Deadliest Catch Producer Matt Fahey Talks about His Dream Job, Being Diagnosed with Cancer, and What's on His Reading List
Matt Fahey is no stranger to intense challenges, risk, and life-threatening situations. As a producer and camera operator for Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch, he's battled many storms and has willingly gone back for more.
We talked with Fahey about how he ended up in film production, why he pursued getting on Deadliest Catch, and his biggest challenge yet -- battling Stage III B colorectal cancer or, as he candidly refers to it, ass cancer.
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Fahey grew up in Tucson, where, he joked, he learned his "disdain" for Phoenix, thanks in part to the U of A and ASU rivalry. Fahey currently lives in Flagstaff, which he says he enjoys.
Courtesy of Matt Fahey
Fahey says he originally wanted to be a writer, and while he ended up behind the camera, he still feels he's a storyteller.
"At some point, a friend of mine turned me on to film," says Fahey. "It wasn't like I had a realization that I want to tell stories with cameras, I just liked working with images. It wasn't until the last few years that I've been working in images and telling stories with cameras and audio that I realized, I'm doing what I always wanted to do: story-tell."
Being a river guide for 20-plus years in the Grand Canyon helped him be able to tell stories as well, and the beauty of his surroundings turned him on to the art of capturing life behind a camera.
Fahey says he bought his first camera in 1999. Since then, he's gone from the little $1,000 handycam to the $500,000 cameras he uses on his shows, and says he realizes what a long way he's come.
On the river, Fahey worked with Todd Stanley, who went on to work for Deadliest Catch, starting in its first season. Fahey says he bugged Stanley to get him on the show for years, and finally he got his wish.
"The attraction of doing an adventure, getting paid, and being creative were the three things that drew me to it," says Fahey, of wanting to join the show.
Fahey garnered much success filming Deadliest Catch, even winning an Emmy in 2012. Fahey says it was like receiving the confirmation that you know you're doing something good. Everything was going right for Fahey, until while on site in Alaska for Deadliest Catch he noticed blood in his stool. When he went to see a doctor once he got back on land, the doctor didn't tell him much else.
"The doctor's like 'you have blood in your shit,' and I'm like, 'I know, that's why I came,'" says Fahey. "Then he says, 'Yep, okay, go see another doctor,' and I'm like, Oh, all right, here's $1,000 for you to tell me something I told you when I came in.'"
Fahey scheduled an appointment with a GI surgeon and underwent a colonoscopy. On November 16 of last year, Fahey was diagnosed with anal cancer and embarked on the road to recovery. He went into surgery that same night, with the tumor and about six inches of his gut and butt getting removed, re-sectioned with "clean margins," or cancer-free areas. They also removed 10 lymph nodes from the area to test.