Some other shows I've work on have included: American Chopper, Worst Case Scenario with Bear Grylls, Man/Women/Wild. I am an avid backpacker/hiker. I'm still learning this reddit thing...

Comments: 1031 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

Part_Time_Cynic501 karma

Was "Dirty Jobs camera operator" ever pitched as the subject for an episode of Dirty Jobs?

It should have been. Every time I saw Mike climbing down the ladder into some wretched shithole, there was always a shot of him from below, meaning you guys got in there first.

Thanks for all the entertainment!

dirtyshutter408 karma

We've done a couple behind the scenes episodes showing what the crew goes through. That probably comes the closest.

LimehouseChappy269 karma

I have a crush on Mike Rowe. Can you set us up on a date?

dirtyshutter705 karma

I said cameraman...not pimp... =)

[deleted]212 karma

Were you around in the episode of Dirty Jobs where the monkeys started attacking everyone? Any good story on that?

dirtyshutter571 karma

I wasn't but know that Chris, the guy who was actually bite by the monkey, was 36 hours away from having to amputate his leg. Crazy.

HaterzGon_Hate181 karma

Any situations during filming that you really regretted your decision to not call in to work that day sick?

dirtyshutter434 karma

Honestly, no. Who wants to sit around at home?

Fly_Caster168 karma

Before I dropped my satellite service, Dirty Jobs was one of my favorite shows, but I noticed there was a stretch when then jobs weren't so "Dirty". Have there been times you show up to and it really doesn't seem that interesting? And if so, does Mike just make the best of it?

dirtyshutter296 karma

Everywhere we show up I find interesting. The job it's self may not be the most interesting, but the people we work with always are. It's nice to see how different people live in different parts of the country/world...

rottenartist155 karma

Did you ever feel that any of your work (or any footage at all from a shoot) was edited for the final show in a way that was misrepresentative of the actual events?

dirtyshutter230 karma

Yeah, that happens a lot but more with the reality type shows... not the documentary types.

jaybird13134 karma

What's the most incredible thing you've seen that didn't make it onto television?

Also! Has there ever been something really great that happened while shooting that you didn't manage to catch on film, but wish you did?

dirtyshutter227 karma

We were recently in Darwin, Australia shooting a story catching crocodiles way up a river late at night. Once we finished the shoot, we had a 45min boat ride back to the cars. During the trip up the river, a full moon rose over the horizon in a perfect place dead center of the water, right in front of our boat. It was incredible. We all sat silent in the boat admiring. Maybe that's just the hiker in me talking...

Every single day on the set of Dirty Jobs something really great happens that isn't caught on tape... There are no second takes on that show and a lot of stuff happening. We catch as much as we possibly can...

tomdarch69 karma

Some prosumer cameras now have an "always running" DVR-like mode where you can hit a button and "save" the previous X seconds as a pre-recording that's stuck onto the start of what you are recording. The stuff you shoot seems like a perfect application for the broadcast-grade version of that system - do you have that currently or do you know if that sort of camera is on the horizon (er, so to speak)?

dirtyshutter145 karma

Our 900s have that feature, up to 5 seconds of pre record. It's saves the day sometimes.

michfreak59 karma

That's really awesome to know that there are no second takes. I mean, for some reason I trusted Dirty Jobs to function that way, but it's awesome to be reassured. Thanks for your service! Always wanted to express that the people watching feel for you.

dirtyshutter58 karma

Thanks you for watching!

SensitiveGangster133 karma

Most nasty thing you've seen/smelled on dirty jobs? What is Mike Rowe like? How did you do the things bear grylls did while holding a camera? What is Bear Grylls like?

dirtyshutter252 karma

Rotting pig carcasses. We shot a story in Northern Indiana on bug entomology that involved several pigs in different levels of decay. The worst had been kept in a trash bin for several weeks. It was a liquid mush. I will never forget the smell.

Mike is as nice and down to earth in real life as he seems on TV. He does everything the right way...which I respect.

Worst Case wasn't too demanding of a show as say, Man v Wild. I also didn't operate on that show, so I had the luxury of sitting back and watch Bear do his thing.

