According to the producers of True Life: Living Off the Grid, shooting this show was definitely a challenge. They were put in a world beyond their comfort zones, and unlike most projects, they didn't have simple things like electricity, nearby food, quick access to a car or even a warm place to rest. Hear from one of the producers about what they needed to do to make it all run smoothly and watch the brief video clip below of them getting tips on how to eat raw animal fat (that apparently tastes just like ricotta cheese!).
To get to the camp we would have to hike through the forest ¾ of a mile with all of our gear and all the charged batteries and bottles of water we could possibly carry! Quickly we learned that leaving every day for lunch took too much time and was exhausting. Instead we would pack a small cooler with PB&J sandwiches and hide it in the forest – as you know, Ginny and Derik weren’t eating anything they couldn’t “find” in the woods so we didn’t want to tempt them with our civilized food. We’d sneak off during the day and have a picnic hoping they wouldn’t catch us!!
Once the sun set there was no way to get back to the car. Even a lantern wasn’t enough light to help us through that thick forest. So when we wanted to film our characters either going to bed or waking up (at dawn!) we lugged sleeping bags and wool blankets and stayed in Tamarack’s lodge – the one that everyone gathered in for the first meeting at the beginning of the show. Although we only stayed overnight a few times, we learned to appreciate going back to a hotel, with heat, a comfy bed, and hot baths!
Another challenge in the Northern Wisconsin woods is… mosquitoes. There is no way to explain how many there were and how painful it was when they bit! Originally we brought all-natural bug spray hoping to ward off the pests while keeping with the Teaching Drum philosophy (although they never used anything but bear fat!). Unfortunately it was impossible to hold the camera straight when hundreds of little critters were biting. Forty-five minutes after we started that morning we had to flee the woods and go get 30% DEET bug spray. Even though we put it on when they couldn’t see us, they could smell us 100 feet away and would tease us about smelling like civilization!
Although we were only there for a week at a time, we learned how difficult this lifestyle can be. We have tons of respect for the clan who have decided to go through with the program and have stuck it out for five months now despite the challenges of weather and needing to find your own food and shelter. We have certainly learned a great deal about how little a human needs to stay healthy and strong, and that most things we think are necessities in our world are really just comforts. However, we’ve decided some parts of civilization aren’t that bad and we’re not yet ready to give it up. Do you think it’s something you could do -- or would even want to?