‘No Cameras Allowed’ is an upcoming film that shows the journey of a guy named Marcus Haney who got into Coachella festival with a faked press pass and got exclusive film footage of famous bands.
After that, he got invited by bands like ‘Mumford and Sons’ to join them on tour. The film has gotten quite a bit of hype in the online photo world, but is No Cameras Allowed real or just a faked story to get some money out of kids who believe this is how the music photography business works?
First, watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet:
Which music photographer doesn’t want to shoot directly for bands and go with them on tour? Who doesn’t want to be a rockstar music photographer over night after shooting your first concert? Who doesn’t want to make a living out of concert photography?
Most of us want to live this dream, and No Cameras Allowed makes it seem so easy. You don’t have to be honest or hard working anymore. By faking Coachella festival wristbands, Marcus Haney snuck under security’s radar and filmed footage that he made in the photo pit.
The film trailer also shows that he went on stage to shoot exclusive footage with his press wristband, and that afterwards, bands saw his footage and immediately took him on tour.
I have been a professional music photographer for years now, and have been directly working with artists like Iggy Pop and The Prodigy. I’ve also shot hundreds of bands for international publications like The Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Miley Cyrus, Iron Maiden, Rammstein and Foo Fighters, to name a few.
I am also a tour photographer with the German band Shantel and traveled with them for the past year. My way of “sneaking” into the music business was to be honest to bands/managers, because that’s the professional way to do things. That’s what I believe, and if you’re doing things the wrong way in this business, you’ll be kicked out of it faster than you can click your shutter button.
First off, I want to make it clear that I’m not jealous of Haney, because I’m already in the industry. I just want to share my personal point of view because I think a lot of people who watch “No Cameras Allowed” will believe everything they see, and it could distort the reality of what it means to have a job as a music photographer.
#1: How to Get a Press Pass in the Real World
Press accreditation is basically an agreement with the band’s management that lets you enter the venue with your professional gear and take pictures of the concert. This generally means you need someone like a music magazine to get you access.
The magazine gets in contact with the concert organizer — companies that book bands and check with the management to see if photographers are allowed. Decisions need to be made on whether photographers get press accreditation.
In “No Cameras Allowed,” Marcus Haney faked wrist bands in order to sneak by security guards. That could be possible due to the fact that tens of thousands of wristbands need to be checked.
However, band management generally requires that photographers sign contracts before shooting the bands. They always check your publication, because big stars want big media coverage. How then, does Haney get into the photographers pit with a faked wrist band for faked media coverage?
#2: The Photo Pit
Once you get into the festival venue, you head into the photo pit. This is the dedicated space in front of the stage where concert photographers are able to do their job. In general you’re only allowed to shoot from the photo pit for the first three songs — afterwards you get kicked out of this area.
So, Marcus Haney might had the chance to enter with his video camera and film from there. I am a photographer and not a video guy, but where I live (Austria), even the biggest TV team is just allowed to film a couple of seconds and sometimes even without recording live audio.
This might be different in the US, but definitely there are strict limits for more famous bands (see the contract issue mentioned above). How then, did Haney get awesome film footage?
#3: On Stage Action
The trailer makes it seem as though Haney could enter the stage with his faked wrist band and shoot directly on stage. Here the film is going to be funny. I have shot on stage for bands like Iggy Pop, The Prodigy and Portugal. There is no way you can enter the stage without knowing the tour manager or the band.
A normal wrist band won’t do the trick — you’ll need an AAA (access all area) pass. We are talking about stars like Jay-Z in the film! You think everyone with a faked press pass can just go on stage and shoot there? If you have no direct contact to the band, you will be kicked out immediately.
#4. High Glossy Film Coverage vs. Analog Footage in ‘No Cameras Allowed’
In the trailer, Marcus Haney is using an analog film camera to cover the concerts. However most of the trailer shows high quality film footage shot from above (the shots might be from an aerial POV or crane), on stage action, and musicians smiling into the camera. Maybe he also faked a Coachella technician crane pass? Oh, and why is the film produced by MTV again?
#5. Legal Issues
There are also the legal issues. If he had to sign a contract that says you are only allowed to post your footage in the magazine you are have permission for, then he would get into big trouble. And if he didn’t sign any contract, then it’s not clear to me if he is even allowed to use his film footage to make a film out of it and make money from a commercial product.
How is it possible, that nobody in the bands’ managements canceled the project? Maybe they are also involved and are getting their share of money from this film?
#6. Marketing Gag or Real S**t?
When I first watched the trailer, I was instantly reminded of The Blair Witch Project (that fake horror documentary in which someone purportedly found video takes of students who disappeared in a forest and were killed by a witch). That film also got into theaters and had amazing success because it was a new and interesting approach to get people into the movies.
I had the same feeling about No Cameras Allowed. What if it’s just a great marketing move by the music and film industry to make the rockstar life of musicians more interesting?
#7: It’s a Slap in the Honest Concert Photographer’s Face
It doesn’t really matter if No Cameras Allowed is fake or real. What matters is the fact that Marcus Haney is getting respect from media and musicians for doing things dishonestly and illegally.
Scott Kelby mentioned this in a recent YouTube comment and received some nasty comments in return. What’s the message of this film? Do things that you are not allowed to do and get what you want by doing so? I think it’s a slap in every honest concert photographer’s face!
I know of so many people around the world that are great and honest guys. They live their passion as music photographers and give their best to make a living out of it. And then we get this film that tells you, “just fake a press wristband and all doors will magically open for you.”
I can understand why they would do this film for profit. Sure, the rockstar business seems to be a cool business and it should stay that way. I haven’t watched the movie and I definitely interested in what other secrets about the music business this film tries to reveal.
I guess it’s just another attempt to make the already struggling music industry a bit more the place that everybody dreams of. For me, Marcus Haney is just the puppet who fakes being the music photographer who can live his dream by faking wristbands. If the story is actually true, then congrats to him for being such a marketing genius.
Again, these are all just my personal thoughts on seeing the trailer for the film. I don’t know if this film is real or fake, but it seems like they worked harder to make sure this movie sells than to show the truth about being a real concert photographer.
About the author: Matthias Hombauer is a photographer of rockstars who is currently based in Vienna, Austria. He writes about photography at How to Become a Rockstar Photographer, where this article originally appeared.
Image credits: Trailer and all still frames by MTV/Marcus HaneyTags: concert, film, movie, music, tour, tv