Last night Discovery Channel presented the "Making of the Motherlode" episode to see exactly what the cameramen and production crew went through to bring the fans the close-up shots of "Gold Rush."
When Jonathan Hales, the new production director gets stuck in the mud, he nearly gets killed by an excavator. When finally alerted, the miner operating the machine brings the Indian River operation to a halt, as Jack Hoffman, with the precision of a surgeon, uses 3,000 pounds of equipment to rescue him from his fate. As a newer member of the production crew, he now knows just how dangerous this job can be. On top of the near-death experience, he had to deal with Todd Hoffman's wrath for shutting down the operation and losing valuable time.
As Parker Schnabel was attempting to navigate the narrow path around the mountain, where he drove a heavy dump truck filled with dirt down a potentially lethal road, the crews were there to add mini cameras to his truck and include a microphone, so they could hear every word Parker said as he navigated the tight road. Parker was precariously close to tumbling over the three hundred-foot cliff. After Parker made it around the worst part, he stopped to say that they crossed the line. He could feel the truck slipping and did not need the sound guy to tell him about it as his life hung in the balance.
At Porcupine Creek, the film crew was down 80-feet in the glory hole; a potential grave for them where rock slides and rushing water could wipe them out in an instant. The safety officer forced them to abandon the glory hole as rocks fell among them, just missing them. The camera crew had to figure out a way to film Fred's digging the hole deeper in search for the ancient waterfall, without loss of life. They built a cage and pulley system to support their camera, too loose and the shot could be lost, too tight, and it could snap smashing the $70,000 camera on the rocks below. Just like the miners, who must be prepared to jerry rig equipment at a moment's notice, so must the production staff, so they give viewers the best of their best.
As things transpire instantly, the crews must be prepared for everything that happens at the mines. Fred bought his 270 excavator from his old rival, Todd Hoffman, but after two years at the glory hole, the equipment is consistently breaking down.
At Quartz Creek, Todd got word from the film crews that the Dakota Boys were struggling. Todd met with his father, Jack and discussed Fred's dilemma. He told Jack that the 400 was sitting there, and maybe they could let Fred borrow it. Jack gave his blessing to Todd and Sam Brown; the series producer took the ride with him to see Fred. Todd was not anxious to have them film this part, but it shows just what Todd is worth as a man and fellow miner. This could be the start of mending fences with Dakota Fred. As Todd drove the 600 miles to meet with Fred, the scenery was awesome along the way. After last season, Fred was accused of being a claim jumper, which did not sit well with either crew.
As the producers got ready to film the meeting between Fred and Todd, they found out that Todd met with Dustin earlier and then left Porcupine Creek, leaving Sam there. Dustin told Todd that Fred was too proud to accept his offer. When Sam returned to the Klondike, he had a showdown with Todd. He told Todd that he blew one of the best events of the "Gold Rush" season. Sam has a lot of history with Todd and does not always know where he stands. They agreed on a truce and shook hands.
The camera crews experience the ups and downs of the miners, but also have feelings of their own to deal with. Being away from their families and in a place where they are literally isolated, is not easy for either crew. Parker always gives them a run for their money, being a teenager; he is subject to the emotions of a teenager, with the responsibility of an adult. Parker seems to have the least amount of regard for the camera crew and tires easily of working around the clock and being at their every whim. Many of them were there for two years awaiting his gold strike at Big Nugget. When it turned out to be a huge disappointment, the film crew was as disheartened as Parker.
At Quartz Creek, when the trammel broke down, the crew had to find things to do to amuse themselves, but that soon got tired. When the trammel started running after two weeks of being silent; the film crew and miners celebrated. Unfortunately, for the sound crew; the trammel was louder than a jet engine. After checking the sluice; the trammel was letting the gold escape, and they finally shut it down, for good. The next day, the decision is made to head to Indian River. Both miners and production staff head there as the helicopter made the epic camera shot of the line of equipment on the road to Indian River.
Conflict with both crews of production and miners reached inferno levels as the season came to an end and quotas were not in the foreseeable future. As Todd ran the operation around the clock, the camera crews had to do the same. As breakdowns occurred, Todd gave the production crew stern warnings to wear hard hats. When the Indian River wash plant broke down, oil was leaking into the sluice box, as the crew hurried to fix the problem, the production staff asked Dave Turin questions that annoyed him as they tried to capture his emotion. But never to be defeated, Dave got it repaired and back to work.
As the British crew spotted an ugly large insect; it turned out to be a wasp laying eggs on a log, the decision as to whether to let it live or not was superseded by Parker, who took matters into his own hands, by ending its life.
As the film crew anxiously awaited the final clean out of Indian River, Jack Hoffman was asked to pour out the gold one more time for the camera, and it spilled. Jack was livid, and it was very much unlike the usual demeanor of Jack. The thousand-ounce goal was something both crews wanted to see. As the pro and con bets between the production crew arose; the bearded men had a bet to lose their whiskers to the winners. Just short of the thousand, it was a season for both crews to be proud of; beards or not.
The fun ensued as the crews were departing, acting just like little boys, they all left as friends. Despite the conflict of the past season, practical jokes and roughhousing were the physical releases they needed to liberate much of the pressure they were under during the season as fans look forward to the next season of "Gold Rush."