Zac McFarlane death: Deadliest Catch cinematographer remembered

Zac was a longtime member of the crew and was remembered. Pic credit: Discovery
Zac McFarlane, who reportedly died after a battle with cancer, was a longtime member of the Deadliest Catch crew. Pic credit: Discovery

On last night’s Deadliest Catch, the episode opened with tributes to three fallen fishermen off the Oregon coast — and it was also dedicated to a fallen crew mate who had been with the series for a very long time, Zac McFarlane.

Deadliest Catch cinematographer Zac had been with Deadliest Catch from the start of the show, which follows F/V vessels out on the Bering sea during the Alaskan king crab, opilio crab and bairdi crab fishing seasons.

Zac reportedly passed away after battling cancer.

What did Zac do on the series?

Zac worked as a cameraman, cinematographer, producer and director and was highly regarded by the entire crew and cast.

He was even the inspiration for a song “Always a rebel” written by Irish singer songwriter Vinnie James used on the series. James said about the song several years ago:

If you’re in the commercial fishing industry in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, just know that this song is for you. In honor of you. (by the way, the “wavin’ my fist” line in the song is written for (and about) Zac McFarlane, Directory of Photography on the Deadliest Catch. I was in the process of writing the song and one night, Josh Harris (from the Cornelia Marie), and Zac came into the lobby of the Grand Aleutian Hotel, where I was staying during my time in Dutch Harbor last season. Josh sat down in the seat next to me and starting telling me how Zac had gone out on the deck of the Cornelia Marie after filming one night, during a raging October Bering Sea storm, deck pitching all over the place, rigging howling, waving his fists at the torment, shouting: “Is that all you got? Bring it on!!!”… very cool… I just HAD to write a line in the song memorializing that story.

Zac worked on Deadliest Catch from 2005 and also did camera work and acted as a DP for Johnny Taylor: Bummin’ with the Devil in 2018 and Keith Lowell Jensen: Bad Comedy for Bad People also in 2018.

His employers included In Focus Media, Towers Productions and Original Productions.

Honors and Awards

Zac was part of the team that took home the Prime Time Emmy For Deadliest Catch in 2008.

He was credited with wins in Outstanding Nonfiction Series as producer and Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction programming in 2007 and for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming-Multicamera Productions in 2006 for his camera work.

Monsters & Critics offers condolences to Zac’s family and friends. The amazing camerawork on Deadliest Catch is one of the main things that has repeatedly set it apart from so many reality TV series over the years.

Deadliest Catch airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Discovery.

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