On July 8, 2014, Israel launched operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Like previous cases of necessary news production in hostile areas, most of our planned documentary, corporate and reality-TV shoots were put on hold. During the day we received calls and emails from 11 TV stations around the world, all asking for fixers and camera crews to accompany their reporters, film daily reports and send raw or edited footage to their home stations.
We had to begin crewing ASAP, but given the fact that all crews are to be sent to a battle zone, we had to arrange for their security.
News production in hostile areas: OUR APPROACH
We appointed Nitzan Almog, Highlight Films’ director of international productions, as the project manager. Nitzan, who is very experienced with news production in hostile areas, focused on finding and establishing the best points to film at, getting the necessary access from the military coordination unit, and communicating with our local contacts on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border.
At the same time, N.K., our Gaza producer, began arranging cameramen in Gaza. Given the wide scope of the Israeli Air Force attacks on Gaza, communications were difficult. Yet, by the early afternoon hours we had several crews on standby. He then secured hotel rooms and cars for crews who would wait to enter Gaza in the following days.
Meanwhile in Israel, Highlight Films’ technical manager Itay Mintz secured more than thirty protective gear sets – bullet proof vests and helmets clearly marked as PRESS. Itay added 6 HD camera sets to our available inventory of 5 camera sets.
Highlight Films producer Karin Neumann established an active line of communications between our Tel Aviv ofice and the crews in the front. All news updates, including specific alerts, were to be delivered to the crews within seconds.
Highlight Films’ office manager Ofra Shalev booked the cars, vans and hotels for the news production crews in southern Israel. Additionally, Ofra coordinated the press accreditation process with the government press office in Jerusalem.
Within six hours, our system was ready for the challenge. Later on we added two junior producers who coordinated the delivery of the piece-to-camera sequences and up link services in the Gaza area. In the following day, three of the crews crossed swiftly and safely into Gaza.
In the following seven weeks we served more than 20 TV channels and news websites, both in Israel and in Gaza. Everyone was able to work under optimal secure conditions, and we’ve received many praises and thanks for our services. While we sincerely hope that such events do not unfold in the future, we will always stand at the ready to coordinate and film all news worthy stories safely and efficiently.