When ITV America, makers of History Channel's Alone series were scouring the planet for their newest, most remote and challenging location for Season 5 they came to us and to Mongolia to find the perfect environment.
ALONE sees 10 contestants dropped into the wilderness alone, with few supplies to see how long they can survive in their own small patch of territory. Sounds simple yet the production logistics behind such an undertaking are significant.
First the recce; after surveying thousands of miles of territory and consulting our partners in government we selected a wilderness region that could deliver the individually remote zones for each contestant (they mustn't see or hear each other) whilst also allowing for a full production unit to be set up and lived in for the potential months of the shoot. The first helicopter recce flight immediately revealed that we had found the right spot.
So onto production; contracts and permissions to carry out an unprecedented film making project in a protected area were key to the success of the production and our experts lawyers and managers spent many long late hours securing these. Then on to logistics...
A production facility had to be built from nothing in the wilderness to accommodate a full crew, support staff, a main camp, an 'tap-out' isolation camp and forward camps that would provide a safe and comfortable working environment as the seasons changed from summer to the hard, cold Mongolian winter. And this at absolute minimum 4 hours drive from the nearest small town with supply chains running over a period of four months.
This was a huge undertaking and, as far as we know, Mongolia's largest ever TV or film production:
- 10 Contestants
- 27 Production crew
- 120 Local support crew
- 19 Vehicles, 2 bicycles, 1 raft, a Unimog ambulance and a helicopter
- 29 Mongolian Gers/Yurts
- 3 Wilderness toilet and shower blocks
- 1 Reaserch facility turned into a kitchen
- 2 Medical evacuations - 1 by Cessna on a specially prepared landing strip
- 3 Satellite dishes for internet connection
- 25 Cans of bear spray brought 6000km overland from Russia
- 31 Fire extinguishers
- 53 Tick borne encephalitis jabs
- 208 Journeys by Land Cruiser, Furgon, Russian truck, Unimog and coach
- About 3,000,000 mice; or so it seemed
- And 1 psychologist
Bridges were built and tracks repaired to bring in and take away every single resource with the aim to leave no trace once the shoot was completed.
If you are ready for the long watch then one of the competitors, Brooke Whipple, created this behind the scenes video of the run up to the competition launch.