Heads and Tails: project secrets from the travel show director
Every weekend “Heads and Tails” goes to various cities of the world. According to the rules of the program, one of the moderators must live on Saturday and Sunday for $ 100, and the second can spend unlimited funds that are kept on the gold bank card. In order to decide how they will spend this weekend as part of the program, the moderators throw a coin up before each trip.
Do you know that not only the moderators choose, who will spend the weekend like a rich person, and who will do it like a poor one? The entire film crew is divided into two teams after the first shot the same way - with a coin. And as always, everything is decided by heads or tails.
Working in this show seems to be a dream job only at first glance. Its creators claim that sleepless nights remain behind the scenes, there is not always time to eat and rest between shots, and sometimes the script has to be redone right in the process, fitting the weather into the show and the adventures that happen to its participants.
Serhii Simanchuk, a scriptwriter, chief editor and director of the "Heads and Tails", told Travellizy about the backstage program, interesting cases, secrets and off-screen work.
Travellizy: What does an episode creation start with? How is the destination chosen, what happens at the start?
Serhii: First of all, we are faced with the task of coming up with a topic of a certain season. If this is not a themed season, we need to choose the cities where we are going to. At the moment, we have released more than 400 programs, so it’s more and more difficult to choose locations. 7-8 years ago, the choice was easier.
How does this happen? The creative group members meet to choose the places, which they want to visit. Moreover, if in the first seasons, we chose cities that are always well known - which people know a lot about, where there are some stereotypes. For example, London, Paris, New York. Over time, we have to get buried deeper more carefully and choose unusual places.
Travellizy: Are there any disagreements during the episode’s site selection?
Serhii: Not that we argue much, just ... discuss the city from a position, whether there is anything to shoot there or there isn't. After all, you can go to Berdichev, but you need to know what content to collect from there for 45 minutes of the program. We must keep the viewer's attention, so that he doesn't leave us to watch the series on a nearby TV channel.
Travellizy: The program shows how the moderators spent the weekend in a strange city. How long does it take to film the program?
Serhii: Filming lasts for three days, although in the program we are talking about one weekend (two days). It's one thing when a person travels on his own, he can come to some kind of cathedral and look at it for an hour. But in order to film this place for the program, the film crew must spend four hours there. They have to film the moderator, make some doubles, run a quadrocopter and fly - it all takes a very long time. Travel when filming the program and independent travel takes different times.
When we film a rich or poor overnight stay, the moderator does it once during the shooting.
Travellizy: And do they feed like poor men only on weekends too?
Serhii: Yes, they have $ 100 to feed themselves for two days. The moderator has his pocket money, his team members eat as they want, but in general, it is not very difficult. As a rule, when “Heads and Tails” is filmed, we practically don't eat at all. We have such a tight schedule that we get a snack on the move. It is not very good for the body, but it's true.
Some film crew members take thermoses with, where they steam buckwheat, and they have a snack while riding the subway or driving in Rolls-Royce. Yes, it is proven, we can easily enjoy buckwheat or some kind of energy bars that we took with us. And we eat sufficiently only in the morning and late-late in the evening, and this can be after one or three o'clock in the morning. In the process, we just forget about food.
Travellizy: Do you have difficulties with staying in any location, with all the equipment, cameras, or do you arrange these questions with the administrations of some establishments or airports?
Serhii: For this purpose, we have a producer. If this is a place, where you need to negotiate with the administration, then, of course, we are negotiating with them. The producer arrives a few days before the shooting and informs the management of expensive hotels and airplane crew members about our TV show.
We have to negotiate about filming in some public places visited by VIPs - they don't want to be filmed. For example, when we film in some expensive restaurant, we must arrange in advance so that we are given a table with such a location, that we don't bother anyone.
As for the “poor” locations for a moderator with one hundred dollars, in 70 percent of the places, we don't arrange anything. Therefore, we have a very mobile and small group. We have only three people - an operator, a moderator and another person who combines the functions of a director and an editor.
And in order to remain inconspicuous, we are shooting not with large video cameras, but with photographic equipment. Previously, people didn't even know that the shooting could be done on a camera, they thought that we were just taking pictures, and didn't pay attention to us. Now, many people know that you can professionally film, and you have to invent various excuses so as not to focus on other people's attention on you.
Travellizy: You are hiding a bottle with a hundred dollars in the visited location. Is there some calculation of how much money you have already given away?
Serhii: You can take the number of episodes - more than 400, and multiply by 100. It will be about 40 thousand dollars for the whole time. This is very much, if one bundle (laughs - ed.). Actually, what was the history of the appearance of this custom? A sponsor, a producer of Ukrainian wine, approached us once, and we had to integrate him into the show somehow. And we came up with such a thing as hiding money in a bottle.
Travellizy: But did you change the bottles later?
Serhii: The sponsor left, but we decided that this is a cool tradition, our viewers like it, why not continue it? Therefore, we are still hiding bottles in different cities.
Travellizy: How do you choose your moderator? What should be the criteria for a person - knowledge of languages, perhaps, stress resistance ...
Serhii: The most important thing is that a person must be charismatic. Charisma can be positive or negative, but it must be strong - character is needed. Of course, the moderator should look positive on camera.
