Getting the Perfect Shot, a Filmmaker’s Journey to O’Shaughnessy Dam

Some people may know that the backbone of the SFPUC’s Regional Water System is the O’Shaughnessy Dam. This dam has long been recognized as an engineering marvel, but not many people really know why. 

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on Oct 21, 2019.

To answer that question, and provide the wider world a glimpse of the marvels of the O’Shaughnessy Dam, SFPUC staff leapt at the chance to work with  the Science Channel’s program, “Impossible Engineering.

Now in its fifth season, “Impossible Engineering” journeys around the globe to examine, explore and reveal the stories behind such things as: “The Himalaya Mega Bridge,” “New York City Monster Train,” and “Monster of the Andes.” SFPUC staff were pretty excited when film crews got in touch and said they were interested in the O’Shaughnessy Dam and how it was raised an additional 85.5 feet after it had been completed.

On Monday, October 21, SFPUC Hetchy Security Chief Robert Evans, SFPUC Watershed Keeper Mike Royce, and SFPUC Communications Manager Suzanne Gautier got to tag along as the visiting Science Channel film crew comprised of the show’s presenter Dan Dickrell, producer/director Brian Leckey, and second cameraman Vince Beeton traversed the O’Shaughnessy Dam.

Getting the perfect shot on the downstream face of the dam.

For the uninitiated, filming can be a lengthy and perhaps tedious process. While there, the film crew was fortunate to have had wonderful weather, filming still involved considerable repetition to get the right angles.

Our presenter, Dan Dickrell, marveling at the height of the dam just before we all climbed back to the top.

It was a truly unique opportunity to see our infrastructure through the eyes of a group of captivated visitors, who were keen to explore the ins and outs of the dam, its history, and the surrounding area.

Robert Evans, on the downstream face of the dam, taking a selfie?

Here are just some of our not-so-perfect shots of where the film crew climbed and what SFPUC staff saw as the filmmakers worked all day getting their perfect shots.

The program is tentatively scheduled to air in December 2019 or January 2020.

All smiles after a long day of filming: (From left to right: Dan Dickrell, Vince Beeton, Brian Leckey, Mike Royce and Robert Evans).