MILLINOCKET, Maine — As an image of his own face filled the projection screen and various flat-screen televisions arrayed around the room Friday night, Rudy Pelletier folded his arms across his chest and watched a little anxiously.
The 51-year-old is a logger, not an actor, but there he was, one of the leading players in the Discovery Channel’s new reality-TV show, “American Loggers,” making his national television debut at 10 p.m. on Fridays.
After the first commercial break, Pelletier turned to his friend, local restaurant owner Tom St. John.
“So far, so good?” Pelletier asked.
“Perfect!” St. John replied. “It doesn’t get any better!”
About halfway across the River Drivers restaurant floor, the show’s executive producer, Sean Gallagher, was asking the same sorts of questions of the people around him.
“Watching the show with all these people around is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Gallagher admitted. “I thought it was going to be like going to a party, and that’s it, but this is tough. They obviously like it, but it’s hard.
“The first show of any new series is the hardest to set up,” Gallagher said, explaining that from a storytelling point of view, any first show is a lot of heavy lifting. Characters have to be introduced, settings described and dramatic conflicts established, all while hooking what might be the only audience the show gets.
“Wait until you see show No. 5,” he added. “That show is crazy and this leads up to it.”
Discovery has ordered 10 episodes so far, Gallagher said.
A Bangor native and owner of Half Yard Productions, a Maryland-based television and film production company, the 42-year-old Gallagher hit upon the idea of a show on Maine loggers after seeing the History Channel’s “Ax Men” and “Ice Road Truckers.”
“They do those shows really well, but when I saw [Ice Road Truckers], I thought, ‘I know a road that’s more dangerous than that.’ It was the Golden Road,” Gallagher said. “I figured if we could figure out a family-driven show based around that, it would be great.”