The crews I work with are kept very small because we need to be highly mobile, and because fish are wild animals, which don't respond well to lots of people in the vicinity. And because people and equipment are expensive to move. Crew members are hired by the production company I work with, and all are experienced (and often multi-tasking) directors, camera operators, sound recordists, assistant producers or production co-ordinators, who have usually worked their way through the ranks. Many started as 'runners' (general odd-job staff) for TV production companies, a good way to get a start in this industry, although competition for these positions is fierce.
A combination of hard work and luck. (Anyone who says it's all about hard work is lying.) For over 20 years I funded my own low-budget expeditions, paying for them by selling occasional press articles and doing other odd jobs, and by living a very frugal life in between: no permanent home, no car for 15 years, no holidays in the normal sense. During this time I became an expert in a subject that few other people were interested in - until suddenly we were in a situation where freshwater fish were the only remaining group of creatures that hadn't received the full natural history TV treatment (because you can't see or film very much in muddy water). And the rest, as they say, is history....
In the early days of River Monsters, I replied to everyone who contacted me. However, due to the volume of messages I receive this is unfortunately no longer possible. If you have an enquiry you can contact: jw.admin (at) iconfilms.co.uk.
Messages sent to this address will be delivered via Icon Films but there can be no guarantee that I will respond.