Author Topic: Survivors talk at last!  (Read 2342 times)

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Offline puddin

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Survivors talk at last!
« on: July 21, 2004, 08:30:51 PM »
I found the link to this article @ SurvivorFever

Survivors talk at last!

Daily Post publisher Marc Neil - Jones caught up with Dick Beckett, the senior Survivors person responsible for logistics, hiring staff, security and the building of the base camp in Vila and Colleen Sullivan of CBS Television Publicity to clear the air on what is happening with Survivors in Vanuatu. The following interview is in two parts.

What is your job here?
I am the unit manager responsible for logistics. I have to organise the freighting in of equipment and materials we need and the infrastructure, security measures etc. Our department has the biggest interface with the local population here as we set up the base camp and hire local residents. With us here it is a bit like having a cruise ship permanently here week after week. We get through between 2500-3000 cases of soft drinks alone and are catering for 370 people three times a day using local caterers!

What is your background? Are you American?
No I'm an ex POM from Sydney. I worked on a number of films such as The Thin Red Line, Anna and The King and Red Planet before I joined the Survivors show on the second series when they went to Australia and I have been with them ever since. It seems to be getting bigger as the show develops. In Australia and Kenya we had 400 people living in tents which was not easy as we had to bring in everything like 80,000 litres of water that had to be trucked into the middle of nowhere every day so people could drink and have a shower. Here it is much easier.

Where has been the most difficult place you have filmed Survivors in?
Australia was very taxing. You can't predict what is going to happen and in Australia we had a huge bush fire that raged around us and destroyed stuff and then a week later we were flooded by a river that rose up and went through flooding the base camp and washed away stuff down the river. You can't stop stuff like that unless we had the same budget as Waterworld had. Kenya was also very difficult as lions were all around us and we had to build electric fences around the film sites and base camp for protection. After a couple of lions got zapped they knew what the fence it and they started charging the gazelles into the fences to make catching and eating them easier. We had problems with malaria in Africa, dengue fever in Thailand and crocodiles. In the Amazon we had problems with piranha fish and in the Marquess the sand flies were a major problem. It is different every time.

If you are catering for 370 people for all meals is Survivors spending much here and in the hotels?
Oh yes. When you look at what people spend in town on a day-by-day basis it is a lot of money. They are using the local restaurants and bars a lot. On any given night you have folks at most restaurants. We like excuses to party and we had a huge July 4 party at Anchor Inn and another one at Trader Vics. We try and share it around.

Why have you got security fit for a G8 summit? Locals are amused by it, as we have never seen anything like this.
Well there are two strands to this. One is the current global security situation where any film productions with Americans are more concerned about security and threats. This is a laid back Pacific island nation and it is great because of that and if we can come over and film without problems hopefully others will also come out here and film. The other concern is that this is reality TV and we need to ensure the details of the show are not leaked out because it will spoil television audiences. Survivor is one of the top ten TV shows watched in the USA and has fanatical fans who will try anything to find out what is happening before others do and before the show is aired. We also need to ensure the contestants have that psychological pressure of feeling isolated without the noise of aircraft and seeing boats go by and people. We employ about 40 security personnel around film sites and a company handles our security in town for us.

How long do you film each day? Is it just during the day?
No we are filming all the time. We have night time crews there in order to get everything as it happens and this is why we need these security zones to remain in place until the filming has finished.
So you got the recent earthquake then?
Yes we had film crews there so they would have got it.

How do contestants cope with cameramen in their faces day and night?
They get used to it after only 24 hours and then they don't even think about them. Contestants are not allowed to communicate in any way with camera crews and even if they do try and talk to them they will be ignored. They are very discreet when filming and just document the action and dialogue. The crew blends in with the surroundings.
Normally in films where the action is taking place around the corner there is a couple of hundred-film crew with porta loos that have to be out of site and sound. With this kind of reality show we can't have that.

How much promotion of Vanuatu will be in the series as the last Survivors All Stars filmed in Panama had no promotion of the country
The reason for that was because we filmed two series in Panama. The first one had all the promotion of the location but the All Stars was purely about the contestants. Vanuatu will be heavily promoted in the show itself and on the web site which will have links to the Vanuatu Tourism site.

Did Survivors improve tourism figures in other locations you have filmed in?
Colleen; Oh yes. Australia believes it received around A$5 billion worth of publicity when the series filmed there. What is interesting is that Vanuatu tourism people are excited over the exposure Vanuatu will get in Australia who will see the show one week later than in the US. CBS have put the tourism office in touch with a publicist who has worked with Mark Burnett for years and is well connected with Channel Nine in Australia. They are even looking at bringing someone from Channel nine here to do morning show broadcasts which is exciting and will be great for this country. In addition the web site will get a lot of interest and we are helping link traffic from our show site to the tourism office sites. The worldwide audience for the show is huge and you still see old series being shown around the world and we have a loyal TV audience in the US of 20 million. It is one of the top ten shows there. It is the number one show in Canada and very popular in places like Australia and Thailand and England.
I was sitting in my room in the Amazon and saw on the internet that in the US more school kids knew where the Marquess as Islands in the Pacific were than where Iraq was because of Survivors. That is just amazing. We are educating people. It does end up shining a torch on a place and Vanuatu will benefit greatly.

