‘Below Deck’ Producer Mark Cronin Told Cast Members They Have 2 Jobs on the Show, Chef Ben Recalls

Chef Ben Robinson from Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean recalled how Mark Cronin, the mastermind behind the franchise told crew members they had two jobs when they joined the series. Robinson revealed that the show is very real and a bigger challenge than yachting without cameras because crew members have to be cognizant that they are being filmed at all times.

‘Below Deck’ crew members’ job is to be a ‘great cast member’

“Oh, it was real,” he told Newport Harbor News about the show. “But my EP (executive producer), Mark Cronin, he explained better than anyone will. He sat us down one day and said, ‘You have two jobs: one job is your job, and the other job is being a great cast member; being a little more vocal, talking about your feelings – the camera doesn’t read minds. You have to tell the story.’ But I do definitely think there were moments I was really proud of what I produced.”

Below Deck Season 1 crew David Bradberry, Eddie Lucas, Ben Robinson, C.J. Lebeau greet the guests
Below Deck Season 1 crew David Bradberry, Eddie Lucas, Ben Robinson, C.J. Lebeau greet the guests | Ali Goodwin/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

“I cooked for the captain, crew, and charter guests,” he recalled. “And there were times I was flying by the seat of my pants and pulling rabbits out of hats. The one, slight, unrealistic aspect of this whole thing? If you’re busy on charter and you have the day or evening off, you’re not going to spend it with your crew. You’re going to spend it on a date with a girl from another boat or with a friend in the harbor at a bar getting hammered!”

‘Below Deck’ comes with unchartered hurdles, Mark Cronin shared

Cronin discussed some of the challenges that come with filming on a superyacht. “Well, it’s either really fortunate – or really unfortunate – that the crew of a superyacht has to be a very qualified group of people,” he told iPitch. “There are maritime laws governing licensing. There are safety concerns.” He added, “There is definitely a minimum level of training and experience necessary.”  

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“So, on the unfortunate side, my casting pool is actually extremely small,” he reflected. “On the fortunate side, my casting pool is amazing. It’s a business where being young, attractive and hyper-articulate are virtually job requirements.”

‘Below Deck’ filming is a balance between safety and good TV

Producers must strike a balance between qualified yachties and TV-worthy cast members. “I must give the Captain a crew with which he can reasonably operate the boat to a required level of quality and he must give me the ability to cast people who are great on camera (and pass background and psych checks).”  

“The judgment call comes in, as with all reality TV challenges, where you must decide, ‘Is this doable? Is success possible?’ If you have given no, or very little, hope for success, then the reasonable people give up and the show becomes a fake,” he explained. “If you make success a certainty, you probably have a dull show.”

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“I will add that one of the big appeals of Below Deck is that the audience actually likes watching people who are good at their jobs,” he said. “So, for that show, we try to err on the side of qualified, or at least dedicated to qualifying. The holy grail, of course, is a character with unquestionable qualification and amazing TV appeal … like Ben, our chef.”