Last fall, S. Paul Gasek Jr. ’72 received an Emmy Award for Best Reality Series as executive producer of “The Deadliest Catch,” the Discovery Channel series about Alaskan king crab fishermen. His hometown paper, the Cape Codder, caught Gasek at home in Brewster, Mass., discussing his leaving the show after his sixth season – which he asserts is not “retirement,” as much as a change of direction.
The article quotes Gasek, “At 61 I’m not ready to retire,” he declared. “I want to do something significant. I think science education is important. Science is such a black box and we need to know more. I think science is more than a collection of facts. It’s a way of life.”
The full story is below.
‘Deadliest Catch’ producer comes home to Brewster
Rich Eldred • November 18, 2011
Crab catching has finally got its due. Two months ago, after years of also-ran status, Brewster resident Paul Gasek collected an Emmy Award for Best Reality Series as executive producer of “The Deadliest Catch.”
The series, which chronicles fishermen in search of Alaskan king crab, also collected Emmys for best picture editing, sound mixing and cinematography in a reality series. In prior years “The Deadliest Catch” had been entered in the nonfiction category where it fared poorly against competition for PBS. Gasek shared the award with co-producer Tracy Rudolph.
“You have a myth,” he reflected. “You have a group of favored heroes who set out on a perilous journey in search of treasure and have to make it back. That’s a classic thing. Like ‘Jason and the Argonauts,’ it’s one of the oldest stories in literature.”
Gasek executive-produced the show for six seasons and during the last couple he was able to do some of the work out of his home on Stony Brook Road in Brewster.
The show is actually made by Original Productions and Gasek’s job was sort of a liaison between the network (Discovery Channel) and the show’s producers.
“The show was the brainchild of Thom Beers,” Gasek explained. “He’d gone up to Alaska. He does ‘Ax Men,’ ‘Ice Road Truckers.’ The first year with eight episodes did well and I got hired in 2006. They hired me because they knew I’d been a commercial fisherman. I got to know all the guys.”
Beers’ company also does “Storage Wars,” “A Thousand Ways to Die,” “America’s Toughest Jobs” and assorted other shows.
Gasek’s task was to help bring veracity to the fishermen’s series and to tone down some of the scripted portions. He departed after last season.
“I was down in Silver Springs, Md., and I spent a lot of time and money trying to get back up here. Last year I’d work a week on and a week off at home. My contract was up in July and I came home,” Gasek said.
He’s owned the Brewster house for years and is on the board of trustees for Brewster Conservation Trust, involved with seeding oysters in Cape Cod Bay, and he has followed local water issues.
“I really want to work in Boston. I want to teach, maybe work with Nova, that would be a dream career move,” he said. “I’ve taken time off.”
His own company is Stony Brook Films.
“It’s hard to make a living here but I love the neighbors and have a lot of friends here,” Gasek noted.
He is originally from Utica, N, Y. His father was a clergyman and bought a cottage on Cape Cod in 1957 on Point of Rocks Road.
“He wanted a place for us to grow up. Everything was there, birds and fish and the whole wonder of Cape Cod Bay. We fished. We clammed. We did all of that stuff. When I graduated from Hobart College in ’72, I came here and worked as a dollar a box man on a trawler in Chatham, The Bob and Bill.”
He later worked on the Pocahontas, Barney B., Gwendolyn M. and more. Today, returning to his roots, he occasionally goes to sea with Bill Amaru of Chatham.
By 1979 he’d gotten into broadcasting, working with Robin Young and Marty Sender on WBZ’s “Evening Magazine” as a sound engineer.
“I couldn’t make enough money sound recording so I’d fish from May to October,” he recalled.
He gave up fishing in 1984 and went to work as a freelancer for National Geographic.
“My first film was shot in 16 millimeter, storm chasing in Oklahoma. I did approximately 25 films for National Geographic from 1985 to ’91. I started my own company in 1992,” Gasek said.
He made educational films for National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery, The Learning Channel, then took a real job for the Science Channel when someone suggested he tap into his fishing genes and apply to produce “The Deadliest Catch.”
“There are two executive producers,” he explained. “One with the Discovery side and one with the original producers. The shows have to unfold in an interesting way. Some of the things the script would say were outrageous and I’d have to say ‘no no this is going on.’ So I kept it authentic and Original [Productions] got better at it.”
The show had a budget of more than half a million dollars and more story was shot that could fit into Discovery’s schedule. They had to pare it down and focus it.
“I can’t say I did it all. It takes a village,” Gasek admitted. “You can’t fake fishing, the boats, the weather. You go for the drama that’s there. We had brothers, fathers and sons. They were competitive. There was so much natural drama in life we just played to that. It’s essentially a male soap opera. Nobody cares about the crabs. It’s all about the people.”
While the fishermen occasionally hammed it up for the camera, they’re really too busy to worry about the filming.
“There’s no time to make it up. You got to go crabbing. You can’t fool around,” Gasek noted. “That strips away the artifice and posing. It’s kind of like shooting animals from a blind and the animals get used to you.”
He also produced five seasons of “After the Catch.”
“At 61 I’m not ready to retire,” he declared. “I want to do something significant. I think science education is important. Science is such a black box and we need to know more. I think science is more than a collection of facts. It’s a way of life.”