Since the pilot of Doomsday Preppers aired on June 27, 2011, featuring such noteworthy preppers as Lisa Bedford (The Survival Mom), David Kobler (SouthernPrepper1 on Youtube) and Scott Hunt (Practical Prepper LLC and Engineer775 on YouTube), I have resisted the temptation and numerous invitations to appear on National Geographic Channel’s most-watched hit reality television series.
The reason for my hesitancy was pretty much the same as so many others preppers …, opsec (operational security). The cries heard around the world by most preppers; including me, watching or who have watched Doomsday Preppers in the past is, “I can’t believe they are showing everything they have!” or "I don't have the money to buy all those things!"
Now, I’m not sure why they do it (show everything)? Maybe it’s because they get all caught up in the excitement of having their home overrun for three-days - with hundreds of feet of cords and wires, cameras, lights, equipment boxes, and hearing “Now say it again, but this time …” a hundred times a day - that they totally forget that they are actually in control of what they reveal and say on the show? I personally am all for sharing, just not my actual preps – just my knowledge.
After years of “Are you interested in coming on the show this year?” posed each season, and after watching the development of the series go from good to bad, to worse and good again, I finally relented and agreed to appear – but only after being told that the focus of Season 4 was on less extreme prepping i.e., no elaborate underground bunkers, no huge military-style bug-out tanks or vehicles, no big mac-daddy firearms, and no storerooms chalked full of thousands of dollars’ worth of food stores. All of these to most viewer equates to people spending a lot of money on preps. Prepping has never been about money for me, instead it’s about planning ahead and knowledge. So, with the “Back to Basics” theme of the new Season 4, I was in. Ready to show the world what prepping was really about - positive prepping.
The field producer arrived at our home on Sunday evening; after a three hour flight and then driving an hour and a half, so he could “scout the house and property for shots” – whatever that meant. He was back again bright and early the next morning at 8 a.m. with an entourage of vehicles; rivaling the presidential motorcade, slowly climbing the steep incline of my driveway, loaded with all-things-production. Like worker bees, the production crew unloaded their vehicles and equipment boxes and began affixing poles and cords, wires and electronic boxes, and harnesses, and the like. In short order, the front of my house was transformed in to a movie production location. There were big lights on high stands, umbrella like contraptions, white-balance and metallic light reflectors, lots and lots of cords and wires all hooked to cameras, audio equipment and fuzzy microphones on long poles; each tethered to a crew member resembling mountain climbers as they moved in harmony with one another.
The crew didn’t waste any time setting up for their first shot. At first I thought, “Hmmm. This is only going to take a day to shoot.” Wrong. Apparently, a shot can take on many different facets. The “shot” in production terms means, shooting from this direction, then that direction, now from up above, now down below … taking hours. The crew was both relentless and tireless. Me? I was exhausted after the first day. Not from doing anything strenuous mind you, but from saying the same thing a hundred different ways – all day. In fact, if I had a nickel for every time the producer said “Okay that was good. Now say it this way.” I’d be able to buy all those elaborate preps! Ha!
There were things that were strictly off-limits to the crew and for shooting – an agreement made beforehand. Of, course that didn’t stop the producer from trying to get those sensational shots - the reality TV effect - or trying to get those awesome sound bites … like “Cough, cough, cough.” “I can’t breath!! Can you breath??!!” After all that is what makes good TV. We definitely had to be on our toes at all times as the cameras always seemed to be rolling and you never knew what was being picke-up or when – audio after all can be separated out of the film – who knew?
We shot for three days solid. And when I say solid I mean, from early in the morning to late at night each day. We finished shooting on Wednesday after midnight. Over 30 plus hours of shooting; all for 15 minutes of screen time. It was tiring but good.
Now for a little background fun regarding the infamous Pepper Trailer for the show. The scene called for Rick to wear a gas mask and goggles (provided by the production company) to cut up Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers and make - not a pepper spray - but a type of liquid fence used to spray our perimeter to keep four-legged predators out of the garden. Now, I guess, if push came to shove in a poo-hit-the-fan scenario, it could also be used to keep two-legged predators away too, after all we were dealing with a pepper which has a Scoville heat unit of 1.5 to 2 Million (by comparison a jalapeno pepper has 3,500 – 8,000 (SHU) the hottest pepper in the world. Rick not being a culinary expert – yeah, like I am - I decided to dawn a mask and goggles myself and jump in to help him crush the dehydrated peppers. Shooting had already commenced so I didn’t have time beforehand to properly “fit and test” my goggles and mask (which by the way were XL to my child’s small head.) A small pot of boiling water was on the stove. Rick took the pot off the stove and poured the water over the peppers to steep. When he replaced the pan to the stove, one itsy-bitsy, tiny piece of crushed pepper fell on the heating element of the stove and began to burn causing a plume of smoke. THAT is what choked us … the smoke. And boy was it intense! Talk about made for TV!;
All-in-all, my experience with National Geographic Channel and the crew was great. They did exactly what they said they were going to do and there was no pressure to be other than who we are.
"Garden of Evil" - My Episode airs August 21st at 9pET on the National Geographic Channel - Doomsday Preppers.
A great big thank you to the staff of National Geographic Channel!!
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