From George Street TV to Adventures Unknown, Newfoundlanders Donny Love and Kent Brown take staycations to the next level
When Donny Love and long-time buddy Kent Brown tackle something, they jump in with both feet – literally. There’s little risk when working with someone you trust. Who needs a parachute when your bestie has your back?
“We’ve worked together for a long time, and we really trust one another at this point,’’ Love begins.
Brown smiles. ‘‘It’s important, when you have an untested vision, that you are working with someone who gives their all, and Donny always gives that and more.’’
AN ‘INTERACTIVE SHOW’
These two television veterans have had a partnership with NTV as well, one that’s grown over the past 30 years.
‘‘It started with George Street TV, and now we get to share the best Newfoundland has to offer on Adventures Unknown, plus the best part? Anyone with a social media account can go right along for the ride too, making suggestions and extending an invitation, which makes this a really fun, active as well as interactive show,’’ Love adds.
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Think this is a glorified glamour shoot? Guess again. There’s spills, mishaps, and real spine-tingling fear all tossed in for good measure.
‘‘We start out getting invited somewhere cool. The idea is, let’s discover our Newfoundland roots together. Get outside of town and just go and explore and have fun,’’ Love says.
MASTER OF NONE
He’s no master of the things he attempts, either. He’s the first to admit that. These adventures are as fresh to him as they are to the viewer.
‘‘We go dirt bike riding on Bell Island and I swim out to a sailboat and we go cod jiggin’ and exploring shipwrecks. And I’m not great at any of it,’’ he admits with a laugh.
From shark fishing and a stay on Bragg’s Island, a resettled community, to cave exploring and cliff diving to the great Labrador outdoors; this series has it all and then some.
‘‘Going 25 miles out in the North Atlantic Ocean catching sharks was really scary because we were in this little boat. Just to see the sharks come up, it was unbelievable. We went to Corner Brook and they have these huge caves underground, and it’s over a two-hour walk. It was pouring in a really dramatic and scary kind of way, and there’s flooding possible and alarms, and real fear. Yet, to look around, it was so beautiful and magical, like walking through Narnia,’’ Love says.
While beautiful, these amazing adventures come with challenges when it comes to production. Brown says he really had to stretch his talents at every new challenge presented.
‘‘Donny went water rafting. How do you capture the realism of going over the side of the raft and into the water, and capture the real-time, powerful conversations that are happening while there’s water rushing and wind blowing? It’s a challenge,’’ admitted Brown.
He offers he had to become a little like NTV’s MacGyver when it came to production for the show.
‘‘As a producer and as a director audio’s always a challenge. And shooting too, which is why we shoot so much with drones, because they take the physical challenge of having to set a camera up on a tripod and getting those shots. We’ll still have what we call our camera with us, but where possible, the drone always wins,’’ he shares.
The adventurers don’t just stick to the island of Newfoundland, either.
‘‘We did a snowmobile trek throughout the Big Land and stayed in log cabins with no cell service. So immense, so beautiful, so amazing! I didn’t know anything about Labrador beforehand. They’ve got a really great ski hill there and we met these young kids and they have these souped-up snowmobiles and they hit these jumps, and they taught me how to do it and we had a great day hanging out. The jumps, that was really scary. It gets your heart pumping.’’
ALONE IN THE WILD
In one episode, something else that got his heart pumping was being left alone in the wild, with no cell service. Armed with a solo-operated GoPro, Love got in touch with his adoration of the great Newfoundland outdoors.
Looking back now at the 13 episodes they’ve shot, how is he feeling? Thrilled and excited for more of the same, he offers enthusiastically.
‘‘My goal was to show the beauty and the culture and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and to share what adventures you can go on and to encourage people to come to Newfoundland or to stay at home and go on adventures. There’s so much to do here at home,’’ he says.
Another personal goal of Love’s was to make it to primetime on NTV. Thanks to the support of Canada’s Superstation, he’s made it.
‘‘I always wanted a primetime show, but you have to work really hard and the show has to be good. I thought my television career was over five years ago. I was like, what am I gonna do? This idea, it just came to me in my basement. And to see it actually be on primetime in HD is actually amazing. It’s amazing what you can just visualize and make happen when all of the stars align.’’
A ‘BIRDS-EYE VIEW’
Being back with Brown was one of those stars.
‘‘We both have so much experience and his work visually is absolutely stunningly beautiful. Some of this is drone footage and we have all the gear. It’s worth watching just for that bird’s-eye-view. It just takes your breath away.’’
What’s next? ‘‘Continue building this and build it for as many seasons as we can possibly go. There’s so many places to discover in Newfoundland and I’d love to bring those places to the world.’’
Something else Love hopes to connect with are fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the ones who invite him into their piece of paradise. ‘‘The whole storyline is that social media is bringing me through these adventures. So social media is connecting us, not keeping us apart, which is really cool.’’
Brown smiles. After stepping aside for a bit to concentrate on his young family, it’s nice to be back in the game, so to speak, at this level as a director.
‘‘As somebody who loves Newfoundland, the idea of being able go around and showcase our province was a no-brainer. We shoot Newfoundland like she’s the fashion model in the show. We really highlight the beauty,’’ he says.
We ask Brown if there were any surprises he encountered along the way. He nods. ‘‘I think everything surprised me. Every time you turn around in Newfoundland, there’s another piece of art to either see or to capture on film.’’
When asked how challenging this endeavour has been compared to others, his answer is pure poetry.
‘‘We were worried about the quality of the visuals but when you get out in Newfoundland and Labrador, you’re like, no matter what we do, this is going to be amazing because it’s going to look amazing because this province is so visually stunning.’’
We ask both men what their greatest learning has been over this past year of shooting Adventures Unknown for their production company, Big Jib Productions.
Brown starts. ‘‘You don’t know what the day is going to bring. Is it going to be snow? Is it not going to be snowing? But whatever conditions we were handed, we worked with them to our advantage. So if it was a lousy day, well, we made something of that. If it was a beautiful day, well, great. It’s a beautiful day. There’s no bad shot set-ups in this province.’’
‘‘We started filming on my birthday in August and we wrapped a year later. So birthday to birthday I was on the road in this beautiful province. What an amazing year.’’