Bear is a firecracker of energy. Very nice guy, always down for some laughs.

fiveleven124 karma

Is Mike Rowe as funny off camera as he is on the show?

dirtyshutter279 karma


Squanky115 karma

If given the opportunity, would you film for the Deadliest Catch? Why/Why not?

dirtyshutter221 karma

Yes. The difficulty of the shoot intrigues me.

DarbyW111 karma

Dirty Jobs seems to have seriously run out of ideas (if its even still on anymore) True or False?

dirtyshutter209 karma

True. It's difficult when you've done over 300 jobs to find new jobs that aren't like the pervious ones you've done before. There will be some new international episodes soon.

bradfish123102 karma

International dirty jobs? Where they don't have the same labor or environmental laws the USA does? Could be epic and/or dangerous...

dirtyshutter149 karma

There will be some international specials from Australia. The land down under!

Neltron106 karma

Awesome AMA! I have a couple.

  1. Some of the outtakes of Dirty Jobs shows Mike giving you guys a pretty hard time or insisting that some of the guys participate in whatever crazy thing he's doing. What's the most awful Dirty Jobs segment you were involved in?

  2. On the shows like Worst Case Scenario and Man/Woman/Wild, how much "real" stuff are we actually seeing? Does Bear actually hack up trees to make a ladder or a raft, or are materials brought in for him to work with? Also, do they really just find holes in rocks and spend the night there with a hand-held camera?


dirtyshutter228 karma

  1. Any job that we are filming in Florida. That humidity is terrible!

  2. In both shows, the cast really do it. There are some shortcuts taken for production purposes, but that is to speed up the process and be more efficient. Hypothetical example, the Hawkes need 30 trees to be cut down to build a hut for the night. They themselves cut down ten while we film the process and get enough footage to get the point across to the viewer. Once that's done, cameras go down and everyone helps out to cut down the remaining trees until we hit the 30.

Hey_John103 karma

In Man/Woman/Wild, what was the kind of "safety net" you guys had to fall back on if something went wrong? Besides you and the two hosts of the show, who else was there?

dirtyshutter212 karma

We had a medic out there with us. He was legit. I never felt unsafe.

UhOhPoopedIt95 karma

Were you shooting for that episode where Mike had to go into the sewage treatment plant and they had to keep leaving because of toxic gas buildup? It was the one where a camera guy got left at the bottom of a shaft and they hoisted a shit-covered pump and shit/condoms/horribleness rained down on the camera guy.

That whole segment was nightmare fuel.

E: to actually ask a question: who decides which camera guy gets put in the really shitty situation? Do you draw straws?

dirtyshutter134 karma

I wasn't on the sewage on...that was a little before my time.

Doug, the DP, decides who goes where as far as the cameras are concerned. He is more than happy to dive into the bad situations first... most of the time even before Mike.

Bangkle93 karma

Who would win in a fight, Mike Rowe or Bear Grylls? (Assuming they are fighting each other.)

dirtyshutter212 karma

Bear Grylls. That guy is a machine. (and has a few years on Mike...)

Broadband-91 karma

Who would you prefer be your wingman if you were stranded in the wilderness? Bear Grylls, Mykel Hawke or Les Stroud?

dirtyshutter196 karma

Bear Grylls. Nothing against the other guys, but we would have a good time out there. That's what a wingman is for right?

[deleted]81 karma


dirtyshutter156 karma

that's a trick question

stacieg200264 karma

Dirty Jobs question...How much work does Mike actually do? I've heard that on some shows, like Extreme Home Makeover, the hosts only do enough "work" to get the film and then other people take over. Does he really do all the work that the show seems to imply?

dirtyshutter106 karma

Without a doubt. Everything you seen done, he does.

Adn8864 karma

Were you the one the tire fell on?

dirtyshutter131 karma

That was Troy...and Barsky probably pushed it on him.

cccqcx59 karma

How much does a camera person generally earn?

dirtyshutter102 karma

It all depends... most operators are freelance, so the rates are negotiated on a per project bases. I would say a going "reality" television rate is around $500 a day, give or take.

