I get asked the same question all of the time: "Hey Matt, do pontoon boats make good TV production boats?" You bet they do! Okay, maybe I don't get asked that question all of the time (or at all really) but I did have a chance recently to show off the versatility of the Starcraft MX 23 LP Pontoon by helping out a local TV production crew.
It's kind of a run around story, but I got a text from a wakeboard buddy asking if I could drive chase boat for a pretty well known photographer by the name of Dave Sandford. Dave has one of the best jobs in the world: he gets to take pictures for the NHL, NBA, wakeboarding and the Olympics. Well Dave was being profiled for a TV Show called "Ask Me Anything" and he not only needed someone to drive the chase boat for his camera assistant, but as well he needed a boat to take the crew around and film him in action. Matt to the rescue with the MX 23 LP! I jumped at this opportunity to help a well known photographer out, but also having worked in television in a previous life time - I can appreciate the struggle of producing good TV on the water.
What I can also appreciate is that the actual making of TV is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is really just a lot of what they call "hurry up and wait." Everyone has to get ready, then it's a slow crawl until it is time to rock and roll. In this case I arrived on "set" aka the local marina at about 6:05 am. The sun was just peaking over the horizon and the blue cupholder and under deck lights looked amazing as I screamed across the open bay. That was the end of the excitement as we then waited for almost 3 hours until we got going.
In the meanwhile the crew would use this time to start loading the boat with their gear. Bags upon bags upon bags were loaded into the boat containing tapes, batteries, forms, gears, cords and lights. This was no matter as I quickly dashed away all of the non essential gear uner the bow cushions, under the helm and the rear loungers. Then came the people. There were 3 camera men, a sound guy, Dave's camera assistant AJ, along with 3 producers of the show. Myself including we had 9 people on board, luckily the maximum capacity of the boat is 14, piece of cake!
On this morning Dave would be photographing some wakeboarding so we had to play chase boat and keep up to them. Luckily wakeboarding speed is fairly slow - only 22-23 mph because when I put the throttle down the Yamaha Outboards F200 had its work cut out for it. While the acceleration was a little slow, it did however still get on plane with all those people on board - most of them in the bow. Once on plane, we were able to keep up to the others without a problem! One thing that I was proud of was how the boat didn't list to any one side, even though the people were not evenly distributed from one side of the boat to the next. It rode flat and smooth - a repeating compliment I received throughout the duration of the morning. We cycled back and forth of Kempenfelt Bay's North Shore, Dave did his thing, the TV crew did theirs and I was responsible for getting them into the positions they needed.
It was a very exciting morning and an adventure to say the least. Having a back ground working for a boating TV show I was comfortable in this situation and would only reccomend helping a crew out if you are very experienced. That said it was very cool to see the Starcraft MX 23 LP get out of its comfort zone and be used in a different fashion. But really, how is inviting 9 people on board and having them bring a bunch of stuff on board any different from entertaining friends and family? That's right, it isn't!
Until next time, I'll see you on the water!