‘An absolute dream’: Comox Valley cinematographer wins Daytime Emmy for Island-based series

'An absolute dream': Comox Valley cinematographer wins Daytime Emmy for Island-based series
File photo.

A Netflix docuseries showcasing Vancouver Island’s wildlife just nabbed four wins at the Daytime Emmy Awards, and a local cinematographer is coming home with a statuette all to himself.

Comox Valley’s Maxwel Hohn says it was “an absolute dream” to work on Island of the Sea Wolves, a three-part series that premiered last October.

Narrated by actor Will Arnett, the show highlights sea wolves, eagles and other animal species, like the Vancouver Island Marmot.

It was nominated in seven Daytime Emmy categories, taking home wins for Outstanding Single Camera Editing, Outstanding Sound Mixing, Outstanding Writing Team and, much to Hohn’s excitement, Outstanding Cinematography.

“And we’re just really, really proud,” he told CHEK News Sunday while travelling back from Los Angeles, where the 50th annual ceremony was held on Dec. 15.

“And it wouldn’t have been possible without the entire team behind the production. There are camera assistants, researchers, editors, sound mixers, a whole bunch of people involved to make this an accomplishment.”

The ceremony was originally scheduled for May 16 but was delayed due to the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike.

Island of the Sea Wolves was filmed in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Hohn says travel restrictions meant B.C.-based crews were hired to do the work. Usually, crews from the U.K. would be involved in a production like this.

Samuel Ellis, James Frystak, Matthew Hood, Kieran O’Donovan, Dave Pearson, Robin Smith and Darren West were also on the cinematography team, and Vancouver-based River Road Films produced the series.

“We covered a lot of the Island,” River Roads’ Jeff Turner, who co-directed alongside Chelsea Turner, told CHEK News leading up to the premiere.

He lauded the Island as “a special place in the world” and said crews really wanted to document a year in the life of local wildlife.

“There’s obviously more wildlife in the north and the west … but our eagles were certainly filmed on the southern part of the Island, and we did some stuff around Comox and Courtenay,” said Turner in an interview last year.

“We did a little hummingbird sequence that was down in Victoria, so yeah, we were sort of everywhere.”

Hohn, meanwhile, was thrilled to work in the Island’s wilderness, adding that his “most distinguished work was filming sea otters, which gave viewers a never before seen close-up look into their daily lives.”

It was “an amazing experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he added.

“A huge thank you to the team at River Road Films and Wild Space Productions for bringing me onto the series, and a massive congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication.”

Since adding Island of the Sea Wolves to his resume, Hohn has worked on Netflix’s Our Planet II, as well as the upcoming Disney show Secrets of the Octopus and CBC’s Shared Planet, to be released in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Learn more about Island of the Sea Wolves here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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