I was very lucky and fortunate to spend time on the set with the MythBusters as they filmed part of an episode. Fellow fan club member's Brute Force and bioslug were there, along with Brute Force's family. The producers of MythBusters, Beyond International, were very cool to let us have this experience.
This entry is part part one of my writeup -- more will come when the episode actually airs, as spoilers wouldn't be nice. If I'm a bit oblique and dull about what I actually saw, it's because I'm waiting to talk about it all at a later date -- I'll try to make up for it with a ton of spoiler-free photos.
First off, a big thank you goes out to BlackWidowNor of the MythBusters Fan Club and Penny Jope and John Hunt of Beyond International/MythBusters for making the visit possible. Thanks also to the cast and crew of MythBusters -- to say that we were treated well is an understatement. I expected to be roped off into a little viewing area. Instead, we were allowed to go pretty much anywhere that wouldn't interfere with the filming. I got to chat with everyone on the cast, I got to explore the inside of the M5 truck and look inside Buster's repair box, I got to go up on the roof, etc... I also had fun meeting fellow MythBusters fan club members -- Brute Force was there to inform me that a tripod he had given to Jamie was on the previous night's "Bullets Fired Up" episode and bioslug and I played around with the "Plausible" sign (not a spoiler -- this happened to be the only sign in the van as the rest were back at the shop).
The main impression I walked away with is MythBusting is hard. They work long days, they do all their own work, and they have to rearrange their schedule on the fly. It's easy to see why they often looked exhausted at the end of an episode. Everyone, cast and crew, is there to unload the truck and are there to clean everything back up. Sometimes the cleanup is quick, other times, like in the Compact Compact myth, it can take two days. There are no magical helper monkeys that swoop in when they turn off the cameras, unless you count those of us from the fan club that were there for just that day. I was tired and all I did was take photos and help unload a couple of things off the truck. Grant, Tory, and Kari spent all day trying to drill through rebar-filled concrete tough enough to be a bomb shelter.
I got to interact with the cast and crew much more than I expected. They would come over to us from time to time to chat with us when they were free and they showed no hesitation answering all my annoying questions like, "what is your prediction for this myth," "what does that camera do," and "so, what is going to happen in the __ myth?" The last type of question was the only they wouldn't answer, but they would give some fun anecdotes to whet our appetite. Another big thanks goes to John Hunt, whom you may have seen as the the official nose for the Flatulence Myth or the poison oak guinea pig for Vodka Myths III. Even though he was very busy, he talked to us for quite awhile as the cast was a bit late filming stuff over at M5. He told us about fun tidbits like the high-speed-camera clip that was cut of Adam lighting a fart on fire with the 1812 Overture playing in the background.
Of the cast, I probably talked to Adam and Kari the most. Adam was a non-stop treasure trove of stories and innuendo, while Kari was often retorting Adam's cruder jokes with statements like, "There's not a lot of women at ILM, is there?" and "Poop and sex, it's always poop and sex." Adam came over to play with my camera and talked with me about Canon equipment -- he spotted my 70-200 f/4 L lens and m's 16-35 f/2.8L that I was borrowing . He told me about some cool Canon software he has that lets you plug your SLR into your computer and take photos at regular intervals and he also shared advice about getting equipment for cheap on Craigslist. Kari also shared some advice with me: "you gotta just keep showing up and they'll think you're a crew member... it worked for me." Jamie, Grant, and Tory were also friendly and down-to-earth.
I'll end with a final note on beloved Buster. Poor Buster is tortured. His hands, which were one of the few original parts remaining, were blown off recently and have been replaced by Tory's hand molds from Finger in a Barrel. Big chunks of Buster's thighs are missing and are charred black. Buster's face is actually a mask made out of his original head. The mask hangs eerily on the wall inside the M5 truck and has Frankenstein-like staples holding it together. Underneath his chest piece is a wooden heart that Kari made and his hands are surprisingly soft -- Kari put baby powder on them and apparently when they get warm they feel shockingly human. I'll leave the metaphysical question of, "What is Buster?" to the philosophy experts, but if I heard correctly then I believe his only remaining original parts are the face mask and his ankles. For Buster's sake lets hope there aren't any exploding shoe myths on the horizon.
Random tidbit: there were construction workers driving around the site all day spraying water to keep dust down for a nearby construction site. One of those workers turned out to be the same guy who poured the cement for the Jimmy Hoffa pigs.
* More photos