By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer
INDUSTRY — The television show, Maine Cabin Masters, is finding favor across the nation as the cast, a group of family and friends, renovate Maine camps for the DIY Network.
“People are really intrigued,” Matthew Assmus, executive producer, with Dorsey Pictures in Denver, Colorado, said in an email.
Chase Morrill, his sister, Ashley Morrill Eldridge, her husband, Ryan Eldridge, and friends Lance Gatcomb, Jedi Baker, Matthew Dix, known as Dixie, and Dillon Robinson recently completed their fourth camp renovation in the area.
A film crew from Denver spent two weeks here filming four reveals and the start of two new projects for the upcoming second season of the show, Morrill said.
This time, the owners of one camp at Clearwater Lake are Chase and Ashley’s relatives.
The camp, the previous year-round home of their late grandparents, Richard and Peg Morrill, was placed in a family trust for their children and grandchildren to share, he said.
Just a little further down Blue Rock Road, the crew prepared for a reveal at Dr. Dora Anne Mills’ camp. A camp in New Sharon and one in Mt. Vernon were also transformed and revealed, he said.
(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)
Like other home improvement shows, the premise revolves around the crew making a major transformation to the camp in six to eight weeks. A budget is provided by the owner who cannot visit until the final reveal.
“I find trust with the camp owner is really important,” Morrill said. “So many generations find their camp to be a very special place. We don’t want to do anything to ruin it but instead make a positive change.”
Dorsey Pictures has other home renovation shows but this is one of the first shows they’ve done with a big group of friends, all of whom are unique and like-able characters. People have really responded to that, Assmus said.
“With this crew, what you see is what you get. They are real, friendly and everyone loves them,” Lisa Stanley, line producer from Denver said while at Clearwater.
The cast is family and friends from the Augusta-Gardiner area, Morrill said.
Morrill of Wayne was building houses when someone suggested he talk with a production company. He asked his co-workers if they wanted to be on tv… “sure, whatever” was the response.
A pilot was filmed in the Allagash for the History Channel. DIY picked it up. The first season featured ten shows from across the state. The upcoming season features sixteen.
Morrill’s sister, Ashley, does most of the design. With a degree in graphic design, she uses a lot of color and also understands what looks best on camera, she said.
(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)
They are given free reign with the camp but she asks and stays away from colors the owners don’t like. She also likes to see what the owner already has to get a sense of their style, she said.
She has ideas but so does the rest of the group.
“It is a group effort,” she said. “Ryan (her husband) says he’s not creative but he comes up with some good ideas. Everyone helps.”
Ashley also likes to go back afterwards and see how the owner has tweaked her ideas.
This season, she is bringing in the work of more Maine artists and craftsmen, Morrill said.
Richard Morrill, an engineer who grew up in Farmington, helped his children and grandchildren build their homes. “He taught me a lot,” Chase said.
The couple also taught them to be frugal and reuse as much as you can, he said.
That knowledge helps with the fixed budget. There is also some product exposure used to help the budget. “We use Maine wood and Maine wood companies,” he said.
A film crew comes in for five days of filming per camp. The first day to meet the family and see the camp, a day of demolition, two days in the middle for larger parts of the work and the last day – the reveal.
There is a cameraman in Portland available for some shooting but much is done with a diary cam, after all, it is a do-it-yourself show, Morrill said.
A team in Colorado and Los Angeles edits and puts the footage together from about 72 hours of filming, Stanley said.
“I’m hoping more people will find us this season,” Assmus said. “This fall we start airing on November 27, 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on DIY. We really hope everyone in America knows about Maine come 2018.”