Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making Warriors on the Great Lakes

It was the fall of 2011, camera crews loaded up their gear and boarded a number of tugboats on the Great Lakes with the intent to create a new, unique television series. What they would get is a show that has become the talk of the Great Lakes shipping industry and a favorite among ship watchers.

Great Lake Warriors on History has quickly become a must watch show. With one episode in the books and seven more to come, many are hoping the premiere is only a small taste of what the season will bring.

Tugboat captains and crew members have already spit fire at one another and at the tasks they face. Curse words almost outweigh the common noun or verb.

Its an interesting look behind the scenes at what these crews are up against and the close quarters they must share on their boats.

Earlier today I caught up with Co-Producer George Houde who shared his thoughts on the show.

The Ship Watcher: Where did the idea of following tugboat crews come from? 

George Houde: We (Towers Productions based in Chicago) wanted to highlight the Great Lakes with its rich history, legend and lore. We though that tug crews would provide a great action series set against the backdrop of the lakes.

TSW: The show name... some in the industry are critical of the term 'Warriors' being used. Where did the name come from and what do you say to those in the industry who tend to be doing "tougher" jobs in ship engine rooms, piloting a 700-foot freighter, etc?

GH: All marine jobs can be difficult and dangerous. We felt the tugboats would provide a look at the difficulties faced by mariners in general, plus a wide variety of missions (transporting of materials, icebreaking, assisting with search and rescure, construction and salvage).

TSW: What is the feedback from History after the premiere? Does the show look to have enough legs for a second season after just one showing?

GH: That is undetermined at this time.

TSW: What is the feedback from viewers? what are you hearing, any consideration in applying ideas suggested by others since the premiere?

GH: People say they love the show! One suggestion for the future has been the addition of a female deckhand.  

TSW: Was there any reason for leaving Lake Ontario out of the show?  

GH: Lake Michigan and Superior were logical choices for Towers Production based in Chicago. We hope to expand to the other lakes in the future.

TSW: Insurance issues - many industries have been said to take a hit with insurance hikes after a debut of shows like Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, etc. Do you think Warriors will effect insurance of tugboat operators?

GH: We haven't heard that and have no facts to support that. We don't think our show will have an effect on insurance rates.

TSW: Are all 8 episodes taped and produced at this point?

GH: The episodes are complete except for minor fine tuning. Footage was shot over a period of five months, ending in February.

TSW: Looking ahead to this week's episode - what should viewers expect to see?

GH: Watch for Heritage Marine in Duluth to get in the spotlight in its struggle against a corporate titan. In Chicago, Captain Ted Long wrestles with weather and a dangerous barge load.

Be sure to tune in to History on Thursday evenings to catch Great Lake Warriors.


Lynda said...

Thank You for doing that, Interesting : ) and glad Lake Ontario and our watched ships could be on the program.

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You really have a deep insight to Lakes ,ships and ship watchers....I love to read the thoughts of the Co-producer here, they also seem to me have big perceptions...

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