Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Reno Chris

Mining Based Reality Tv Shows

53 posts in this topic

A few years ago, some guy who knew only a little about placer mining for gold convinced a TV production crew to create a new reality TV series about mining for gold in the frozen north of Alaska. It was successful beyond the expectations of most folks and as television people often do, if something is successful, it is copied and done over and over until it is beat to death.  Imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery, and in Television land new,  good ideas are scarcer than hen's teeth (and everyone wants to do reality shows because they are popular and low cost to make). The success of this show was not all that surprising to me - gold mining is interesting and the long running Gold Fever show on the Outdoor channel, though not a reality show and made on a pretty low budget, has always been one
of their top rated shows.
 

So after that success, the cable channels can't get enough of small scale mining and we now have, in addition to the original gold rush reality show which has expanded to cover multiple crews:  a show depicting dredgers in Nome filled with personal drama and frustration; a show about miners seeking gold in a haunted gold mine and a show about families mining for gold. We also have a couple related shows about people seeking gold and treasure with metal detectors. New mining shows
now on TV or about to be shortly running include a show about folks mining crystals and mineral specimens in Colorado on the Weather Channel, and one which will show miners working in Greenland on the Animal Planet Channel (yes, gold is now an animal, or maybe small scale gold miners are an endangered species - it could be either).

 

If you think with all of these shows that we have finally reached the end of the line with the mining based reality shows, you are sadly mistaken. I have been contacted by a couple reality TV show production companies and they are looking for people to help them create even more new TV reality dramas based around mining. Several prospectors I know have also been similarly contacted. In case you are contacted, they are looking for over the top, larger than life type individuals that create drama simply by their nature - think of someone who would fit in well as a professional wrestler (and in fact one of the metal detecting shows is based around an ex-wrestler).

 

I am now convinced that every cable TV channel needs at least one mining based reality series to make it profitable (probably several for most) and in order to do that every prospector in the western US will soon be getting his or her own show. I think we should all get prepared for our inevitable starring roles.  I have been coming up with ideas for the episodes of my show. Since I will be coming into the game late, I will need to be staging outrageous  "jumping the shark" gimmicks from the opening credits of the pilot episode (for those not familiar with the TV term "jumping the shark", check for the meaning on Google).

 

For my own show, I figure in episode one I could wrestle a grizzly bear who has established his den in an old gold mine that I want to enter with nothing more than my bare hands. In episode two, I could capture a shark that might have swallowed some gold bars on the ocean floor and then rip its guts open with a chain saw on camera while the shark tries to bite me. Then for episode 3, I would travel to Afghanistan and fight off the Taliban with an AK47 in one hand while using a metal detector to find gold nuggets with the other.  In episode 4, I would travel to Peru to enter some booby trapped ancient Inca gold mine that has poison darts that shoot out of the wall, arrays of bamboo spears that also come out of the wall, loads of tarantulas and giant spherical boulders that roll down and seal you in the mine if you are not careful. In episode 5 I could help a British MI6 agent who likes his martinis shaken, not stirred to save the world by foiling the plot of a gold smuggling evil genius who wants to attack Fort Knox and capture its gold.

 

I think I have this reality TV thing down and figure the above is a good start, but I need more ideas. If you guys could help me by suggesting ideas for episodes or even just ideas for shows overall. I'd also be interested in your thoughts about the phenomena of all these mining based reality TV shows.



 

Sergio A and Justin Higbee like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lol.... Chris that would make for one hell of a prospecting show. I enjoy gold fever with tom, watch it every Saturday and Monday. I also enjoy gold rush. My wife and kids like watching it with me every Friday its on. I can watch the other shows BUT the people irritate me a little and my wife has to tell me to quit yelling at the TV because they can't hear me haha. But I think its just seeing what they find at the end of the show I like. Nothing like seeing the yellow stuff in the pan. Gets me itching to go every weekend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I are almost addicted to the mining shows [along with the other reality shows on Alaska life...Yukon Men, Alaska...The Last Frontier, etc].  It's mostly because we are stuck in Colorado till mining season begins and anything that lets us view the life we enjoy so much up north is welcome viewing.  We can put up with the foibles of wannabe miners and drunk Nome dredgers.  Since we are preparing to begin a life of primative underground drift mining,  something almost unknown to much of the mining community, let alone the rest of the viewing public, there is the temptation to contact a production crew and see if they would be interested in filming our operation.  Then I slap myself a few times and get back to REALITY and realize I wouldn't want those yayhoos within 100 miles of my claims.  Seems like these days everyone must be a "star" in their own little world...read my lips...blogging!!!, Facebook, Twitter, etc. We are a very self absorbed society and I must admit, I am guilty of pandering to the seduction of the limelight. [Long story short...I was put down a lot when I was a child...making up for it now as a "geezer with gusto".]  So for now I'll be content to share my wierdness and wild adventures with a few folks in my various circles of friends and live selectively vicarioiusly through the guys on the Christine Rose or up at the Big Nugget Mine. Viva reality TV!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haha I agree flint. I'm in northern nv and I tell ya, them damn shows help pass the time with 7 months of winter. Kind of helps get the gold fix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flintgreasewood - We'd be happy to hear about what you are doing once you get back to AK. Your descriptions will be real and not the TV dramatized and enhanced version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris,

