TV and film medical consultant Erin Hawkins on medical scene accuracy

TV and film medical consultant Erin Hawkins talks advising filmmakers on how to shoot medical scenes accurately.

In a recent interview with Hidden Remote, medical film consultant Erin Hawkins shared about what it’s like ensuring that film-makers get it right when it comes to shooting all things medical.

Erin Hawkins had a love for the arts when she was young, but she ultimately ended up pursuing a career in nursing. Her passion for movies and television, however, never left her, and now she works as a nurse, as well as a TV/Movie consultant.

Here’s what Erin Hawkins had to say about her out-of-the-box career.

Hidden Remote: How did you break into medical film consulting?

Erin Hawkins: Growing up I always had an affinity for TV and film, no matter if it was a role in front of the camera or behind it. However, I was urged to go into another direction in college; therefore, I wound up majoring in nursing. But my passion for entertainment never went away, despite my newfound love of nursing. I’ve always known I’d discover a way back into TV and film, I just didn’t know how it would happen. It wasn’t until many years later when I started to see discrepancies in how medical scenes or medical terminology was being portrayed on television, compared to what truly happened in those situations. I knew right then I’d identified a gap that I could utilize to perfectly bridge the two industries.

Erin Hawkins. Courtesy, MWPR.

Erin Hawkins. Courtesy, MWPR.

HR: What was it like working on the movie The Extraordinary Ordinary?

Hawkins: It was an amazing experience. The Extraordinary Ordinary is a film about three college students who bond and find healing in the arts and each other, which assists them in dealing with and overcoming their personal histories with mental health. I found that everyone genuinely cared for one another on the project and executed very well on the vision for the film.

HR: What was your favorite moment from working with that cast/crew?

Hawkins: I’d have to say the professionalism and patience displayed while shooting certain scenes on an actual college campus. Shooting scenes at a location that isn’t cut off from the public can be very tricky and requires a lot of maneuvering to get the perfect shot. The cast and crew handled it beautifully.

HR: What show, past or present, do you consider to be the most accurate with their portrayal of medical situations?

Hawkins: House M.D. had some episodes that came pretty close to accurate.

HR: What are some of the biggest errors you commonly see with medical scenes?

Hawkins: Surgeons in operating rooms not wearing masks, heart monitors beeping with nothing being displayed on their screens (all black, as if the monitor was shut off), and incorrect terminology being used during a medical dialogue.

HR: What can you share about your process for prepping an actor for scenes or roles like this?

Hawkins: I start by gaining an understanding of what the actor knows about the medical scene or medical role. I find that most actors Google the basics, but it’s my job to help them fine-tune and come across as authentic and relaxed when delivering medical dialogue or needing to emulate a medical procedure on camera.

HR: What upcoming projects are you currently attached to?

Hawkins: I’m currently working with a production company on a family-friendly script, which includes some really strong characters. Natalie Rodriguez – the writer, director, and executive producer on The Extraordinary Ordinary – and I have talked about working together in the future on some new projects too.

I just co-directed a promo video for our women’s ministry’s first annual women’s conference to be held in April, and I’m continuing to review scripts for new projects. I also enjoy giving back to my community. I’ll be volunteering at the Austin Urban Music Festival in Austin, TX at the end of March. This is my third year volunteering at the festival, which supports the African-American Quality of Life initiative.

For more information about Erin Hawkins, you can visit her website