Dear Frank, thanks for everything you do – you’re not paid enough!! 😉 You can’t have watched Wild Things and not know who Frank is! Have you always wanted to get to know him a little bit better? Learn more about him through this interview he did recently with The Loop:
As the cameraman for Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, Frank Vilaca spends all of his time behind the lens. But his life has been packed with so much drama over the years, he could star in his own reality series. Maybe something called The Times I Almost Died?
The Toronto-based cinematographer was almost crushed in an avalanche on Mt. Everest, caught in a firefight when he accompanied troops in Afghanistan and a split-second away from being trampled by an elephant during filming of the second season premiere of Wild Things.
“We have a medic with us named Donald Schultz,” Vilaca recalls. “Had he not done what he did for me at that moment in time, I would be dead. The elephant was charging me and you can’t outrun an elephant. The ground was shaking underneath me and all I could think of was that if I could make it to the minivan, I would be OK.”
Then the guide in the minivan drove away. Vilaca tripped, fell down and prepared for the worst. That was when Schultz fired a shotgun into the air and shouted an expletive at the massive mammal, which then turned tail and fled.
Vilaca got his start in the television business over 30 years ago, attending Seneca College where he honed his craft and got a degree in television. Stints at news networks in Timmins, Ont. and other northern outposts led south to Toronto. “I was making about $450 a month,” he recalls with a chuckle.
A 10-year relationship with Toronto’s Cream Productions, which produces Paranormal Witness, Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All and Wild Things, offered him the chance to jet around the world alongside host Dominic Monaghan, who seeks out assorted creepy crawlies in remote locations. The gig was a no-brainer for Vilaca because he’d never documented reptiles, snakes, insects and other things brimming with venom. As Vilaca describes it, while there’s a still photographer around and a sound guy, the program is very much “Dom and [him] in the jungle, poking around searching and trying to figure out where these guys are at.”
And while the animals themselves are unpredictable, so can be the human stars of Wild Things. Vilaca was caught off-guard during last week’s installment when Monaghan returned to New Zealand for the first time since starring in The Lord of the Rings and reunited with former co-star Billy Boyd. Boyd spent most of the time speaking to and looking directly at Vilaca–a documentary series no-no–and even throwing off Monaghan with his antics.
“Billy was staring at me, and I’m thinking ‘What the hell are you doing?!’” Vilaca remembers. “He hopped in the car and kept looking at me and throwing me for a loop. And then Dom would say, ‘Pay attention to me!’ It was funny.”
Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan airs Tuesdays on OLN Canada and BBC America.