You have a lot of extra time on your hands these days, do you?

One of the production companies that contacted me was expecting $20k worth of gold found per episode... maybe when the spot price climbs a bit higher.

The 'reality' of following a true nuggetshooter around while bullet after bullet and boot tack after boot tack is dug would not make for good ratings. So, there may be some merit to your show ideas. Just don't go Timothy Treadwell on us in episode 1 because you need to last at least a whole season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris - This is a really interesting Topic and has a huge variety of different aspects on which just about everyone can have their say. This is my latest use for the Gold Reality Shows - I've got some friends who are thinking about going Mining so I asked them if they had seen " ALL " the old and current Reality Mining Shows. They had only seen a few Episodes of Gold Rush and one or two Bering Sea Gold Episodes. They said it looks relatively " easy ". I suggested that they go on to a Website and watch as much as they can possibly find which includes all of the older Series and keep up to date with the current Show, " Yukon Gold ". When they had seen them all I said they should then come back and tell me if they still want to go Mining. I call these Episodes " Training Videos " and asked them to try and take, from each and every Episode, one single " Lesson ". I watch them myself with interest to check out Equipment and any minor little detail or trick / bush fix which I could make use of myself. I love the shows but don't think I would have the patience to " play " to the Cameras.                

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I just watched our first episode of Prospectors on the Weather Channel.  Both locations, Lake George and Mt. Antero are just down the road from where we live.  Not only that but a very close friend has recently [2 years] joined the ranks of crystal hunters and has quite a  collection of smokey quartz, amazonite, jasper and fluorite. Just the other day he staked a second claim very close to the Dorsey claims.  After watching the program I said to my wife, "Why in the world are we going all the way to Alaska to mine gold when we have crystal mining right out our back door".  I'm sure it's a blast in its own way, but I know there won't be anything like pulling nuggets off the bed rock of our little underground permafrost placer mine.  And I know I'll be completely blown away when I steam out my first mamoth tusk.  Oh yeah, baby!  And it will all be on home video!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve62 - yes, the show does function as a pretty good lesson in how not to do things. The first season of Gold Rush AK, the guys spent nearly a whole season running near worthless overburden through their plant, and finding out after all the money was spent that there was very little gold in the material. It was like no one ever heard of sampling or knowing something about the gravel you were planning to run until after the fact. Even in this most recent one, the third season, the genuis in charge selected a trommel of fatally flawed design, and if it wasnt for the second group that built a standard placer processing plant, the gold rush boys would have produced LESS gold than they did the first season.

 

Joe - I dont have any time one my hands to be honest. But I had a few minutes and thought this could be a fun and perhaps a bit humorous topic to discuss. Yup, the production companies trying to figure out the next prospecting show have no idea what they want to do or even what the realities of prospecting are. They want to see lots of gold, yet the guys on the Jungle gold series produced less gold with more than 100 thousand in equipment, operation costs and employees than I did during three weeks in Alaska with a $750 metal detector and a few hundred in equipment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris - What are your thoughts on " Yukon Gold " ? I think it is reasonably well put together myself but the self-proclaimed " World's Greatest Prospector " does get on my nerves a bit. When you finally get around to your own Show, can you give us more detail on how and why you have chosen to Mine where you are MIning and we would all like more detail on the Volume of Gravel run through the Plant, how the Plant works, the average pay grade etc. plus a better understanding of the costs involved in running the Operation. There is plenty of people out there inspired by these TV Shows to try it themselves but the only " reality " is, have any of these Operators made any decent Profit yet ? 

 

And what did you say you were going to call your own Show ?            

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been asked by three production companies since 2011, to do a show in Arizona. The first producer that approached us made it sound like a good deal for our business, so we allowed them to film over 50-hours of footage. When the “Pilot” was sent to us to preview we were horrified.

