explain the rules to them but they hated it. They all thought it was a pointless sport. My theory is this: Countries that tend to like curling (Canada, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway) are less militarized than the countries that tend to hate it (USA, UK). I'm sure there's a direct correlation there.

Feeling A Little Guilty - The Novel

While I've been lucky with so much down time and being able to do some sightseeing. Some of my colleagues from CTV in Vancouver have been working their asses off shooting, writing and editing stories and don't even know what city they're really in. It also sounds like their workload has gone up even more too! Last night I trekked via the GTT (Groupo Torinese Transporti - Turin Transit basically) to BC House where I met up with Mike Killeen, Murray Titus (who's blog is linked to the right) and Brent Gilbert with the hopes of all of us heading out for dinner somewhere. I got to the big log cabin in Downtown Turin (which stands out in this town like you won't believe) just as their second laptop tape editor bit the dust. It sounds like things haven't been so cushy for them since they've landed. [Insert Guilty Feeling Again]

Murray was in the middle of cutting the last tape for the night when it died. So they packed it all up , dragged it all downstairs and managed to jam it all into their Alberto's Fiat Hatchback. (Everyone drives a hatchback here, I swear) With those guys, their driver and all the gear, there was no room for me in that car and they had to rush to the makeshift news centre that they've been working at. I decided I would meet them there by bus (it wasn't too far away). Alberto drew an X on a map for me and I headed off.

The #1 bus dropped me off at the corner of Via Nizza and Corso Dante. The walk from there was a mere 2 blocks. But one thing I didn't think of: with no mobile phone on my person, how the hell did I expect to get let into the complex they were working in.

As I walked around aimlessly down the street the building was on, I was able to spot the makeshift newsroom/studio from the ground. Looking up on the penthouse level of an apartment building, I could see four bright HMI lights beaming across the foggy sky. I figured this was the place, but still hadn't solved the whole 'no phone' thing.

I stepped up to the gate and saw a buzzer marked "ESPN/ABC News" but didn't have the nerve to buzz it in case it was the wrong place. I started walking away when I noticed someone in a Fiat waving at me. It was Alberto, their driver. He ran up to me and told me the guys were inside and he gave me his phone to call Brent Gilbert who buzzed me up.

When I got to the top floor, Brent opened the door for me and I stepped into a war zone. People everywhere, cables strewn across floors and walls, phones ringing, and the door buzzer going off every 5 minutes. This was "The Olympic Crack House" that Murman has mentioned in his blog. To be honest though, the Penthouse is a nice piece of real estate. If it weren't for all the satellite uplink stuff and TV gear in the living room.

Brent took me upstairs to the second level where the CTV National edit suite is. Murray and Mike were frantically trying to finish editing the tape that they were working on at BC House. They had a 9:15pm feed time and it was after 9pm when I got there.

At that time, Janis Mackey-Freyer, CTV's Jerusalem Correspondent had been doing a live hit out on the balcony. Now, Janis and I have worked together before, only in much worse circumstances. She was an anchor and I was a green 19 year old floor director at A-Channel in Edmonton when it signed on 8+ years ago. It was a tumuluous time to be working at that station and we didn't always get along. In any case, she walked up the stairs to the second level of the penthouse and I said "Hello." She said, "Hi" back and I asked "How are you liking Jerusalem?" "To be honest, I wish I was back there right now", she said. She walked away and that's when I came to the conclusion: she has NO F**KING IDEA WHO I AM.

Mike and Murray fed their tape (via three satellite hops across the Atlantic) then the four of us headed downstairs and jammed into Alberto's Fiat to head to their Media Village (they're at a different one than I am) to drop off all the gear. The mood was really sombre. It had been a bad day for the three of them and I really felt they weren't in the mood to have me there, squished into a Fiat weaving in and out of traffic. It was a tight squeeze in that car. Like clowns in a car...who am I kidding? It WAS clowns in a car.

Once arriving at Media Village Polytecnico, I helped them drag the equipment into their room (Brent and Murray have to share a room). Now I know why Murman calls it "Stalag 13." I haven't gone into the bad things yet at the Olympics. One of them being the accomodations for media types here. They're more like prison cells. Tiny rooms, dimly lit and not everything works properly, especially the TV. I thought my room was bad, and theirs was bigger. But it was dark and cold. Definitely more like a prison than mine. We ditched the gear and I helped the guys setup their TV. Mike came in and said that CTV National needed a tape that they accidentally grabbed.

Back into the Fiat, dropped off the tape at The Olympic Crack House and then the guys just asked Alberto to drop us off at any closeby restaurant. Luckily, the Crack House isn't far from the IBC and I am getting to know that area well. There was a restaurant I had been to three days before that I liked and I directed Alberto to it.

We ate and drank wine. The mood started to get a little better by that point. Apparently, I helped them choose a new restaurant to go to.

The point of this long ridiculous story is that this has been a typical day for the guys as they strut around Turin gathering news.

And now the guilt part. While I have been bragging about my down time and the sights that I've seen. These guys have been busting their ass barely getting sleep and it seems to me that it's going unappreciated back in Canada.

Personally I think my workless days are numbered. Better enjoy it while I can.