Cold Water Cowboys became an instant hit last week with its debut episode attracting over 500,000 viewers to the Discovery Channel original show. And for two College of the North Atlantic (CNA) Film & Video Production graduates who were along for the ride, navigating the ins and outs of filming a national series, it was an eye-opening experience.
Kyle Taylor of Conception Bay South, says Cold Water Cowboys has been his biggest gig since graduating in 2011. Kyle originally started off as a production assistant in April 2013, when he spent three months working behind the scenes, travelling non-stop across the province and chauffeuring the crew to and from various locations.
“As we went on, I got more responsibility, more trust placed in me and they let me shoot a bit on the show,” Kyle said from his home in Conception Bay South. “I got to travel around and shoot some B-roll (additional and support footage for the show). After a while they had me doing assistant editing work, which included downloading footage that came in off the boats.”
With that hefty responsibility placed on his shoulders, Kyle spent the next five months centred out of Twillingate, where the show’s crew had set up base-camp, picking up footage from the fishing vessels, downloading it to computer and electronically transferring it to Toronto, ON.
“I was pretty excited to have that much responsibility on the show, especially from a company that’s never been in Newfoundland before.”
While he didn’t get to travel on location with the boats, he did get to meet the fishermen and tour the vessels while they were docked. He concluded his work with the show in December and reflects on the experience as a positive one.
“It was a great opportunity. I couldn’t ask for anything better. Getting out of school and working on a show that’s nation-wide – I feel like I won the lottery. It was definitely something I was happy to be a part of; to be in something so big in such a small province. It was pretty great to get people to see what Newfoundland is about. I don’t think many people get the opportunity to see Newfoundlanders in their environment,” he said.
Kyle was nervous when he sat down to watch the first episode last week and admits he didn’t know what to expect.
“I was thoroughly impressed. It really captured everything that I hoped it would for Newfoundland and for the show itself. For people to understand and to comprehend what some of these fishermen are saying is not the easiest, but it came across very well in my opinion.”
Kyle wasn’t the only one watching the show’s debut. According to Bell Media, the fishermen of “The Rock” and Discovery’s original Canadian series got their hooks in Canada, attracting 569,000 viewers to make it the third-highest series premiere in network history.
“I don’t think you can ever expect that type of a response,” Kyle said of the show’s success. “I was blown away, especially since it’s just the first episode. It was phenomenal to hear it did so well and I’m ecstatic to have been a part of it. I’m beyond proud. Everyone who worked on the show and everyone involved in the show are so great. It makes you feel happy when you see something everyone worked so hard on come out, and everyone enjoys it.”
Jody Greene of Happy Valley-Goose Bay says she had a gut feeling the show was going to boom. Jody, who graduated from the Film & Video Production program in 2012, came in on the tail end of production for the show but had previously worked as a producer. She had employment waiting for her before graduation; hired by the OKâlaKatiget Society in Nain, she produced shows for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
“I was there for 15 months and wanted a change. It just so happened a couple of my former classmates were working on Cold Water Cowboys,” she said. “I fired off an email in early August and sure enough I got a job. I wanted to start somewhere new and do something fresh, so it was good to get my foot in the door with this company.”
The decision wasn’t one she regretted and she says it’s an experience she won’t soon forget.
“As a production assistant I had to organize gear and get it ready to go out to where the boats were. In the two months I ran media gear all over the island. By the end of production I think I travelled about 10,000 kilometres, criss-crossing the island every weekend,” she recalled.
If the crew needed a new piece of equipment, Jody would make the trek from where she was stationed in St. John’s to any of the show’s docking locations; Twillingate, Cow Head, Carmanville, Valleyfield, Port aux Choix or Woody Point.
“The work was awesome. I absolutely loved that job and it was the most fun I’ve had – to travel the island and see the beauty of the island and to get to have fun, it was so stress free. I was having a ball all during my time working. It was just an awesome experience to meet all these people, and to have the opportunity to work with and learn from these professionals. It really was the most awesome experience I’ve ever had.”
And she’s a huge fan of how the show turned out.
“I thought it was great. It’s showing more than just one type of fishery which makes the fishery of Newfoundland so unique. Since the cod moratorium, Newfoundlanders have had to find a new way to support themselves in the fishery, so they are fishing crab, herring, capelin, turbot and it’s nice to see the camaraderie of the crews, not just for Newfoundlanders but for all of Canada and North America to see what Newfoundland is all about.”
Cold Water Cowboys airs Tuesdays on the Discovery Channel at 11:30 p.m. NL time. To learn more about the Film & Video Production program visit www.cna.nl.ca.
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic