Q: How did another season treat ya? Any wild experiences?
Les: Ahhhhhh – you will have to watch!!!!
Q: Love your CDS, when are you coming out with a new solo one?
Les: Should be by spring 2009.
Q: What’s it like when people recognize you in public? Do you like the attention?
Les: I never mind – people are always genuine and gracious.
Q: Do you have any other T.V. shows in the works other then Survivorman?
Les: You bet I do – keep watching!!
Q: What are some of your favorite wild foods you eat on Survivorman? Pond lily tuber, anybody?
Les: Snake, wichetee grub, scorpions, squirrel and of course fish.
Q: Everybody gets frustrated sometimes. Does it ever get to the point, climbing up and down mountains, that you want to throw down your 50 pound pack and kick it down the mountain? Or does your filmmaker’s resolve keep you from doing irrational things like that?
Les: Well the answer to both is yes.
Q: What is one of your favorite ways to explore the outdoors? Canoeing, hiking, biking, etc.
Les: Canoeing – especially with white water involved.
Q: What is the one thing you never leave home without when you head outdoors….the one thing you always carry with you when you go places?
Les: A butane lighter
Q: How long have you played guitar and harmonica?
Les: Off and on for thirty years.
Q: Are you willing to make OFF the Grid part 2.
Les: Very likely will
Q: What was your favorite animal that you have seen in the wild.
Les: Lynx and wolf – had a lynx sniff my leg once as I stood very still.
Q: Who were your musical influences?
Les: Almost everything you can think of – I always liked music of all sorts……but of course I was a child of the 70’s.
Q: What are your 2 favorite Beers?
Les: Stella and Muskoka Cream Ale
Q: How do you keep reporter’s away and from flying over you while filming an episode?
Les: They can’t find me!
Q: Did you make that green pull-over you wore in the plane crash episode and Labrador, and that tail thingy, so you can sit were you want and not have to put your little gloves on a log.
Les: I made the ‘seat’ and my ma made the cloak out of a wool blanket.
Q: In the Kalahari, how long did it take for the pop can to ignite the tinder?
Les: Hmmmmm – I think it was about an hour but I can’t really remember.
Q:I love your shelters. I am new at building them, what kind of shelter do you recommend for a beginner?
Les: Start with a lean-to then close in the open side to advance to an a-frame.
Q: Where did you get your hat that you wore in the Boreal Forest?
Les: Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC), I think.
Q: What is something you would recommend someone to always carry with them when they go hiking/backpacking/camping etc.?
Les: 3 different ways to get a fire going: butane windproof lighter, matches, flint striker
Q: Do you remember what kind of Multi-tool you used in Utah Canyons? From what I saw it didn’t look like a Leatherman wave.
Les:Yes – it was a Leatherman wave.
Q: Will you do another Labrador episode?
Les: Not sure yet – loved it up there.
Q: Do you still have your caribou skins outfit?
Les: For sure
Q: Being ‘Survivorman‘, and living in the north, do you go…camping, anymore?
Les: Haha – I wish I had more time too!!!! Too busy doing Survivorman.
Q: When you have a limited number of matches (Ecuador is a perfect example, where you had 1 match), why not show how to split it lengthwise to effectively double the number of matches you have?
Les: Was planning to.
Q: What type of power source do you use for your time-lapse photography while filming ‘Survivorman‘?
Les: Just the camera battery – lithium – but it does suck them dry that’s for sure.
Q: In the Kalahari episode, the 4×4 you had looked pretty good in over all condition. I was just wondering; when you cut up the seat, take fuel line off and oil filter – who repairs this? Who pays for it? Is it a deal struck by the locals that have the vehicle?
Les: Yes – it is.
Q: In Season 2 I haven’t heard you say how you don’t like to kill anything, is it getting easier, or is it still hard to do?
Les: It will always be hard to do – but I am not against responsible hunting and would rather eat wild meat over cow or pig anyday – feel free to save me a roast of moose.
Q: What kind of Tissot watch do you use?
Les: Their ‘T’ Touch – very good watch.
