Off the beaten path

Since premiering in 2008, OLN’s
show Departures has evolved
from a travel show with a modest
following to an award-winning
movement, garnering public and
critical praise for its premise, creativity
and uniqueness.

With their lust for adventure and
life experience, hosts Scott Wilson,
Justin Lukach and director of photography
Andre Dupuis have captivated
audiences by promoting their personal
beliefs that anything is possible.

“We had an idea and we tried really
hard to make it happen and went
through a lot of rough times,” begins
Wilson, the co-creator of the show.

“We literally bankrupted ourselves
… to make this thing happen.”

Wilson explained that he and Dupuis
were working on another travel
show that they were not entirely happy
with before they began shooting
the pilot of Departures.

“We had a lot of great ideas of what
we thought would make a good TV
show, but no real concrete concept.”

Dupuis also stated that they noticed
their personal travel experiences were
not translating to the show’s content.

“Our experiences from being there
and smelling it and doing all this stuff
– feeling it – didn’t make the final
show. We asked ourselves why is that.
How can we really capture the moment;
to capture everything?”

After filming in New Zealand, Wilson
and Dupuis sat on the footage
for two years before bringing it to the
network; after an immediate response
from network executives, Wilson contacted
childhood friend and fellow
Brantford native Lukach.

“And I said ‘sure’, and I quit everything.
I actually quit my job before it
was 100 per cent,” Lukach recalls.

Fans of Departures can attest that
the sense of spontaneity present in the
show’s origins has been maintained
throughout the course of the series.

While travelling from India to
Antarctica, the team endured everything
from life-threatening lightning
storms (an episode that earned Dupuis
a Gemini for Best Photography)
to bridge jumping.

Dupuis explained that at this point
there is little they have not done.

“Now it’s, ‘Where’s left?’ … or, ‘That
place looks dangerous – let’s go!’”

“We’ve definitely pushed our limits
to the point where anything’s possible,”
Lukach added.

However, with great victories come
great obstacles, and the guys are quick
to admit that they’ve been affected by
the challenges they’ve faced.

“[I’m] more open to things, more
willing to push myself… I’ve just become
more aware,” said Wilson.

He adds that one of the challenges
is maintaining a sense of reality.

“It’s hard to wake yourself up and
realize we’re not just here for our job,
it’s not just happening in the world of
television – this is all real life.”

Lukach also mentioned that being
on the road for so long makes it hard
to maintain a personal life, making
him question whether he should continue
travelling.

He states that at times it makes him
question whether he should go home
and stop travelling.

“And then [there’s another opportunity]
… and it’s just like ‘wow’…. this is
what we do,” he added.

Dupuis agrees, commenting that
“there are some days where … you can
hardly bear to lift a camera.”

“The adventure is just to keep pushing
ourselves,” Dupuis added. “We’re
always pushing ourselves to go and
meet new cultures and to keep the
show interesting.”

Undoubtedly, the success of Departures
is a result of the team’s determination
to experience life to the fullest
and allow viewers to relate to and live
vicariously through them.

“You don’t need to be on the other
side of the world to have a crazy adventure,”
Lukach said.

“It’s the people you travel with; it
doesn’t matter where you are…. There
are a lot of roads out there and they’ll
take you to some of the most amazing
places.”

Wilson agreed, stating “this was an
idea that seemed like a pipe dream,
and we just sort of made it happen.

“Anything really is possible…. If
you’re scared, you’re probably on the
right track.”

Departures follows the travels of Brantford-
born best friends Scott Wilson and Justin
Lukach and cameraman Andrew Dupuis
through the most beautiful and dangerous
places on the globe, documenting their personal
experiences along the way.
The show airs on OLN Saturdays and
Sundays at 9 p.m.

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