The Incredible Dr. Pol is just that with the top-notch film crew behind it. National Geographic Wild aired the reality television show following the vet in 2011 and it has been a hit ever since. Many people sit and watch Jan Pol and his colleagues every Saturday evening to see what the new animal emergency is but few think about how much work goes into making the show. With twelve hour work days, the crew plans to the best of their ability but they never really know when the next farm call is going to come in or when Dr. Pol will change his work day around. That is just part of the way things go in reality television, according the team that works on the show.
Alex Mikus, a Full Sail University graduate that was born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. has been working on the show for over a year. He is a camera assistant but he worked his way up from that first phone call. “I had just graduated college and a friend of a friend gave me a call and asked if I wanted to work on the show. I started as a production assistant but with hard work I got promoted.
The crew that varies in age and experience level has fun while working with there new family. Mikus said that when you work 12-hour shifts with people for weeks you get close with them, its bound to happen. Between the producers, camera operators, sound technicians and assistants the television show is riveting and untraditional.
The show airs 9 p.m. on Nat Geo Wild.
More families suffer from having a family member who battles with alcoholism than meets the eye. This project on Bill Millard and his family shows what it is like for a family to have a parent/spouse in jail for drunk driving offenses by exploring their normal day-to-day life and the new struggles that come up with having an temporary absent father and husband. Ultimately I wanted the audience to feel the pain alcoholics put on their family and understand that it is something many different types of families deal with. It is also something that can be worked on with time and patience. Alcoholism is not something to recover from easily but with a supportive family and the will to change Bill has a chance to change his life forever. I followed Bill Millard who is serving a year at the Isabella County Jail for 5 drunk driving offences and his time out of the jail on work release in Farwell, Mich. I also spent time with his wife DeAnn and two sons Steven and David.
The Isabella County Jail is a strict small town jail that has old time views that I had to respect while photographing this story. I was not allowed to photograph in the jail. I was also cut off from making any further contact with Bill while he was serving time. Bill was threatened with losing his one saving grace, his work release. I am disappointed that I did not get to show the entirety of this story because I really wanted to show it to help others who may be suffering from the same situation at home.
I hope that one day when I am able to show this project to a larger audience and that it can make as least one other person feel not so alone.
Bill Millard sits in his workshop at the Mt. Pleasant Waterfall Carwash on Pickard Street discussing how he ended up having to serve a year in jail.
The Isabella County Jail waiting area before the inmates get released to go to work at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning.
Bill breaks ice in his car wash and then halls it away in a wheelbarrow, it is hard backbreaking work but the water needs to be running to prevent the pipes from freezing.
When Bill’s wife, DeAnn Millard, is at her Salon, A Cut Above in Farwell, Mich., he has to take the I-Ride, the Isabella County Transportation bus, to different Waterfall Car-washes or to get home. “It’s only two dollars so you can’t really beat that, it is just embarrassing getting on the bus when someone I know is at the carwash,” said Bill.
Bill and DeAnn get the topping out on the table for their hamburgers for lunch before taking salt to three car washes.
Steven cleans the back window of the ranger at Pohl’s Market in Farwell, Mich. after school Monday, March 10, 2014 while filling up a portable gas tank. When asked about how it is having his Dad in jail overnight and all weekend he said, “It is really hard because the other day I got the tractor stuck on the road and I couldn’t get it out and the plow was coming down the road and I was in the way. Normally I would have just called my dad to help me but I couldn’t, I had to figure it out myself.”
DeAnn and Bill drive to each of the Waterfall car washes to drop off salt Monday afternoon, March 24. DeAnn had to take the truck to pick up the pallet of salt over the weekend without Bill and was worried that she got the wrong kind because of the salesmen trying to tell her to get a different brand.
Bill walks from the mailbox after arriving to his house in Farwell, Mich. on the I-Ride Monday morning, March 24, 2014.
When asked how it is being able to see his two sons, Steven and David, Bill said, “I only see them for an hour, it is hard to get involved. In greater detail, he was trying to put a stereo in his truck the other day and I helped him a little bit but, I had to leave. And we have a few more months of this.”
In Bill’s tool shed he has the phone numbers of this two sons Steven, age 15, and David, age 13. While Bill has been in jail his shed has become very unorganized making him very stressed out.
“It is rewarding to see your family. It’s a shame that I had to drag them through this mud, because I can take the pain, I don’t know how well they can. It is an embarrassment. I just never thought it would come to this,” said Bill when explaining how it feels being able to be home and see his family while on work release.
Bill was an electrician before opening up his first car wash in 1993 so he does all of the maintenance himself, which saves money and time.
Hoping to extend his work release to Saturdays, Bill Millard explains, as he power washes dirt away, that his car wash makes the most money on the weekends so if something breaks while he is locked up that is a whole weekend without being paid.