• Wed, Aug 3 2011

Career Envy: Shark Week Producer

It’s Shark Week! The programming block on the Discovery Channel is one of my favorite things to watch every year. Although I’m definitely a city girl, there’s something about the unbridled power of a shark in its natural environment that I find compelling. So I totally dorked out when I had the chance to meet and interview Jeff Kurr, one of Shark Week’s biggest names. Kurr has been producing Shark Week documentaries and specials for Discovery for the past two decades, and it’s because of him and his show “Air Jaws” that I know what sharks look like when they breach (jump out of the water and belly flop back in). When Kurr showed up for our lunch sporting a necklace made of a shark tooth that famous shark hunter Frank Lundis (aka the guy Quint in Jaws is based on) gave him, I was in love. With his job, of course.

Pros:

  1. Travel: I’ve always wanted a job that would allow me more opportunities for travel, and Kurr gets paid vacations all over the world. When I met him, he was just back from a three week stint in South Africa, where he was filming next year’s edition of “Air Jaws.” Sharks have pretty good taste, since they also hang out in places like Malibu and Mexico. If you’re going to spend the better part of your year following an animal around, it might as well be an animal that hangs out near some fun hotspots.
  2. Adrenaline: I cannot think of anything scarier than chilling in a shark cage, inches away from one of the most deadly predators on earth. But in a situation like this one it’s in the Discovery Channel’s best interests to make sure you don’t get killed, so there are plenty of experts around who are around to make sure you get awesome shark footage and keep all your limbs in the process.
  3. Being part of something cool: Remember when Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock said to “live every week like it’s shark week”? Shark Week is a bona fide cultural institution at this point, and I’d have a ton of cool points for being associated with it. Imagine how many people would try to get you to adopt them for Take Your Kids to Work Day.

Cons:

  1. Seasickness: I can barely take a ferry without feeling a little queasy, so weeks at a time out at sea might result in a pukefest. I figure that if I drink enough I won’t be able to tell the difference between seasick-puking and hangover-puking, so at least I’ll be in a hell of my own making.
  2. Gender imbalance: There are way more dudes in the production world than there are chicks. The only thing worse than puking nonstop for two weeks would be puking nonstop for two weeks while surrounded by a bunch of guys who do not feel sorry for you.
  3. Actually getting eaten by a shark: This probably doesn’t happen that often and according to half of Shark Week’s programs, sharks are unfairly villianized as man-eating predators but they do have some big teeth and they like the taste of blood, which we have a lot of, so you know. Shit happens.
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  • Stephanie

    I’m terrified to out past the waves in the ocean in fear that I’ll drown in the crest of the white foam. I’d have to take a klonopin everyday before work if I was a Shark Week producer! More power to ya!

  • Vic

    I was just thinking last night as I tuned in to “Summer of the Shark” that I was going to switch my program to marine biology.