Q: Les, I’m really thinking about going to North Bay to Canadore College next year because they have a program I’m interested in. It’s an ecotourism class. Basically it teaches you about the skills that will prepare you for a career in ecotourism with a lot of hands on learning. It sounds like it would be a great time but I’m worried that there would not be a lot of full time work available after I graduate. I’d like you to answer because I imagine that you have a ton of experience relating to the ecotourism field. So basically, if I were to take this program, would I likely be able to find a stable job in Ontario in this field, or would I be more likely to have to work seasonal or move somewhere else?
Les: Actually Ontario is one of the best places for work in this field – but don’t let wondering if there will be employment stop you from going after what you want to do in life – if you come (and go) from a good place all the success you need will follow…what are you waiting for?
Q: Les, what did you do to first get you interested in survival? What hobbies did you have when you were younger?
Les: I grew up on Tarzan movies and Jacques Cousteau documentaries – that fostered an early love for wildlife and the wilderness and subsequently survival. I used to fish a lot, build shelters behind the cottage – but I was also into music.
Q: In the Georgian Swamps what sources did you rely on for water other than the water vine?
Les: That was it – but it gave me a lot more than we ended up keeping in the final edit of the show.
Q: This is a question regarding a survival video from discovery.com, called “S.O.S.: Snow“. Les stated that you could use a watch to find the southern direction by pointing the hour hand at the sun. How can this always be true? Wouldn’t it depend on where you are located and what time it was?
Les: Watch as compass – Although it can be off by as much as 24 degrees and doesn’t work everywhere on the planet, a watch can be used as a makeshift compass. If your watch is digital, draw a watch (with hands) on a circle of paper with the correct time on it and use this method to determine your direction. If you are in the north temperate zone (the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle), point the hour hand of your watch directly at the sun. Then draw an imaginary line halfway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This imaginary line points south. This method should be used during standard time; in daylight saving time, the north-south line is found between the hour hand and 1 o’clock. If it is before noon, use halfway to the right side of the hour hand; if it is after noon, use halfway to the left of the hour hand.
In the south temperate zone (the area between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle), point 12 o’clock toward the sun. Halfway between the 12 o’clock position and the hour hand will be a north line. During daylight saving time, the north line lies midway between the hour hand and 1 o’clock. Note that this method becomes less accurate the nearer you are to the equator.
Q: Does surviving in different areas around the world with all its different weather and animals challenge your survival skills?
Les: Absolutely…..you can even become a bit complacent once you feel you have mastered your particular region….all these places I have survived around the world have their own set of challenges and things to learn.
Q: I find that my sleep cycle changes dramatically when I am out in the wilderness over two days. How does your sleep cycle change in your seven-day event, and how long does it take to get back to normal?
Les: Haha – I have no cycle!!! If I get 2 hours sleep a night – it’s a good night!! Believe me though – I sure catch up on it when I get back.
Q: It is obvious that you have to maintain such a high multi focal plan by doing the actual filming, the survival skills, and keep a high level of situational awareness, do you have a mental check list to keep your survival priorities in mind? Especially when things may get a little fuzzy from lack of food and water?
Les: Not really – I try to rely on my instincts when it comes to survival which I hope have been honed by a lot of experience…I definitely can’t afford to get lax though.
Q: What is it about survival do you enjoy most?
Les:The connection to the earth.
Q: What was in the little bag you were holding when you used the fire piston in Alaska?
Les: The bag the piston came in.
Q: We’ve all seen the news stories where a family gets lost or stranded and somebody ends up going for help. Usually they don’t make it out. Have you ever thought of doing a show about what to do if you are lost with your family? You could do it with your own family.
Les: Yes – but it’s tough to get networks to agree to change anything within the show itself.
Q: After the crew films the opening scenes, how long does it take for reality to set in? How many minutes pass before you start thinking, “Holy magnesium/flint stick, I’m alone now.” What goes through your mind when you see them leaving?
Les: It tends to be instantly because the drone of the plane or boat or just the people leave and it becomes so incredibly quiet…so it strikes me right away. I put myself in survival mode and think – ok…first – how do I make sure I am in a safe situation.
Q: What boots did you wear in all the cold-weather episodes? They must be pretty good, because it appears you wear them often.
Q: What is your favorite thing about shooting a Survivorman episode?
Les: My creative approach to filmmaking.
Q: What is your favorite shelter you made on Survivorman? Mine was the Rockies down by the river.
Les: Yep – me too…that was the warmest shelter I have ever made.
