Late last month I made my first foray into television presenting, being the lucky person Bearcage Productions chose to front their upcoming documentary. I made comment in a previous post that it couldn’t require the same kind of hours as a PhD, oh how wrong can one girl be! In fact, the hours were very similar. We had a very tight schedule due to a competing project that meant we would lose the precious crew whether we finished on time or not. Sounds very much like waiting for instrument time doesn’t it?!
We were very fortunate with the weather, in that it only rained once, and that was at night. So ‘lucky’ were we that there wasn’t a cloud during the day which meant temperatures soared to 40C most days (104F for you northerners) . The greatest concern therefore became the colour of my skin. If I burnt on the first few days of filming we’d be hooped, or considering that shooting doesn’t occur in sequence we would have the presenter go from red, to pale, to brown. Continuity people, it’s all about continuity. Either slowly burn or don’t burn at al!!
And so with this in mind, the second my lines had finished someone ran at me with an umbrella to provide shade, or I was sent to the shade, or when it got really hot I was expected to retreat to the air-conditioned vehicle. I’ll admit, I felt like a bit of an idiot. And so the running joke became “if you need me I’ll be in my trailer”, or in this case the 4WD…and I wasn’t returning until some brought me 200 tins of tomatoes (thank you for that suggestions Mike, it went down a treat). But in all seriousness the crew were just superb. They were all terribly supportive considering I’d never done anything like this before. It turns out I’m quite good at remembering words. However, saying the remembered words while walking and then sitting without looking where I was to sit turns out to be more difficult than you might think, and I almost disappeared off the back of my perch a number of times. Which also would have been a faux pas as the presenter is not supposed to break her back…it delays shooting.
And so for a week the scientist in training was the presenter in training. And boy did I learn a lot. Would I do it again? I firmly believe that science communication is crucially important to improve scientific literacy. General scientific knowledge helps the public separate science from political agenda for example. But it also helps people realise what an awesome place this Earth is, and that they should try a little harder to look after it. So the answer to that last question is yes, yes I most certainly would…as long as get those tomatoes :)