With television budgets getting ever smaller and action-adventure reality series becoming more popular, some production companies are cutting corners when it comes to the safety of their cast and crew.

Monica Martino had filmed tornadoes in the Midwest, ship collisions in the Antarctic and crab fishermen in Alaska’s Bering Sea. But those experiences didn’t prepare her for a terrifying nighttime boat ride in the Amazon jungle.

In February, the 41-year-old co-executive producer was thrown into a murky river after getting footage for “Bamazon,” a series for the History cable channel about out-of-work Alabama construction workers mining for gold in the rain forest of Guyana.

Martino says the captain was blind in one eye and sailing too fast without a proper light. He lost control of the boat while making a hard turn, sending the crew into the river, where Martino was knocked out by the impact of hitting the water at high speed.

Pulled back into the boat, Martino regained consciousness. But on the journey back to base camp, the vessel struck a tree, slamming Martino into the deck. Although she sustained a concussion, bruised ribs and a badly torn shoulder, Martino said, she had to wait 19 hours to receive medical care at a clinic in Venezuela because the production company had no viable medical evacuation plan for the crew.

History and the production company, Red Line Films, declined to comment.

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I’m glad she’s OK. The production company should have had a contingency plan in place, so that’s on them. However, people who take jobs where they’re going to be in remote rainforest locations mining for gold with rednecks need to also take the time to think about what they’re getting themselves involved with. Depending on how remote they were, 19 hours for a medivac could be FAST in dense jungle. When you step out into that stuff, you need to understand that you’re not a mile car ride from the nearest hospital anymore.


This is terrible. I’m fortunate that none of the productions I’ve been a part of or have produced have been all that dangerous. I’m glad that she’s okay now, though that doesn’t excuse the production company from not taking medi-vac into account.

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