Bye Colin Shea:
From being in production for various years I have grown accustomed to the roles that every member of a film crew plays in making a successful television program. There are camera operators, assistant cameramen, sound recordists, production assistants, field producers, the list goes on, and the bigger a production gets the bigger the crew needs to be to facilitate it. Everyone has their specific roles and responsibilities and generally tend to just stick to those, as this is a business run by hourly contractors and no-nonsense unions. You go to a shoot, you do your job for six hours, there’s an allotted lunchtime, you start again, and then you’re done as soon as your hours call for it. That’s the nature of the business for many in the television industry, but not for the crew of, “The Incredible Dr. Pol.”
Everyday, this crew isn’t on a sound stage in L.A. or a city block in New York; they’re knees-deep in mud and cow manure in the farms of central Michigan. As we are merely guests of Dr. Pol while following him on farm calls, etc., everyone is expected to do their own part. Not only are we there to film a television series but we are also there to not ruin any cases that Dr. Pol may have. Take for example an assistant cameraman. Every camera crew has an “AC” who assists the main camera operator by holding additional light panels, setting up filters, lenses, etc. On an average film set, they are directed by the camera operator, but in our case, they also go by the direction of Dr. Pol. Back in March, we had a pig castration case where Dr. Pol really needed to concentrate so he directed the cameras away from him. Naturally, the camera assistant with the light panel followed suit and turned off his light and began to walk away. Next thing he knows, Dr. Pol is immediately yelling, “What’re you doing? I need to see! Get that light back on!” and in an instant an assistant cameraman became a veterinarian assistant in the middle of an operation. Talk about an abrupt career switch.
For any crewmember that ever had a dream about being in the medical field but never pursued it, it’s a great way to get involved. It’s like playing the board game LIFE and suddenly throwing on another career hat and switching up everything you’ve done job wise just for a moment. Whether it is a production assistant running to grab medical supplies for Dr. Pol from his Jeep, calling up clients to get details on their sick horse, or a field producer quickly slamming a gate on a bull gone berserk, it’s much more than a regular television gig. Lunches are eaten in bumpy cars chasing Dr. Pol down a road or in an Amish farm surrounded by cattle, and proper shoe attire becomes muck boots or high waters. You suddenly know how to check for an LDA in a cow and what it means to prescribe two Probias and 10cc of Banamine. Life is another day on the farm, and on the farm everyone’s got to do some heavy lifting to earn his or her keep.