Contestants to outlast each other in wilderness survival reality show

Russ McCarroll, Executive Producer of HISTORY, shares with Imagine TV Network why his new reality show skips out on having producers and camera crew.

Words by Elaine Xu

"What we're doing is [see] how long you could last, trying to survive, and I think that's a very different way to look at it," Russ McCaroll remarks. Termed as the boldest survival reality show, the 10 male contestants on ALONE, HISTORY's new reality show, are given 10 standard items and allowed to bring another 10 items.

Image credit: HISTORY

Some interesting items chosen by the contestants includes Dustin Feher's choice of a slingshot and Alan Key's three-and-a-half pound of wires. Josh Chavez, a law enforcement officer, brought a bow and six arrows. McCaroll shares that Vancouver Island was chosen as the filming location because its topography was challenging and natural borders like waterways prevented from crossing paths with each other. The presence of marine life was important as it could be a source of food for contestants.

Survivalist reality shows typically follow participants trying to get out of a situation but he explains that they are leaving them alone in the wilderness without contact with production crew or other participants. "It's extremely bold... That's the reason why it's an experiment. You don't do that in real life -- you don't try to see how long you can last." He quips that he was surprised that the contestants wanted to participate in the show.

Image credit: HISTORY

When the idea for the reality show was first conceptualized, he shares that it seemed like a great idea but planning to film in a location for a full year required mind boggling amount of resources. Even though the contestants did not interact with the crew, that does not mean the show had no production staff. The biggest challenge, he says, was looking for crew who could commit a year to the show. "In the freelance television world... That's not what people are used to."

Besides setting up motion capture cameras around the contestants' camps, he shares that the show incorporated video footage that were shot by the contestant. When asked if the 10 men received any form of assistance during filming, he emphasizes that they had no outside help. "The only interaction they had with other people were once a week. They were checked out by doctors and by psychologists to make sure they weren't injured or suffering from some sort of mental break[down]."

They were also required to wear a GPS locator so that their location could be tracked and as an added precautionary measure, each of the contestants were given bear spray and a satellite phone. Using the satellite phone, however, would mean that the contestants were eliminated from the competition. "These are all men who had spent a lot of time in the woods, in the wilderness by themselves so they have a unique set of skills," McCaroll says. "We were looking for... the ability to survive on their own. We didn't want to put amateurs out there."

ALONE broadcasts on HISTORY (StarHub TV Channel 401) every Monday at 11pm.

 

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