Are the spoiler sites driven by rival TV companies wanting to reduce TV audiences?
No they are run by rabid Survivor fans. The television networks would not want to get into a tit for tat situation spoiling shows. The spoiler sites try to outdo each other being the first with news but some of them carry bogus material that is rubbish. Like in Australia they claimed that a helicopter had flown in and dropped Mars Bars for the contestants. That was just bull****. They make up stuff!

The second part of this exclusive interview will appear in next Wednesdays issue of the Daily Post .Don't miss it!

The Survivors Interview - Part 2

Daily Post publisher Marc Neil - Jones caught up with Dick Beckett, the senior Survivors person responsible for logistics, hiring staff, security and the building of the base camp in Vila and Colleen Sullivan of CBS Television Publicity to clear the air on what is happening with Survivors in Vanuatu. The following is the second part of that interview

There have been many rumours on the show circulating. One is that the contestants actually eat with everyone else, Is it reality all the time?
No that rumour on food is ridiculous. It is reality TV and if they don't find their own food they will go hungry unless they win an award. We have had contestants who have complained after they get voted off that they couldn't believe they were not given even a banana to eat! Some have had problems but there is no way we feed any of the contestants.

Can you bet in Las Vegas on the outcome of the show?
No it is illegal in the USA to bet on something that has already been filmed and in the can but offshore betting agencies in places like Costa Rica have been known to take bets on the show.

How many people are employed locally?
We employ around 120 - 130 locally. We brought in the same number of people. The total number of crew employed here is around 260. We have a contracted security company who employ locals at the sites who know who is not from there. Around 40 people are employed in security. We employ contract cleaners and people to lug equipment and materials around to the sites. We have 25 people a day employed to help carry around to film locations and to help our art department construct stuff. It is a bit like having a cruise ship here

Do you downsize as the contestants get whittled down?
There isn't much downsizing. We will reduce the number of camera crews down from the 18 we have at present later on.
Why so many camera crews?
We need different crews who specialise in certain types of filming. We have crews in helicopters, crews filming action scenes, crews specialising in rugged conditions and others who specialise in dialogue between contestants. We have a wide range of diverse needs for professional crews plus night time crew and standby crews.

What about transport?
We have taken a lot of local buses out of service to transport people and equipment to where filming is taking place and to get us around town. We also have rented a lot of boats for use in getting to film sites and for security.

How many medics do you have here?
We have two doctors and two or three paramedics and support staff with us. All the contestants and crew are well looked after and if necessary medivacced out to receive the best treatment if problems occur like in Australia when one of the contestants got burned and we sent him to a specialised burns unit for treatment. We are in radio communication with each other at the film locations.

Are all the games for the contestants constructed here?
Yeah everything is assembled and put together here. We do bring in about 43 shipping containers of gear such as air tools, power tools, welding machines and all kinds of equipment that we need to build anything here on site. We do try to source as much as we can locally and we are careful we do not cause any environmental damage cutting down vast swathes of forest to construct a game. We use three or four local timber suppliers. We bought all the plywood in town and we are back order.
We need a lot of timber. If you have seen the show you know that most of the games are about doing things with large pieces of wood basically. That is the look and we like to have that tribal look to all our games using local styles and customs. There is a lot of 'on the spot' construction as the games must have a local flavour about them and we get ideas and just go for it.
It is not re inventing the wheel. Yes games are conceptually similar. Certain ideas are rehashed and then we look at them from where we are and design them to fit in with where we are filming and the country. The structure of the games is made before we arrive in the US but it moulded to fit in with local culture here. We will try and give the game a Vanuatu cultural feel but conceptually it might be the same as what we have done in the Amazon or Kenya wherever. Certain types of games are big and physical and other types are mental. We embellish games to give them a local character and feel.
All the contestants must start on a level playing field so they all have a chance to get across the finish line.

What are you doing for water as there is virtually no water on lelepa and Moso?
There is running water where they are and there was well at the site at Havannah harbour that was only producing around 200 litres a day, nowhere near enough, so we built a much more substantial well and toilet block fully plumbed into a decent sized septic which they will get at Havannah Harbour when we finish filming. We have done a certain amount of basic road building using a backhoe and local coral. One village is delighted with what we have done for them with a road to and from their food gardens that did not exist before. We have to move heavy equipment and move people about so we need the bush cut back.

We heard a rumour that the show presenter Jeff Probst was injured in an accident where he cut himself badly with a bush knife cutting a coconut and was medivaced out and replaced by another compere. Is this true?
No he wasn't medivaced out and nobody replaces Jeff on Survivors. That is not true.