Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What About the Camera Crew?

I like watching shows about surviving out in the wilds. In shows like Survivor Man and Man vs Wild the starts pit themselves against nature. They are dropped off someplace and have to endure hardship, bad weather, hunger, and thirst. Along the way they explain why they are eating grubs or the best way to build a primitive shelter. Recently I watched a couple episodes of Out of the Wild: Venezuela. In this show nine people are dropped off in the wilds of Venezuela. Their goal is to make it to civilization. There is no prize at the end except to have conquered nature. Each person has a GPS tracker that they can push at anytime to be extracted and flown back to comfort and three square meals a day. Together these strangers learn how to read a map in order to find a stash of supplies and then their camps. They have to find their way down steep cliff sides, build stick shelters against the rain, contend with poisonous snakes, contend with infection and hypothermia.
 By the last episode four people chose to give up the quest of battling the wilds. The last five have built a raft and are slowly floating their way towards civilization. They feel some relief to be able to float along. They haven't eaten in two days and are weak with hunger, but optimistic. Their morale comes crashing down as they discover a large waterfall keeping them from floating. They have to carry their raft nearly a mile in order to be able to float on the river again. One of the men starts stumbling around and nearly passes out. The last woman of the team gathers her strength and scouts out a place to carry the raft. She motivates the men and they stumble their way there. They spend the night and the next day go back for the other part of their raft. One of the men stays behind to catch turtles. Eventually they get back on the river. They eventually find a couple fishing. Trying to communicate with them in Spanish, the couple eventually understands what they want. All five scramble into their boat and are dropped off and pointed towards the road. They hitch a ride into town and their friends and families are waiting for them. Everyone is crying and hugging, overjoyed to be reunited and to be out of the wilderness. All of them talk about how they thought they were going to conquer some of the harshest wilderness in the world, but instead found that it was themselves they had to conquer in order to survive.
This show was touching, exciting, frightening, joyful, and entertaining. However, a niggling thought refused to be vanquished. You have these people surviving some incredibly difficult situations and their stories are captured for us to watch in the comfort of our own homes on video. I can't help asking, what about the camera crew? The entire adventure is well documented with beautiful photography, so well done that you forget that someone had to be there to video it. Much of the camera work could have been done by helicopter, but there are lots of close up shots of conversations and the solo conversations with the camera about the adventurers thoughts about their situation. Do the camera crews carry tents and lots of yummy food, while the players are starving? Do the camera people suffer as much as everybody else? The inevitable presence of the camera crew throws a shadow over the brave exploits the adventurers. Maybe they don't enjoy the comforts of any of the camera crew, but what if the crew takes pity on them and shares chocolate bars or a tasty dehydrated meal? As much as I enjoy watching people trying to survive in the wilderness and I like to imagine how I would do a much better job then them. I still can't help thinking, what about the camera crew?


  1. I hadn't thought about that. But it is a good question.

  2. And it's one they never address. I think one of the shows you mentioned, they guy himself is the photographer, right?

    1. I don't know the answer to that. It's possible.