Entertainment & Arts

Tim Hetherington 'admirable' says fellow film-maker

Image caption Janus Metz (r) says Hetherington (l) was an "intelligent guy with huge integrity"

Tim Hetherington, the British photographer killed while covering the conflict in Libya, was the co-director of Restrepo, an Oscar-nominated film about US soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

Danish director Janus Metz, whose own film Armadillo followed Danish soldiers fighting in southern Afghanistan, shares his memories of Hetherington and experiences of film-making in a war zone.

My first reaction on hearing of Tim's death was one of shock.

I met Tim last spring and we had a long talk about our respective films. I took a big liking to him and we were supposed to meet up when I was back in New York.

I was shocked to hear the news, but I was also thinking "Wow, it could have been me". When you're trying to report from a war zone you put yourself in situations where your life is in risk.

Tim made it his career to become a war reporter. I think he saw it as a mission to bring home stories and images from these places for everyone to relate to.

Image caption Armadillo followed a group of Danish soldiers serving in Afghanistan in 2009

In terms of putting myself in danger, I've only done Armadillo and I have certainly had enough from doing that. I don't have a need to go back.

I had a strong feeling coming back from Afghanistan that we were lucky to pull it off and I didn't feel like testing my luck again.

But there was obviously a pull towards the excitement and the intensity of doing it before we went. The feeling of being alive and doing something important at the same time is quite strong when you're working in war zones.

I think my family and girlfriend know me enough that it doesn't really make sense to try and stop me. When I put my head towards something I do it.

I've travelled to lots of dangerous places and it makes them really nervous every single time.

I think the toll it takes on the people back home is very big. You don't always realise what it does to the people who care for you; in that sense it can be slightly egoistic.

My experience personally was I had to clear my back to be able to leave. If something were to happen to me, then at least I would have said what I wanted to say to the people I care for.

The thing about war is that violence is always very sudden. You might be feeling safe but suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a fire-fight or there's bombs going off or someone steps on a mine.

My general experience was that things can happen very suddenly and that creates a constant sort of tension. In the longer run it's really nerve-grinding.

You can be unfortunate and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or you can be fortunate and be right next to someone who's in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There's no guarantee of safety in a war zone; either you're lucky enough to pull it off or you're unlucky.

There are different ways of doing it, but if you're someone like Tim who goes to the front line and observes the action as it plays out you are just as easily hit as any of the soldiers.

Image caption Hetherington (r) co-directed Restrepo with writer Sebastian Junger (l)

This is a risk that the job entails and the people who choose to go into these situations know that is the risk.

Tim was an admirable guy in a lot of ways and his work was certainly admirable. But I don't think his death will stop editors or journalists or film-makers from going into war zones.

It's brutal, and it's a tragedy he's dead. But he wasn't the first to go that way and he probably won't be the last.

The person I met came across as an extremely warm-hearted, sympathetic, intelligent guy with huge integrity in his work.

I saw him as a potential friend I was never able to catch up with again after our first meeting.

Janus Metz was speaking to BBC entertainment reporter Neil Smith.

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