Q: Would you ever consider doing an episode in Wyoming, like the Yellowstone area?
Les: Of course – I love Yellowstone
Q: What type of owl is that you are holding in the picture on your gallery?
Les: Tropical screech owl
Q: Do computers come into play when you’re filming Survivorman?
Les: Not during the filming – only later during the editing of the video footage.
Q: How do you take the film and turn it into a show?
Les: It’s a little bit of magic and a lot of luck.
Q: I’m sure you use a computer. Would you mind telling me how you use the computer to do so?
Les: My computer is used for keeping all the logistics of the show going – researching information and making sure the plane flights are on time to get me to the jungle.
Q: Do you use the computer outside the job?
Q: Like, do you use it for leisurely activities?
Les: No – always for communication or research – I don’t use them for entertainment.
Q: Do you play games on the Internet like me?
Les: I do now because my son loves to play and so he always wants to challenge me to a game.
Q: What is your tattoo? I think it is a seal, but I’m not 100% sure.
Les: A pair of wolves representing my kids.
Q: Have you grown to like coconuts over the course of doing Survivorman?
Les: Only when I eat it raw from the nut itself – still hate it shaved.
Q: In the Behind the Scenes episode you mentioned Felicia Peabody; is that a message to someone on your old forum?
Les: Nope – she was the balloon operator in Africa.
Q: Where did you learn about survival?
Les: I first started by taking college courses in survival from Gino Ferri and David Arama. I then went on to practice practice practice (and eventually teach) out in the bush on my own and with friends, heading to various rendezvous and courses like Prairie Wolf in Kansas with John and Geri McPherson. Eventually my wife Sue and I lived for an entire year in far Northern Ontario as if it were five hundred years ago; no metal, no matches, no plastic – just nature – on its own terms. That year added a lot to my skills. It was exciting to turn the experience into the one hour documentary Snowshoes and Solitude.
Q: What multi tool do you use?
Les: My favourite multi tool is the Leatherman Wave or Charge. But I haven’t tried them all.
Q: What was the toughest Survivorman location you’ve done yet?
Les: The arctic was the toughest. I asked my local Inuit guide; Sam Omik, when the toughest time to survive up there was and he said ‘right now’. It was too early for eggs, plant life or wildlife and too warm for good igloo making snow. I also had the psychological element of the presence of polar bears to deal with. I would also have to say the very first show I filmed – essentially the ‘pilot’ for Survivorman – now called Stranded, still stands as the roughest time I have ever had out there. I got hit with an unexpected heat wave and every mosquito, blackfly and deer fly in existence decided to wake up. They absolutely tormented me for days, unrelenting. It was like being beaten up every day and night. No screening – no bug spray, and nowhere to hide.
Q: How do you survive without eating for such a long time?
Les: In some ways you can say it’s just like fasting for a week which many people do – however when you add in the extremely hard work of building shelters, climbing through thick bush and running cameras 16 hours a day, it goes well beyond a simple fast. Usually by the third day I become quite drained of energy and it takes an awful lot of inner convincing to get up and film the next element of survival. I have found that forcing myself to drink on a constant schedule can help stave off the feelings of hunger quite a bit. A pint of water every hour more or less depending on the circumstances – as long as I keep telling my stomach that it’s full it seems to help a lot. Otherwise I just try to not think about food too much.
Q: What is your back up emergency plan?
Les: I’m supposed to be able to pull the plug whenever I need to and so I carry an emergency satellite phone as well as a two-way radio. There is a safety crew positioned anywhere from a few miles to many miles away. The problem is that no device can get its signal out through thick jungle canopy and I often find myself without that safety link. It’s those times that I must really slow down and concentrate on the fact that ‘Ok, I’m completely alone now….I can’t signal the crew…so I gotta take it carefully’.
Q: Do you really run all the equipment yourself? Isn’t there a crew with you?
Les: I have a crew come in with me for the first introduction day only – then they leave me alone to do my thing for the week. That’s the way it has to be or I don’t have a show. So I run all the cameras myself – set ups and tear downs…build my shelters and try to catch game…start my fires…all completely alone. Sometimes the crew knows where I am…sometimes they don’t…and sometimes there has been no back up crew – I’m out there on my own until the end of the week.
Q: How do you deal with the psychological aspect of these challenges?
