I have been operating party boats for over 5 years and since day one we have always had weird or stupid requests. Requests have ranged from being asked if we can sail around the coast with people drinking onboard for DAYS at a time; if fireworks can be launched off the roof; and once we were even asked if we can board people from a car park that was nowhere near a river. So when the HMS69 admin team told me they had received an email from MTV I was immediately skeptical, when I read that it was for The Valleys reality TV show all worse case scenarios for accidents that I cover with new crew flashed through my mind and I pictured people jumping into the sea, drifting out to sea and landing myself in court.
Meeting a Producer
After a brief exchange of emails I met with the producers at our marina, where the boat rests whilst waiting for her next party. They explained that as employers themselves they would be carrying out risk assessments and had no intention of letting any of the cast get wet, far from it! Quite simply, they wanted to hire our party boat using it as the scene for the final episode, which is to be one of the stars 21st birthday parties and they would get back to me with further questions regarding their risk assessment and a proposal with regards to a discount.
After this meeting I asked friends and other business leaders for their advice. The feedback had quite a range, including: “throw them in” all the way to getting a full on contract written up to ensure my logo appeared in the episode and on their website. My personal favorite was being asked to “put your logo on a long distance shipping container and sell MTV a ‘Valleys; Castaway’ concept?”. Other advice was concerned if I charged enough and to actually watch an episode as they would be no different to any other party we have onboard.
So What did I do?
I watched an episode and when you take a step back from the hype that surrounds the show and the people in it, you soon realise that although every other word involves swearing, the show in fact is not that bad as the PR wants you to believe. When talking to people who had met them in person it was suggested that the cast had let fame go to their heads and they would be arrogant and awkward to deal with and make demanding requests. I decided to put all the preconceived stereotypes aside and forget about contracts and potential deals and to simply treat it as we would any other Private Party Charter that we would host for anyone’s birthday, the only difference would be the TV crew following them onto the boat and the production teams request to cover the seats on the boat due to camera lighting.
What Actually Happened on the Night
The assistant producer asked to be able to setup some decorations to help with the filming of the show before the cast came onboard. This didn’t seem a problem but the first warning of how the evening was going to pan out came when he emailed me asking if the boat had been located in a different place, even though he had been there himself he could not find it. I’m glad I refused to give out my personal mobile number as I cannot imagine how many phone calls I would constantly receive from the production team asking all sorts of minor questions which are either answered on our website or could be replied too in an email. Then came the news that even though they had hired the boat from 7:30-10:30, the cast would not be ready until 9:00 (they began getting ready at 4:00). I was surprised at hearing this, but the assistant producer was not and seemed to me to be used to these types of delays. We left the marina a few minutes later than usual just in case they did turn up early. I was not going to allow our side of things to cause a delay or be a potential problem and wanted to ensure we stuck to our promise, regardless of the ‘intel’ being received. We had at this point some extras onboard who started doing push ups once they realised they would be featured quite prominently in the show. Once moored at our usual boarding point for passengers the assistant producer finished off his redecorating just in time for the cast to arrive at 8:40, which was lucky as he had expected them to arrive 20 minutes later.
Once the cast arrived they were great, remarkably polite to me and the feedback from my crew was very positive. I’ll blog my thoughts on them in a later post. The cast looked fantastic, I had anticipated 8 inch heels with short skirts and shorter tops, but they had gone all out and dressed as kings and queens for the night. They all looked great and the theme was a great idea. There were eight members of the cast, we already had four extras but the production team consisted of ten people in total, with two security guards too! There were more in the production team carrying cameras and writing things on iPads than were appearing in the show. You could tell in peoples eyes how exhausted they were from working since 9am and the only time people smiled was when being reminded at the news as this was to be a segment in the final episode of series three of The Valleys, I think everyone was looking forward to sleeping and not being responsible for the things drunks get up to!
Eventually when we got going we were asked to play the new single Lateysha had recorded. This was a surprise to us as although we can play tunes off a usb stick, we were not so sure a CD would work and would have liked to do some quick checks to ensure it worked beforehand. Hopefully in the show the single gets well received, its a good beat and definitely going to be a top club tune once released. They pretty much filmed inside the whole time, with all the heat and drinking you would never know they were on a boat. Outside the water was smooth and the weather was perfect for a party onboard, but by filming inside you would never know they were on a boat, they could have just filmed in a studio!
For me, I’m happy with the decisions I made and after watching the show I tried not to judge or have prejudices towards the cast and ditched any expectations. I wasn’t however ready for the hassle and last minute changes and things going wrong all the time for the TV crew, and I am relieved I stuck to my guns with not giving out my mobile number as the double benefit is that I have a written record of any correspondence as everything was carried out by email. My only regret was not taking more photos with the cast as its unlikely we will meet them again, so if you are reading this don’t be afraid to take more photos!
I am now in possession of the new demo CD music single for Lateysha to be released in 2014 and find myself looking forward to the third series of The Valleys to see if i’m in the background. So after all that has happened I’ve become a fan of the show. I wonder if this is how they build their audience? I also find myself wondering where I can get my teeth whitened.