Just out from the New York Post…
WHY ‘DEADLIEST CATCH’ IS TV’S MOST DANGEROUS SHOW
By DON KAPLAN
Each year, $300,000 worth of production equipment is destroyed during filming.
March 30, 2007 — ‘DEADLIEST Catch” is the only reality show where someone is almost guaranteed to die each season.
The show follows the hardships and occasionally tragic ends of fishermen working hundreds of miles off the coast of Alaska in some of the world’s most violent waters. It has been a staple on the Discovery Channel for three years.
“It’s got to be the dumbest place to work in January,” says executive producer Thom Beers.
“It’s all about the working class guy,” says Beers of both the fishermen and the camera crews he sends out to sea with them. “These are guys who go out and earn a living. What they’re doing is modern-day prospecting and nature, in all its violence, is the great leveler. It’s about how a working-class guy makes it rich.”
The latest season starts on Tuesday.
Depending on the catch, fishermen can make nearly $10,000 in a week – or almost nothing. Little has been said, however, about the production crews who make the harrowing journey each year to film the dangers on a fleet of crab boats.
Each ship frequently battles 60-foot waves, while the crews work outside during the wild storms that toss around 1,000-lb. steel crab traps like toys and leave tons of ice clinging to the already unbalanced fishing boats.
Occasionally sleep-deprived fishermen slide off of the slick, rolling decks or worse. If someone gets their legs tangled in the ropes attached to the traps, they’re instantly dragged down to the sea bottom, never to be seen again.
Statistically, each year at least one crewman who sails with the Alaska crab fleet will not be coming back. By the second episode of this season, three men are dead, killed when their boat sinks into the icy waters.
The men who film the show assume the same risks. “Normally it’s guys between the ages of 25 and 30 who are looking for this great adventure and come from this pool of adventure cameramen who have been doing this sort of thing for years on shows like ‘Survivor‘ ,” says Beers. After the show was nominated for a cinematography Emmy last year, more seasoned cameramen have applied for the job.
So far, none of the cameramen have been seriously hurt, but the job is not for the fainthearted. Each season, about $250,000 to $300,000 worth of high-definition TV production equipment is destroyed by seawater and the extreme weather. Sometimes the cameras are sacrificed so that the operator can survive.
“Two years ago one of the boats caught fire [it was put out] but a few days later another one, The Big Valley, went down. Between the fire and then the loss of a ship, the guy we had on the boat that caught fire was so freaked out he locked himself in his cabin and didn’t come out for eight days,” says Beers.