Les: I can’t pretend to be going through actual survival psychology…I know I am going home after seven days…none the less by the third day of these things I am always ready to quit…to get out of there…to go home. I miss my family…I’m tired of sleeping on a rock, or the snow…and I’m hungry and lethargic. It’s then that I always wonder; ‘why the heck am I doing this’. Then I remember my passion for filming and creating compelling and inspirational art as well as my passion for the ancient and primitive and also modern high tech survival skills I have the privilege of sharing.
Q: What camera gear do you use?
Les: I use a whole group of different cameras depending on the circumstance; a few small one chip minidvs for various mounting positions and to get those night shots…a pair of Sonys for the main work…underwater housings and a little water proof camera made by Clarion. I also love the Viosport camera out of California – great unit. Survivorman is now shot entirely on HD.
Q: Do you have anything else in the works?
Les: Always! Please sign up for the newsletter and stay tuned!
Q: I am a huge fan of the show. I couldn’t help but watch Les drinking water in the wilderness. Not so much the captured rainwater but the water in streams and ponds. I realize under survival situations you need to be hydrated at whatever cost but Les does not seem impaired what-so-ever, even days after. Has Les ever been severely sick after an episode?
Les: At some point I picked up a parasite that lasted in my system for a year before I gave in, took the heavy drugs, and rid myself of it. It left many painful stringy lesions in the inside of my mouth.
Q: Here’s a question from my son (9). He wanted to know if you take souvenirs…shells, snake skins, antlers, stuff like that. He is an avid collector of animal extras. Most of this came out of the swamp episode and the turtle shell…he says that if you didn’t want it, he did.
Les: Yes I always do…but never when it is illegal. We enjoy quite a big collection of bones, antlers and beehives at our home. We have however stopped taking loads of sea shells from the beaches – that takes away homes and shelters for an incredible amount of little creatures and can even upset the ecological balance of the sea shore and tidal areas.
Q: Hi Les…I love your Survivorman shows! Any plan’s to make instructional DVDs on basic survival, for us backpackers? Maybe not something as extreme as not having anything but a Leatherman, but perhaps something for people that might get caught out in the open unexpectedly? Something with basic survivor tips that work? For those of us that might go on a day hike with minimal equipment? Perhaps map and compass skills, basic shelter and fire starting, etc…. Thanks for taking the time to read this, Paul.
Les: Definitely in the plans.
Q: Why do you carry a multitool and not a sheath knife?
Les: Normally I carry both – but for the show I decided I needed the little saw blade for a number of possibilities.
Q: Hello, are you planning on doing another Arctic episode Les?
Les: Yes, in the summer.
Q: What happens when you are “rescued”?
Les: It’s fairly anticlimactic. The crew gets me back to civilization, and I shower, pack and fly home.
Q: Some years ago I enjoyed the ECO challenge type expedition racing. As time passed it seemed it became more a battan death march than a challenge. What are your feelings about this kind of event? Oh, by the way, sounds like you play a mean mouth harp.
Les: I’m a big fan of Adventure Racing (it’s true title ‘Adventure Racing’ – Eco Challenge was just Mark Burnett’s version of the race put on TV). In fact, I raced in the Canadian championships. What carries on in the actual racing that takes place now is far more respectable than what was created for TV.
Q: My son, Survivorboy, is obsessed with making fire with a bow drill. He is reading all he can find on the subject. In addition he is experimenting with differing woods for the spindle and base but still no luck. Do you have any words of advice?
Les: Everyone has their preferences – but mine are: soft wood for both spindle and fire board. I like basswood as spindle and cedar as the fire board. I have also had good luck with poplar on poplar. Remember to breath – and when you see the smoke – that is your signal to KEEP ON GOING – don’t stop until you just can’t spin it anymore – then – get up very slowly and carefully.
Q: A Swiss survival system to identify whether food is edible involves a 24 hour process of boiling it then rubbing it against the inside of your arm and waiting an hour. Then rubbing it again without boiling it and waiting an hour. Then boiling it and putting it in your mouth and spitting it out and waiting an hour and then chewing on it and spitting it out and waiting an hour. Then swallowing it (all boiled) in a small quantity and waiting until the next morning. Then it’s safe to eat. Is all that really necessary or even advisable if you are starving already?
