Reality TV Ramps Up In Alaska
Networks are taking advantage of state tax credits to film more reality TV shows across Alaska.
The Alaska Film Office offers incentives for companies to shoot in the state. They can get a 30% tax credit or more if they hire Alaskans or film in a rural area. Networks are taking advantage of that making Alaska the place to be for reality TV.
The AK craze started almost a decade ago with the Deadliest Catch. Currently 26 true-life shows are being shot around the state, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at industries in the Last Frontier, like Flying Wild Alaska or Ice Road Trucker.
“A lot of it seems to be driven by unique occupations that most people don't get to experience in their lifetimes now. Things that are still about working outdoors, those are the kind of things that have the most attention to them,” said Wanette Ayres, Division Director for the Division of Economic Development.
Russell Knight knows all about marketing his unique profession. His store, Knight’s Taxidermy, was featured in 15 episodes on the History Channel’s ‘Mounted in Alaska’ last spring.
"It was a heck of a lot of fun and it really impacted our business in a positive way. Very few negatives. Bottom line was we had 15-20,000 tourists come through the front door and it increased our bottom line by a significant amount,” said Knight.
Knight says he’s not surprised more people are trying to cash in on the Alaska scene.
“A lot of it has to do with the mystique of Alaska and we do very unique and unusual things in Alaska and it's so beautiful up here.”
Wild West Guns in South Anchorage is the latest shop to open its doors to a film crew.
“We're the production company that makes Sons of Guns on the Discovery Channel so this will be similar in the sense we'll be centered inside a gun shop here at Wild West Guns, but that's where the similarities stop. It's going to be very much out in the wilds of Alaska, lots of hunting and fishing,” said Hank Stepleton, the show’s co-executive producer.
Managers say they’re already anticipating the financial boost they’ll get from the show.
“We have a location in Las Vegas too so we're extremely busy and I guess we're just going to get busier. It's great for Alaska because it's going to attract more tourists when they're here on their vacation,” said Wild West Guns Manager, Ken Feinman.
With a full season of reality TV under his belt, Knight says he’s got one tip for Wild West Guns: “Get ready and hold on because you have a bucking horse headed your way.”
Wild West Guns has a casting call Saturday, April 21 from 10am to 5pm. Anyone who can’t make it is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for the show.