“It’s a Maine thing, but it’s really a story about how we find these things and how they got to Maine.”
This is Devon Platte, Munjoy Hill resident and veteran television producer from Cinema 45, who, along with Matt Reccow of Red Cow Productions, has sent a cast of intrepid survivors (and their trusty canine best friends) into the Maine wilderness for the National Geographic reality series, “Called To The Wild,” whose six-episode first season has begun airing. released this month. Filmed in and around Maine’s tough spots from Rangeley to Aroostook County, the NatGeo series pits these human dog teams against the worst and wildest Maine’s woods have to offer — at least thanks to Platte and Reccow.
Longtime friends and collaborators in the world of reality TV (they met on a cooking show in Morocco some 20 years ago), the two behind-the-scenes veterans were tasked with finding the right ground rugged, isolated and scenic in which to beach themselves” The human-dog duos of Called To The Wild as they seek shelter from the unpredictable elements. And here I should note that, television codes aside- In reality, there were a pair of vets on set at all times with the film crew to ensure the health and safety of the dogs. Reccow assures, “There were daily rations for the dogs, but not for the people. Good to know, because we humans are much more okay with watching our fellow human beings suffer for our pleasure.
It was Mainer Platte (executive producer of the Maine Mariners hockey reality show “puckland“) whom Reccow credits with securing Maine some serious screen time in the show’s austere and beautiful setting, citing Platte’s many Maine connections and his time as the show’s executive producer. Animal Planet, Maine’s Gamekeeper”northern woods law.” Said Platte, “The company behind (another survival reality series) ‘Alone’ came up to Matt, who works with them a lot, and said, ‘What about ‘Alone,’ but with dogs? But, even though ‘Alone’ usually tours internationally, we ended up doing scouting during the height of COVID, and so international travel was out of the question.
Enter Maine to the rescue, but not without fierce competition from other states with vast swaths of undeveloped and suitably cinematic land such as Montana, Oregon and Northern California. In the end, however, it was Platte’s knowledge of these Maine North Woods (and the many permits and permits required) that won out, with Reccow explaining, “Devon’s contacts were the key to opening the door . He knew all the big landowners and big plots. He could drive and take pictures, and show first hand everything that was possible.
For a show like “Called To The Wild,” roaming the Maine wilderness is a huge undertaking, with Platte touting Maine’s unique environment — both natural and cinematic — as perfect for the show’s purposes.
“Apart from casting and location, the creative always needs water for any type of survival show,” Platte said, with Reccow citing Maine’s abundance of everything from fish to game to fiddleheads, mushrooms and berries for the colder and more hungry attendees to snack on. . (The series wisely didn’t film in the middle of a Maine winter, but Platte and Reccow note that fall in Maine is bad enough.)
“Additionally, we need extreme places that are still some driving distance from civilization, somewhere with hotels or camps for dozens of people, airports, etc.,” Platte explained about of the series, which filmed in late summer and fall 2020. “It’s kind of like bringing the circus to town.”
As Platte and Reccow point out, the circus of show business benefits all parties, something Mainer Platte is particularly proud of.
“It’s flowing,” Platte said. “A show is run from top to bottom, but bringing it to Maine is good for local crew members, as well as local hotels, restaurants and rental companies.”
“Perhaps more importantly, though,” Reccow pointed out, “it shows New York-based companies like ITV that filming in Maine is possible and profitable. Shipping things in a U-Haul to Maine costs a lot less than flying the whole thing to LA I think it’s fair to say that another project or two might come up in Maine thanks to Devon’s work, and Maine might come into the conversation sooner there ‘to come up .”
Here, it is true that under my auspices, Platte and Reccow have pointed out how Maine’s continued refusal to enact tax incentives for Maine film production runs counter to this potential influx of films and money from the film industry.
“Yeah, that would help,” Platte said with a laugh. “Over the years, Matt and I have worked on various projects that have benefited from the best tax incentives. There is not a production company that works with us that does not take this into account.
With the tax break interlude over, Reccow and Platte note that viewership for survival reality TV has grown significantly in recent years.
“There’s so much being done, it’s ridiculous,” Reccow said, speculating that our own pandemic isolation might be driving our desire to virtually launch into the big, wide world outside our doorstep. Preferably with a faithful canine companion snuggled up on the sofa next to us.
You can watch “Called To The Wild” on the National Geographic Channel or stream it through select providers on the National Geographic website.
Got Tix: where to find tickets for upcoming shows