I love a new learning experience. Over the next week I will not only amass a great new knowledge of Australian dinosaurs, but I am also going to get experience working in television. I’ve had to laugh to this point because my lack of knowledge of the former is only surpassed by my lack of knowledge of the latter. For example when I first went in for my audition we discussed that my quolls were not a problem. I don’t have quolls, am I supposed to? I thought they were nocturnal, aren’t we shooting during the day? Oh qualifications? Quals? Got it. Well I don’t have many qualifications either, but I have even fewer quolls.
I remember when I first arrived at the research school for my summer scholarship all those years ago, I could hardly understand a word anyone said. They spoke in a dialect of English where ‘isotopic fractionation’,’partition coefficient’ and ‘thermodynamic equilibrium’ seemed necessary to form any sentence. i.e “I need to go to the lab after my cup of tea reaches thermodynamic equilibrium, but before isotopic fractionation in the seminar room this afternoon”. But I digress, I am once again entering a magical world where everyone is speaking a language that I don’t quite understand, but because I am a PhD student I am used to it. Perhaps my PhD bestows more quals than I give myself credit for…
And on that note there are a couple of other things that possibly make me overly qualified. We are shooting under quite a tight time frame and so the days, I was told, will be long. When presented with my contract I discovered that ‘long’ meant no more than 10 hours. Isn’t that a normal work day? I was also told not to pay attention if people get a little frazzled at times. An awful lot of money goes into filming with an equivalent amount of pressure to get things right. Reminds me of being at sea. Research voyages can cost up $50,000 a day to run, then there is the equipment that can potentially be lost ( I heard of a $500,000 pump disappearing over the side of a ship not too long ago) and of course the fact that more often than not this is a one shot deal. You can’t go back, either the natural phenomenon you are studying has passed, or your measurements would be completely out of context and therefore useless even if you could. Then of course there is the melting pot of personalities on a ship. Like Big Brother but the contestants are usually fatter and wear more clothing (thank goodness).
The one thing I think I have least experience with is having a director. Imagine that? Someone will actually tell me what to do, where to stand, what to say. And if I don’t do it properly they will tell me why, and we’ll do it again! I don’t need to figure out how the cameras work from first principles, or learn how to operate them, or edit or interpret the results, I don’t even have to write my own script! I have no doubt this will be hard work…but in other ways, it’ll be quite the holiday 🙂