'Axe Men' to feature Tonka logging operation


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Film crews shot footage promoting the History Channel’s “Axe Men” reality show last week on the Tonka logging site.

A crew filmed Axe Men promotional videos at the Tonka Logging site on Kupreanof Island last week. Sean Moody, Assistant Production Supervisor for The Arsenal Film & Creative, said they lucked out during last week despite all the rainy days.

“We got really lucky on the first shoot day, the bigger day, when we were out with all the machines. We even got a little bit of sun in the sky.”

The film crew used a remote controlled helicopter camera to do some of the shooting.

“We kind of shoot things that are more staged for the look of the promo,” Moody said. “The show is filmed with them (loggers) doing the real work. We come in and our director directs them a little bit. It’s a little bit more staged for a dramatic feel.”

Dave Berg served as the on-site medic for the shoot. He didn’t have to work too hard as there was only one injury.

“A guy stuck his hand in his pocket and broke his cuticle,” Berg said laughing. “I got out some Neosporin and some band aids and took care of him.”

Berg said it was interesting to see the logging operation. That day, aside from filming the promo, the loggers were yarding—hauling material off the site.

Cutting and felling began last December and a different crew filmed the operation this past summer for the History Channel show.

Viking Lumber won the $1.1 million bid and contracted Papac Alaska Logging to perform yarding operations. Timber Wolf Cutting is cutting the logs.

More than 50 employees live and work at the camp. Mike Papac, president and owner of Papac Alaksa Logging, said his company employs 33 people, seven of them from Petersburg.

“They work seven days a week, 12 hours a day,” Papac said.

Papac said the filming slowed the work down significantly and the lack of rain in August put the crew on “Hoot Owl” status—when they had to stop work by noon.

Jason Anderson, District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, said logging of this scale hasn’t been done in more than a decade in this area. It involved 2221 total harvest acres.

“Roughly 22 percent has been harvested and towed to the mill,” Anderson said.

Anderson cited around fifteen million board feet have been paid for, which means they’ve been harvested, yarded, transported and scaled at the mill.

Sitka Spruce, Alaska Yellow Cedar, Western Hemlock and Alaska Red Cedar trees are all being harvested.

Anderson said the wood has a high value and is used in niche markets. Spruce has acoustic value and is used for woodwind instruments and has a high strength to weight ratio making it popular for airplane construction. Hemlock is common to high-end door and window frames and other interior finishing materials.

The loggers will wrap up for the season by November 1.

Moody said Axe Men promos should air within the next couple months.


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