New River Beach – If you visited New River Beach recently, you’ll have noticed some changes in the Haggarty’s Cove area. Multi-coloured beach huts, reminiscent of the English seaside, suddenly line the dunes, and cameras dot the beach – focused on teams furiously creating art – in the form of sand sculptures.
The world of reality TV has a new gladiator ready to enter the ring, one which pits sand sculptors against each other and the tide, as they build sand masterpieces only to see them washed away with the waves. The first of it’s kind show is scheduled to air on CBC Television and the CBC Gem streaming service during the early part of 2021.
Executive Producer and Co-founder of marblemedia, Mark Bishop, said the show will be highlighting sand sculpture artists from all over North America, and is hosted by popular Canadian actor and comedian, Shaun Majumder. “Race Against the Tide”, and it is the first reality show of its kind. The half-hour competition series will feature 10 teams of two world-class sand sculpture artists who are competing to create amazing works of art while trying to avoid elimination. The competitors will not receive prizes for their efforts, but will receive plenty of exposure, as well as bragging rights.
Each duo is not only competing against the another – they are also competing against the tide. Their hard work will be washed away as the ocean flows back into the cove, but not before they are evaluated and judged. Bishop, who is originally from Rothesay, said he was inspired after bringing his family home to visit last summer. They made a day trip to New River Beach with Bishop’s parents, and while building sand castles with his daughter, Bishop came up with the idea for this unique reality show.
“It’s like, oh, this is the perfect location, and the tide just gives us this natural wonder that just adds a whole level of competition and makes the show so unique,” said Bishop. “We’ve done a lot of competition reality shows, both for kids and adults with our company. We’re always looking for interesting worlds.
“We did one last year called, “Blown Away”, a reality show about glass blowing. I was thinking, ‘what are some other worlds that we can explore that are interesting art forms that have interesting characters but also have beautiful presentation’.
“Somebody on our development came up with the idea of sand sculpting. We started looking online, and of course we found the sand sculpting competition that happens every year at New River Beach.”
After discussing multiple location possibilities, both on the East and the West coasts, it was decided New River Beach was the ideal location for a show like this one. Bishop said as a “proud New Brunswicker”, he really pushed for this location, and is pleased to have been able to come here to film the reality show. He said they have had great support from the province and the parks department, as well as from the community.
Bishop said they began searching for “all kinds of interesting people” from all over North America who compete in sand sculpture competitions. He said this isn’t about typical sand castles. Race Against the Tide will be showcasing some pretty incredible works of sand art.
“The detail and the work, this is not a sand castle show. It’s beautiful sand sculpting, lions, tigers, and bears, and everything in between.”
Bishop and his team from marblemedia pitched the show idea to CBC, and he said the broadcaster was excited about the idea, particularly once it was revealed the hook of the show would involve the highest tides in the world being as much of a challenge as competing against other artists. The team began developing the show last fall, and created a series that begins with 10 teams consisting of two artists each. In each episode, teams all have the same amount of time to create their works of art.
“They’re from all over North America,” said Bishop. “We cast a really wide net, which was really exciting, to cast a really wide net of talented people that we found that are number one, really incredible sand artists, and number two, have really interesting back stories and characters that they can bring and share as part of our show.”
Planning such a show might seem like a logistical nightmare, particularly when dealing with the tides. Bishop said planning has been a “bit of a math game”, and they were looking at schedules months in advance of filming. They looked at how much time they would have in the daylight until the tides came in, and did a lot of juggling to make sure to get plenty of daylight while the tide is out.
“Everybody has to start building their sculpture, and then it’s judged and evaluated before the tide comes in and washes it all away,” said Bishop.
When asked about the show’s host, Bishop said Majumder was their first pick very early on. They wanted him to be a part of the show, so they also had to juggle the timing to ensure he would be available for filming.
“He’s such a great comedian, but he has a great way to connect with people too, he gets their stories and gets them talking as well. He’s a lot of fun. We did a location at the Hopewell Rocks for the opening of the show, and he was there. He’s just so animated. Audiences love him from other stuff, and I think they’re really going to like him in this.”
So, how does a show such as Race Against the Tide work? Bishop said there are markers on the beach, and cameras will be on the markers at all times so the audience will be able to see throughout each episode. The artists will start building at a specific time, and once the water hits those markers, their time is up. Bishop added this is also another way to keep the competition fair in terms of when the artists must stop, and it gives clarity to the audience at home.
“In the show, there’s lots of voiceover and imagery, but how do we represent where the tide is at so the audience at home knew, as well as the competitors, for fairness. We’ve kind of built in marker points so there’s fairness across the board,” said Bishop.
Although there have been some issues with residents not being able to access the beach during filming, Bishop said in general the show is receiving plenty of support from local residents. He said they took over one small section of the beach, and they have been respectful of the fact people want to visit the beach, just as he did when he visited last summer with his family. Due to the tide schedule, there is no filming taking place this week, but the crew will be back next week to wrap-up production.
“We’re back again the last week of August,” said Bishop. “We’ve been very clear and everyone’s been aware of that. The response has been overwhelming, because I think that, especially from a tourism point of view, people understand there’s great value in the show and what we’re doing.
“We can tell the New Brunswick story. People will be able to see some great New Brunswick sites and hopefully come out in the future and check it out themselves.”