‘Fool’s Gold’ cast has fingers crossed

Duane Hicks

With the first season of “Fool’s Gold,” the locally-made Discovery Canada series, having wrapped up last week, the Shotgun Exploration crew is hopeful it gets the go-ahead for a second season.
The audience reaction to the show has been “unreal,” said Todd Ryznar, owner of the Straw Lake Beach Gold Mine and team leader of Shotgun Exploration, whose exploits are the focus of the documentary/comedy series.
“It’s unbelievable the amount of support that we get, the amount of people that talk about it on Facebook,” Ryznar enthused.
“I can share something on the Shotgun site and it reaches 5,000-6,000 people with shares and all that sort of stuff,” he remarked.
“I didn’t think it would be this big,” admitted Ryznar, pointing out their YouTube videos have reached more than 55,000 views.
And he said the number of positive comments fans have posted on Discovery.ca exceed those of any other show on that network.
Ryznar and the rest of the crew are keeping their fingers crossed—hoping to hear an announcement regarding Season 2 sooner than later.
“Social media-wise, we’re killing it,” said Ryznar. “But does that translate into a Season 2? We hope it does.”
He added it’s nerve-wracking not knowing if he and the crew “are going to have to bush league it this summer or not.”
When asked if his life has changed since the debut of “Fool’s Gold,” Ryznar replied, “It hurts a lot more being broke now than two months ago.”
“I can’t go anywhere, I’ve got no money, I’m living off my cupboard food,” he remarked.
“I’m hoping Season 2 comes along real quick,” he quipped.
“Everybody I talk to seems to love it,” said Mark “Grizz” Fairnington, who last Wednesday made an appearance at the local Tim Hortons, along with Jimmy “Big E” Easton and Jason “Roj” Whitehead, to serve coffee during the annual “Camp Day” fundraiser.
“People keep asking me, ‘When is Season 2? Are you going to get Season 2?’” he noted.
“I wish I could tell you. [The fans] know as much as we do.
“But the feedback has been excellent,” Fairnington added. “Everybody’s behind us 100 percent.”
He noted being on TV worldwide is very different for him, and feels that in a certain way it marks a “new chapter” in his life.
“A lot of people knew me from before, but that was in a different way and not a very good way,” Fairnington admitted.
“So this is better.
“I’m a changed person from what I was before,” he stressed. “I feel lot better knowing I’m a part of something that people and the town is behind 100 percent.
“It’s definitely a new chapter.
“There’s a lot of chapters in the past but this is, by far, the most exciting,” Fairnington enthused. “There’s lots of energy behind it.”
Easton said support for the show, especially locally, has been “way more than I ever expected to happen.”
“Just a simple thing, like going to Safeway to get a loaf of bread, you’re talking to people,” he noted.
“Those are enjoyable.
“It’s kind of neat being a local celebrity,” Easton conceded. “I’m enjoying that part. It’s great.
“You’ll hear kids whisper, ‘Hey, Dad, that’s ‘Fool’s Gold’ Jimmy,” he added.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
Closer to home, Easton said family and friends now have been able to see what he has been telling them about.
“This whole thing was years in the making, and family and friends get sick of you saying, ‘I’m going to be on TV’ for six years,’” he chuckled.
“And now that it’s actually happened, I’ve had aunts and uncles and family members send me a text or a phone call, and said, ‘Hey, we really liked the show. Good job.’
“It’s good vindication to finally say, ‘No, I really did do it, see? I haven’t been lying to you all these years,’” he noted.
Easton said it’s also been interesting to finally see the finished episodes along with everyone else.
“When you’re up there [at Straw Lake] shooting, you don’t get to see what everyone else has shot,” he explained.
“You’re busy working or whatever, and other people are doing scenes at the same time.
“To see it all come together, there was lots of stuff I didn’t even know happened,” Easton added. “I found out while watching the show myself.
“It was a good experience. The show turned out great.”
Whitehead, meanwhile, said he’s been blown away by the audience response to “Fool’s Gold.”
“It’s so much more than I ever imagined, to be honest with you,” he remarked.
“I had visions of all my friends turning their backs on me because they didn’t like it.
“To see it go as well as it did . . . it’s beyond anything I ever imagined, for sure.”
Whitehead also said he’s adjusting to being a local celebrity.
“You get a lot of curious people that just want to come up and talk to. Everybody’s been really good about it, too,” he noted, adding that while there’s been a little negative feedback, it’s been mostly positive.
“I feel really good about it, feel good about how it is to walk around town,” Whitehead continued.
“I kind of feel like, remember the ‘King of Kensington?’ Al Waxman? I kind of feel like him now,” he chuckled.
“‘When he walks down the street, he smiles at everyone,’” Whitehead sang, referring to the lyrics to the CBC sitcom’s theme song.
“That’s what I’m like now. I’m kinda liking that.”
Whitehead also is feeling hopeful about getting a second season, adding that not only will it help with the development of the mine but “Fool’s Gold” will keep on entertaining viewers.
“Especially in this town, after what we’ve been through,” he remarked. “The long winter, the mill closing down—there’s so much negative stuff.
“It’s nice to have something positive for people to look at,” he reasoned.
“I feel pretty proud to be a part of that.”
“Fool’s Gold” was commissioned by Discovery Canada and produced by Toronto’s 11 Television Canada.
The Shotgun Exploration team includes Ryznar, Fairnington, Whitehead, Easton, Matt Wensley, Mike Strom, Alexa Gerrish, and Olivia Denhardt.
In related news, a local clothing company is benefitting from the success of “Fool’s Gold.”
J2M Apparel Co. in International Falls, owned by Jim and Melody Woods, is selling T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, and hoodies with the “Shotgun Exploration” logo on them.
The entire crew gets a piece of the profits from the Shotgun Exploration merchandising.
The items can be found at shotgunexp.com