Filming Brown Bears in Alaska

We all go into business to make money, but not everyone has to watch out for grizzlies.

By: Connie Laughlin

Excitement and uncertainty
Many years ago, I found myself partnered in a video production business that catered to the outdoor industry, including hunting and fishing adventures. I knew nothing about any of this and learned on the fly. There was much knowledge to be gained on various animals and their habitats, worldwide lodges and guides, along with the fine art of video production.

It was fun, fun, fun! I learned the simple ins and outs of videography – the simple tasks that I could handle. I wrote a functional script for each production and even did a bit of voiceover.

In any business, you’re too busy finishing current projects and drumming up new jobs to appropriately handle the finite details of running a business with respect to employees, appropriate procedures and the like. Seriously, how can you keep up with new worksite laws, legalese needed for handbooks and employee risk management when you just want to get your employees paid and go on down the road?

Did you hear that bear?
We flew into the bush of Alaska in a small aircraft and landed in the soft tundra in bear country. We were shooting a piece for a coastal brown bear hunting guide. It wasn’t hunting season, but the bears were out of hibernation, and we wanted a good video production of the hunting grounds and were hopeful to get footage of some coastal giants averaging over 9 feet. As I mentioned previously, I did do a bit of voiceover work.

We were lucky and encountered a couple of nice bears as we stalked them on quite a long trek. The walk wasn’t really that far, but it sure seemed it, as you’re either climbing up and down or trekking through spongy-type flats or unintentionally playing slip-and-slide going through the streams.

Oh yes, the voiceover work. Spoiler alert: Did you know that bears don’t like to wear mics? So when you’re watching those outdoor shows, it might not be an actual bear grunting and snorting in the shot.

I had way too much on my hands to handle HR
Ugh, the paperwork! We had video placement in some big-box retailers, and they’re real sticklers for red tape. I had also gotten the not so bright idea to sell hunting and fishing adventures to trade for video production gigs. Many guides wanted the production, and bartering seemed to be advantageous to getting the jobs. Albeit double work for me! And lots of paperwork!

Caribou antlers and risk management
When you’re filming in Alaska, you’re looking for B-roll anywhere you can find it. Driving through Anchorage, we came up on some beautiful, large-antlered caribou right along the highway.

When you’re in the production business, you take risks you wouldn’t otherwise take, so we got up pretty close and personal to get the shots we wanted. You know, a lot businesses run like this, and they shouldn’t. I took the risk, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have let an employee do it.

Have you ever been goosed by a moose?
No, that didn’t happen. I’d never turn my back on one, and it would probably be the last goosing. This article is about some fabulous memories and adventures of a lifetime, but in all reality, it was still a business. If you’re running a business, while day-to-day work might not be this thrilling, you’ve still got to tend to all the employee stuff.

And that’s what I do now. I’m no longer simulating a brown bear in a recording booth or wearing down jackets in the summer; I’m a business consultant to companies that want to know they’re taking care of the loose ends of business that must be wrapped up efficiently and effectively. Having worksite regulations and policies in place protects your assets, which adds up to a lot more than a few bucks!


Connie Laughlin is a business consultant for UniqueHR. For more information on outsourcing your human resources, you may contact her at 361-852-6392 or


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