Mugiwara0440 karma

That sounds like a lot, but how much do you actually work? Is there a lot of downtime between shows?

chapsandmutton98 karma

That's generally going rate for most television / film workers.

Keep in mind that a day ranges pretty widely - usually no less than 10 hours a day, sometimes as much as 14.

Can be as much as a month between gigs but a successful freelancer usually only has a few days a month down.

dirtyshutter67 karma

Great response

LukeCreator55 karma

Do you like single-camera or multi-camera live shoots more?

dirtyshutter95 karma

I like a combination of the two. Two to three cameras. It takes some of the stress off one person trying to get all the coverage and it's fun working with other people. Everyone sees the world through a different filter (pun intended) which makes it fun to be creative as a team.

joebum1454 karma

How did you get in to start filming with Discovery?

dirtyshutter69 karma

By luck really. Started working in the office at a production company who produces a lot of shows for Discovery. Got to know the people working on those shows and it went from there.

purplehayes28 karma

Do you have any formal training for operating the camera or were you just a guy that was willing to get dirty?

dirtyshutter51 karma

I had some training through my college studies. Besides that, it was just picking up a camera myself and gaining as much experiences as I could.

Morpheus53854 karma

How often do you guys give Mike shit for his stint on QVC?

dirtyshutter166 karma

We give him a harder time for his Levi jeans add... "they say my butt looks good."

mynameismonkey51 karma

Beer, cheese, or monkeys?

dirtyshutter153 karma

Monkeys drinking beer and making cheese.

Mugiwara0442 karma

How heavy are cameras? Have they changed a lot over your time being a camera operator (I guess that will depend on how long you've done it).

Is it bad for your back or shoulders, or hard on them, at least?

How many kinds of cameras can you operate? I don't know very much about it, but I do know there are somewhat specialized things like steadi-cams, do you use different ones? Do you have a favourite?

dirtyshutter56 karma

I haven't been operating for that long, but they have changed a good amount over that time. With the cameras I use, weight can range from about 45lbs down to a pound or two... really depends on the camera and what accessories are on it.

It has to be bad for the body. There are days I get home and have to put a heating pad on my back.

There are a good amount of cameras I operate. Generally speaking, most cameras are very similar with their functions and settings. Once you know one, you can tinker around and figure out the others.

A steadicam is a tool used in conjunction with a camera. I don't operate steadicam very well. It's a specialize skill that takes years to master.

As for favorite, I would probably say to Panasonic HDX 900. It's easy to use, looks good (quality of video it shoots), and is a work horse. Throw a tape in that thing, hit record, and have at it!

thehighplainsdrifter18 karma

Do you mostly still use tape on the full shoulder mount cams? or do you also do solid state p2 or xdcam disc etc. as well?

dirtyshutter28 karma

For me, mostly tape. I do shoot digitally as well.

smackthisaccountdown41 karma

I'm currently a Film and TV student, minoring in Sound Design. Does anyone in LA give a shit about my degree?

dirtyshutter71 karma

Odds are not really. It doesn't mean it's for nothing, just know that your degree doesn't guarantee you a job. You still need to be willing to bust your hump, doing the things other people don't want to do, in order to get to the things you do want to do.

Sir_Fappenstein40 karma

I have heard a rumor that Mike is a bit of a party guy, does he go out and drink it up with the people after the show is recorded and such. Also how long are you guys at the site of the dirty job? Is it a week long thing or do you get it done in a day?

dirtyshutter81 karma

Mike does have a beer or two with the people after the show, but I wouldn't describe him as a "party guy."

Typically, we are on site for just one day. We show up, introduce ourselves, set up cameras, and follow the job from start to finish. When the job is done, we are done. For larger more complex or logistically challenging jobs, we stay a bit longer.

ssacre40 karma

You guys seem like a fun bunch, and super down to earth. Do you ever do any charitable organization themed shows? What's your stance on giving back to the community?

dirtyshutter146 karma

Mike does a ton through his MikeRoweWorks foundation. I, and others in the crew, have been fortunate to be a part of it through some of his projects. Giving back is important. I would like to do more.

