When you watch "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" or some other cheesy reality show (admit it, you do) and you squirm along with the viewing public at the intimate and often humiliating situations being filmed, you might think "Wow, and there's some camera guy right there in the room." On those shows and dozens of others like (and unlike) them, that guy is often Director of Photography Andre Martinez, who grew up in Concord, moved to LA, and is now considering a return to the Granite State to raise his family and get involved in the state's growing film industry.What was your first experience behind a video camera? I went to Concord Christian School, which was affiliated with what was then First Baptist Church (now CenterPoint Church). They used to broadcast weekly services and some concerts on a local TV station. So, while I was in junior high I was already operating professional video cameras. I'm almost 39 now. When people ask "How long have you been doing this?" they usually are pretty surprised when I say about 25 years.But your career officially began at WMUR? Which was great because unlike LA where everything is very niche when it comes to job titles, it offered a wide variety of opportunities within the field. I was able to shoot news, sports, promos, commercials, out of a helicopter, using a jib, on a dolly.So how did you wind up specializing in reality TV? My dream was always to shoot feature films. I was working on a VH1 project and the producer/director also happened to be the director on "The Bachelor." He brought me onto the show and that really kicked off my reality TV career. What irony it would be if I end up back in N.H. shooting films.What does it take to be good at shooting reality TV? There are two major challenges: First you can't just put the camera, lights and gear wherever you need them to get the best possible framing and lighting. This means getting very creative with hanging lights and hiding equipment to get the best possible frame and light. Secondly, professional actors will "hit their mark" and "find their light." On a reality set you have to light where you "hope" your subjects will "land" and then also light secondarily assuming they will almost inevitably miss the mark.What's it like to be behind the camera during these intimate, emotional moments on "The Bachelor"? Your mind really is more focused on the job of shooting the action to tell the story of what's unfolding and make it look as good as possible. It also helps that what you're actually seeing in the viewfinder is just a tiny black-and-white screen.People love to mock reality TV almost as much as they love to watch it. Do you ever take it personally? No, definitely not. If you had asked me 10 years ago I probably would have been one of the ones mocking it. But, as long as you're working with good people and the job is creative and fun, I can live with that.
This article appears in the January 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine