Cameras at the mine

In front of the cameras

I would have to say this was maybe the hardest, craziest and possibly the most embarrassing thing I have ever done. I was actually in a television show for one episode. The show is Heavy Metal Task Force. I guess you could say I had a starring role.


A few years back, this television show decided to do a episode at the mine I was working in at the time. I happened to be the safety representative for my crew that they were filming.  It was the luck of the draw I guess that they used my crew. Actually it was because we happened to be on day shift at the time. Quite a few of my coworkers and friends were in the film.

My job as the safety guy was to follow this film crew around and make sure they were safe because they were filming in a working mine. I didn’t think this would be a very difficult job. Boy was I in for a surprise!

First off I would like to say that you film crew camera men and women are a very unique crowd. I think your nuts but you do get the hard shots of film that make it look so real! The camera man that was on this crew really kept me on my toes. I thought at any given moment, I was going to have to call for mine rescue to pull a body out of a 200 foot drop. This guy was relentless, positioning himself in places that would make a bird nervous and here I was responsible for his safety. I can honestly say, I walked around with my underwear sucked up my dark side because of all the times I had to catch my breath.

Opin pit mine
   Open pit mine

In comes the producer, whom was very good about getting my attention so the cameraman could do his job. I have always been a talkative person but this guy wore me out. Questions, stories, suggestions, whatever it took to keep my attention. I have to say, he was very good at it!

The only one that I would consider halfway sane was the sound guy. Yet he did a great job of keeping my attention too.

All three of these gentlemen were very nice to me but they wore me out trying to keep up. We would get out of the Ford Expedition on one of the higher levels of the mine and they would all take off in different directions at once. Of course they were doing their individual jobs but how am I supposed to keep an eye out in three different directions? And talk about fast, these guys were like gazelles.  They would have any two year old worn out inside of ten minutes.

This film crew would get done with their jobs in one place, pile back in the Expedition and off we would go to our next destination. Even though I was driving and still answering a billion questions, this was the time I would have a chance to slow my heart rate down again before the next stop.

I was asked by the producer to find people,  I thought would do well on film and take them to these people for ride alongs in heavy equipment and for interviews from others about their jobs. (To all the miners that were in that film, let me apologize now, most of you were handpicked by me). I can confess this now because I’m retired and am fairly safe from any retribution.

We had alot of footage but the problem was it wasn’t raining and the producer said they needed rain for the story. When I asked why, he said that he heard from a couple of the haul truck drivers that’s when it gets crazy. I told him he was correct because I was a haul truck driver myself. We had good cloud coverage but no rain. Then I had an idea that almost got me into alot of trouble

I told the producer that I could have a water truck driver over wet a section of road and they could get shots of the mud and back sprayers of the water truck for rain. We also could go up to one of the dumps that were being leached with all the sprayers going. All this sounded good to him and we did this. Then the request came from him to see a haul truck sliding. Me and my bright ideas, here we go.

Black and white picture of a 400 ton mine haulage truck
400 ton mine haulage truck

I got ahold of a good haul truck driver I knew and asked him to do a small fishtail slide on the section of road we just had soaked down. This driver wanted to do a good job for me and boy did he! It wasn’t a small slide, it was a Huge slide and he almost lost it! I could see management’s eyes now while I try to explain it was my idea and the wreak of a three million dollar truck was my fault. On top of that, other drivers seen we were filming the slide and decided to help out by sliding their trucks too! After about three trucks had done this, it had messed up the road to the point no trucks could come down that hill without sliding, wanting to or not. Three, six,nine million dollars, how many millions am I going to be responsible for?!! Everybody made it safely and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The cameraman wanted to get a close-up of a haul truck driving by. So I had a haul truck pass slowly past us as I’m begging him not to get too close.

So far so good. Other than the hundred heart attacks I have had so far, nobody had gotten hurt or wreaked any equipment.

All this stuff had happened in a few days time. As I remember,  it was the longest three days of my life.

We were driving up on the dump and I was as helpful as I could be giving them ideas along with goofing off. As we were driving across one of the dumps, I was goofing off and made a comment about seeing money with no idea that I was being filmed from the passenger side of the back seat. Ultimately, this ended up in our little movie.

Tv cameraman with ball cap on backwards looking through camera

The producer needed a supervisor to be on film for the story. The supervisor I told them they needed couldn’t come out because of meetings. That supervisor and all others wouldn’t be available in time to do what we needed done. So the producer asked me to play a supervisor just so when a supervisor was available they could piece them in. Sounded reasonable the way he explained it. What did I know about movie making, I mean I’m just a miner.

Here I was doing all kinds of crazy things on film for them thinking it was just to set up for the supervisor to be placed into my spot. I had alot of fun with it because it was like acting without  worrying if someone actually seen it.

Along the way I got a couple of mechanics that I knew to do a little skit for the film. Wow did they do a great job! Also had them go on board a shovel and film my friend and favorite shovel operator loading trucks and interviewing him. We went to dispatch and they filmed and interviewed my friend up there.

The final day came and I was exhausted but we had to film the loader one more time, as we had filmed the loader and operator earlier in this process. That’s when I got the shock I did not expect.

While the cameraman and sound guy was filming the loader and operator,  the producer asked me to talk to him in the Expedition. The operator of the loader was also the main safety guy over me, so I said ok as long as I can still see the other two filming.  “Billy, you have done a great job so far and I only need one more thing from you.” I said, “what’s that?” “I need you to sign these papers so we can use the film we have of you and make you the hero in our production.”

One man standing by tire, another man standing by bucket of huge mine loader
2350 Le Tourneau loader

This was not easy for me to do because, I was just messing around and not being serious at all. The sound guy and cameraman got back in the vehicle and asked the producer if he had asked me yet. They had all already talk about this. The cameraman told me I was good on film and wanted to use the footage. They finally talked me into it and I kinda had a lump in my stomach because I had just signed to let others see me as the opposite of who I really am.

Finally everything was done and we had no idea when it would show, what show it would be on or anything for a few months. Finally we got word that our show would be on “Heavy Metal Task Force” season two, episode two.

The show finally came out and when I seen how they chopped things up and how they had filmed me without even knowing it on the dump, I was more embarrassed than ever. The one thing I can say was how proud I was of my crew. This show always has three different places they are showing on the same episode and we got top billing! If you watch it, you will see how the show starts and finishes with us in Ray mine.

If you watch the show, you will see names of people in the film but I left their names off here because I didn’t get their approval. I hope you enjoy the film and make as much fun of me as you want. All the people at the mine have already had alot of fun at my expense. I really don’t mind anymore or I wouldn’t be writing about it. Take care and Remember, we are all in this together.

         Watch Heavy Metal Task Force Season 2 on Prime Video!

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