Les: Yes – you can die from eating the wrong plant. First I have heard of the boiling process however – not sure if that is very practical.
Q: Some friends of mine told me that you can filter most things out of water by pouring it through a shirt. That seems totally wrong to me. But I read somewhere something about filtering water by this 3 tiered system of 3 shirts with leaves on top, charcoal from wood scrapings from a fire in a pile on the second tier and sand on the bottom tier. Does that work?
Les: It does work pretty well for a number of things – but not necessarily for certain bacteria such as Guardia.
Q: Is there ever a safe way to identify mushrooms that can be eaten other than experience?
Les: Absolutely not – and in fact many varieties of mushrooms are constantly morphing into slightly different appearances – albeit over a very long time. Learning from an experienced person is still the best method.
Q: In the Lost at Sea episode Les said that his biggest problem was fresh water since there was none. He then used a solar still to get 1 oz of water from sea water. Later he boiled some sea snails in a container but did not use the still set up to take advantage of the steam that would become fresh water and I can’t understand why. By taking the plastic and putting it over the pot it would have collected the steam and he could have then angled the plastic down so the condensed water would flow into a container. It would have made it where he could have changed several litres of seawater into fresh water in a very short time. I wonder if he has ever thought of that, or if it was one of those things he just didn’t think of when the time came. I know it is easy to think of things like this when you don’t need it but never remember it when it is useful. Just a thought and a question.
Les: There are in fact soooo many things I could show at each given location. But there is just not enough time to show it all. I do the still method in Surviving Urban Disasters. I simply can’t show all the possibilities in every episode of Survivorman- it’s only an hour show and I would be off the air after the first one is done. Taken as a collective – I hope the series will cover most of the bases of survival available to the viewer.
Q: Les I think you mention in Stranded about putting your contacts in with dirty fingers how do you deal with that?
Les: Yes – and I’ve filmed it for Survivorman as well but it just hadn’t made the cut yet. I use daily throwaway lenses so I don’t have to worry about cleaning them – fresh ones every day. It’s still pretty hard to get even my fingertips clean to put in the new ones and I find some of the nights unnerving without being able to see properly.
Q: Just wondering which area of your survival skills, in your opinion, could use the most improvement (i.e. Fire starting, edible plant identification, etc.)? Thanks; love the show.
Les: Hmmmm – good one – personally, I think I would love to be more efficient at more complicated spring traps, deadfalls and snares.
Q: Les what video camera would you recommend for someone who doesn’t want to spend a whole lot of money but still wants good quality out in the bush?
Les: Really depends on your budget – Sony or any of the new HDV Cam cameras, stick with minidv tape for now – don’t go to the cards just yet.
Q: I just saw the Arizona Desert episode and I’m wondering about the ending since it didn’t show you getting rescued. Did you make it back in time or have to spend another night outside?
Les: I made it out okay and then undertook the long drive across streambeds and down rock slopes to get back to civilization.
Q: I know that when people get stuck into a survival situation, they are not really expecting it. As the day goes before you head out, is it a spontaneous, “OK lets go”, or do you have time, know when you’re departure time is, and when the boat leaves so to speak.
Les: Yep, pretty much know when I am leaving.
Q: If you could take only one fixed-blade knife into the bush with you, which would it be? (I have grown to love my ‘Cold Steel SRK’, and literally trust it with my life). Thanks, Les.
Les: I do still love my Buck knife – but I grind down the tip to make it less pointy. But I have been given a lot of knives over the while and enjoy them all.
Q: What kind of artifacts (arrowheads, primitive tools, etc.) have you found while filming or hiking?
Les: Flint knapping, hammer stones, deadfall rocks and fishing weights so far.
Q: Hi Les LOVE your show. Keep up the good work. I was just wondering how you pick locations for your show or do you just throw a dart at the map of the world?
Les: I think about the various eco systems – what I could teach and where – balance that with logistical reality and where I personally would really like to go.
Q: In two (I think) of your episodes you use a Swiss Army knife, and in the other episodes you use various multi-tools. Any reason why? Or do you just like to try different things.
Les: Yes – was just trying different things – but I still love the Leatherman.
Q: Les, if you get sick from being malnourished or in the heat or whatever the case may be, is that something you edit out?
Les: Absolutely not.
