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“It’s one thing in Maine, but it’s really a story about how we find these things and how they got to Maine.”
This is Munjoy Hill-based and veteran TV producer Devon Platte Movie 45who co-stars with Matt Reccow from Red Cow Productions, sent a cast of intrepid would-be survivors (and their loyal best canine friends) into the Maine wilderness for the National Geographic reality series “Called To The Wild,” the first six episode season of which aired this month. Filmed in and around rugged Maine locations from Rangeley to Aroostook County, the NatGeo series pit these human-dog teams against Maine’s worst and wildest forests – at least thanks to Platte and Reccow.
Long-time friends and co-workers in the reality TV world (they met about 20 years ago at a food show in Morocco), the two veterans behind the scenes had the task of finding exactly the right rough, isolated and picturesque terrain, to get stranded. “Called To The Wilds” – human-dog duos in search of safety from the unpredictable elements. And here I should note that aside from the reality TV codes, a couple of vets were on set with the camera crew at all times to ensure the dogs’ health and safety. “There were daily rations for the dogs, but not for the people,” says Reccow. Good to know, since we humans agree much more with watching our fellow human beings suffer for our pleasure.
It was Mainer Platte (executive producer on the Maine Mariners hockey reality show).Puckland“Who Reccow credits for giving Maine some serious screen time as the gross and beautiful setting of the series, citing Plattes many Maine connections and his time as executive producer of the Maine-based gamekeeper Animal Planet series”North Woods Law. “Platte says,” The company behind the survival reality series ‘Alone’ came up to Matt, who works with them a lot, and said, ‘What about’ Alone ‘but dogs?’ But although ‘Alone’ usually shoots internationally, we ended the scouting right at the height of COVID, so international travel was out of the question.
Enter Maine to the rescue, if not without stiff competition from other states with large, undeveloped, and appropriately cinematic tracts of land like Montana, Oregon, and Northern California. In the end, however, it was Platte’s knowledge of these Maine North Woods (and the many, many permits and permits required) that made up the day. Reccow stated, “Devon’s contacts were the key to opening the door. He knew all the big landowners and the big lots. He was able to drive up, take photos and show first hand what is possible. “
For a show like Called To The Wild, wandering the Maine wilderness is a daunting undertaking, with Platte touting Maine’s unique setting – both nature and filmmaking – as perfect for the series’ needs.
“Regardless of the cast and location, creative people always need water for any type of survival show,” said Platte, citing Maine’s abundance of everything from fish to game to fiddle heads, mushrooms and berries as the show’s ever cooler and hungry participants can nibble on it. (The series was wisely not shot in the middle of a Maine winter, but both Platte and Reccow find that Maine fall is challenging.)
“We also need extreme places that are still some distance from civilization, somewhere with hotels or camps for dozens of people, airports, etc.,” explained Platte about the series, which was filmed until late autumn 2020. “It is like bringing the circus into town. “
As Platte and Reccow emphasize, the show business circus has advantages for everyone involved, something Mainer Platte is particularly proud of.
“It’s trickling down,” said Platte. “A show is put together top-down, but bringing it to Maine is good for the local crew, as well as local hotels, restaurants, and car rentals.”
“Perhaps more importantly,” said Reccow, “it shows companies like ITV, based in New York, that filming in Maine is possible and inexpensive. Transporting things to Maine via U-Haul is a lot cheaper than flying anything to LA. “
Here, Platte and Reccow emphasized, admittedly at my suggestion, how Maine’s continued refusal to impose tax incentives on film production in Maine is countering this potential influx of films and film industry money.
“Damn it, that would help,” said Platte with a laugh. “Over the years Matt and I have worked on a variety of projects that took advantage of the best tax incentives. There is no production company that works with us that does not take that into account. “
With the end of the tax break, both Reccow and Platte find that reality survival TV viewership has grown significantly in recent years.
“So much is being done, it’s ridiculous,” Reccow said, speculating that our own pandemic isolation might fuel our desire to virtually venture into the big, wide world at our door. Preferably with a loyal dog companion who snuggles up on the sofa next to us.
You can watch “Called To The Wild” on the National Geographic channel or through certain providers on the National Geographic website.
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