By Rachel Path
Now, getting past the iron gates Number 10 Downing Street would be an adventure in itself (mostly because the only time a person of no significance gets through is if they are breaking in, which would result in your arrest and then deportation), but not only was I allowed through the gates, I had the opportunity to go into the Number 10 with Brian Williams to chat with the Prime Minister.
When I arrived at Number 10, I was finally able to walk through those massive, black iron gates that I have been longing to enter so many times before. The scary security guards that stand watch at the gate? Not so scary. They were cracking jokes as they checked our passports and walked through the metal detector. After that, the rest of the crew and I approached the iconic black door, which is the shiniest door I have ever seen, and proceeded to knock. We walked in and had to put our phones in a small cupboard as they are not allowed inside. Then the truck or equipment arrived and I assisted in hauling all of it up three flights of stairs (my workout for the semester).
When all of the heavy lifting was finally done, we began to set up and arranged on of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen. It is funny how much thought and care actually goes into setting up the scene of the shot. The crew and producers argued over which doors needed to be open, which ones needed to be shut, if the lamp in the background should be on or off, etc. The other intern, Jenner, and I had to pretend to be David Cameron and Brian Williams so they could set up the cameras and lighting. Also, you know how people joke about having a good side? Well, it’s a real thing and fun fact, B Dubbs prefers his right side to be viewed.
It was then that I able to meet the producer and associate producer of Rock Center, Tom and Lauren, who were both very nice. Also, I met the president of NBC News, Steve, which apparently is a huge deal because very few employees have the privilege of being introduced to him. I thought it was at this point I had to be pinched, but no, there was still more unreal things to come.
We waited around for Brian to arrive and get his spray on, HD makeup done. My job throughout the shoot was to hold the monitor so the producers could see what the cameras were catching. We filmed Brian walking into 10 Downing and knocking on the door. After that, while we did some more waiting around, I got the chance to sit in Churchill’s brown leather chair, which was awesome to say the least.
The Prime Minister and Brian finally came down and we began shooting. It was weird to think that someone as powerful as David Cameron was standing within a few feet of me, and also the fact that he was going to be hanging out with President Obama in the U.S. at a basketball game in less than 24 hours.
They first just talked and pointed at paintings while walking up the stairs and through the halls. Since there were two cameras, I had to be on top of my game and scurry around like mad so I would not get in any of the shots. Once that was complete, they finally started the actual interview. It was unbelievable to see my idol (Mr. Williams) in action. Brian is one of the most amazing reporters I have ever seen. He transitions from question to question so easily and he makes it seem as if he makes up these questions randomly off the top of his head, which I am sure with some of them he does. They talked about a range of topics: The Olympics, The Diamond Jubilee, Syria, Afghanistan, and even the movie Love Actually. I definitely made a few mental notes of what Brian was doing during the interview to apply later on in my life, and when I say later on I mean B2.
After the interview, we packed up and were about to hit the road, when one of the cameramen introduced me to Brian Williams. Surprisingly, he was one of the nicest men I have ever met and very genuine. Another fun fact I learned, Brian lived in Missouri for a short while. Unfortunately, I never was able to meet Mr. Cameron, but that was expected.
Later that night, Brian did NBC Nightly News live from the London bureau where I work. The rest of the interns were able to meet and chat with Brian. He gave us great advice about working hard up through the ranks and starting out in a smaller market. Since it was 11:30 at night in the UK when they did the 5:30 news, no one was actually working in the newsroom (but there were more people than usual to see Brian do his thing) where they were shooting so they used the interns and some producers to fill in the background. Luckily I had actually showered and looked descent that day because it just so happens that I was placed in the hot spot right over Brian’s right shoulder. My parent’s are still embarrassingly bragging to all their friends about it, you know, because it takes a lot of talent to sit there and pretend to type on a keyboard while Brian reads the news.
I do not think I have ever learned as much as I did in this one day. The cameramen showed me how to set up shots and do lighting. The sound guy showed me how to place and set up microphones. The producers told me what they were expecting to get during this interview as far as both content and shots. Brian gave us interns’ great advice on where to start our careers and how to work our way up. Plus, I think I just learned everything I need to know about news writing and reporting by watching him…I wish, but I still picked up a lot. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I really do hope that at some point I can have an experience in my own career that measures up to this (fingers crossed).