Packing for Kerala
By Chris Collins, Executive Producer
The truth is, I don’t get to go out on shoots as much as I used too (and I swear I really used to). I’m sure the newer folks at ZPZ just view Lydia and me as the two office wonks bolted to our desks who are constantly stressed out – which isn’t too far from the truth… But at one point, early in our career as freelancers, Lydia and I were out in the field producing and shooting all the time. Then Zero Point Zero, “the company” happened and we were forced into different roles… So when the INDIA shoot presented itself I grabbed at it thinking: “Hey, never been there, want to go there, should be fun, and what a great excuse to relax on a very long flight, spend a week in a well-appointed hotel room reading and watching movies undisturbed – except of course when room service shows up with my pasta Bolognese…” Well, at least that was the fantasy…
The fact is: when you get off the 20-hour flight you grab a few hours of unsettled sleep, and start making TV (the Bolognese has to wait). I had one problem straight out of the gate. I packed poorly for this shoot. Now you should know that Diane Schutz (segment producer) and I have worked together for almost 10 years and we have a relationship much like contentious siblings. She’s heard all my fart jokes and I’m all too familiar with her many food quirks (no doubt she is rolling her eyes right now snickering at what an a-hole I can be). Yet, the fact is, Diane is the consummate traveler and when she tells you what you should pack for a particular destination you should listen.
That said, I don’t need her telling me what to wear. It makes me (as Tony would say) want to get stabby. But I should have listened when she repeatedly told me that it was going to be very hot and humid in India and to pack appropriately. I didn’t. And so I spent the next week wearing the one pair, the only pair, of pants I did pack – blue jeans (which I think shrunk on the flight over too) and suffered a grueling week of sweating my way around Kerala.
The crew, Tony and the locals repeatedly asked me: “Aren’t you hot in those long pants?” (insert Diane snicker here); Well of course I was hot and uncomfortable. It was like a flip’in curry blast furnace that time of year in Kerala. But admitting my error might have given Diane a little too much pleasure and in my book you’ve got to stiff-upper-lip these things and shrug it off as normal (despite the heat rashy swamp rot that was devouring my nether region. Think New Orleans after Katrina’s waters receded and you’ll get a sense of what was fomenting in my jeans.)
Seriously, aside from Diane, you cannot let on about these things while in the field because once he grabs on, Tony will actually work your personal idiocy into the show (as you will see in The Making of India episode). Despite my sartorial issues the shoot week went off very nicely. We met a lot of lovely people, ate a lot of very tasty food and shot a lot of good scenes. I think we came back with a strong portrait of Kerala as well as a funny and honest Making of No Reservations episode.
While we all accomplished what we get paid to do out there, it’s the small things about being on the road with a handful of people that makes No Reservations one of the greatest adventures and pleasures of my life: from trying to arrive in the hotel lobby before Tony (which has only happened once in 10 years… you’ll hear that story too in the Making of episode), to endlessly messing with Diane’s hair while she primps for a photo, to telling Todd and Zach that they only have 15 minutes to shoot b-roll and wrap it up when in fact they can take as much time as they need (or at least 45 minutes…).
It’s these seemingly un-noteworthy, childish, and inane moments that resonate with me and that – one way or another – leach into the tone and feeling of the final product: No Reservations.
And one last thing, while Kerala didn’t have the best Bolognese I’ve ever sampled in my travels, it wasn’t the worst either – which is fine – cause that spicy, starchy sludge our Indian fixers took us to eat on the last night in town was really worth traveling for. I can only imagine how much greater it would have tasted if I’d been wearing shorts.