Dealing with a Daredevil
Behind the Scenes of Abandoned: Maryland Grist Mill
Written by Stacie Nice, Producer
I was asked to write a blog about my experience producing my first episode for Abandoned. At first, I was a little wary of being the only girl on set; especially considering the content of our show is geared heavily toward men. However, my father always told me I was a "tough broad" and I was excited to meet the challenge. The all-male crew embraced me from the beginning. They were kind and gentle, but most importantly they treated me as an equal.
We were filming in Westminster, MD about 23 miles West of historic Gettysburg. Westminster has some Civil War history, but this location - Roop's Mill - was built pre-civil war. We were definitely going to find items among this property that showed its age and I was wrought with excitement!
Jay, Dan and Mark are very professional, but still know how to have fun. It was great to see their rapport with one another. Mark is the new guy to the group. Jay may tease him sometimes, but he really takes the time to show Mark the ropes. It was terrific to see how knowledgeable Jay was about the various antiques he discovered inside Roop's Mill. You could see his enthusiasm grow as he mentored Mark throughout the process.
There was one thing I wasn't prepared for during my two days producing in the field and that was Jay's constant inclination to climb. When we entered the barn, he was climbing up to the very top and our fearless cameraman followed. My initial reaction was motherly; "Jay, please be careful up there," I called out. My supervisor reassured me Jay does this all the time, safely, and that I shouldn't worry.
While in the barn, Mark found a hatch to the downstairs milking station, and Jay and Mark climbed down there too. After exploring that area, the team found an old silo. As the team explored the silo Jay saw light at the end of it and decided once again to start climbing. This time I was really nervous. I knew the exit was nailed shut and they'd have to break through the door to get out. Mark, of course, followed him. As Mark ascended he began to slip. I started to panic thinking the worst and looking at the call sheet to see how far the hospital ride was going to be. Luckily, Jay and Mark were both able to get out successfully.
After lunch, the guys walked around the property and found an old suspension bridge that was falling apart. I knew Jay would want to try and travel across it. I reminded him the bridge was unsafe and failing apart. Without fear, Jay began slowing walking across edge of the bridge. Mark thought it would be amusing to rattle the cables holding the bridge and I had to hold my breath. I quickly came to realize Jay is a daredevil.
Jay and the guys took one final risk during our two-day shoot. Jay noticed there was a bit of a hole on the backside of the mill where the waterwheel once stood. Jay was concerned vandals would be able to break into this open area and the owner, Jack, asked Jay if he could board up the opening. The problem was that there was only a thin wood plank for him to walk over and stand on while nailing the board in. Once again I held my breath, hoping he'd keep his balance. Mark climbed atop the side roof closest to Jay. Dan handed Mark a board and then Mark would lower that board to Jay. There I was calling out again, "Jay, please be careful!" My supervisor and the crew once again reassured me he was safe, even if they didn't believe it themselves. Many crew members gathered around to watch as he nailed the boards in without incident. Jay wobbled back over the plank to safety and I was able to start breathing again. All in all it was a nerve-racking experience. It was thrilling being apart of this worthwhile adventure, and reminded me why I became involved with television in the first place.