Not everyone on Media Parents is a parent. (The only restriction on the site is that people must have three or more years TV experience). Media Parents lists all kinds of jobs, so often the freelancers who aren’t parents fill jobs which otherwise wouldn’t be filled by the parents on the site. Here Shooting PD Jim Shreim and AP/Producer Ginita Jiminez share photos and experiences from their latest overseas gig through Media Parents. World’s Scariest Drivers TXes TONIGHT on Channel 5 at 8pm.
We took 14 flights in 12 days for the World’s Scariest series, writes Ginita Jimenez. We landed in New York and worked our way westwards through North Carolina, across 5 States and 3 time zones, touching on a Texas-Mexico border town, the Arizona Desert, the Rocky Mountains, the Tornado wrecked town of Joplin and San Diego’s beach metropolis, ending up in the Hollywood Hills, before returning back to the UK. This was one of two US shoots for World’s Scariest Series 2, now showing on Channel 5.
I’m an experienced bi-lingual Spanish-speaking Assistant Producer, writes Ginita Jimenez. For the last five years I’ve worked on a wide range of fast turnaround factual programming in hostile environments in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. I’ve interviewed a myriad of extraordinary people the most notable being, Mauritanian Nomads, Bangladeshi and Soweto School Children, Welsh Male Choristers who made the fastest selling classical album of all time and a Spanish ex drug dependant who completely turned his life around. Most recently for Discovery, I interviewed engineers at the Alma Observatory in the Atacama Desert, whose mission is to move millions of pounds worth of antenna receptors at a height of 16,000ft above sea level under the duress of oxygen starvation and in wind chills of -25°. Their office is the second highest in the world, the first being somewhere in China.
Interviewing contributors is one of the most enjoyable parts of my role and I continue to marvel at the walks of life I’ve crossed thanks to working in the media. So I was delighted when my first job through Media Parents was working on Mentorn’s World’s Scariest Series. A production company I thoroughly admire and a themed series built on the mighty perspective of raw amateur video and emotional witness testimony.
I was assigned to work on World’s Scariest Drivers, the concluding episode in a series of four, starting with World’s Scariest Flights followed by Scariest Weather and Scariest Animal Encounters. PD Jim Shreim returned to work on Drivers as he’d already PD’d on Greatest Dare Devils (and had done an American shoot too) so he was familiar with the editorial parameters set by Series 1.
In addition to producing our Drivers programme Jim and I were assigned to pick up the lion share of Scariest’s US interviews. Due to the extreme nature of these stories, we’re talking dust storms, landslides, tornados and extreme animal and driving incidents, those involved lived in relatively remote areas making the flight path quite a challenge. Additionally, the schedule was fluid in parts at the point of our departure, which is not unusual for a production of this scale.
Two factors made this prospect a little less daunting. Bar our 2 brilliant floating researchers, one PD and AP worked in partnership on their programme throughout the research and contributor finding stages but when it actually came to the shooting phase, due to the multiplicity of several happening at once or PD’s needing to start their edits etc, we were prepped to pick up shoots for each other’s programmes. This meant keeping to the show’s editorial and visual shooting style whilst upping the bar already set by Series 1.
This was no more relevant than to Jim and I, who were essentially picking up a quarter of the series in the US. So the first factor was that communication channels between teams and between the PD and AP regarding story, contributors, scripts and logistics, had to be fluent and precise. And it was. Credit to our SP, Amy Walker for configuring such a resilient and dedicated team (thanks to Media Parents and Mentorn Media’s talent) and for setting the pace.
Secondly, our kit was compact. We always carried the XF305 on board with us and the rest of the kit piled safely (one light, stands, boom, tripod, batteries), just about made 1 trolley, leaving a pair of hands to deal with our personal luggage.
This sounds terribly mundane but small disciplines like this matter when you’re dealing with the physical and mental demands of foreign shoots as intense as this, and when days, nights and flights blend into each other.
We flew and filmed and flew and filmed, so much so that we had airport security searches and pocket emptying speeds off to a fine art like a scene out of Up in the Air.
We had a great Production Co-ordinator, Marco Calabrese, and Production Manager, Tina Lohmann, who worked around the clock (due to the time differences) to ensure our movement timings were as kind as logistically possible, allowing us to get to the location quickly and get the best possible emotional delivery from our contributors.
On one particular early morning, we set off on a two-flight journey from Phoenix’s desert terrain to the sleepy snow covered town of Granby, Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. We had three interviews to shoot for Drivers that day followed by a two-hour drive which would get us into Louisville for a shark attack interview the following day. Granby however, was host to the extraordinary story of Marvin Heemeyer, who in 2004 took a bulldozer he’d spent 9 months customising on a 2hour rampage through this picturesque Rocky Mountain town.
All three of our contributors, a now Chief of Police, a Senior Investigator and the ex editor of Granby’s newspaper were senior figures at the forefront of Heemeyer’s rampage in 2004. They were nothing but flexible with our schedule, fully cooperative and willing to open up about their experiences on camera.
Three factors made this shoot a stand out experience for me. The first, Jim and I have the same work ethic, love of people and adhere religiously to the principle of teamwork. Secondly, the people we interviewed told remarkable, jaw dropping stories. Tales of heroism and human kindness, witness accounts of the worst and best side of human behaviour and encounters with animals and weather phenomena most of us couldn’t conjure up in our worst nightmare.
Thirdly, I witnessed a very different side of America. Several times Jim and I would marvel at how people perceived our English accents based on their own perceptions of England and the English. Oh that English charm, it opened doors for us!
Talking of which, thank you Media Parents for opening your door to my work with Mentorn Media and for a truly memorable experience, if not for the record amount of flights taken in 12 days, for crossing my path with exceptional contributors and a brilliant series.