|Behind the Scenes in Venezuela - Filming in the Jungle
Sean Cable, director of photography for Word Travels, is intent on capturing the beauty of Venezuela’s Orinoco Delta — despite bloody-thirsty mosquitos, cement-like mud and a wasp sting to the eye.
It’s not easy filming a television show in the jungle. We’ve discovered that the humidity, lack of electricity, the mosquitoes and remoteness of the location make production life in Venezuela’s Orinoco Delta difficult.
The mission of our Word Travels TV team is to paddle along the Orinoco River (which flows into the Orinoco Delta, but most certainly not into the Okavango Delta, as I managed to assert in last week’s column; a number of readers were curious as to how I could be in both Venezuela and Botswana at once.)
We’re to film the rich wildlife and the Warao, an indigenous people who live along its banks. A crash course in jungle survival tops the list of the day’s activities. Chris, our knowledgeable guide, paddles the kayak ashore, hops out of the boat and leads the crew into the wild.
Sean, the director of photography, hoists the $65,000 HD camera on his shoulder. Zach, attached by cables, cords and a sound mixer, follows closely behind him like a dog on a leash. Pina, a local Warao guide, carries the tripod, while Mary directs us all.
Swinging his machete like a cricket bat, Chris bushwhacks through thick vines. He pauses to point out medicinal plants and edible roots used by the local people. With cameras rolling Chris stoops to hold a poisonous scorpion with his bare hands. Fearless, with a Paul Hogan smile and a six inch switchblade in his trousers, he credits the Warao for teaching him the tricks of survival and innovation.
Crew member Zach finds that adventure travel with pricey equipment in tow is more of a challenge than anticipated.
Hot, humid and buggy, the trek isn’t easy. Though we coat ourselves with DEET, nothing seems to deter the blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Then comes the rain. Protecting the camera gear from water damage is priority number one, so we run for shelter under the umbrella-like cover of a Moriche palm.
In our haste to gain cover, we disrupt a wasp’s nest. Angry insects rush to defend their territory. Sean, the intrepid cameraman, is stung in the eye. We’re worried. A blind D.O.P isn’t good for business. The eye starts to swell but Sean shrugs off the attack, hoists the massive camera back onto his shoulder and motions for the team to continue.
The terrain turns from thicket to thigh-deep puddles. As the crew slosh through the jungle, our boots get stuck in the cement-like mud.
Weighed down with a boom pole and extra batteries, Zach stumbles on a root. To save both his pride and his expensive sound equipment, he grabs hold of the nearest tree. Little does he know that it’s covered in sharp black spikes. They rip through his skin and jet out of his palm like a set of acupuncture needles. The rest of the team follows his lead. Mary falls, I fall and Chris gets bitten by some sort of deadly ant. It’s a real challenge but I’m loving every minute. Exhilarated, I can’t help but laugh. What lengths us media masochists will go to for a good story.
*Julia's story was first published in Metro http://www.metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=5692
For more of Julia Dimon's writing visit thetraveljunkie.ca
< back to the episode
< back to the list of articles