The capital city was the finish line for the season finale of The Amazing Race which aired Sunday night. Top Chef featured the Governor’s Mansion early this year, Hotel Impossible filmed at The Alaskan Hotel & Bar in September, and on Saturday night, another production company wrapped up shooting in Juneau for the pilot of yet another reality show.
Executive producer Chris Costine says the show doesn’t have a title yet.
“The show is based on the idea of taking people out of their comfort zones from the lower 48 and people out of their comfort zones from local Juneau, kind of forcing them to try new things,” Costine says.
The cast members include two female leads – one from Juneau and one from the lower 48.
“If they’re from the lower 48, they’re coming up here to experience something they’ve never done before, which is usually the outdoors and the wilderness aspects of it,” he says.
The Juneau cast member – Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Cameron Brockett – went through a boot camp version of etiquette training with Image, a business based in Juneau and Spokane, Washington. The last night of filming was at The Alaskan Hotel & Bar where Brockett performed a few songs.
For five days of filming, Costine worked with a 15-person crew made up of Juneau locals and workers from Los Angeles production company Intuitive Entertainment. He says filming in Alaska is expensive.
“Everything has to be shipped, so everything costs more, everything. Flying crews up is more expensive. Also food, hotels, gas, car rental – everything is more expensive,” explains Costine. “I’d say it’s 20 to 25 percent more expensive to the overall budget of your show.”
Alaska’s state government subsidizes a portion of the high cost, but Costine says the allure of Alaska makes up the rest.
“People are fascinated by Alaska and I think it’s a new thing that people really want to hear about, they want to find out about.
David Worrell agrees. He’s a development specialist for the state and gives assistance to film production companies.
“Right now Alaska is really hot property in terms of the non-fiction television,” Worrell says. “People are endlessly fascinated about Alaska and Alaskans, and the works we do, the jobs we have.”
That’s been going on for some time – Discovery aired the ninth season of Deadliest Catch this year – and Worrell doesn’t see the trend ending anytime soon.
“There’s a steady stream of folks looking for new angles. A few years ago, it was Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, then we had some miners, and now we’ve got several shows that are looking at bush Alaska lifestyles,” says Worrell. “So I think we’ll cycle through that but as long as those shows continue to get reasonably good ratings, we’ll continue to see them coming up.”
Worrell isn’t sure why Juneau has lately attracted more reality show interest but has some guesses, “Juneau is obviously an incredibly beautiful place. Access is reasonably good. It’s a few hours closer than Anchorage and a few more hours closer than Fairbanks, certainly than Nome, so that may play into it. But I think a lot of it really just has to do with the story lines they’re interested in and the luck of the draw.”
Show producer Costine has been lucky, too. “The snow was perfect. It was sunny every day,” Costine says. “We couldn’t have asked for more. It’s almost as if it was created for us.”
Costine won’t reveal what network the show is for, but hopes it’ll air early next year.