I started my first Associate Producer job for National Geographic on Monday October 26, 2009. By 5am Wednesday October 28th I was lugging several cases of gear out the front door of our Washington D.C. headquarters through a downpour to a waiting van. Within two hours I was airborne, on my way with our Producer Kelly and Riley to Salt Lake City, UT where we would meet the rest of our production crew and catch a connecting flight to Cody WY.
While I had been working at National Geographic Television for the better part of two years, I had not been on the production side of things. For years it had been my dream of dreams to acquire a job that would take me into the field as a member of a National Geographic film crew. It’s a funny thing when you realize that by some strange sort of cosmic intervention you’re being allowed to live your dream. And while traveling to Cody, WY in the early stages of winter may not seem like the perfect “first shoot” to some people, I was excited beyond belief.
Arriving in Cody was very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. Like I mentioned, this was my first week on the job and I had a bunch of worries running through my mind. First, did all the gear make it through all the flights? Would our rental cars be ready and waiting? Was the hotel truly easy to find? Etc Etc Etc. Well all of these worries quickly fell into place.
The next morning we had an early rise of 6am, and made our way through the morning darkness on the hour or so ride from Cody to the Sleeping Giant Ski Lift. As the sun rose, I was blown away by the natural beauty that surrounded me. Mountains and prairie all around, and wildlife roaming free. Before that moment, I hadn’t seen wildlife anywhere but a zoo. I kept apologizing to the rest of the crew for seeming to be lame, but when you’re driving along a scenic two-lane highway and have to slam on the brakes for wild buffalo wandering across the road it’s pretty darn cool. I know all of them have been on some incredible adventures over the years, but this was my first.
Once we arrived at Sleeping Giant that first morning I was raring to go. I loaded myself up with so much gear that one would have thought I was a pack-mule. Within thirty minutes I was in the back of a pickup truck being driven a quarter of the way up the mountain. We hopped out of the truck and started up the steep incline to hike up to the top of the chair lift. Roughly 10 minutes into our hike I came to the sad conclusion that I am not a fit man. The altitude, steep grade of the mountain, poor footing caused by snow on the ground, and being loaded up with gear all contributed to me losing my breath and just flat out being tired. I persevered, and my reward was a gorgeous view from the top of the mountain. It was at this moment I said to myself, “Self….we’ve finally made it”. The next week flew by, and since I have enjoyed every second of my new job. I look forward to the coming adventures that I will have the absolute pleasure of helping to document and share with the world. It truly is awesome when you are offered an opportunity to live your dreams. I am so humbled and excited to continue to share them with you all.
World’s Toughest Fixes‘ “Rocky Mountain Rigging” premieres Thursday May 6 at 9P et/pt.
Sean Riley will be live blogging during the show here on the Inside NGC blog. You can submit questions now at the World’s Toughest Fixes forum >>