By Katie Gray, Production Coordinator
Ah, the Brazil show: Completely new and interesting flavors, harrowing plane rides into the stormy jungle, fishing for giant, prehistoric-looking fish… and to think, it almost didn’t happen at all.
Well, sort of.
As the Production Coordinator for No Reservations, I assist – or, “coordinate stuff” for – the crews from pre- through post-production from our offices in Manhattan. Some of it is stuff that is unique to specific shoots, e.g. acquiring Tony’s fishing and ‘coon huntin’ licenses for the Ozarks, or wiring extra cash and sending hourly hurricane updates to the crew in Haiti. However, there are some other things that are pretty routine, like setting up carnets and getting visas.
One thing that is of constant, utmost importance is the status and location of Tony’s passport. I don’t hesitate to say that I might spend nearly as much time with it as he does. This item is key when it is mandatory to acquire things like visas, as they sometimes take weeks to be finalized –a period during which the passport must be left at the appropriate consulate. This can get extra fun (ie, complicated, dicey, eye-twitchingly stressful) when we’re in the middle of a certain 7th season and we’re shooting tons of shows right in a row (all of which require visas!) with as little as three days of down time between shoots. Sometimes certain countries require special shooting permits that can take; weeks or even months to get before you can even THINK about getting a visa. Sometimes Tony travels abroad on trips outside of the show that require his passport. And sometimes all of these things happen at the same time. And shit gets dire. At 2am. During a blizzard. When I have the flu.
This is my first season as a Coordinator on No Reservations, having been bumped up from PA from last season, and all visas and pre-pro materials thus far seemed to effortlessly materialize out of thin air and flutter into my lap. That is, until Brazil. Oh, Brazil. It’s such a long and ridiculous story that you probably wouldn’t believe all of the twists and turns and only-funny-in-retrospect bad luck that came to pass. So, I’ll just keep it short and fast forward to the part where it’s well past midnight on a blizzard-y evening in January, I have a 101 degree fever and am still glued to my office desk trying to sweet talk the internet into not failing me any longer. The following morning would be the last possible day to submit visa applications in order to have everything ready by the time Tony had to leave for his vacation in the Cayman Islands (the Brazil shoot was to head out very shortly after his return.) After months of stressing about my meticulous timing plan, the stakes were high — tons of hard work and money had gone into the show already, and this was the last possible night to make it all happen. So, naturally, throughout the course of the night, the Brazilian Consulate’s website went down (high traffic? maintenance? DON’T KNOW, but you HAVE to submit all applications online), the color printer broke when I tried to print the application photos, all of the 24-hour Kinkos and whatnot types of stores closed down because there was a fucking BLIZZARD happening outside, and then, around 1am, I just happened to peer into Tony’s passport and realize that he had ZERO visa pages left. Ruh roh. It was around this time when I believe the night editors stopped teasing me about still being at work so late, and started actually being afraid of me as I stress-ate M&Ms and face-planted into a pile of post-its on my desk at devastating speeds. I’d been working since a 7am trip to the consulate that morning, and the angry, murderous flu virus taking over my body wasn’t helping. After weeks of damage control, was this really it? Was Brazil dunzo? Was I going to have to greet the bosses in the morning and tell them that all the money spent on this show is basically festering in the proverbial shitter because of VISAS?
Nah. But oh, the horrible, unspeakable things we did to make it happen… just kidding. I think. It’s a bit of a blur. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you that Nicola, our Unit Manager and I, concocted a plan that involved my getting a total of seven hours of sleep in a span of 72 hours, and putting our brand new PA, Greg, on a plane to the Cayman Islands to take care of some passport stuff — a trip that literally involved about three hours in the airport before flying right back to New York. I don’t think he even got to go outside. Livin’ the dream! Sorry, Greg. But, hey! The shoot was nothin’ but smooth sailin’ after that, what with Tony’s back injury, mysterious crew illnesses and delirium, treacherous weather conditions and approximately ten billion hours of flight delays on the way back to the States. Part of me would like to be bitter, but the show just came out so damn well that it’s not really possible. In all honesty, I have a blast doing what I do to help get this show into your TV box, and I think you’ll all agree when you watch tonight’s episode that all of the stress, hard work and future therapy was (and will be) totally worth it (as will finally getting Tony a second valid passport.) Enjoy!