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#62106 - 03/16/06 11:18 PM A note from Les (Survivorman)

Hello all,

really nice to read some of the various thoughts about my show Survivorman. It's been a long haul. I am currently about to negotiate for a second season.

A lot of your comments are right on and I see that everyone pretty much 'get's it'. It's not easy putting a show about survival on air. If it's done by a TV producer it often barely glances the truth of survival and is completely sensationalistic. If it's done by a survival pro - it is often dry and didactic. I personally love the survival instructional videos I have - but like many of you I'm hard core and could watch that stuff all day - the general TV audience would never go for that. Someone said we are smaller than a small niche - and that's true - same goes for trying to get something on about canoeing - pretty tough to do.
But for whatever reason what I've done feeds enough of the issues to make it a successful show.
Ive said this before: - If there's one thing I did not want to be - it's known as a survival guru - that was never my point - I just want to fumble and bumble like anyone would out there - in other words I have to purposely make some mistakes so I can show SOME ways of overcomoing them - and don't forget I have a bunch more shows to do so I can't play all the trump cards every show. I have three ways things happen out there while I am running all the cameras to get this show done: 1) I do some things really well and I show them that way - and oh boy don't I look cool 2) I have some things I do really well but I don't show them that way because it would be too misleading to show doing something easily when it may have taken me 3 months to master and 3) my favourite - showing things I have really never tried before - and I PURPOSELY DO NOT practise them before hand so the viewer sees it for what it is - someone in a challenging situation trying something for survival they have never actually done before (like the gasoline fire in the Plane Crash episode)....I love when I have those opportunities...
Often - I just don't have the time to do all the things I could do - I have to clean five camera lenses - change five batteries, change five tapes, unclog five heads - oh yeah - and then I need to make my shelter and get my fire going for real!!.....so I know you are yelling from your couch 'why doesn't he.........' .......I just don't have enough time....and no - I am not going to stay out there for longer - I miss my family too much for that!!!
Folks, be happy that I can get anything even remotely, PROPERLY, survivalish on TV. It's a challenge and a half to appease all parties. BUT - and I really empathize with Ron Hood here - I am only able to do what I do because I am unmovable on how my shows will look in the end - and even then there are things I will always flinch at. I think what Ron does is fantastic - far more hard core than I and his experience speaks for itself. I wish, Ron, you and I could have chatted (met) before you took on the project that I have been reading about - I haven't seen the show myself.
For my part, my production relations at Discovery are fantastic - they give me my free reign pretty much and usually fall in with good feedback and comments on my rough cuts.
When it comes to the truth of survival (in my opinion of it anyway) I stand my ground with the networks - and they trust me - plus - I am the producer.

I get a lot of emails from navy Seals and armed forces survival instructors thanking me for showing the failures. I really feel good about that.
You know...no one is going to make a spring loaded trap when they're alone, scared, hungry and trying to survive......just us hard cores. That said - I do hear you all - more detail when possible - I agree - and less pulling a pouch across the ice - I agree. I'm going to Australia next and South America.
Oh and BTW - that mountain show takes a lot of flack - it was a real tough one to shoot - a lot of problems - especially the weather - my least favourite in the end in terms of what I showed and how I showed it.
I also get emails from parents who say their kids desperately want them to take them out camping because of my show.....hey man - if I can help get kids outside again....well then.....
So, since you all are strongly interested in survival for survivals sake - know this - if I do do more shows - I will still try to show - how average people can get through a situation....plus a few cool tricks as an instructor...plus whenever possible - throwing in some cool take home info that works for the particular location, situation I am dealing with. The filmmaking side is the biggest challenge of it all. I probably wont ever show survival with a full kit - because in truth - it would just make it too easy - more like a camping trip - hell that is how I camp.....so then....no challenge - no show....know what I mean.
Love this web site!!! Love the feedback to my show. Here's mine if Doug doesn't mind it being on: www.lesstroudonline.com
Well I have to go and join my kids on a tubing hill - but that's survival of another sort!

take care all


#62107 - 03/16/06 11:47 PM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
massacre Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 781
Loc: Central Illinois
Hi Les,

First, I have to thank you for such a nice response. I find it amazing that you took the time to read the posts regarding your show and then respond to them in kind.

I'm sure few of us know the real problems of getting a show like yours on the air, so your insight is invaluable and helps explain a lot of the issues brought up. Since you picked a couple of mine, I have to say that I'm still a big fan and have you tivo'd. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I hadn't even thought about the mistakes being important for the show, that's a good point. I also noted how excited you seemed about starting that fire with the gas fumes and battery. I tucked that bit of knowledge (and the fumes vs. liquid fact) in the back of my head. Good stuff all around.

And I'm not saying that your travels through the bush aren't fun to watch... they are. But I gotta think that setting up and then returning to retrieve the camera has to 1) suck and 2) gets old. Anyway, just watching you move around the area, it would be great to see your thought process behind all your techniques.. how to find water, places to look for game. It's fun to watch you catch and eat the various critters - and I'm always hoping you'll drop that great nugget of info.

