The popular reality survival series Alone premiers its 10th season on Thursday, June 8 on the HISTORY Channel, and this season features the ultra-remote Saskatchewan wilderness areas around Reindeer Lake, in the harsh landscape of the province's boreal shield.
The show takes a far more intense approach than is usual to the survivalist/tough-it-out-in-the-wilderness format, placing contestants in real danger and actual isolation. Parcipants are warned the show could last for up to a year, although so far no one has made it past 100 days. They must survive with only a few tools, camera gear for self-documenting the experience, a satellite phone for tapping out, and occasional medical checks.
Produced by Canadian media company Wavelength Entertainment in collaboration with ITV and Creative Saskatchewan, season 10 of Alone follows ten survivalists who were dropped off last fall in undisclosed, remote locations near Reindeer Lake, approximately 220 kilometres northeast of La Ronge.
Welcomed by the Woodland Cree First Nation, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and the Government of Saskatchewan, shooting Alone landed the participants in an extremely rugged location. The winner of each season is the last person remaining who has not tapped out or been medically evacuated — that winner takes home $500,000.
The format of Alone varies slightly depending on the season and location, but generally involves 10 participants who are dropped off in separate, pre-scouted areas, far enough apart that they do not come in contact with each other. They pick 10 items from 40 available options and must source food, water, shelter, and fire, while coping with isolation, weather, predators, and physical and mental challenges.
Canadian locations have featured in many seasons of Alone, along with other prominent wildernesses around the globe, including northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina, Patagonia, Northern Mongolia, Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, and Chilko Lake in interior British Columbia.
The appeal of Alone lies in its authenticity and unpredictability. Unlike many other survival shows, there is no crew, no interference, and no time limit. Participants drop out because of starvation, loneliness, illness, or injury. Viewers witness their struggles, successes, failures, and emotions as they try to endure as long as possible. Contestants are typically experienced outdoorspeople who have a passion for survival skills.
"We are thrilled to be able to support productions that are filmed in Saskatchewan," said Laura Ross, Saskatchewan minister of parks, culture, and sport. "The benefits of projects like this are numerous and cast a wide net in terms of the positive economic effects to our province."
Creative Saskatchewan provided $818,534 to the production through the Feature Film and TV Production Grant. Ross noted that only Saskatchewan labour, goods, and services are eligible for that support.
"This means that every dollar invested is spent here — on facilities, crews, rentals, digital services, and in our hotels, restaurants, and catering services. It's an investment that grows our economy."
Alone has an estimated Saskatchewan spend of over $2.3 million, mainly in the northern region.
In the last two years, annual funding for Creative Saskatchewan's Feature Film and Television Production Grant has grown from $2 million to $12 million.
"This is one more example of Saskatchewan's film and television sector beginning to bloom," said Erin Dean, CEO of Creative Saskatchewan. "We've been promoting the diversity of Saskatchewan's topography, and production companies are taking note of what our province has to offer, from sand dunes to prairie grass, and now our remote wilderness. We're so excited to see these come to fruition!"
The investment could see up to $4.3 million of positive economic outputs back into Saskatchewan when all is said and done.
Chris Triffo, producer at Wavelength Entertainment, which is based out of B.C., said that film is an industry, like oil and gas, agriculture, and mining.
"I want all the young people to know that this is a viable career," Triffo added. "I love Saskatchewan, and I'm not leaving."
A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights for both the series and the format for Alone. It airs on The HISTORY Channel on Thursday nights.