Perry Chafe: Lights, Camera .. Advocate NL

Showrunner and executive producer, Perry Chafe is among the more influential figures in the massive growth in our homegrown film and television industry


Folks like Perry Chafe rarely have time to stop and smell the roses – though catching up with The Newfoundland Herald, the showrunner and executive producer behind Republic of Doyle, Frontier and Caught did acknowledge how wild a ride these recent years have been.

‘A Crazy Ride’

“It has been a crazy ride, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” shares the Petty Harbour native. “Since Allan (Hawco) and I created Doyle and it went to air in 2009 and we were fortunate enough to get six seasons and 77 episodes, it has sort of been just a whirlwind of making and creating wonderful programs that people seem to connect to. We were very fortunate to be able to do that.”

One of the principal members of Take the Shot Productions alongside Hawco, John Vatcher, Rob and Peter Blackie and Alex Patrick, Chafe can largely be credited as revitalizing the film and television industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, building on the foundation laid by the likes of Barbara Doran, Paul Pope and Mary Sexton. That turn of the tide all began with the little-engine-that-could production, Republic of Doyle.

“When we first started, we thought we would have something that we would watch and we thought people would relate to a character like Jake Doyle and a really good family drama,” Chafe says. “That’s one of the things I’m proudest about, people would come up to us all the time and say it was one of the few shows they could watch as a family, which these days is such a rare thing. 

“We thought we were onto something, but then the numbers started to come in and we were averaging over 1,000,000 viewers a week, which was massive. It just took off. Allan and I, six seasons later, we knew it was time to end it, and we kind of went out on our own terms in the final episode. Even today I get emails all the time asking when the movie is coming out. It resonates with people. We’re in over 100 countries with that show and it’s something we’re really proud of.”

A Whole New Edge

Post-Doyle, things have only grown for Chafe and Take The Shot. The worldwide hit Frontier, starring massive box office star Jason Momoa, put a whole new edge to what we were cooking here on home soil. 

Two seasons later and with a third on the way, as well as the successful adaptation of Lisa Moore’s Caught, and the good times are yet to stop for Take The Shot, and for Newfoundland and Labrador’s film and television industry. 

“We’re so happy to be a part of that and help build on an infrastructure,” says Chafe. “When we started years ago we were building on an infrastructure that was already here and started by the likes of Mary Sexton, Paul Pope and Barbara Doran. They’ve been doing incredible work before us, and still are, but we sort of added a layer to it where creating a show like Republic of Doyle, it’s an opportunity to foster talent and give people a chance to actually create skill-sets and work in an industry that we love. We helped build that simply by having an almost anchor client here, a year round television show to last six years, it just lends itself to build and add to the infrastructure that is already here. We were very happy to be able to do that, but add to what was already here before.”

Chafe is quick to praise the efforts of the entire Take The Shot family, but particular those of the unquestioned iron man in Allan Hawco, who has simultaneously tackled writing, acting and producing credits on multiple projects.

“We’ve known each other a long time,” Chafe says of Hawco. “We connected early and had a love of TV and had so much in common in regards to what we liked tone-wise and what genres we liked. The writing process can be long and arduous, but he and I are at a point where we have such a shorthand where we can cut through a lot of things quickly and save so much time, but also get to the real issue. We don’t need to be right, but the show needs to be right, and that comes with time. He and I really enjoy that creative process. It’s a rare thing and it has been working for 10 years. I’m proud of him, and he’s such an ambassador for this place. When he speaks, what comes out is his pride of Newfoundland and Labrador. He loves this place and wears it on his sleeve. The fact that he works so hard to get that out alone, that fills me with pride.” 

The Secret is Out

Through all the accolades and influx in viewers, Chafe’s biggest pride and joy may be the fact that such a buzz has been created surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador as a thriving filming location. No longer are we a hidden gem of mystic proportions on a global scale, and we have folks like Chafe to thank for the notoriety. 

“We have a lot of people come in to direct or guest stars who come to Newfoundland and they get in on the secret that we know about,” Chafe explains. “They’re absolutely blown away by what they see – the people, this place. It’s just pristine beauty, and so different from the east coast to the west. They take their experience back with them wherever they go. The stories they take with them of their most pleasurable and memorable experiences have been of working with us in Newfoundland.

“We try to develop a system where people can come here and do their best work. That comes from the top down and give everyone a chance to do what they do best. But the secret is out, and it has been out for awhile with the Alan Doyle’s and Ennis Sister’s of the world who are taking that message in their industries out and we’re just part of that voice. It’s no longer a hidden gem, the secret is out. I don’t want to live anywhere else. It would be easier to live somewhere else, much like people in the music business and other arts. It would be easier, but it’s not home. To be able to do what we love to do, and to do it in Newfoundland and create jobs, that for us is everything.”

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