 

They production company had edited the video to make it look like everyone we took out was finding big gold all the time, or being chased by rattlesnakes and stalked by mountain lions when we didn’t find gold. Needless to say, we did not come to a deal.

 

For my business and gold prospecting clubs, equipment manufactures and sellers, book and magazine publishers, these gold shows are fantastic. They are a huge interest driver for the 10,000 Baby Boomers who retire each and every day. For the recreational gold prospector, not so much, as already crowded club claims are beginning to look more like Times Square on a busy Saturday night.

 

One thing is certain. The Discovery Channel struck "advertising dollar gold" with their formula.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I tried looking for Yukon gold on my schedule for direct TV and can't find it any where. Is it still on or not started yet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I tried looking for Yukon gold on my schedule for direct TV and can't find it any where. Is it still on or not started yet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Chris,

I get it... I just need to use the 'lol' thing when I think I'm being funny.

I do think it humorous to see the difference between TV Reality vs. reality... and probably most in the general public don't get to know there is one. The production company puts whatever face on prospecting that they think will bring in the viewers and this skews public attitudes towards us as well. (Never a good thing.)

My dad and I were being interviewed at a Hollywood production studio for a new gold show a couple years back and I was asked, "Do you and your dad argue a lot? Do you get along well together when you're out prospecting?" They dropped us like a hot potato when they found out there were no conflicts brewing.

 

Maybe you could do an episode where you and some other miners are partnered up and working a remote claim. You then become so paranoid and distrustful of each other that a deadly encounter is just waiting to happen... 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre' Part Two!

 

How about adding a Youtube forum category for prospecting videos only? It may encourage more of us to bring a camera into the field and document what we are doing. It never gets old watching real prospectors and their methods... or seeing the results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I should call my theoretical show - DEADLY, DANGEROUS AND EXTREME PROSPECTING

 

OK, so far be it from me to defend the TV producers, but they do have to produce something that will hold people's interest and not be boring to watch. Yah, I think the bar brawls and personal conflict stuff is done way too much, but think of this: The leading gold mining reality show is about a bunch of guys digging and washing rocks. How dull is that!  Imagine an hour long show where you see nothing but rocks spin around in a trommel or bounce across a screen deck. They have to come up with something to make it interesting. In TV land there is a balance between sensible and over the top stupid. Nearly all producers tend to lean strongly toward the over the top stupid end of things. Especially when you are not the first guy in the door with a certain idea - like a prospecting / mining show. The later in line you are the more extreme you need to be to get noticed (hence the extreme examples I used for my theoretical show).

 

Could a TV production company do a show and keep it interesting, fun and real without being highly misleading and focusing in mostly on the interpersonal drama? Yah, I think they could. Though TV producers don't understand this, people turn in to these shows for the adventure of finding gold (it's something they would like to do, so watching it is a vicarious adventure). After a few episodes, they come to care about the characters in the show and they keep tuning in for the adventure of the gold and the interesting people they care about.  A higher quality prospecting TV show would have to use more humor, more character development, more adventure of the search for gold. Unfortunately, TV producers are bound to this formula of over the top stupid drama which they believe they must adhere to - so for now that's what we are going to see.

 

Steve62 - I have not seen any of the episodes of Yukon Gold, so I have no comments on it.

 

Joe - If you'd have just told the producers that you and your dad are constantly at each other's throats, stealing each other's gold and pulling guns on each other regularly (kind of like Treasure of the Sierra Madre), you could have had your own TV show and been famous!

 

On the Youtube stuff, We do have a category for prospecting adventures on the forum, and I would be happy to see you post links to some of your videos there. I have watched one that you did, but don't know how many you have done. The one I saw was well done.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I tried looking for Yukon gold on my schedule for direct TV and can't find it any where. Is it still on or not started yet?

Daniel - It's still on and has just shown it's 3rd. Episode out of 10. History Channel, Canada. Wednesday Nights. Everything in the Yukon is apparently go big, or go home. Google some Links on the Net and you will be able to watch the earlier Episodes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Bering Sea Gold because I spent 9 days camped

 

http://golddredgervideo.com/alaska2008/tentfever.wmv

 

on a tiny tent with a buddy on the east beach and I can sympathize with the weather and almost everything else shown on the program.

 

Most of the drama I think is contrived.

 

I loved the time spent there though after I got back home and had a chance to think about it.

