‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’: Go Behind the Scenes on the Hit Nat Geo Wild Reality Show
Find out what’s involved in the making of the hit Nat Geo Wild show.
Here’s what goes into the filming and producing of ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’
Filming a reality show with a host of animals to contend with is no easy task. Animals, of course, are an unpredictable lot, and so the camera crew involved in filming episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol need to be on their toes and ready for anything, from getting kicked by a cow, bull, or horse, to getting sprayed accidentally with pus from an open wound.
“It takes us roughly one week to film one episode of the show,” Charles explained. “So a 20-episode season will take us 20 weeks to shoot. We film almost everything that happens, which includes two to six farm calls each day and ten to twelve clinic cases. Dad starts at 8 a.m. sharp, and we usually film until 8 p.m. We pool all the footage together and the best ones make the cut.”
The crew members it takes to produce the show
Dr. Pol has said in the past how easily, when the reality show first began filming in 2011, the camera crew could get under foot. But after a while, he and the rest of the staff eventually got used to them. It’s understandable that it could get a little crowded in a barn with hot lights and camera, as Charles described.
“Besides the people on camera,” he said, “there are over 22 crew members working on the show, and an additional 15 people in post-production. The crew keeps returning year after year, and we’ve become a really big family. We couldn’t make this show without them—it’s a labor of love.”
How the vet’s Amish clients have reacted to the cameras
In the area of Michigan that Dr. Pol and his staff serve is an Amish community that counts on his services. The 77-year-old vet explained in his 2014 memoir, Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow, that many of his Amish clients, known for choosing to live without mirrors and cameras, don’t mind the entourage he brings along on calls. With some provisions, of course.
“When we started filming the TV show,” Dr. Pol wrote, “we wondered how the Amish would react to the cameras. It turned out they didn’t object the slightest bit to the crew filming on their farms, but for the most part they didn’t want their faces to be shown.”
Dr. Pol explained that the crew accommodated the clinic’s Amish clients with a specific form that satisfied their requests and the show’s needs.
“The crew had to come up with a special type of release that allowed the Amish farmers’ backs and hands to be shown,” the vet explained. “As long as we’ve respected that, they’ve not only been willing to participate; they’ve been fascinated by it.”
“In fact, a couple of them have actually seen the show. They went to a neighbor’s house and watched it. One of them, I remember, was very pleased, pointing at me and scolding in a friendly manner, “You’re going to make me a movie star, aren’t you?”