Tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 7), Discovery Channel airs “Deadliest Catch: Behind the Scenes,” the season 8 iteration of the annual special that shows what goes on behind the cameras capturing crab-fleet life on Alaska’s Bering Sea.
Holding one of those cameras since the show’s first season has been producer and cinematographer Todd Stanley (pictured above between Capt. Phil Harris, left, and his son, Josh Harris, right).
Asked what it takes to wield a camera aboard a crab boat in autumn and winter, Stanley says, “You gotta have a lot of grit. You have to have a lot of endurance. It’s not easy spending long hours out there. … It’s not for everybody. The hours are long and grueling.
“I feel a lot of responsibility for the show. It’s sort of my baby. I’ve been there since the beginning, before it was even called ‘Deadliest Catch.’ It’s something that I take a lot of pride in. It’s hard to leave. I enjoy it; I really do. But I’m sort of a sadist when it comes to things like that.
“I plan on being there until the end of the end.”
The 15-year TV veteran — a small-town boy who got his start chronicling his adventures as a river-rafting guide — spent seasons aboard the F/V Cornelia Marie at the side of Capt. Phil Harris. When Harris suffered a stroke in port, Stanley was with him in the hospital in Anchorage until he passed away in February, 2010.
Over the years, Stanley has gotten close to several members of the Alaskan crab fleet, including Harris’ sons, Josh and Jake Harris (at right in a red-carpet shot by Stanley from the 2010 Creative Arts Emmys; Josh is the bearded one), and F/V Northwestern deckhand Jake Anderson.
As viewers have seen, Josh spent this past crab-fishing season on the F/V Time Bandit, planning toward his goal of buying the Cornelia Marie outright and putting her to sea. Meanwhile, Jake Harris, who went to rehab for drug addiction during his father’s illness, struggled during his stint on the Northwestern.
During a break in fishing, Jake Anderson married love Jenna Patterson in May. Also, after two-and-a-half years of study, he earned his mate’s license.
In addition, while the episodes were airing in late June and early July, Anderson — and the “Deadliest” fans — learned the fate of his father, Keith Anderson, whose remains were found near where he disappeared in the Washington State woods in January, 2010.
“I had a really tight relationship with the Harris boys on the Cornelia Marie,” says Stanley, “and of course, with Phil. So, I kept in touch with Phil more so than Jake and Josh, but I felt a real tight bond, especially with Jake. When he was going through rehab, I visited him down there at the Betty Ford Clinic. I was there every weekend except two.
“In fact, I was the one who picked him up the day he was released. Ever since then, he has vanished. I don’t see much of Jake; I don’t hear from him much. What I know of him, he worries me. To be honest with you, the future of Jake — I’m scared for him. I really am. I hope he can pull it together. … I hope Jake wakes up. If he doesn’t, he’s going to find himself dead.”
Stanley is also keeping an eye on older brother Josh’s efforts to continue his father’s fishing legacy.
“I hope the best for him,” he says. “He needs to really pay attention and get focused and be truthful with himself. If he’s going to continue on as a fisherman, he needs to take the necessary steps and have follow-through and be held accountable for his actions.
“I love Josh dearly. Again, it’s hard to watch somebody that you love and care for sort of flail at times. God, those poor kids. Losing their dad at a young age was not a good thing.”
Stanley is much more optimistic about Jake Anderson (below).
“I couldn’t be more proud of somebody,” he says. “I remember the first day of meeting Jake, when he was a greenhorn on the Northwestern. Gosh, he had a lot of drive and ambition. He’s had his rocky past, too, but the difference is, Jake reeled it in.
“He realized, ‘Hey, man, I need to get clear on what it is I want to do.’ He set up some goals, and he’s actually attained them. He’s moving forward. He just looks vibrant. You see him on TV, and you can tell that he’s happy. I couldn’t be more proud of the kid.”
Fans who remember greenhorn Anderson getting his Northwestern jacket from Capt. Sig Hansen know how much he’s changed over the years … and that goes for all the young deckhands.
“I know!” says Stanley. “It’s true. I sometimes catch myself thinking that. I can’t believe it’s been this many years. I was telling somebody the other day about Jake Harris. I remember the first time I met him. He was, like, 19, and my goodness, he looked so innocent, and he acted so innocent and young.
“The thing I will remember about Jake back then is how he seemed so full of life. He was so excited about working on the Cornelia Marie. He had a lot of ambition and drive. I remember him telling me about how he wants to buy his own house. He wants to have his own boats, all those things.
“He had dreams. That’s probably what’s so sad and crushing for me. He doesn’t talk about dreams, really, anymore. It’s like you say, a lot of years have flown by.”
While Stanley has his doubts that Josh Harris will be able to realize his goal of being a boat owner, he says, “I hope he does. I really do. It’d be amazing to see him pull that off. It would. What’s more, for his own personal gain, he would have actually accomplished something he said that he was going to do. Who cares about America, do it for yourself.
“Honor and integrity and being a man of your word is something I have lived by. You want to be able to sleep good at night, and you want to be able to feel good about the things you’re doing. I know Josh wants to do it. I hope he wants to do
it for himself.
“I think of those guys every day of my life. I hope they are successful, and they can pull it off. I’ll never forget the day picking Jake up from Betty Ford. He looked so good; he had a big smile on his face; he looked so healthy. He was excited and invigorated about being out.
“He had such a positive outlook on life, and it just didn’t last very long.”
But the “Deadliest Catch” goes on.
Says Stanley, “Well be back in Dutch Harbor before you know it.”