Simon Reay

posted: 04/11/12
Cameraman for Man vs Wild
Read more Read less Cameraman for Man vs Wild
Cameraman for Man vs Wild

I started working in television in 1992, as a stringer shooting news for various London and Southeast broadcasters. As a stringer I could be deployed instantly to shoot breaking stories — mainly car crashes and building fires during the early hours of the morning. I was 18 years old, and I loved it!

I think every cameraman would agree that this career takes you to some amazing places, but it's not just the travel that's special — it's the people you end up working with and meeting. I'm incredibly proud of the team we've developed over the two seasons of Man vs. Wild. Bear has become a close friend, which is the only way a show like this can work when you're stuck at the bottom of a crevasse or crammed in a snow cave.

Many people think the risky part of shooting the show is the seemingly death-defying moves we do together, but most often it's the weather or environment that can be the most dangerous. In Australia, for instance, we had 104-degree heat with 100 percent humidity, which means your body can't cool down. The air was saturated; the sweat had nowhere to go, but we kept shooting. That's when it gets really hard.

I love doing the physical challenges of Man vs. Wild — running down scree slopes, abseiling, floating down rapids, ice climbing — I love it all. During the shoot in Panama, Bear was to jump into the sea from a hovering helicopter at 50 feet, and of course in true Man vs. Wild fashion, the camera had to follow him down. As we got into position Bear said to me, "As soon as I drop you can't wait. You have to go!" He was right — this one was on his terms, not mine. Sometimes you need control taken away to get the best from yourself. One of Bear's greatest skills is spotting when someone's mind is stopping them from doing something. He knows the physical ability is there — a little encouragement is all that it needed.

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