BELLOWS FALLS -- With a little luck, Chester resident Barre Pinske could join the celebrity ranks of "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robinson or fan-favorite "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
The veteran woodcarver is the subject of a three-minute "sizzle reel" of a show Alex Stradling submitted to the New York Television Festival Contest for a shot to win $10,000 and a chance to develop a pilot episode for a nationally-televised reality show on A&E. Stradling, of the FilmLoft in Bellows Falls, has worked with Pinske on video products the past four years and their show, "Carved in Vermont," is now in the top five finalists in the NYTVF's unscripted development pipeline for the television network.
The two were surprised enough to be selected in the top 25 in early August, earning a pitch session with A&E producers and a chance to split $4,000 between them. They submitted their final package in April (the deadline was Wednesday, Oct. 2) and now waiting is the only thing they can do. The winner will be chosen Saturday, Oct. 26.
Stradling told the Reformer "Carved in Vermont" is a show revolving around Pinske, who uses chain saw to create wood sculptures, and his projects. He described it as "'The Office' meets a woodshop class" and said the NYTVF is the Sundance Film Festival of the television industry.
Stradling said he met Pinske through work at the FACT 8 local television studio, where his twin brother -- Jacob Stradling -- works as the executive director.
Pinske said the show gives some flair to the creation of art to be sold for profit and provides a look into his life.
"According to other people, I am a bit of a character," he said. "A lot of people are multi-facited. I have always had an interest in comedy. I don't know if I could do stand-up or anything like that but there is a comedic element in much of what I do, even in my day-to-day life."
Pinske said he grew up in a family of woodworkers in rural Minnesota. He said he was inspired to become a chain saw carver after graduating from community college and attending a lumberjack show in Wisconsin, where he saw carving pioneer Art Moe. He has been a professional artist for the past 30 years.
He said making a living is difficult for any artist but wood carvers use chain saws, which enable them to create more products in shorter amount of time. He said folk art items -- especially bears -- are the biggest source of revenue for wood carvers.
"That's our bread and butter," he said.
Pinske said, who has his own chain saw carving blog, said Stradling has a great gift for videography and being in the top five proves no one should ever give up on their dreams.
Stradling, who got married on Saturday, Sept. 28, told the Reformer he grew up in Vermont and attended California State University, Northridge, where he majored in electronic media management. He said he wants to create a successful reality television show because he interested in telling a story any way possible, citing programs like "Ice Road Truckers," "Top Chef" and almost anything on HGTV.
"I just love the format and how you can sort of find interesting lives and create a story around that," he said.
You can search the Internet for "Carved in Vermont" video and short works recorded on Pinske's webcam, which runs each day from his studio.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.
From our archives: See Barre Pinske host the Big Buzz Chainsaw Carving Festival in 2010.