‘Deadliest Catch’ Editor Was Hooked on Discovery Series From the Start

'Deadliest Catch' Editor Wades Through Tons
Courtesy of Josh Earl

Working on “Deadliest Catch” has been a dream job for Josh Earl. He joined the Discovery series as an assistant editor at the end of the first season, and was quickly promoted to editor. By the third season, he was cutting his own episodes.

Emmy trail: Now, 12 seasons into the show, Earl remains committed to the stories behind the crabbers’ escapades in the icy, stormy waters off Alaska. His seven Emmy nominations and five consecutive wins have fueled his ambition to push the creative envelope with every passing season. “I never thought any of this would happen,” Earl says. “The Emmy wins help drive that push to lift the bar higher.”

How they film: “Deadliest Catch” is cut documentary-style. Vast quantities of footage are captured by multiple cameras positioned at various angles on seven boats. The cameras run 24 hours a day, every day. Additional coverage comes from aerial and underwater units, as well as surveillance cameras.

Into the editing room: Earl and his team easily receive 30,000 hours of footage each season. To help with the mammoth task of organizing all this material, shooting schedules are set months in advance of air dates. The producers confer with the editing team about each show’s general outlines, and all delivered footage is precisely logged for easy reference. Earl and his fellow editors mine these records for interesting sequences, then meet with story editors to create cohesive arcs that are explored throughout the season’s 18 episodes.

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