A B O U T W I L D E R L A N D P R O D U C T I O N S
Alec in WILDerland kicked off in 2012. From pre-production to post, it continues to be a unique process. Not only is each episode treated like an independent feature, but the prep that goes into filming a 40-minute episode often takes months. We plan for and research everything about the nature and environment ahead of time, then filmed based on the reality when arriving. Kept it real. Kept it WILD. And the best part? Absolutely everything is accomplished through crowd-funding campaigns, website donations, and with volunteers. In 2016 we announced Primitive Planet, LLC, as our new production company! In 2017 we announced our new series (in addition to WILDerland), WILDsides! In 2018 we announced Season Two of WILDsides!
T H E C R E W
Every episode is different. Complex scenes that involved elephants, dolphins, rhinos, kangaroos, other large animals, or extreme situations often have 10 or more extra hands. But normally, it is just two or three people wearing a lot of different hats. The primary players are Alec, co-creator of AiW, who researches, writes, hosts, catches all the fish, and runs the GoPros, TG5, and G7x; Brian, team leader and co-creator, who edits, directs, and executive produces; and Jeff, our professional naturalist who handles creative support. In many locations a local naturalist / regional expert is brought in to teach area specifics. Additional support often includes episode producers, special guests, family, and friends. The majority of footage is simply Alec exploring with a GoPro and stopping to discuss what he encounters. All episodes are shot with natural light. There are no rehearsals, no craft service, and it's about as far removed from typical Hollywood as you can get.
We practice zero-impact filmmaking.
T H E A L E C
Alec J. Fischer, co-creator, has been the primary Writer and Host of Alec in WILDerland since its creation in 2012. AiW existed because of his infectious nature, passion for adventure, and universal ability to communicate with all ages. Not only has he spent the majority of his life away from the glowing screen, but he has aquired filmmaking and research skills far beyond his years. The show is literally his experience in the outdoors using knowledge gained from his own research, schooling, and personal experience; and from local naturalists, nature centers, and members of our Team. Alec loves to fish! But what makes him unique is his ability to reel in a 30-pound Redfish with the same excitement he displays while collecting small bugs. It sounds cliche, but he was literally born to be WILD. And unfortunately, there are very few of his kind left in the world. In 2015, after spending a year in the UAE, Alec entered public high school in the USA.
In 2018 Alec turned 18 and became a senior in high school...and continues to write and produce episodes of Alec in WILDerland!
Filming with the elephants at Elephant Whispers in South Africa.
Filming in northeastern Florida.
Setting up for a scene in South Africa.
See it in action in the Washington episode (2014)!
Another example from the research book.
See it in action in the Oklahoma episode!
T H E G E A R
It all started with a Flip Ultra HD, often with a bulky underwater housing case, and a Canon T2i. Current productions are filmed with a combination of multiple GoPro Hero 4s and the Canon 80D. Custom GoPro rigs have been designed and built on-the-fly for certain shots...duct-taping the camera to a long stick for a safer view, or building a camera parachute from scratch to get an aerial shot. One of the final scenes in the Florida episode (2015) was the first time an actual GoPro helmet strap was used. A tripod is often used for non-episodes and campaign videos but is rarely used while filming AiW. The motto is, if most people would film it this way, then we will film it that way. Cameras typically survive one season and are then replaced. Sound in early episodes was recorded via a Rode mic. Current episodes use a wireless Sennheiser mic system. In 2016 we added a Phantom drone to our arsenal for international episodes. In 2018 we added the Olympus TG5 for macro and the Canon G7X for easier hand-held shots.
