Shooting an outdoor adventure TV show
Have you ever wondered how video of a bicyclist pedaling across a bridge was filmed or what the story is behind a stunning overhead shot of a bald eagle? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “No, it never crossed my mind.”
In the flow of television programming, such shots and views simply happen, smoothly transitioning from one thing to another as if you are looking with your own eyes. For instance, as you watch an angler on TV react with excitement after his cast, it’s perfectly natural to then see what he’s hooked and watch as he reels it in.
Capturing great video footage for an outdoor adventure show is an adventure itself! Follow along during the filming of World Fishing Network’s “A Fishing Story with Ronnie Green,” shot around Florida’s Adventure Coast during two beautiful mid-October days.
This is my place for all types of adventures
From before dawn to after sunset, many moving images chronicled why “This is my place for biking, history, paddling, swimming, scalloping, paddle boarding, fishing” and more. Soon to be crafted into a 30 second commercial and two program episodes, they spotlight a sampling of area adventures.
It all started with a time-lapse of sunrise at Cypress Lakes Preserve.
From there, the production team met to record a morning bike ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail. At the Ridge Manor trailhead, adjacent to SR 50, videos and photographs were taken - from several angles and locations - of a cyclist on the trail descending from the SR 50 overpass. A drone smoothly followed the cyclist from overhead, coming to eye level as she said “This is my place to bike.”
Next, the late morning sunlight shimmered on nearby Silver Lake in Withlacoochee State Forest. To illustrate the vastness of the lake that joins the Withlacoochee River, unobstructed by anything other than a shady pavilion, the photographers used the drone to record Ronnie Green’s pleasure at the area’s serene beauty. “I plan to come back and fish here soon,” he said.
Though not part of the plan, the producer considered stopping during the pretty drive from Silver Lake to Chinsegut Hill Retreat and Museum. Winding through the Withlacoochee State Forest on the recently fully-paved Croom Road, meant slicing through sunbeams and watching for wildlife.
As if you were former owners Raymond and Elizabeth Robins in the early 1900’s, a handheld, small video camera next toured the exquisitely-restored Chinsegut Hill Retreat and Museum for the segment: “This is my place for history.”
The estate was named by the Robins to be Chinsegut Hill (pronounced Chin-SEE-gut) which is an Inuit Indian word that means “the spirit of things lost and regained.” Moving footage captured everything from the ancient Spanish moss-draped oaks to the period-authentic historical manor house decor, which is now open for tours daily.
Ronnie Green and his production crew then traveled west to slip into the crystal clear Weeki Wachee River aboard kayaks provided by Paddling Adventures. While nothing matches the bliss of being there, cameras above and below water level assure the next best thing for the on-camera statement “this is my place to paddle.” Ronnie Green, delighted at every turn, repeated “I’m coming back soon to spend more time here. This place is great!”
After kayaking, Ronnie Green enjoyed a guided tour of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. An outdoor site was chosen with camera and audio equipment set up for an on-camera “stand-up” talk by John Athanason, Park Marketing Director. Prior to that day’s performance of “The Little Mermaid,” Ronnie Green got a peek behind the scenes as the Mermaids and Merman prepared for the show.
Post performance, three Mermaids remained in the water to accommodate additional specialized video from within the empty theater. Following pre-planned verbal instructions from the Mermaid theater director, they swam down to blow bubbly kisses and say “this is our place to swim.”
A predawn start and busy production schedule meant that a hearty lunch was in order. Everyone was happy with their choices and service at BeckyJack’s Food Shack. All ordered something different including the popular Crunchy Fish sandwich and everyone was thoroughly delighted.
For the segment “This is my place to paddleboard,” SUP Weeki demonstrated why this sport is so universally popular. The drone and hand-held video camera followed people as they traveled the pristine waterway, which is frequented by manatee, river otters and more.
To conclude the day visually, Ronnie Green and crew headed to Pine Island to record the sunset. As if on cue, that day’s descent of the sun over the Gulf of Mexico did not disappoint. Pastels brightened to coral which became deep orange and purple the closer the sun drew to the horizon. It was not until the stars had risen though that Ronnie Green called it a day. Time to rest. Tomorrow - fishing day - would start early.
Fishing adventure day
To craft an outdoor adventure TV show requires loads of planning, coordination and weather luck. This is particularly true when shooting out on the Gulf of Mexico. Both boats, boat captains, cast, camera crew, equipment, fishing bait and gear had to be assembled at the Bayport boat ramp by 6:30am.
Despite all being present and ready, the golden sunlight polished the blades of sawgrass and crept higher into the morning sky before launch actually occurred due to an unexpected audio equipment issue. Once resolved, the pair of boats headed to a spot sixteen miles offshore for the fishing sequence featuring Ronnie Green with his special guests Keith and Cole Kolasa.
While motoring gently out the channel, moments after sending the drone up for aerial coverage, a bald eagle was spotted atop a nearby dead tree. Without disturbing the bird, moving images were captured from alongside.
Once the boats were positioned at a favorite grouper fishing spot, the director arranged himself - operating the drone - and two other cameramen on the boats (while at sea) preparing to record from all angles. While some believe “nothing will run fish off faster than cameras,” that was not the case this time. In short order, Ronnie Green excitedly reeled in four grouper and two amberjack. It was great fun.
"We're living the dream aren't we?" shouted one of the cameramen to the other.
"Ask me next week when I'm facing high winds, rough seas, faulty equipment and no fish," laughed the other.
The catch is important but what makes “A Fishing Story with Ronnie Green” so engaging is the depth to which he explores our destination and learns its stories.
After returning to shore and enjoying a picnic lunch at Bayport Park, the producer set up the cameras and microphones for one more session: Ronnie Green’s interview with Keith Kolasa and his son, Cole. Experts on this coastal area, the Kolasas engaged in a friendly on-camera dialog with host Ronnie Green, explaining what makes Florida’s Adventure Coast special.
Among the topics they covered were best types of fishing and boating, the seagrass habitat and ecology, artificial reef program and the newly mapped coastal kayaking trail (below), which will open February 2017.
After returning to shore, lunch and the sit-down interview, the boat captains, most of the cast and crew from that day’s production departed one-by-one. Finally, with a smile, Ronnie Green called it a wrap.
While much of the “A Fishing Story with Ronnie Green” TV shows remains to be done in post-production, sharing the capture of hundreds of spectacular visual moments was an exciting adventure in and of itself.
Check out the land route here.
Learn more about World Fishing Network’s “A Fishing Story with Ronnie Green.”
Filmed during scalloping season, here is a short video sample for "This is our place to scallop," which will be featured in the Adventure Coast scalloping episode. The sequence stars Weeki Wachee Mermaids Katie and Whitney.
The Florida’s Adventure Coast episodes will air at a date to be determined next Spring. Stay tuned!