 

Leonard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will again emphasize my point that the TV mining reality shows do not need the contrived interpersonal drama. Many of the most successful reality shows get by with a minimum of interpersonal drama and a maximum about good characters that viewers are drawn into caring about. Even Gold Rush has gotten to where the personal drama is nothing like what it was in the first season where two guys got into a fist fight causing one to be kicked off the show, and Dakota Fred and the mechanic got into regular screaming matches. Gold rush is not the only show to have gotten away from personal drama to focus on good characters that people care about. Pawn Stars, Ghost Hunters and other reality shows have gone that way because in the end, poeple are bored by endless drama unless you really care about the characters. You cant build a long term popular show based only on fist fights, bar brawls and screaming matches. If you could, you wouldnt need the mining element - you could just have a reality show about the folks who hang out in seedy bars.

 

Leonard - you too, if you want to post links to your videos in the prospecting adventures section, I think people would enjoy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris,

I think you should consider a show called Celebrity Prospecting. Each week you could take a celebrity to a different and challenging environment. Think of the ratings and $$$ if you were attacked in Alaska or Australia by a wild Lohan or Kardashian! Your wife might object though.  :)

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Yes been asked twice but they ALL want ya to go to Africa or South America. My bud Gstake just did one pilot for the discovery folks outta the isles and BBC. We talked and I want to do the DYING AMERICAN MINING DREAM but no no no come to a or a bs. May go with friends to Africa but show NO. I haven't seen a reality show yet except that alcoholic idjet blowing his brains out---now THAT was a reality show-ALCOHOL KILLS when playing russian roulette with a loaded 45. John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I often find myself trashing the gold shows but don’t think I’ve missed too many… I would offer a beyond reality concept; something between a cross of Survivor meets the Blair Witch Project. Remember the Pig Farmer from the early Survivor shows… I always thought that at some point; well past the character development phase, that the Pig Farmer would lose it and kills off the remaining contestants: Real Survivor…
 

 An altercation would need to fester over time to a point that the cameramen are hacked, dropping the camera to reveal an obtuse angle-shot sideways from ground level; recording violent acts which were not completely revealed due to the obtuse angle of the broken camera. Then cut to a scene filmed from one of the dying cameramen where the Pig Farmer; covered in blood, teeth and hair, holding a crude machete ponders the fate of the scantly clothed remaining survivors strung up in trees. (ratings will need to outweigh the law suits)

 

At some point, someone will take it from reality TV back to fiction in a masterful way. However, the liability for such content may very well injure the public or worse… The TV version of War of the Worlds meets the Dental Miner…    

Ronald C likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mining reality shows are about to start again next week. Season 4 of Gold Rush has the Hoffmans in the jungle in Guyana this Season while young Parker is now up in the Yukon under the guidance of Tony Beets and trying to start his Mine with 100 Oz. of Gold. Dakota Fred is still in Alaska so we'll have to see what he gets up to. Should be interesting and I am particularly keen to see how the Hoffmans mobilize their usual over-sized gear and crew without the benefit of a road.    

 

Jungle Gold, filmed in Ghana, has already shown Season 2 and ended with the entire Film Crew having to leave the Country. Simple reason - Local Law doesn't allow Small Scale Mining for Foreigners. Larger Mining Investment is of course welcomed in most Countries, including Ghana, but the 25 Acre Small Scale Concessions ( Claims ) they were working are reserved for Ghanaian Nationals only. They should have known this even before they got off the Plane.

 

Season 2 of Yukon Gold has started showing in Canada but I haven't been able to watch any Episodes as yet. This is a fairly good Show and is well worth watching if you can find a decent Link. 

 

Bering Sea Gold has Filmed another Season and that usually starts showing on TV later in the year. I saw them when I was in Nome and this year sees a couple of new Crews. Should be worth the effort to watch. Keep an eye out for some new " Talent ". 

 

Another new Show yet again this Season - It's called Alaska Gold Diggers. It's on Animal Planet. Not sure if Ice Cold Gold got dropped but as Chris mentions above, it seems like all the big Cable Channels have to have a Mining show. This one has 5 Women. Looks like they try their hand at Dredging so that in itself should make for a good laugh or two.

 

So there's at least 4 x Shows coming up over the next few months.   

Geowizard likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve62,

 

An excellent summary. Well done! :)

 

I would add the documentary; "Gold Fever", a documentary of events that occurred during the California Gold Rush, centered on the Boston Company and the American River.

 

The documentary is narrated by historians and Dave Turin (of course). An excellent program in my opinion!

 

The Discovery Network is taking drama to a higher level. Re-enactments show things that require a "Viewer Discretion Advised" clip. i.e. "Nudity and violence".

 

Do a search and watch the trailers - You won't be disappointed!

 

- Geowizard

Ronald C likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0