Anyway, you do a very nice job of balancing the whole thing, and I'm quite certain that despite our ahem... "suggestions" we'd be happy to see much more. I know I would.

Thanks for such a good product and helping to bring this stuff to the mainstream. I know it's not only gotten the kids to get out to go camping, but it makes us less-active adults want to do the same.

Oh, one other thing... when I said I'd like to see you out there... I mean I just would like to see you try to survive until you get picked up once in a while instead of always trying to leave. Maybe they don't tell you how many days it will be, or maybe they pass over and you have to signal, and such to get picked up. I'm sure that's in the stable for another show, though.

Best luck and thanks for posting!

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#62108 - 03/16/06 11:58 PM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Thanks for doing this. I know a lot of people who've theoretically got the skills, but they don't practice them. When you make a mistake, or something doesn't work, I am reminded that it isn't going to go according the book. I'm always thinking "wow, he's doing that, then he's going to have to go back and get the camera" when you do something like cross a river.

Congradualtions on getting this in the air, I hope you many more seasons.

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#62109 - 03/17/06 12:23 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
bmisf Offline

Registered: 03/19/03
Posts: 185
Les - I love the show, precisely because of your approach to making it as "real" as possible and showing your mistakes along with your successes. Being involved in production myself, I also appreciate the drudgery you must go through to capture what you do.

Congratulations on your success and ratings with the show - and a big thank you to you and your family.

- Steve

#62110 - 03/17/06 01:02 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
Nicodemus Offline

Registered: 10/30/05
Posts: 1341
Loc: Virginia, US
I love the show too, Les.
We've had a couple of good threads on ETS regarding Survivorman, and hope you've had a chance to glance over them. It looks as if you may have.

Keep up the great work!

I'm looking forward to seeing more of your shows in the future!
"Learn survival skills when your life doesn't depend on it."

#62112 - 03/17/06 02:42 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
widget Offline

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 550
Hey Les, I love your show and wish we could have linked up when you were in Arizona as we once discussed. Your show is very informative and realistic. The "real guy" making a go at surviving with a bit of knowledge and skills!
I wish you the best with another season and I hope you continue to add something to all of our outdoor education. Just be careful of starving yourself a week at a time. It may not be all that healthy in the long term!
I for one am proud of you for all your efforts and impressed with the results. I even have my girlfriend watching Survivorman now, that is a credit to your personality also. She loved it when you fell off the raft in the Georgia swamp, with all due respect :-)
Take Care!
No, I am not Bear Grylls, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and Bear was there too!

#62113 - 03/17/06 03:05 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
cedfire Offline

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 659
Loc: Orygun

Another big THANK YOU for putting together such a great show! After seeing Brand X this past week, I even further appreciate your hard work and dedication. I'm hoping to tune in tomorrow night and catch the "Mountain" episode.

These topics/ideas have probably already come up or have been thought about, but perhaps:
- How people can build their own decent survival kit.
- You bring more than a multitool (fire starter, water purification, etc.) with you into the survival situation and show "how to".
- Another poster mentioned signaling aircraft, etc.
- Visit or interview SAR and rescue/military rescue teams to see the other half works.

Again, THANKS! Wonderful work! You've had friends, family, and myself riveted for 1/2 hour of television. (That's sure not easy in this day and age.)

#62114 - 03/17/06 03:21 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
misant Offline

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 9
Hello, I rarely post here (though I read nearly every day) but I am a bit of a bushwhacker and I would also like to say that I think it's great that you show the mistakes.

I find that life in the bush rarely goes as planned and so to see you try, fail, try, fail, try, and succeed is encouraging, realistic and educational.

Now seriously, though, between us Canadians, how close did the Polar bear actually get?

Thanks for a great show!


#62115 - 03/17/06 03:25 AM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 42
Loc: Michigan, USA
What a great show!!!! I have them all tevoed and watch them often. I have to smile when things don't go right. Mr. Murphy is always around just waiting to pop up.

Hope you don't mind I am going to take your post and e-mail Ron with it. He has mentioned you often on his website, always with the upmost respect.


#62116 - 03/17/06 02:46 PM Re: A note from Les (Survivorman)
Hghvlocity Offline

Registered: 01/12/05
Posts: 248
Loc: Oklahoma

Can't tell you how much I enjoy watching your show. I was very excited to hear about another season.

I echo the comment of others regarding the staying put slant. I would like to see you signal to get picked up, but I understand the shows basis. Nobody knows where you are...so nobody is going to come looking...so you gotta do it on your own.

Lugging that camera gear has got to suck...but I appreciate you doing it. Hoping for many more seasons of honesty in survival. I admit when the show first aired I had my doubts that you were really alone...after 10 minutes of viewing you had me hooked. Keep up the great work.

Get busy living...or get busy dying!

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