Not to get all Woody Harrelson on ya, but here's a link to his foundation -- if you are so inclined. It explains it better than I can.

SexRobotSexRobot24 karma

For Dirty Jobs, do you know what the process was to verify the suggested job? Also, were there any sites where you guys were not welcome?

Thanks for the AMA!

dirtyshutter42 karma

There are people back in the production office that contact the potential jobs and figure out if they are do able or not.

Not that I am aware of.

n4lunaluz23 karma

Were you there (Dirty Jobs) when that guy got his hair stuck in his climbing apparatus whilst dangling from the building? I think you guys were in Hawaii? That was some scary shit. One of the cameramen wouldn't even do it. I got nervous just watching you guys from the safety of my living room.

dirtyshutter42 karma

I was there... I was filming him wondering why he wasn't rappelling down to the ground. Didn't realize his hair was caught until he broadcasted it over walkie. Crazy.

n4lunaluz19 karma

I don't really understand the business of being a cameraman... what sort of insurance do you guys have? How does that even work? What happens if you get hurt on the show?

dirtyshutter21 karma

Most production companies carry workers comp for crew members that are injured on the job.

carBoard23 karma

have you ever appeared on screen as part of the final edit for anything (ocattionaly camera people make it into frame on reality tv shows)

Favorite project/experience with your job

dirtyshutter38 karma

More times than I would like, yes.

Dirty Jobs has probably been my favorite so far. Lots of travel, great crew, numerous experiences I wouldn't been able to do without working on the show.

jadamczyk2221 karma

Never seen "worst case scenario" but is it anything like man vs wild? If so, do they require you to essentially do the same stuff as Bear Grylls does except only he gets the credit for it? I mean...if you do, I think you're way more awesome doing it with a 50lb weight on your shoulder and a bunch of extra batteries and whatnot.

dirtyshutter38 karma

It's similar to Man vs Wild, but not in as extreme situations.

Yes, the camera men do the same thing but with a camera on their shoulder. Doug, the director of photography on Worst Case (and also on Dirty Jobs) was right next to Bear, holding a camera, as Bear performed the rescues.

Maverick1199 karma

Is that show still on air? I've looked for it and came up with nothing but the first two episodes.

dirtyshutter15 karma

Negative. It aired for one season and finished.

ATownStomp20 karma

After watching a good number of episodes of Dirty Jobs it seems like there would be some pretty awkward silences and situations. Like, the workers weren't comfortable on camera and didn't quite know what to say or do.

Was there an episode that you shot which was particularly awkward for everyone involved?

dirtyshutter49 karma

There are times when Barsky stumbles or falls off of something and breaks it that get a bit uncomfortable.

Pistoffpolock18 karma

What is your most most memorable moment while filming these shows? Any one thing that will stick with you forever?

dirtyshutter38 karma

I can't decided on just one moment. What's pretty darn cool is seeing people who wouldn't otherwise be noticed, get the respect they deserve. They type of people who, as the show says, "make civilized life possible for the rest of us." Being a small part of that noteriity...I think that will stick with me forever.

[deleted]17 karma

Have you ever met Adam or Jaime (From Mythbusters) and if so what are they like?

dirtyshutter52 karma

I have met them...very briefly. Jaimie is quiet. Adam not so much. They both seem like nice guys.

BrainWav17 karma

Did you film the candy maker episode of Dirty Jobs? That shop is in my hometown, used to go to that candy shop a lot as a kid (before downtown stopped being relevant).

I feel like there was another episode filmed near here, but I can't recall which one. Maybe the bologna maker one, this area's famous for bologna.

dirtyshutter32 karma

I wasn't at the candy maker but I was at the bologna. It is some pretty darn good bologna!

Ssejors15 karma

What was the MOST FUN episode of Dirty Jobs that you filmed?

I think Dirty jobs was one of my favourite shows on TV before i ditched cable. I miss Dirty jobs so bad... PB here I come!

What was the most AWFUL and disgusting job that YOU personally witnessed on the show ?

