: Bob Gillen's Blog
: A Conversation with Lars Schwetje
Video journalist/DP/producer Lars Schwetje has developed a mindset honed covering war zones in Bosnia and in Iraq. “I always use my gut instinct and experience to do the right thing in dangerous situations. You lose judgment in fearful situations if fear overpowers you.”
Now based in the United States after his stint in Iraq, Schwetje is director of photography for his own Lars Schwetje Productions
, creating video for media companies such as the History Channel, ABC, and NBC, as well as an array of corporate clients.
His assignment for ARD German Television in Baghdad during the first days of the Iraq War in 2003 proved to be his most challenging project. “We crossed frontlines on the third day of war,” he says, “and drove into Baghdad to report from there.”
ARD provided the team with the resources needed for the Iraq assignment, including four satellite uplink modems for transmitting stories and for live mobile stand-ups on the road. They carried several cameras and two laptop-editing computers, as well as helmets and bulletproof vests.
“When we reached the border between Jordan and Iraq, the Iraqi (under the old Saddam regime) border police searched our car.” At that time journalists coming into Iraq were permitted only one satellite phone. “When we got searched the border police screened our camera equipment, food and personal belongings. Our four satellite modems were well hidden within the body of the car.”
Schwetje says one border officer stubbornly continued to search, ready to take their car apart. Just then coalition forces flew over the border crossing and everyone scrambled for cover. “In that moment,” he says, “our search was not that important to the police.” In the confusion, they crossed into Baghdad with all of their equipment intact. READ MORE...