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West Coast travel show to soar on PBS


Richmond videographer and producer Danny Sayson is about to soar onto the big screen.


Richmond videographer and producer Danny Sayson is about to soar onto the big screen.

On March 29, Sayson will realize his lifelong aspiration when the first episode of his new television show, West Coast Adventures, premieres on PBS stations across the Pacific Northwest and Alberta.

"This has been my dream to produce an outdoor adventure show like this," says Sayson. "It took 15 years ... there are two things I love to do in life and that's travel and adventure.

"With this show, I merge my work with my passions."

During each installment, the series' main host, Vancouver's Susie Lee, goes from one escapade to another -- she jumps out of an airplane, conquers white water rapids in a kayak, flies a Piper Cherokee airplane and soars high over the mountain peaks while tandem paragliding over Grouse Mountain.

"I told Susie that I wouldn't have her do anything I wasn't prepared to do," says Sayson. "In short, I wanted both my hosts (an alternative host is North Vancouver's Aja Chantelle) to get involved ... viewers get to experience the adventure with them."

During the shooting of the Capilano Hatchery, Chantelle assisted in the harvesting and fertilization of the salmon spawning process, for example.

"In another episode, Aja learns how to play hockey underwater ... did you know that this sport was invented in 1954 by British divers to improve their stamina?" he asks. "This is what I want the show to do, get locals to learn of the new things they can do right here in their own backyard."

As an ode to Richmond, the series highlights local attractions such as Steveston Village, whale watching trips, the Richmond Night Market, Ocean Spray cranberry fields, Richmond Go-Kart Track and trap shooting at the Vancouver Gun Club.

"The gun club, which is based in Richmond, is one of only two left in the Lower Mainland," he says.

The longtime resident says he was surprised how easy it was to sell his idea to a network.

"I knocked on a few doors and most expressed interest," says Sayson. "I think it's because travel shows are typically targeted to seniors, and I was presenting a show that holds appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers."

His timing couldn't be better, what with the 2010 Games placing the province under the worldwide spotlight.

It has taken nearly three years to wrap up the first season, which consists of 10 episodes.

The idea for his show came after Sayson asked himself why there wasn't a travel adventure show about B.C.

"It struck me that it was a no-brainer, that there should be a show about our beautiful West Coast," says Sayson.

He so believed in his concept, Sayson sunk his own money into producing all 10 instalments of the show.

"I jumped in with both feet and did it on spec," says Sayson. "I literally put the house on the block for this project, with no broadcasters on board.

"Some people considered it a big risk, but my wife believed in me."

The journey has been the most exciting one of his life, he adds.

"I didn't jump into it blindly, I knew I could do this," he says. "I had a plan and a vision."

The vision came years before he started filming.

As a teen, the 1988 Richmond High graduate loved nothing more than exploring the great outdoors.

After high school, he went on to the University of B.C. and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

"I always did video productions and home movies for fun, but it was at UBC that I realize I could make this a career," says Sayson.

Shortly after, he studied broadcast communications at BCIT.

In the ensuing 15 years, he amassed a number of honours and awards for his television and video productions -- most notably being named one of the top 25 videographers in North America by EVENT DV Magazine and gold award winner during the 15th Annual WEVA International 2005 Creative Excellence Awards Competition -- considered the Academy Awards of the wedding videography industry.

Besides running his own local company, Sayson Video Productions, which produces special event and corporate videos, he broadcasts the Vancouver Canucks and B.C. Lions games and playbacks.

That education, knowledge and experience garnered over the years allowed him to wear many hats to see the series to fruition.

"I shot and edited most of it, and I was also the show's promoter, marketer and sales representative," he says with a laugh. "The real star of the show, though, is British Columbia."

As to his future in television, Sayson hopes the show gets carried for many more seasons.

"Ideally, we'd love to go beyond B.C. and go to the Yukon and remote places up north," he says. "I want to locate out of the way hidden gems.

"I'm not trying to change the world, just adding fun to it, especially during these times of doom and gloom."

West Coast Adventures can be seen locally on KCTS 9 on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sundays at 6:30 p.m., beginning March 25.

For more information, visit the website at