Thank goodness the fish were biting the day Dave Zelski and Phil Proctor, creators of cable television show Anglers & Appetites, visited Black Water Preserve with a camera and production crew. Producers of the show about adventures in fishing and preparing the fresh catch for dining, the duo were in town last fall to film a segment titled "Baitin' Up in the Boro" to be aired soon on the Fox Sport South network.
Zelski, host of a variety of programs on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), including Lawmakers, Georgia Business Report, and Georgia Traveler, joined colleague Proctor, best known for his work on Georgia Traveler, CNN, Headline News, and Turner Sports, to create the show that blends two of the South's favorite pastimes - fishing and eating. The fast-paced show moves from boat to table in about half an hour, but filming can take up to two or three days depending on location.
There was no chance involved in choosing Statesboro as the program's destination. Plans for the show, the actors, the cooking, and the meal were made over several visits to various locations in the county, but the first stop for Zelski and Proctor when location scouting began was the office of Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director "David and Phil know our community from their visit last year to film a segment for GPB's Georgia Traveler on ‘farming, feasting, and fun times' at Hunter Cattle Company, which can still be viewed at www.GPB.org," said Jeffers.
"As part of our mission to promote Statesboro as a tourism destination, the SCVB has been sending location shots and story ideas on area attractions to GPB and the Georgia Department of Economic Development's (GDEcD) Film & Television Division since July of 2013, when Statesboro was certified as a Camera Ready Community," she stated.
"Camera Ready" means our community is prepared to facilitate incentives, offer location diversity, production resources, and professional support to make any size production from commercials to feature length movies a success. According to GDEcD's website, in 2012 alone, television networks, Hollywood studios, production companies, and independent producers invested nearly $3.1 billion in Georgia.
For Camera Ready, Jeffers partnered with the Bulloch County Development Authority and the City of Statesboro to streamline permitting and other red-tape for those wanting to film here. In the past couple of years, Anglers & Appetites seems to be one in a growing trend of TV production companies or programs that have highlighted local residents and locations around Statesboro.
This time the City of Statesboro played a big role in facilitating the production of Anglers & Appetites, even providing two of the city's best fishermen for leading roles. Zelski and Proctor chose Statesboro City Councilman Travis Chance and the Department of Engineering's Building Inspector Sterling Starling to do the "casting" on board with Zelski.
Proctor said, "David had a ball fishing on the Ogeechee River and at Blackwater Preserve hooking a variety of fish including the sweet and tasty Jackfish."
The fresh catch of the day was cooked up at Heath Robinson's downtown restaurant, 40 East Grill, by Chef Jace and served to a delegation of lucky Statesboro diners in the Hall, a banquet and events room out back. "Chef Jace at the 40 East Grill already had a Statesboro-style fish fry in mind for when we arrived back in town with the catch," Zelski stated.
Making sure the film production crew had a great experience while working in Statesboro seems to have already paid off. Proctor gave a good review of the hospitality shown by the SCVB and the City when he stated, "First, the people are as friendly and hospitable as anywhere I've visited. It's like being around family and good friends. Next, there's nothing I enjoy more than good food and Statesboro has its share. My taste buds were singing in happy harmony after my meal."
In the close knit film and TV production community, positive comments travel almost as fast as the crews themselves. The Georgia Film Division takes notice when a town makes it easy for film companies to do business. GDEcD understands the positive intangibles this brings to an area. Every time a segment is filmed showcasing what Georgia has to offer, it's like free marketing of our state's (and our area's), many assets to potential visitors and tourists around the country.
Like Proctor, Zelski was also impressed with the service he and the crew received while on location. "Phil and I love to discover destinations, restaurants, and adventures for people to enjoy. We had been to Statesboro many times and knew this booming area had a lot to share. Once we talked to Heidi Jeffers, she hooked us up with some local anglers and Heath Robinson of the 40 East Grill, and the episode came together like magic."
Zelski continued, "It is so inspiring to see how much the people of Statesboro love their town, their fishing, and of course their football!"
"Don't take our word for it," Proctor said, "experience if for yourself. Visit Statesboro. You'll be glad you did."
Catch Anglers & Appetites, "Baiting Up in the Boro," premiering Saturday, April 5th, at 10:30 A.M., on Fox Sports South. The episode will repeat several times over the spring and summer. It will also be available on iTunes after the premiere.