Banff: “I’m a journey junkie,” says Thom Beers

Appearing at the Banff World Media Festival as "The 'Unchallenged King' of High-Octane Reality Television," Thom Beers, CEO and executive producer of Original Productions, detailed his meteoric rise as a producer.
June 15, 2011

Appearing at the Banff World Media Festival as “The ‘Unchallenged King’ of High-Octane Reality Television,” Thom Beers, CEO and executive producer of Original Productions, detailed his meteoric rise as a producer.

By way of documenting his move from acting to working as an executive at Turner Broadcasting, to founding Original Productions, the producer of History’s Ice Road Truckers and Discovery’s Deadliest Catch explained, “I’m a curious guy.”

He detailed attending a producer’s workshop about 25 years ago, where the assembled room of 20 aspiring producers was asked to choose between producing a one-hour episode for a program on airshows in Dallas, where it would be delivered on time and on budget, or going to Paris to shoot the same show but having it come in over budget.

Beers said that 19 producers raised their hands for Dallas and he was the only guy to vote for Paris. When asked why he chose that option, Beers said, “Simple, I’ve never been.” The workshop leader then proclaimed, “That’s a producer!”

Beers said a primary methodology in his successful producing career has been in finding different avenues into a story.

When asked by interviewer Michael Katz, VP programming and production, AETN International, if he was an action junkie, Beers replied, “I don’t like to put myself in danger, but I’m a journey junkie.”

As an example, he discussed how his massive hit for History, Ice Road Truckers, came to be. History’s Nancy Dubuc had come to him with a special Modern Marvels episode on the subject and asked Beers to make a show out of it.

“I looked at it and started to sweat,” he recalled. “Five guys in trucks by themselves driving 15 miles an hour. Wow.”

Then Beers re-examined the Modern Marvels episode to find out where the drama was coming from. “Simple,” he said of the ‘Eureka’ moment. “The ice is the villain.”

Currently Original Productions has 14 shows in production across seven different networks.

Beers was also the recipient of the Banff World Media Festival’s Award of Excellence in Non-Fiction.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.