You Just Can't Rent These Moments
By Emily Mraz, Segment Producer
As a segment producer my job is full of logistics. From beginning to end it is an enormous checklist of details that all need to fall into place at the exact time and date that our unforgiving schedule requires. One of these details is transportation. Our mode of transport can be anything from a 15-passenger van, minibus, boat, or helicopter to a horse-drawn cart. You name it we’ve used it and without it we wouldn’t have a show.
Weeks before our Sardinia shoot I hunted for the best rates, the most reputable company, etc when it finally sunk in just how remote this island really was and how limited our choices were becoming.
My research turned up a fleet of small compact cars of every make and model. Each car would house a cameraman and one equipment case if we were lucky. Not nearly the capacity we required. We would have to rent a small fleet of them, a Peugeot Parade wherever we traveled. A long line of 13 compact cars each filled to the brim with cameras, gear, crew, local sidekicks, guides and of course Tony. This was definitely not an option.
Slightly panicked I phoned our extraordinary fixer, Lisa. A fixer is someone we hire in the country we will be shooting to help us with all sorts of details, translation, and guide. Lisa and I brainstormed all sorts of possibilities. We spent hours making phone calls only to discover there was one van left for rent… in Florence. Lisa volunteered to ferry the van from Florence across the ocean to Sardinia. We were still short one van though and there was nothing left anywhere near our destination.
All solutions in the old country are initiated with a phone call to a cousin. Lisa’s cousin Nicola, a local college-aged, longhaired musician capable of eloquent and lengthy diatribes on anti-globalization had an answer. How about a 1970′ish campervan landlocked in the backyard of a neighbor’s wheat field? Hmm. Does the fridge work?
At the airport we found Nicola and the camper curbside. Parting the passenger door pom-pom curtains the camper revealed the burnt orange breakfast nook and bunk beds from your childhood trip to the Grand Canyon.
Against all odds this thing hauled, it’s engine roaring up and down the rugged mountain roads and switchbacks found all over Sardinia. We must have driven the old girl 200-300 miles per day over the course of our weeklong schedule. It quickly became the “happy hour” bus. We all rushed for a spot at the table each night on the ride back to the hotel. For an hour or so we would forget this was work. It felt like a road trip. The fridge stocked with beer, Tony passed out in a bunk, Todd serenading us with Nicola’s guitar, mountains of granite and stunning countryside through our windows. Sometimes it’s good when things don’t go our way. You just can’t rent these moments.