‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’: The Weird Way the Vet Bonded With the Camera Crew
Once it was official in 2011 that Nat Geo Wild had welcomed The Incredible Dr. Pol as one of its new reality shows, Dr. Jan Pol and his staff started getting to know the network’s camera crew. Soon, they became as much a part of the clinic as the other staff. And that’s perhaps thanks to the unique way Dr. Pol invited the crew to feel like one of the gang. Find out Dr. Pol’s method, and hear what a camera operator has to say.
It initially was cramped with the cameras in Pol Veterinary Services
When Nat Geo Wild began filming at Pol Veterinary Services in 2011, it took a while for everyone to get used to the presence of the camera crew and equipment.
The doctor told Today’s Veterinary Practice in 2012 more about how filming impacts his practice.
“We are very busy in the practice and having all the filmmakers around slows me down some but after a while a routine develops,” he said. “It is amazing how small a portion of each day is used in the show, so ‘reality’ is still heavily edited and made entertaining. Without the film crew there, the day is smoother because we are not held up by interviews with the clients but otherwise it is business as usual.”
The camera crew’s view of things
One of the show’s former producers, Colin Shea, revealed in a blog post on Dr. Pol’s website that the day-to-day production of the reality show was no walk in the park. It was more of a walk in cow manure. Producers and crew were on hand to help out Dr. Pol and his staff during filming. And Shea made it clear that keeping up with the 77-year-old veterinarian was no easy task.
“This [show’s] crew isn’t on a sound stage in L.A. or a city block in New York; they’re knee-deep in mud and cow manure in the farms of central Michigan,” he wrote. “… Not only are we there to film a television series but we are also there to not ruin any cases that Dr. Pol may have.”
“The Incredible Dr. Pol is much more than a regular television gig,” Shea continued. “Lunches are eaten in bumpy cars chasing Dr. Pol down a road or in an Amish farm surrounded by cattle. … Life is another day on the farm, and on the farm, everyone’s got to do some heavy lifting to earn his or her keep.”
How the crew bonded with Dr. Pol
In his book, the Netherlands-born vet described how he — perhaps to test how much the crew had grown accustomed to seeing him insert his entire arm up a cow’s rear end to check for pregnancy — asked them to take a cow for a spin so to speak.
“The real test of the crew’s commitment was doing a pregnancy check,” he wrote. “… For people who haven’t done it, the thought of putting an arm all the way inside a cow — especially a cow filled with manure — is probably a lot more difficult that the reality of it.”
“So one day after I’d done some pregnancy checks, I asked the crew if they wanted to try it,” Dr. Pol continued. “Not everybody wanted to do it, but several people did. Some of the people had excuses — one of our producers told me, ‘I don’t want to hurt the cow!’ ‘Oh,’ I said to him, ‘don’t worry about it. You won’t. She won’t even know you’re visiting!'”
Dr. Pol concluded by saying though the situation might not be the best way for people to bond, it worked for himself and the crew.