Q: With no sunscreen as in the Belize experience, does he get sunburned?
Les: Yes – and sometimes very badly as I did in Belize.
Q: Also, and this is gross, but when Les is in the Baltic artic circle, and has to go to the bathroom i.e. To take a dump, where does he go and what does he do? When its 40 degrees below zero, it has to be tough. I love the show.
Les: In most places I prescribe to the ‘cat hole’ technique – dig down in a little and bury it.
Q: Ok this may be strange but I have been searching for the hat that Les wore on the Lost at Sea episode. You know, the straw one, with the side that is flipped upwards. He wore it on the beach…what is it called? If you know the name, please tell me, I want a hat like that.
Les: Hmmmm – I can’t remember-was a buck or two in Belize at some side shop.
Q: Have you seen any ecological and environmental changes since you have been out in the wilderness, esp. in the Canadian North?
Les: What I get is constant comments from locals about how things are changing rapidly – usually warming or drying up.
Q: What is your favorite fire starting technique? Love the show.
Les: Flint striker using spark only with whatever natural tinder I can find.
Q: What is your favorite location for season two and why? Cheers Les
Les: The Amazon….it was a profoundly moving experience to be involved with the Waorani people.
Q: In the season two episodes you were always carrying a sheath knife. What made you want to bring it along with your multi-tool?
Les: To simply allow a few different skills
Q: Did you get chiggers really bad when you used Spanish moss for bedding in the Georgian Swamps?
Les: I didn’t get them at all luckily.
Q: Would you prefer to be taught by a local expert or a native tribesman?
Les: I would prefer to be taught by someone who loves and lives the skills regardless of race, creed or colour.
Q: Which Swiss Army knife did you use on the Georgian Swamp episode? (For example: Hunter, swiss champ, explorer, etc). Thanks Les.
Les: Probably a standard swiss.
Q: Les how did you learn about the prison match?
Les: One of my survival consultants Mike Kiraly – brought that one to my attention – it’s a good trick – prisoners would often find themselves out of fuel – yet still had the spark of course….necessity is the mother of invention.
Q: What courses did you (specifically) take? What were they called?
(The one in Ontario with David Arama I think). Thanks Les!
Les: Originally it was a ‘Survival in the Bush’ course – run by Gino Ferri. But taught by Dave Arama – who has since gone on to form his own company. I have also been taught by John and Geri McPherson out of Randolf, Kansas – superb instructors all of them.
Q: Are you really going to make survivorman t-shirts? I would totally buy one. And thank you for your hard work. You stay safe you hear.
Les: All done and will be on the web site for sale.
Q: In your first season in the Georgian Swamp, do you recall standing next to the waterside blind folded waiting for the sound of the motorboat to go away. And during that time, did the thought of an alligator coming up to snatch you ever cross your mind?
Les: It was just a funky way to start the show – no real reason – a bit of fun and makes the experience a little more freaky.
Q: How did you compose the intro for Survivorman? Was it done live or was there some computer generation done? Cheers Les.
Les: I recorded it live in my in home studio – the program was Logic on a Mac – used a sample or two – and played all the instruments myself – including the chanting – that’s me.
Q: How does Man vs. Wild affect how you have to do things, if any?
Les: It doesn’t.
Q: What would be the easiest place to survive given your experience and skills?
Les: Warm oceanside.
Q: Have you ever been out filming Survivorman and had moments of regrets, for equipment included, general location of the episode, anything else? If so how did you get over it?
Les: Hmmmm – that’s a tough one. I’ve made mistakes – but no regrets really. Though there are some episodes I wish were edited differently – but that’s another story.
Q: Did you have a black eye in the Arctic episode? It seems to look that way.
Les: No. I had just gotten over a bad bout of laryngitis and was still feeling sick.
Q: What kind of recording equipment is Les taking with him into the bush? I know that he has to pack it all himself so I was wondering what was working and what was not?
Les: What I use changes all the time – but right now I am using Sony Z1u HDVCAM cameras – 2 of them – plus 2 HC3’s plus one HC96 – plus a fantastic little camera called Viosport – and I am going to try out an Action Cam. For audio I use a Sanken lav mic with Sennheiser transmitter – and that’s it!!
Q: How did you manage to land the show and get on TV?
