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Maine TV producer creates Dirt Cheap'

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Maine TV producer creates Dirt Cheap' (Photo courtesy of Chas Bruns)

Program aimed at showing travel on a budget

With a lifelong passion for both travel and cinematography, it was only a matter of time before Maine-based media entrepreneur Chas Bruns found a way to combine both.

Utilizing knowledge gleaned through years of working on television programs including 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!,' 'Ellen,' 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,' and 'Undercover Boss,' Bruns set out to produce and host 'Dirt Cheap,' a show crafted for budget travelers. The pilot episode, designed to launch the series, focused on the South Pacific island of Fiji.

'The producers that saw the Fiji pilot said This is great but go ahead and shoot the next episode, release it on YouTube, see if you can get a following and talk to us again,'' Bruns told me in an interview.

Earlier this year, Bruns and his crew spent four weeks in Thailand. Nine days were devoted to shooting an episode of Dirt Cheap.'

'This is the next step,' Bruns said. 'It took years to raise the money and it's now finished, edited and uploaded to YouTube.'

In two weeks, the new episode ('Dirt Cheap Thailand') has amassed more than 4,000 views on YouTube (as of this writing) while the Fiji pilot has racked up more than 100,000 views.

Bruns says the influence of TV travel personality, chef and author Anthony Bourdain was a big inspiration to get 'Dirt Cheap' off the ground.

'I consider him the number one travel guy' out there right now,' Bruns told me. 'I was watching an episode where he was in China and he nonchalantly said I got the Presidential suite at the Hilton,' which goes for $10,000 a night or something like that. As a viewer, it's fun to watch that stuff but you can't relate to it. Staying in the Presidential suite isn't something the average viewer can do.'

Recognizing that most travel programs are produced for viewers who enjoy fantasizing about what it would be like to travel with 'no expense spared,' Bruns designed 'Dirt Cheap' to show viewers that experiencing exotic locales need not break the bank.

'Every other travel show wants to show you the best things to do,' Bruns says. 'In my opinion, the cheaper stuff is even better than the more expensive stuff and that's why we try to fill that niche with Dirt Cheap.''

Bruns says the people of Thailand were very welcoming to him and his crew, which included a friend with local connections.

'I went over with Jira Rustana who owns the Unami Noodle Bar in downtown Bangor. His parents were from (Thailand) originally. In the first scene, we actually ran into the head of the tourism association for Thailand who pretty much gave us the go-ahead to do whatever we wanted to do. I think for the past seven years, Paris has been the world's number one tourist destination and Thailand just took the trophy from them this year.'

Tying in nicely with his show's title, Bruns says that Thailand is a fiscally friendly destination for travelers who use United States currency.

'One United States dollar is worth about 36 Thai Bahts, so your money goes a long way,' he told me. For nine days of Thai-based adventure, including city nightlife, beach and island exploration, accommodations, travel and food and drink, Bruns paid a total of $624.25. When you watch the episode, you will be amazed at what he was able to experience for that amount of money.

On the program, the viewer finds out exactly how much money was spent during the course of each day. The total amount spent on some days hovered around $100 (an all-inclusive total) while several days of activity, food and drink were had for less than $20.

Bruns says future episodes of 'Dirt Cheap' are in the planning stages, including the next episode which will be shot close to home.

'In general, each episode will have its own location. Because I have state pride in Maine, I think we're going to shoot the next episode this summer in Bar Harbor.'

After that, Bruns says he would like to take the cameras of 'Dirt Cheap' to Denmark and New Zealand.

'I've always wanted to go to Denmark because my family has ancestors from there and I'm trying to talk my dad into joining me there to shoot an episode,' he says. 'Lord of the Rings' kind of inspired me to want to go to New Zealand. You can go skydiving, surfing and snowboarding, all within five hours of each other and that blows my mind,' Bruns says.

Bruns also hasn't ruled out a follow-up episode in Thailand. 'I think we might return only because we didn't shoot anything in the north and I really want to ride an elephant,' he said with a laugh.

Dirt Cheap with Chas Bruns Facebook page

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth).

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 22:15

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The Thailand episode of Chas Bruns's "Dirt Cheap"


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