Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pat Spain's Journal

Pat Spain
Beast Hunter host, Pat Spain, discusses filming part of the show.

New York, NY

Filming in NYC was so different! It was strange being on camera in front of people…I know that’s a weird statement, but it was distracting and strange. We did a shot I've always wanted to do... the shot everyone has to do in NYC... me standing still, in Times Square, for 5 mins while the world moves around me…so much fun! People didn't know what to make of it. Lots of stares and people talking to me and funny expressions. It was really cool. Also scared the crap out of 4 cabbies when I asked them to drive me 1 block and drop me off near the camera crew. Hahhaha. They were TERRIFIED... but all did it for $5…I should have gotten it in 1 take, but it took me 4…of course.

Ate at Meatball... delicious!

The New York Public Library was gorgeous and massive! The room we were allowed in was like heaven to me…so many old, rare books. They had a Guttenburg Bible! Original notes from Salinger and Darwin, etc. I could spend a week in that room. Holding Charles Fort’s notes in my hand was surreal. I’ve seen his handwriting on various things from my Grandmother, and I recognized it immediately (it’s messy and somewhat similar to mine), but to see his actual notes…wow. He wrote down so many random thoughts that my father began referring to the notes as "Twitter from the 1900s." His research was so thorough, each story he clipped had numerous follow-up articles, and letters he wrote to the authors, if he received a response, etc. Found a lot on sea-serpents, which was very exciting. Seems he did have an interest in them more than his works (other than Lo!) let on.

Boston, MA

Having the crew in Boston was so much fun! I loved getting to show them around my town. Being that they are British, I kept pointing out all of the revolutionary landmarks and teased them about the Freedom trail. It was great to be able to bring them to some of my favorite spots and show them my normal life...hopefully, filming will soon become “normal”.

Filming at the MCZ [Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University] was surreal also. It’s a place I’ve loved since 1998 when I first started going there for research projects, a place that really spoke to me about the history of my field. It’s kind of a hidden jewel in Boston, not many people know the incredible collection housed there. Being there before it opened to the public was a real treat…having access to rooms and areas not open to the public made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to see it all!

The shoot turned into a much longer day than any of us expected, but it was a lot of fun sharing one of my favourite places with the crew. It was also great having Dom, my camera-man from "Nature Calls" and one of my closest friends with us as a photographer. He got some really cool shots!

I was terrified to hold the Savage skull (the actual holotype gorilla skull Savage brought back from Africa to describe the species!). I was more scared to hold that than I am holding a venomous snake. Its historical and scientific significance make it priceless... and I was able to HOLD IT! Crazy. Being a nature show host brings some incredible perks.

Having them at Genzyme was the icing. Being able to show the labs, where I have spent so much of my life, and explain concepts and equipment to a group of people who have seen so much...but never anything like what I was showing them, was really exciting! It’s easy for me to take things like the Sterility Workstation Isolators for granted, because I practically lived in them, but to see the reactions to this group of people unfazed by charging elephants, yet amazed by a CLIMET was really something. Also, it was probably the most fun I have ever had in that building. Sometimes, it’s great to take a step back from Genzyme in order to really appreciate what an amazing place it is and how important the work we do there is to the patients. Explaining what it is we do to new people really helps drive that home for me, it makes me appreciate it all over again.

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