T H E S A F E T Y
Excessively safe. Not only do we work with highly-experienced people for extreme scenes, we are constantly, to the point of being overly-safe-obsessive, aware of the surroundings. The goal of the show is not to intentionally go into exotic and dangerous locations to prove knowledge and skills, but rather, to adventure in real places that real people can go to and show how equally amazing those places can be. Cuts, scrapes, fire-ant and mosquito bites, and splinters are a given over extended periods of time in the wilderness. A good first-aid kit is essential. Matter of fact, we have the same ice-packs in the first-aid kit that we had three years ago. It doesn't have to be dangerous to be cool. Basically, creative camera work can make just about anything look epic.
T H E W E A T H E R
Without-a-doubt, weather is the most complicated factor in filming. 100+ degrees Fahrenheit for five consecutive days at a primitive beach site was a very real-life scenario. Three months later, that same area was 72 degrees with eight storms that each required full evacuation. Both cases required incredible creativity based solely on dealing with the weather. Zero degree snow camping. Torrential flooding rain. Unbelievable humidity. Ice storms. Suprise snowstorms. High wind and brutal sun. It's all part of the adventure. And it's all survivable, and actually pretty fun, if you are prepared. Always carry a device with real-time radar and keep your eyes to the sky.
Florida episode (2015). Saving the tent from fast-rising water.
Typical summer Florida weather makes for very interesting camping!
17 degrees. Perfect temperature for carving ice.
T H E D U R A T I O N
Every episode is different. All episodes require travel and wilderness camping in tents, cabins, tent-shelters, and tent-cabins. Four nights primitive wihout electricity or water, 16 nights across Queensland from campground to campground, eight nights primitive on sand, 18-hour flights, endless car miles, lakefront, desert, beachfront, mountain view, and so-on. Motels are often used the night of arrival/departure at distant locations and if we anticipate severe weather. On extended trips motels are used every five to seven days to recharge batteries and to import footage. The average local episode takes five days and four nights without rain. The average distant location takes 10 to 17 days with travel. Adventures are often extended or cut short due to weather. The shortest production was SandyLand which clocked in at 72 hours. The longest trip, which included multiple episodes, was Across America which took three months.
T H E P O S T - P R O D U C T I O N
Every episode is different and equally complicated. Typical Hollywood editors would probably balk at the process. First, everything is captured on memory cards and often with different frame rates and lighting. That footage is then transferred in the field to a hard drive and folder-labeled GoPro 1, GoPro 2, GoPro 3, 80D 1, 80D 2, and so on. The GoPro 1 folder can have up to 100 different shots, etc. There is no slate or marker between shots (sometimes Alec will "clap" near rushing water) and not all cameras are used for each take. The next step, often weeks and months later, is matching the footage. With 50 to 200 GB of footage from different cameras this process takes about two weeks. Everything is then sorted onto a timeline according to scene. 80D footage is layered on top of matching GoPro footage and often acts as the master shot. When the 80D refocuses or moves, it is replaced with the matching GoPro footage, and then cuts back. This process continues for about a week and up to a month depending on the episode.
The first full cut is trimmed no less than three times and watched extensively for continuity errors, crew in the shot, etc. Next, the opening credit sequence and safety disclaimer are added. The music is added. Then, explanation titles are added to scenes where needed. Finally, the finished episode is burned to DVD and screened on a large-screen television for final approval. Once approved a release date is set and then it is posted online. All editing is done with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.
T H E M U S I C
Music is a huge part of AiW and all of the related videos produced. Almost all music is licensed through http://www.audiojungle.net and rarely repeated in future episodes. We do that to make each video unique and because each location oftentimes requires a different feel. The music is cinematic, often uplifting orchestra pieces, to help capture the epic feeling of being outside and adventuring. It is intentionally Spielbergian and often over-the-top because that's what we like. Almost all videos are cut to the music and not the other way around. It literally takes weeks to find the ideal piece of music. Alec creates the music for each of his vlogs!
T H E L O C A T I O N S
AiW continues to adventure through so many beautiful and amazing places. From parks across Texas to oceans on the other side of the world. Southern Mexico, Costa Rica, South Africa, Queensland-Australia, Oman, UAE, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida!