Filming for Desert Vet series begins in the Pilbara
Filming for the first official season of Desert Vet began last week in Karratha and Port Hedland.
Building on last year’s pilot, four episodes are being produced and will follow the work of vet Dr Rick Fenny and his family members and veterinary staff in Karratha, Port Hedland, Shark Bay and Kalgoorlie.
Dr Fenny started his network of Pets and Vets clinics in the Pilbara and was vet to the region’s legendary Red Dog.
It comes after the show was picked up for the UK and Europe by UKTV, where it will screen under the title of Outback Vet, as well as Australia’s Channel 9.
The first two weeks of filming began in Karratha and Hedland last Monday.
Projucer director of photography Tim Small said the episodes would have a strong focus on grassroots veterinary work.
“We’ll be following Rick on his usual pilgrimage, hanging out with (his son and marine biologist) Ed Fenny in Shark Bay and covering some really nice stories at the aquarium down there, and also spending time up here with Louisa Fenny (his daughter and a vet) ... getting a real feel for what it is like to be a vet in the outback, on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
“It will be much more of a modular approach to filming purely so that we can cover a lot more in terms of showcasing the stories and being able to really highlight the work the vets do here, in terms of their engagement with the animals and people of WA.”
Pets and Vets vet Dr Louisa Fenny, who is based in Perth but will be working at the Karratha clinic on a locum basis, said the Pilbara was a particularly interesting environment for vet work.
“The environment up here is so harsh which does make medical problems more prevalent, and being remote as well also makes it challenging — we can’t just refer cases to local specialists, we're it,” she said.
“Also a lot of people come here for work or another reason and their families are on the other side of the State or country, so their pets are their family here. I think that’s a lot more pronounced here than in other places.”
She said the production team also planned to highlight the work of animal rescue service SAFE, which has its headquarters in Karratha, and was calling for SAFE pet owners to bring their animals to an event at Hearson’s Cove this Saturday at 5pm for a chance to be part of the show.
Dr Rick Fenny said the series would retain the strong sense of connection to country Australia that had made the pilot a success.
“The show resonates because it’s authentic, it’s not staged at all and it’s the real outback Australia,” he said.
“It’s also different in that it’s family program, including my son and daughter and my family of Pets and Vets clinics staff.”
“No one can replicate what we’re doing, that’s the exciting thing about it —it’s original and authentic and real.”
Filming for the series is expected to take about four weeks.
It is due to air nationally on Channel 9 and internationally on UKTV’s Eden channel in the second half of 2019.
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