A Self-Evident Truth
By Jared Andrukanis, Segment Producer
I have been to DC before, but never like this.
In the past, I have spent countless hours wandering the National Mall, hitting up the Smithsonian Institute\’s cadre of museums, taking in precious moments at the Reflecting Pool (why do Forest and Jenny always come to mind?) sandwiched between the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, gazing at the sheer sobering geometrics of Arlington National Cemetery, and so much more to list.
My previous trips seemed to happen in the fall or winter, and adding to the visual effect of all those bright white tomes to our country\’s past was a brisk or downright frigid breeze. This has cemented that whole \”George Washington crossing the frozen Delaware River\” image burned into my brain during all those valuable middle school history classes.
**In reference to the above comment (and in defense of the prowess of my middle school teachers) I know that George\’s crossing of the Delaware occurred during the Revolutionary War, which was before DC was even founded, but still that painting sums up the whole place for me for some reason. Maybe it\’s just me. **
To the point – When I was there with Tony and the crew shooting the show, it wasn\’t winter. As a matter of fact, it was so far from winter that for moments I wondered if winter had retired from the team. I forgot what snow was or how it was made (plummeting cloud pieces from the stratosphere?). It was hard to comprehend how humanity survived in such a hellish place. Getting hit by a blast of air conditioning could cause shock to set in. I would enter buildings and immediately look for a place Tony and the crew could lie down and elevate their legs above their heads – just in case.
I understand now why they never painted George in the summertime. He wore shorts and a tank top. That would have looked ridiculous in the history books …especially with that hat.
Not to overstate the obvious (too late) – It was hot.
Like melting the matte box off a camera hot.
Like there is no way that anyone could survive in this heat hot.
Like if given the option to try to catch a large water balloon full of half-melted ice cubes in your mouth or to delicately sip a bottle of Evian you would choose the former hot.
And I have to carry this backpack with me everywhere.
You see – we are a small crew, and a hell of a team. We work well in tight spaces, kitchens, on boats, hanging from car windows …in pretty much all situations imaginable. The smallish nature of our crew leads to all of us taking on more tasks to keep our numbers low. The camera guys do all of their own lighting, grip work, and sound. The producer of the episode carries gear and helps shoot as well as making sure all the pieces of the puzzle come together properly.
And I have my backpack – full of the essentials for a shooting day on No Reservations. Here is a quick list of the first ten items a police officer randomly reaching in during a search would find in it.
1 – 9 volt batteries
2 – fake blood
3 – rubber mallet (don\’t ask)
4 – an impressive smattering of pills for all kinds of ailments (all legal, of course)
5 – Quik Clot (look it up online)
6 – a Blackberry that looks like someone threw it into a washing machine full of rocks
7 – back up tape stock
8 – bottles of water (day shooting)
9 – bottles of beer (night shooting)
10 – Trapper Keeper notebook (Transformers edition)
There is more in there, and the contents vary, but it all adds up to about 40 pounds of necessities for the crew strapped to my back. When combined with the oppressive heat of DC, my backpack felt as if I was carrying a space heater with me during our shoot days. I actually would color coordinate my clothing based on the shirts matching the pants after they were soaked through.
A major part of my job is making the first contact with our guests on the show. I walk up, shake hands, and introduce them to Tony and the rest of the crew. I felt self conscious about walking up to them looking as if I just ran a marathon, but the locals didn\’t even seem to notice …it was like they just understood that summer in DC is hot – and there is nothing you can do about it.
Two showers a day worked for me as a start.