So I’m a neat freak, a gym bunny, healthy eater and numbers scare me.. So imagine the horror going through my mind when the “big boss” Patrick Conroy comes to me and says: “Let’s do a calculation on how long it’ll take for a person to eat a donkey. And I want you to eat a sausage roll, next to a donkey.”
This is what went through my head: “Are you flippin’ (censored word) kidding? Me eating a sausage roll? What will my cross-fit trainer think when he sees it? How do I work this out? Why am I being tortured? Why oh why me?” Of course none of that mattered because as crazy as I thought Patrick was being, the man knows how to produce good TV. So I just went with it, hoping to prove that I can tell any story, no matter how absurd I initially think it is.
After about two hours of trying to work out the figures, with much help from my friends and colleagues Belinda Moses, Michelle Craig and Mayleen Vincent, we worked out it would take you 341 years to eat the entire mass of a donkey. Lots of things were taken into account of course, you can see how we worked it out in the actual story attached. To make sure we were 100% right, we even called in Belinda’s scientist sister Melissa to check the figures. Telling this through graphics, meant lots of creativity. After trial and error…and Patrick’s first two rejections of what was produced, we seemed to be on track.
The script was written, with much ‘help’ from Patrick and I had to find a donkey to shoot my piece to camera the next day. “Have fun with it,” he says. Let’s just say I didn’t sleep much that night. The thought a having to be next to a donkey and eating a sausage roll was not fun.
So after little sleep, it was time to shoot. With roll in hand, I walked through the Benoni Bunny Farm, tramping on rabbit poo. My thoughts at the time: “My expensive shoes! This donkey looks dirty with all those flies around it. How on earth am I going to eat a hotdog eloquently on-camera?”
It wasn’t easy of course. The donkey refused to stay close to us. As we got closer, it made a run for it. So we slowly head towards it, stepping on more rabbit pebbles and possibly donkey DROPPINGS. We couldn’t see much on the ground because of the long weeds and grass.
Eventually, I get ready and start shooting my piece to camera. A couple takes later, the donkey seems to take a liking to me and walks towards me. My natural reaction is to run. But the cameraman and intern insist I do it with the donkey right next to me. So I suck it up and try to do one more take. As I speak, the intern screams because the donkey gets really close. That was it. I walk away and say, “we’ll use the first take.” The blooper can also be found on this page.
As we leave, I of course feel the urgent need to shower. Eventually, with Patrick over my shoulder, the story was edited. It looked good and I appreciated Patrick’s nitpicking. At 6.30PM, I was a happy TV journalist, but having eaten that hotdog I raced out of the office to make sure I didn’t miss cross-fit.
Watch Shahan's full piece here