How is Below Deck filmed? Here are all the show’s production secrets
The boat can cost $300k per WEEK
Below Deck is unequivocally the best thing on Netflix right now, and if you don’t agree with me you need to seriously reevaluate your life. But while you’re watching the show have you ever caught yourself wondering how the show’s filmed, and what the production secrets of Below Deck are?
The show may be packed to the brim with drama, but it’s literally all happening on a boat. The cast of Below Deck have given us loads of the show’s production secrets in interviews and on their social media, answering all our burning questions: Are the crew even real stewards? How is Below Deck filmed if they’re all crammed in the boat? Is Captain Lee actually in charge???
Here are all the production secrets of Below Deck:
The stewards work 16+ hour days
The cast are obviously actual stewards who are working on the yacht, and have to work hard. Kate, who joined Below Deck in season two, tweeted saying the crew work on the boat for 16+ hours a day. She also said Below Deck is “one of the most difficult shows out there for cast members”.
They can’t even turn off their own lights
Kate obviously likes giving us Below Deck production secrets: She tweeted saying every night after their shift, crew would “get into our tiny bunk and have to wave to the camera so they’d turn our lights off”. She included a video of her in her yacht bunk, waving to the camera to get it to turn off.
Cast can’t speak to the production team
While filming, cast members aren’t allowed to interact with the production team and cameramen, or even acknowledge their presence.
The crew is hired by producers, and are all licensed and certified
The stewards aren’t hired by the charter company, but by the show’s producers. Before being cast, crew members have to show they are all licensed and certified.
Captain Lee told Reality Blurred this involves a two-week course. He said: “Each of the crew members has to have an STCW, which is a standard set by the maritime industry for watch-keeping and just being on board—it’s basic first aid, firefighting. It’s a two-week course and a certification they have to have before they’re allowed to work on yachts.”
The captain’s still in charge, though
Even though the production company hires the yacht crew, Captain Lee’s still in charge and can fire anyone at any time, as is shown in the series.
The captain’s also in charge in terms of the actual boat, where they dock and when they sail, depending on the weather. For example, the boat can’t sail in high winds, and even though it’s annoying they can’t leave the dock, production can’t influence the captain’s decision about this at all.
You can apply online!!
The form to apply to work as a steward on Below Deck is online!! You have to give them your details, experience and upload a short video to “show your personality”. But there are some rules beyond just being licensed: You must be over the age of 21, have a passport and any necessary visas. You also have to sign a contract, a waiver and release form for being on TV, and go through a background check.
They’re being filmed literally all day, every day
Crew are filmed 24/7 while they’re working on the boat. There’s a camera crew on board, as well as hidden cameras around the boat – including in their cabins. The bathroom is the only place on board without cameras, so the only place cast can get privacy. However, if more than one crew member is in the bathroom at once, the cameramen are allowed to follow them in.
Each season is filmed over six weeks
Each season is made up of six weeks worth of footage, obviously filmed constantly during that time. The cast have to make sure there’s enough drama in these six weeks to fill a season, because the production can’t be extended beyond the six weeks, due to the expense of chartering the yacht.
They get three days off per season
The cast get three days off in the six weeks of filming. On those days, they’re given their own hotel rooms and told not to communicate with each other, so storylines don’t change while they’re not being filmed.
Stewards have to take drug tests and must stay sober
Below Deck season five cast member Malia posted the contract to her Instagram. It says stewards can be drug tested at the discretion of “the Company”, and also says they have to disclose their prescribed medications before filming begins.
As we see in Below Deck, one of the key rules for all crew members is to not drink while they’re on charter. Malia wrote on Instagram this is part of Maritime law. She said: “We as crew have to be ready at ALL times to fight a fire, rescue a man overboard, deploy life rafts, launch rescue tenders, administer aid, etc. because we may be a long way from help and be each other’s only chance for survival. Meaning when we are at sea—everyone must be sober.”
They’re paid by both the charter company and production
The charter company pays each cast member a base salary, that changes depending on their role and the size of the boat. Cast are also paid an appearance fee by production. On top of this, they obviously get tips from the guests.
AND they don’t have to pay tax
According to Refinery29, yacht crew members who don’t live in one country for more than six months at a time have a tax-free income.
All food is provided by the boat’s chef
One of the chef’s main jobs is cooking food for the crew, not just the guests. All food is provided to crew by the boat.
As well as being paid by two different companies, getting tips and not paying tax, the crew’s cost of living is covered. While filming the season, cast don’t have to pay any bills or expenses for living on the yacht.
All the interviews are filmed at the end of each charter
A key part of the show is the cast interviews, where clips of what’s happening on the yacht are played alongside members of the cast talking about what’s happening in the show. These interviews are all filmed at once, right at the end of each charter.
The boat can cost upwards of $300k per week
According to Distractify, the yachts featured on the show are worth around $15 to $20 million. The most expensive Below Deck yacht was the one featured on Below Deck Mediterranean season six, which has a weekly rental cost starting at $300,000. The guests would then also pay a tip on top of this.
Guests featured on the show only have to pay half price of their charter
Guests spend their actual money to be on the boat, and whatever they tip is completely paid for by them. Below Deck producer Mark Cronin told BravoTV: “They spend their real money to be on the show. And then the tip they leave, they decide what it is.”
However, guests featured on the show are given a 50 per cent discount, and their airfare is covered by production, too.
Two seasons of Below Deck are available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.