Les: I made a cold call and pitched it to the networks – Discovery Canada was first.
Q: Have you appeared on TV before Survivorman first aired?
Les: For the pilot versions of course (called Stranded); and before that in my film Snowshoes and Solitude.
Q: What is your absolute favorite thing about your job being a survivor expert/film maker?
Les: Creating something that I hope inspires, is compelling and beautiful. And then: adventuring for a living.
Q: Which location did you enjoy doing most and which location did you least enjoy (This doesn’t have to mean it was the hardest or simplest, just in general)?
Les: The most: it’s a 3-way tie between the Amazon, Arctic and Utah. The least: hmmmm – I don’t have one I didn’t like.
Q: Hey Les. Well you probably heard this a million of times so I’ll make it a million and one, your show rocks and I can’t wait for season 2. Here is my question. Will you release your earlier stuff like Snowshoes and Solitude, Stranded, Surviving Urban Disasters and your new special Off the Grid on DVD? I’ve only seen Surviving Urban Disasters and of course Survivorman shows. Would love to see your other work on DVD.
Les: Yes. Both Snowshoes and Solitude and Stranded are out on DVD.
Q: Les, are you as concerned as most of your viewers about some of the locations?
Les: Probably not – I do a ton of research including safety matters to make sure I can pull these off.
Q: How do you know the temperature of your location, like in the plane crash episode where it says the temperature on the screen sometimes?
Les: Sometime I take a little thermometer but now I have a Tissot watch that shows the temperature.
Q: What do you do before you started making the show/between series to pay the bills?
Les: Right now it’s just the show paying the bills – which can be tough. Before that it was other film and editing work and playing gigs as a musician.
Q: Have you ever thought about opening your own school/class about survival?
Les: Will do when the TV schedule permits.
Q: Is there a story behind the logo?
Les: Just a lot of creative head scratching.
Q: Will there be a full size poster available?
Les: Finished and available now along with a whole new line of merchandise – T-Shirts, hats, DVDs and posters.
Q: How long do you acclimatize before going in to the survival location? This will be more of a question for the second season I think although it would have pertained to several first season locations.
Les: About a week.
Q: As a follow up – Is allowing your body to acclimatize prior to going into the survival location giving you an unfair advantage?
Les: Not really – a week isn’t enough.
Q: How long to recoup?
Les: I try to plan about 5 weeks in between each shoot to give my body a chance to get strong again.
Q: What clothing?
Les: Obviously I need tough clothing that can handle the punishment I put it through. I usually wear some high tech wicking material close to my skin to help keep the sweat off. But I like tough cotton for my middle/outer layers. I used to always wear wool for my heavy layers. And I still say it’s the toughest and best. But I admit I now usually wear fleece. On the outside some kind of gortex shell for rain and wind. But the big issue there, is fire. It’s not a good material to wear around fire. Of course I have the good high tech gear and I love it for lightness and protection, but truth be told, there is still nothing better for real down and dirty survival than wool and tough cotton for the outside and warm layers. If a coal lands on the wool, you just flick it off. It doesn’t melt!
Q: Why audio is so good?
Les: When you make a film, any film, good sound is vital. You can ruin a good film and therefore a good story by having lousy audio. I use good quality wireless lav mics. I try to keep them hidden on my clothing as they ruin the look of being out there and surviving.
Q: Peeing for bears, does it work?
Les: I’ve never really known for sure if urinating around the perimeter of your own campsite will deter bears. But at least the logic is sound.
Q: What is the best shelter?
Les: At the risk of sounding vague, ANY shelter that keeps you out of the elements with the least amount of effort is the best one. The A-frame shelter is a great one to learn because you can make it just about anywhere with little effort. But of course finding a natural shelter ready made is a godsend.
Q: Do I worry about drinking from a stream?
Les: I must admit, I am often a little too casual about where I drink from. Especially since it could kill me! I try to research ahead of time for the safety of water in the area and then trust the person giving me the info. If I truly don’t know then I wouldn’t drink without a good filter. But I haven’t run into that problem yet.
Q: Do I ever leave cameras and tapes behind to pick up later?
Les: I pretty much need my cameras through the entire shoot. So I am always doing my elaborate camera set ups and then heading back for the gear right then and there to carry on surviving and filming. But once in a while, yes.