Real life explorer Ed Stafford is having a good run on The Discovery Channel, the FT reports.
The former British Army officer spent 860 days walking the entire length of the Amazon river, and filmed the whole thing himself. As you can imagine, it made for a remarkable series - one that Discovery Channel jumped on.
He was self-filming for a future documentary and uploading video blogs. “It was such an old-school expedition but we were essentially broadcasting it live,” he says. “At one point we uploaded a video on running out of food before we’d actually managed to find any. That gave me a kick.”
This stands in sharp contract to quote "Reality TV Shows" like Bear Grylls, who takes along crews, directors, lunch...
Given the criticism aimed at Bear Grylls for staying in hotels, using safety consultants and full film crews, there was clearly a market for something more authentic but Stafford, still driven to prove himself, pushed it to the extreme.
There have always been brave explorers who were willing to push the odds - from Shakelton to Amundsen to Wilfred Thessiger. But to shoot their adventures, if indeed you were going to do that, and that only became possible not too long ago, meant crews, cameramen, directors and millions of dollars and lots and lots of time and risk and complication.
Today, all that has changed, thanks more than anything else to techonlogy. The cameras are small and that is a big consideration when one person is carrying everything on their own. You also have to train the exlorer to shoot cuttable material. This is more than just a video on Youtube, these are series.
A few years ago, we did something very similar. We found another ex-British Army officer, Jeremy Curl, who wanted to be the first perons to cross the Sahara alone by camel. We gave him the small video camera, sent him off and a year later, he had shot and produced his own documentary film. A success.
There will, no doubt, be more to come.
The gear is there, as are the explorers and apparently, so is the market.