Was reading over some of my old posts and realized I’m gonna hafta do another post on news slang defintions. I just wanted to clear one term up today…and many of you can guess what it means. Backpeddling is walking backwards. You can do it alone or with support, but it takes a special style to do it safely.
Right now you’re thinking, she’s got to be kidding. Telling me how to walk? Well shooting video is a whole lot different than shooting stills, as you are by now aware. With stills you can sneak a look, move over, reposition. With video you have to keep rolling…and rolling smoothly. If you can hold the camera on wide angle, positioned steadily on your shoulder you can backpeddle and keep both eyes off the eyepiece for short bursts…but you have to keep coming back to check your shot. A lot of folks, when they backpeddle, just flat food it. Lift leg, place foot down in flat position. Or they nearly do it properly, with the toes hitting just before the rest of the foot.
Think about it – you can’t see where you’re going…you may have some peripheral vision, take quick looks back. You may even know the route. But walking backwards has its hazards. You could step on an object or a pothole or even some stairs or a ramp.
If you backpeddle properly, you do an exaggerated toe-heel movement. The toe allows you to feel for and make contact with something solid. The downcoming foot peels down and can react to objects and open air (oops). If you don’t do it this way, you can step off a stair and go flat on your back or rumpus-behindus.
How to backpeddle with support: have your reporter or assistant firmly hold your belt or pants at the middle of your waist/back and place their other hand grasping your left (or non-shooting) shoulder. Relax – you have to trust them completely at this point. Start backpeddling (toe-heel, toe-heel) and let them guide you. They should use your shoulder as a steering wheel and your pants to hold you up/support you and pull with. So as you backpeddle, if they want you to go left, they should firmly twist your shoulder to the right and gently pull on your pants to the left. Holding the shoulder also allows them to support your back if you start to go down and holding the pants lets them haul you up if you stumble.
I’ve used both methods…especially great for perp walks or politico walking interviews in hallways.