I blinked and it was over — 13 weeks spent filming on the road, through 12 countries, across six continents. Now that I’m home, traveling around the-world filming Word Travels feels like a surreal experience. I almost have to pinch myself and ask, “Did that whirlwind tour really happen?”
During the journey, I plummeted 233m off the Macau Tower, kayaked through Venezuela’s Orinoco Delta, camel trekked in Wadi Rum, soaked in Colombian mud volcanoes, boxed in Thailand, had my fortune told in Hong Kong, met the Mursi tribes of southern Ethiopia and sucked on a severed human toe in the Yukon.
Travelling with a crew turned out to be very different from backpacking solo. It was “we” instead of “me.” With one week in each country, time was pretty tight. Lots of filming, lots of running around, lots of work. This TV business is harder than it looks.
To the viewer at home, the crew and production team will be invisible, but the drama behind the scenes was often just as interesting as the events in front of the camera.
In Hong Kong, Chris (the production assistant) had to distract angry security guards, while the crew filmed clandestinely. In Colombia, Zach (the sound guy) had to use an old broom pole as a makeshift boom. In the Yukon, Mary (the director) was nearly run over by a team of sled-dogs and Sean (the director of photography) was always risking his life, hanging his body out of a speeding vehicle or dangling his camera over something dangerous.
For that perfect shot, I tested my own luck. I stood, statue-like, in the middle of hectic Addis Ababa traffic (it’s truly a miracle that I didn’t get run over by an overworked donkey). I survived swimming in piranha-infested waters, and slept overnight in a haunted Latvian prison. But I wasn’t so lucky during one interview, where I was accidentally kicked in the stomach by Chinese parkour enthusiasts. I learned that getting that perfect shot can sometimes hurt.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Apparently, it also takes a village to make a TV show: broadcasters, producers, editors, sound mixers, finance people, legal staff, publicists, the list is long. They’re the puppet masters pulling the strings behind the scenes. Hope you’ll tune in to watch our work!