Canadian production company marblemedia has been creating some truly interesting twists on the reality competition genre. Blown Away (about glass blowing) and Landscape Artist of the Year (which is just what it sounds like) are stellar examples of reality shows that don’t have Canada in the title.
Now marblemedia is back with its newest reality project. Race Against the Tide debuts Thursday at 8 and 8:30 p.m. and finds 10 teams of highly skilled sand sculptors battling each other—and the tide—to impress judges and win $10,000. Hosted by Shaun Majumder, Race Against the Tide‘s setting is the Bay of Fundy, where high tides mark the deadline in each episode’s competition.
Not only is Race Against the Tide as engaging as heck, but it’s an education as well. I had no clue competitive sand sculpting was a thing. Neither did showrunner and writer Carly Spencer, who we spoke to about the challenges the pandemic and nature played in Season 1.
I knew nothing about sand carving contests until I watched the first episode of Race Against the Tide. Did you know anything about any of this stuff before you got involved in the show?
Carly Spencer: I did not. And, it was a real whirlwind when we started up production because we were actually the first show in Canada out in the field during COVID. We just sort of hit the ground running working with CBC and it was crazy because we had never seen what we were going to be working with, this tide and everything because we couldn’t travel out there [in advance].
We saw that tide for the first time and we went, ‘Holy moly.’ What’s so cool about this show is that the crew is actually racing against the tide as well. We have basically the time from when the tide goes out and we start shooting and the sculptors start sculpting. And then, when the tide starts to come back, it hits these markers, so we have a little bit of time for judging. That’s it. If we miss a step we lose an episode. If the tide washes away one of the sculptures before we can shoot the beauty of it… But what that does is just create this amazing energy on set. Everybody is just in it working so well as a team. The cooperation on this crew is just like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I tell every single person who will listen to me, that it is because of the crew, the fantastic people just hauling their butts and working together, that this show even gets made.
These are incredible artists. Just learning about the packing down of the sand, the different scientific properties of the sand, and maybe black sand looks cool, but it doesn’t have the same properties or regular brown sand. You have so much packed into a 22-minute episode. That must have been a heck of an edit that you had.
CS: You hit the nail on the head because this is a half-hour show. Every single line, every single shot is completely curated because there’s just no time to wait. It’s actually quite difficult cutting down so much footage.
How did you get involved in Race Against the Tide?
CS: I had done a show called Landscape Artist of the Year for CBC and marblemedia. Then, I got a call from marblemedia and they said, ‘You’re never going to believe this, the show has been greenlit and you start tomorrow.’ I didn’t even have time to think about it. I really like working with marblemedia. Matt Hornburg and I have such a lovely working relationship. He really prepped me and he just lets me run. So the opportunity to repeat that was great. And, also, I like a good challenge.
Talk about the beach where you filmed.
CS: The sand has to be the right type of sand to hold together. Originally, they were going to shoot it on a different beach, and then we did all this research. We actually had someone from here send samples to our judge, Karen Fralich, who had to do all these little experiments. We had to move to this particular cove because that’s where the best sand was. That’s the first thing all the sculptors asked, ‘How’s the sand?’ There’s so much science in this show and that nobody would know.
Race Against the Tide airs Thursday at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.