Underwater Wildlife Filmakers, continued...


      We are a travel nightmare. Ticket agents see us coming and run. We descend on the airport carrying 30 Igloo coolers of diving and camera equipment. "How many of you will be traveling today?" they ask. "Four," we answer politely. Right about now is when the agent gets that sort of "deer in the headlights" look.
      Our producer Michele then begins the ticketing and baggage negotiations. I have always felt the two sides should immediately sit down to some sort of roundtable to begin the "talks." By the time it is all over, usually half the airline staff has gathered around for a group decision. The goal at this point is to get the equipment on the plane without opening up any coolers. Each piece of equipment is wrapped, packed and stowed within an inch of its life to preserve precious cooler space. Usually, in less than two hours we are headed for our flight.
      We try to sit just in front of the wing to make sure our gear makes the plane. On our last trip, I watched a baggage handler place a large case of delicate diving equipment on the ramp. Instead of laying it down flat on the ramp, he sent it up the ramp standing up. He might have been running his own little experiment, testing to see if gravity had taken the day off. His little theory failed as the case reached the top of the ramp and plummeted 10 feet to the tarmac, where it actually bounced. Bouncing is bad.
      I looked over at Howard, who had just nodded off from the latest Clancy novel. Should I disturb the peaceful giant to let him know the one piece of equipment he really needs to get an upcoming, expensive shoot off the ground has been rearranged into scrap metal? Nah. History tells us that many times the messenger is killed just on principal. It is too late now anyway, the ball is rolling. We'll fix it when we get there. Upon arrival, equipment is off loaded and reloaded into several modes of transport. Taxicabs, buses, flat beds, small single-propeller airplanes, skiffs, etc. This usually is accompanied by loud yelling, pushing, and much arm waving. Our real job, the job no one tells you about, involves picking up heavy boxes of equipment from point A and putting them down at point B. Point B is usually a boat.


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