In advance of the Survivor China debut, CBS has released a home video shot by Jeff Probst that offers a tour of something we’ve never seen in 15 seasons: Survivor‘s base camp.
There, Jeff introduces us to some of the “crew of about 400” who put the show together. It’s not sexy or glamorous, especially since it’s shot by Jeff on a hand-held camera. He tours the production office, unit (“they create this entire world,” setting up power, water, buildings ), medical, catering (“about 1,000 meals a day, which is roughly 100,000 meals while we’re on location”), the marine department (where we see the list of all the boats used), transportation department (“all local drivers”), the art office (production design), and the challenge office.
There, challenge producer John explains that not all challenges are finalized in Los Angeles. He points out a marker board and says they “scribble an idea over on the board; most things we come up with back in Los Angeles and then when we get here we implement them.” That includes assigning challenges to episodes; he says, “we put it on the grid. … we just put into a show, put that one into episode 14.”
He also reveals that a special group called the “Dream Team tests and rehearses” the challenges; those are the generic people we see pretending to compete when Jeff introduces challenges.
Jeff concludes the tour by noting that he didn’t introduce us to one of the most important departments. “I didn’t touch at all on reality, which are the guys and women that are living out on the beaches every day,” he says. Those are producers and crew members, and “that’s part of our magic of our show” that they didn’t want to reveal. Even without that, it’s a fascinating look at what creates the oldest broadcast network reality show: