Jeff Probst reveals how Survivor constructs, tests, and travels to its challenges

Jeff Probst’s fascinating and revelatory behind-the-scenes footage from Survivor China continues with two videos focusing on the show’s challenges.

The first (below) includes a lot of footage of Jeff Probst panting, as it’s all about getting to a challenge location. “I’m exhausted, and I’d like to think I’m in okay shape,” he says. The walk to the “Warrior’s Duel” challenge is “about a 30-minute hike straight up,” which both the cast members and the crew had to walk, Jeff said. Crew members found the location via a helicopter, cleared a path, and put down gravel–and stairs–to make a trail. In addition, all materials had to be carried in.

In the second video, also below, Jeff Probst shows us the “start to finish” of a challenge that includes a reproduction of the Great Wall of China. All together, it takes “about a month of construction” to put together, Jeff Probst says, adding, “I have been reminded of how hard everybody works.”

He takes us through the the testing phase, which is followed by a rehearsal with the Dream Team and the camera operators. It also shows someone setting up point-of-view cameras. “Hopefully I’ll get a little shot before it gets trampled on,” he says. Later, they watch tape of the rehearsal, and continue to refine their plan. At one point, challenge producer John explains that they changed part of the challenge’s design to simplify it, because the “less elements to screw up, the better the challenge.” And Scott, the coordinating field producer, says, “We don’t have take twos on this show, so we have to get it there at that time.” Other reality show producers, I hope you’re taking notes.

Here are the two latest videos in Jeff Probst’s series:

Survivor:China – The Walk to a Challenge and Survivor China – Anatomy of a Challenge: Chariots of Mire [YouTube]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.