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Interview: Dave Shaw talks about Off the Beaten Track

Dave Shaw lives in Kerikeri, Northland. He has 15 years of experience in TV production gained from both home and abroad. Dave was the lead camera operator and head of post-production on the ITM Fishing Show. He has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Otago University which enabled him to better understand the environment he is now working in. Dave created ‘The Hunters Club’.

Dave talks to NZ Booklovers about Off the Beaten Track.

Tell us a little about Off the Beaten Track.

The book documents the rather unique journey we've been on over the past 6 years of bringing The Red Stag Timber Hunters Club to the screen, recounting all the highs and lows, but more specifically, a great deal of the stuff that wasn't quite fit for TV!

What inspired you to write this book?

The same thing that inspired me to create the show in the first place - a desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and set myself a new challenge.

What research was involved?

Bugger all! It was all a case of casting the mind back to recount the various missions and adventures we'd been on since the inception of the show.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

Half of the book was written on my laptop whilst camping at Urupukapuka in the Bay of Islands, with a morning coffee perched on the side of a flimsy table next to the previous night's half drunk whiskey. The writing process usually began with me revisiting the episode in question to familiarise myself with what happened within the broadcast show. I'd then think back about the other events that happened on the trip, the things that weren't captured on camera, and the motivations for why we were hunting that particular location. Over the course of the morning, all those memories would come flooding back and I was usually able to bang out a few thousand words before the lure of fishing or diving forced the laptop closed till the next morning.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Off the Beaten Track?

I hope they'll gain an appreciation of all the work that goes on behind the scenes in making a TV show, especially an outdoors show such as ours. Filming certainly complicates matters a great deal, there's no 'take 2' when you're working with wild animals.

If you had to choose, what is your favourite story from the book?

Probably a chapter called 'Changing Places' - which recounts the rather wacky sequence of events that resulted in me getting behind the sharp end of a rifle for the first time. It certainly gave me a new found respect for the guys that I'm filming!

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

'Ramble On' by Led Zeppelin. It's a song that's become a tradition for me to listen to on long hikes out of the bush after multi-day trips into places like Fiordland or the West Coast. I put on my headphones, pack the camera away, and soon lose myself in the massive landscape. The lyrics really resonate with me -

For now I smell the rain

And with it pain And it's headed my way

Ah, sometimes I grow so tired But I know I've got one thing I got to do...

What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?

Reflecting back on all the things that didn't make the cut. Having spent weeks editing each of the shows, you're liable to gloss over any of the events that weren't captured on camera, so reminiscing on those moments that weren't included and laughing about some of the hilarious antics of the lads was certainly a lot of fun.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

To be perfectly honest, I can't remember the exact moment, but I'm guessing it would have been at some point during the lockdown, so my best guess would have been easing into a second bottle of Far North Chambourcin.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I've just started re-reading the Frank Herbert classic Dune, in preparation for the big screen adaptation that's due at the end of 2021. Judging by the size of the book, I should be just finished about the time it hits cinemas!

What’s next on the agenda for you?

We've recently begun filming the next series of The Hunters Club, in fact, I've just come out of the hills down south having spent a few days chasing Chamois around in some truly stunning alpine country. We pride ourselves on raising the bar each series, so we've got some pretty hefty plans in place for next year to ensure we keep on improving, and in the process, encouraging Kiwi's to get out there and explore the great outdoors for themselves.

Bateman Books


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