Top marks for paper shuffling

19:12, Oct 12 2012
Beck Eleven's house
BECK'S HOUSE: The quake-damaged home is one of four units in the same St Albans property.

It's been an exciting week. I've been on the telly talking about my quakehouse. Once you've moaned, you might as well add a decent carp into the mix.

The story appeared on Campbell Live on Tuesday night and I duly watched it with friends, a glass of wine and an uber- critical eye (mental note: consider Botox, speech therapy, nose job and a gym membership).

I might add, this is not my first television appearance. When I was at high school I presented a brief segment for a show aimed at young people called Life In the Fridge Exists. Our volleyball team went to the South Island champs so we filmed our exotic journey from Christchurch Girls' High School to Pioneer Stadium and third place glory.

It was my first peek into the de- mystification of the magic of telly.

I remember standing beside a volleyball court, facing the camera and speaking into a microphone. Then I was filmed from the reverse angle, lowering the microphone for a cut-away shot.

In the edit, it flowed seamlessly, but I always knew that shot was a set up.


Of course there are similarities to print journalism but television news is a more patient business. There is much repetition and cut-away shots galore.

If someone is filmed unlocking a door, for instance, the subject will go through that motion then wait while the cameraman nips inside so you can open the same door once again - this time, filmed from the mirror angle.

Television news stories often fall into speaking in cliche, just as we do in print but TV reporters are also open to the visual cliche.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why everyone in every news story ever filmed is shuffling paper?

I knew I'd be filmed pointing, walking and nodding from all angles but I planned on drawing the line at paper shuffling.

More fool me for printing off emails to and from my insurers then because there I was, on TV, shuffling wads of paper.

I shuffled and shuffled and shuffled. There were four takes of my shuffling. I shuffled slowly and deliberately. I rearranged the emails and looked solemnly at them every time. I concentrated on the endings of each email, reading the line "please consider the environment before printing this email". No wonder I looked suitably solemn.

I looked at the content of each email and marvelled at how patient I sounded and then I shuffled them a little more.

If there was to be a Golden Globe award for Best Paper Shuffler in the current affairs category, it would be me.

In my speech I would thank the cameraman because he was highly supportive of my shuffling. I couldn't have done it without him.

Meanwhile, I better get back to writing my own cliches. If I come across lies today, they will be in a web. If large hail stones fall, they will be the size of golf balls. It something goes wrong, it will go horribly wrong. If someone is in trouble, they will be embattled. If two people have differing opinions, the topic will be controversial. If it's Kim Dotcom, he can be both. I bet he has a lot of solemn paper-shuffling to do.

The best cliche I've seen so far is that of the insurance company in response to my quakehouse issues.

They are "working" to solve my problem.

Fairfax Media