I'm sure this has been asked

Edit : I accidentally a word

dirtyshutter26 karma

Most fun is a hard one. They are all fun! I am going to say the window washing and dirt shirt stories in Hawaii. Not really for the shoots, but the day in-between when we road jet skis in the ocean and the mornings when we woke up a surfed together before work. It's fun seeing your co-workers catching (or trying to catch a wave) before getting serious at work.

Rove14 karma

What was working on American Chopper like?

dirtyshutter39 karma

I only worked on that for the crew behind the scenes special, so I just got a glimpse. It was interesting to see what the two crews have to go through in order to film a show with Jr and Sr fighting. I really liked Mikey.

higgledespits14 karma

How hard is it to operate a camera accurately under nutty circumstances? How did you get into this business? Nice one!

dirtyshutter24 karma

It can be very difficult and frustrating at times.

DesigningANewReddit14 karma

Cinematographer here, and I wanted to say that I am always impressed with the camera work on these shows, despite what kind of situation you guys are in. What cameras are you using to shoot some of this stuff, and what rigs do you use to support the camera and yourself in some of those crazy situations?

dirtyshutter21 karma

We shoot with HDX 900's, Sony Z7U's, Go Pros, Contours, Nikon for time-lapse, and flip cams. As for support, nothing really. Cameras on shoulders, in waterproof housings, or trash bags (to block dust). We are a pretty fit crew with Doug and Troy, our two lead cam ops, leading the way.

cjknjkn14 karma

If you weren't a camera operator -- but were forced to take another career -- what would your dream job be?

dirtyshutter39 karma

Great question! I would probably do some type of guide work. Backpacking, rafting, climbing... something outdoors.

Being a drummer in a band would be fun too...

snolen12 karma

Do you have any tips for an aspiring camera-lady/ camera assisting-lady on a physically demanding set?

dirtyshutter25 karma

I like to work with people who work very hard, but also have a good time while they are working. How does that sound?

Wlpdx12 karma

You've got to have one of the COOLEST gigs! Do you ever stress when filming Dirty Jobs? Like, when you find out that you'll need to follow Mike into a septic tank, or film him doing something incredibly nasty?

dirtyshutter25 karma

It is a lot of fun. Keep watching it so I stay employed! ;)

There are times of stress, but not with having to get dirty somewhere. It's more of a get what we need to get, in the time we have to get it, without disturbing what the job is we are doing.

FilterOne7 karma

What type of camerawork did you do prior to dirty jobs? Local TV? How did you get hooked up with discovery channel and that gig? Seems like a tough one for photogs to get.

dirtyshutter17 karma

I bought a camera in college (dvx 100B) and shot anything anyone would let me shoot... weddings, concerts, parties, silly shorts with friends, sporting events, etc. That way I would learn a bit through doing and at least be able to keep a subject in frame.

From there, I worked my way up the chain and lucked out with DJ. Production assistant, camera assistant, camera operator. At one point when I was a PA, I went into Barsky's office, knowing that he was a producer on DJ, and flat out told him I wanted to work on the show. He was kind enough to listen and to tell me to keep working hard, people would notice, and good things will happen. That's exactly what happened.

MisterMonopoli7 karma

Who would win in a fight; You or Dave Barsky?

dirtyshutter17 karma

Me. ;) Reference the end credits of the blue berry picking story.

slayzakattack7 karma

I was an assistant editor on dirty jobs for a couple years. I know your face.

dirtyshutter7 karma

I will take this time and space to thank you... I know it was probably tough to organize that footage as we can be all over the place with several different formats. Thank you!

The_Music7 karma

What does one have to do to get in your line of work? Such as camera work with big-time networks or studios.

dirtyshutter15 karma

Want to do it and don't stop until you are doing it Everyone seems to have a different story about how they got to where they are at. There is no defined route. A lot of it is luck.

davidrab6 karma

how did you land such a cool job?

dirtyshutter31 karma

Hard work but mostly luck? I'm still trying to figure that one out...

CmndrSalamander5 karma

What was the least dirty job you ever got called for? Did you think the people were bitchy for comparing themselves to the other stuff you guys do?

dirtyshutter11 karma

I've worked on a couple of those "million dollar this, million dollar that" squeaky clean shows ands it's defiantly different.