Their manners of telling stories should be interesting, fascinating, they should communicate with the audience as with friends, should be open. They have to give themselves to people, as well as should be interested in what is happening around. We don't have such criteria for them to be tall, blond/dark-haired, or had a certain size of legs. We consider them in a positive manner. They should be with a sense of humor, because only smart people have a sense of humour. If this combination happened, it is very cool.
And there is no such criterion as knowledge of foreign languages, we have never selected anyone this way.
Travellizy: Lesya Nikityuk has always laughed at herself on this occasion ...
Serhii: Yes, we had several such moderators, who knew the language very poorly. This is not so bad for the program. There are viewers who know the language well and constantly write us angry letters: why can't you find a moderator, who can speak English?
80% of ordinary people can't connect two words in English, so our moderator is such an insider, and most of the audience perceives this feature as normal. Someone is annoyed with this fact, but when people don't know the language, they often find themselves in different funny situations, when they don't understand what is expected from them and don't understand where to go. And the more humour, the better. If the moderator would behave like a know-it-all, it would seem too correct and unnatural.
Travellizy: What ridiculous situations happened with the program participants during the shooting?
Serhii: The shooting, which is immediately arisen in my memory - it was not so funny, on the contrary, we came to Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, and we had to film there, it turned out that due to some natural conditions, a storm, we lost the whole shooting line. It was necessary to come up with something new overnight, and we decided to take a chance and created some very clever route and flew to another island, where we got stuck. We nearly turned gray there, because we had little time, and suddenly we get there on a cool volcano, went down, and there were sulfur toxic emissions. The filming was done in gas masks, the cameras and backpacks were damaged, but this story came out cool and actually saved us the whole program.
We also found people who eat dirt, so the program was a success.
Travellizy: Lesya ate dirt with them…
Serhii: Yes, it was a village, whose inhabitants cut down large chunks of dirt into pieces and eat it, but why they do it, it is not easy to understand. It is like activated carbon for them.
There were some funny cases too. Regina Todorenko, Sanya, our operator, and I were in Alaska once, Regina was “poor”, and she was walking along the road ahead. And then when we turned our faces to her, I saw that a bear came out behind her - and he was walking across the road. I screamed, “Regina, a bear”! A normal person would run away from the bear, instead, Regina ran ... towards the wild bear. And we ran after her. But we couldn't catch the animal, as the bear disappeared in the forest.
Travellizy: And did terrible moments happen?
Serhii: There were terrifying moments. Once, for some reason, Regina walked with a full backpack on some kind of log. She slipped and fell down from a height of about three meters. Head down, and something in the backpack croaked, so that only in the end, we realized that it was the hammer in the backpack, that hit something. And in the first half-minute, we thought it was Regina's neck. Fortunately, she didn't damage herself.
The preparation is well under way
Travellizy: What is in the “poor” backpack?
Serhii: When the moderator gets $ 100, they put in a backpack what they want. If this is a girl, then there are most likely cosmetics, clothes to change, some shorts with a T-shirt, usually, there is a blanket, sometimes some kind of a light sleeping bag, a knife .. In fact, there may be everything that this person needsб, specifically on this journey. Each moderator collects a backpack for himself. And at the beginning, while playing a coin, the backpack is empty.
There can be anything except food. Under the terms of the program, he/she can spend a fixed amount of $ 100 for food, sleeping and entertainment.
Traveling around the USA
Travellizy: Do all the moderators want to get a "rich" coin?
Serhii: Our directors and cameramen also flip a coin - so that everything is fair.
On the one hand, it is easier to shoot in a rich way, because the team moves by cars. But there are often big trips between cities. So it turns out that we spend only a few hours in an expensive hotel, because we have to leave for shooting very early in the morning. We arrive at the hotel at 1 am, film, and in a couple of hours, we must leave already, in order to get to the flight in the morning, for example, by balloon. And sometimes travel can take the whole night - that’s where the complexity is.
Team of Heads and Tails in Los Angeles
The rich one, of course, gets very beautiful places where the poor one simply can’t go to. Many want to visit them. For example, the Bahamas, some beautiful islands, or as it happened in Vanuatu - the rich one got into a primitive tribe, saw an active volcano with his own eyes, and the teams wanted to get to this location. They were worried and wanted to flip a coin in such a way that the rich would win. But this happens not always. The poor line with 100 dollars is often much more interesting, because you get to know the city much better.
Heads and Tails at Santa's Village
If you are interested in the countries, its inhabitants, you want to feel color, then when you are poor, you get a chance to learn it much better. A rich line is an opportunity to get some rest if you have chosen previously a poor line a few times in a row.
Travellizy: Which countries impressed you the most? Can you make a rating of the coolest places on the planet from “Heads and Tails”?
Serhii: We hang photos in memory of such places in the office of “Heads and Tails”. All Iceland is fantastic. Machu Picchu. Vanuatu, Patagonia, Arizona and Utah. Places with beautiful nature are our crew members' favorite part. And Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is an incredibly beautiful water mirror where the earth merges with the sky. Cape Town is marvellous - it takes everyone's breath when getting there.
Machu Picchu, Peru
It is unlikely that anyone from our country will want to return to Asia, I mean India, the entire south-eastern part. We liked Singapore, Kyoto, Hong Kong. But still, we like more natural places - glaciers, canyons, they are the best. New Zealand, by the way ...