We are currently filming for the second season (!) and my day-to-day now involves a lot of interaction between two teams: my medical legal death investigative team and the production team from Discovery. It struck me the other day how similar the skill sets are that are needed to both tell the story of the deceased, and portray it to a TV audience. Both teams function with a high level of diligence, detail, and dedication.
They also have same ultimate goals:
When I am at a crime scene, I must recognize what is evidence during an investigation. I must communicate with others to tell the whole story. Each team member has his or her own special area of expertise, but also must have knowledge of all the other component and skills needed to tell the whole story. Death investigation is visual, knowledge-based and incorporates critical thinking. Likewise, producing a story about death investigation requires many of the same skill sets and the same type of dedication. Just as I know the field of pathology, but am not a pathologist, so the producers of the show must understand the thinking of the camera crew, the needs of the sound people, and the logistics of getting everyone to do what they do in a coordinated way.
I wanted to shed some light on the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, because it really is tremendous. Death investigation is complex, as is telling the story about the investigation. First and foremost, there is the need to tell the story in a respectful way to protect the innocent and give multiple viewpoints. It requires researching hundreds of cases and determining which one is a good story, if it is appropriate, and determining whether or not it will provide insight into the death investigation process.
Once the episode is chosen, the data is put into a story form. This is a real talent; being able to interpret the information, process the meaning of each fact, and then sequence the information as it should be revealed in an hour-long episode. The story must also be told in such a way as to hold the interest of the person watching, while at the same time, educating the viewer.
As I often say, being a medical/legal investigator is a calling, not a job. It is also true of those who tell the story of my process. Their life is to bring stories to life. It is all about the story until the final cut is made and then they can breathe. The producers don’t have a nine-to-five occupation; they are busy creating a reality. I admire their dedication just as I admire the work of my deputies, police and forensic scientists.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.