Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Attack of the Brazilian Bugs

There’s nothing like home when you’ve spent most of the year living out of a suitcase. I’m certainly not complaining of course – I love nothing more than arriving in a new city with endless possibilities for adventure, but I’m sure the experience is compounded by the re-discovery or appreciation of your own country when you finally do touch down. I returned from my last trip about 4 weeks ago. So far this year, I’ve been away for 92 days – two trips each spanning almost seven weeks. Apparently back in the Beyond 2000 days, the crew would travel for up to 13 weeks at a time… I can’t begin to fathom being without my bed for such a long time.

If you tune into Beyond Tomorrow (and I hope you do!), you obviously see the finished product… 7-8 stories of approximately 5-8 minutes in length. Like any TV show, it’s the culmination of many hours of brainstorming, meetings, research, filming, post and pre-production etc involving many different people. While I was involved in the research side of things, my main gig is on the road – the filming… and so these are the stories I’d like to share. What madness ensues when you send four people who’ve never really met let alone worked together (presenter, producer, camera, and sound) on a seven-week trip overseas (working 12-16 hours a day, six days a week) with the aim of producing around 14 stories… stories we strive to make and hope to be interesting, informative, and entertaining.

Well… after too many hours in the air and too little sleep, we arrived into Cincinnati – the first of many airports. I think the tally wrapped with a total of 14 flights in seven weeks (one week into my second trip, we’d already ventured into three states). That night we all decided to try out the local brew (and discovered what would be a staple throughout the journey… Ylang Ylang). Fortunately a few drinks helped shrug of the jetlag and send us all to sleep. Unfortunately we all suffered a little for it the next day, which led me to my first super cheesy pasta (the Americans love their cheese alright), which led me to feeling a little more poorly. As you can imagine, we all took it easy that day preparing for a big week of filming.

The following day we filmed the first segment of a two-part story that was to be finished in NY. Who would have thought that the aroma molecules of a dish contribute so significantly to its flavour? That’s exactly what headspace technology achieves – it captures the precise aroma molecules of a particular dish (in this case, Lobster Puttanesca as prepared by US celebrity Chef Todd English – there’s a pic of him in the images section) and uses that information to recreate the flavour in powder form. I’ll elaborate on that one later in the week.

Last week you would have seen a story on a product called Dyn-O-Gel, a powder substance that literally turns water into thick gel – the aim is to use it on hurricanes and ultimately reduce the severity of a storm… amazing stuff. It was actually developed from an incredibly basic but very flexible (in terms of its application) product called Dyn-O-Mat, a leak resistant mat originally used under cars to absorb oil. We filmed that story in two parts – the interviews and actual product were shot in a small town called Jupiter on the East coast of Florida (where I recall having one of the best steaks of the trip!) The opener and closer (basically the set-up and wrap-up) were filmed on famous South Beach in Miami, Florida – we had no problem recruiting extras for that piece. The place is full of transient partygoers plus a staple of flamboyant locals.

Considering it only comprised about 30 seconds of the final story, the opening piece to that story took hours to film! Firstly, there was plenty of noise for our sound recordist to deal with in the form of incessant heckling, planes, and revving motor engines. Then there was me. This was our first shoot on return to the States from Brazil, where we’d been filming for a week in the cocoa fields of Ilheus. It was here that some sort of Brazilian bug relentlessly attacked both the producer and myself, leaving some rather nasty bites that seemed to get worse in the following days. Consequently, on arrival back into the States I was prescribed some pretty intense drugs, which left me feeling quite spaced out! Couple that with an intense sun and you get a dopey presenter struggling to spit out a single piece to camera. Fortunately I managed to make some sense of things just as a massive storm moved in on us – quite appropriate considering the nature of the story. Hurricane season had just commenced and the rate at which the clear blue sky turned to thundering grey was incredible.

We attempted numerous show closers (the goodbye wrap-up at the end of the entire show) in the storm as well as an alternative opener. Ironically, the rushed alternative opener was the piece used in the final cut… so the hours we’d spent filming on the beach that morning were reduced even further to a couple of seconds of overlay. Wet and tired, we eventually called it a day. That night, I decided to give up on the prescription drugs and let the nature of the mystery bug bite take its course. Needless to say I slept very well!


  • At 8:46 pm, Blogger Bretto said…

    Hi Sara

    Thanks for giving some background on what it takes to make the show.

    Keep up the good work.


  • At 3:48 am, Blogger justin said…

    Hi Sarah
    I am both amazed and bewildered after visiting your site and blog.
    Amazed by your sheer quantity and quality. Boy you can write.
    Bewildered by Channel axing the show. That decision would probably be up there with axing Neighbours.
    I don’t think you will by idle for very long, a lot of people have picked up on your genuine sincerity and enthusiasm, so rare on TV.
    You are beautiful of course but I have already told you that.
    Personally I think you should be acting overseas but that’s just my opinion and another discussion

    Cya & Good hunting


  • At 4:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you are stunning


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