One of the things that was important to me when I wrote the Emma Fielding mysteries was that I be as true as possible in describing the work of archaeologists. So many books and films (not just mysteries) use archaeology as an excuse to incorporate an exotic setting, obsessive characters, or a link with the fantastic: I bet you can name three movies right now where archaeologists “unleashed forces best left undisturbed.” Some notable exceptions to this include work by fellow archaeologists-turned-novelists Aaron Elkins and Elizabeth Peters.
I think it’s the same in filmmaking, where the popular perception is shaped by notions of glamour and fame, but from what I saw when I visited the set of “Site Unseen,” there were many more similarities to archaeology than I expected. I saw this in the minute attention to detail, the inventories of props and equipment, the planning that includes every shot the director wants plus contingency plans in case of bad weather, the individual tool kits of each crewmember, the discussions about the script, and a thousand other things (including feeding and moving a huge number of people).
Each scene took a tremendous amount of time to shoot, but it was fascinating and I loved every minute of being on the set. Frankly, if I’d stayed any longer, I would have wanted to start shadowing the crew, to learn their jobs. Here are a few shots from my trip out to the set in Victoria, B.C.