Tuesday, 11 February 2014

One to watch...Manhunt

Manhunt is the brand new series coming to Discovery HD this February. Each week Ex-Navy SEAL Joel Lambert goes on the run in a different country with an elite hunter force on his tail. He draws on his military training to evade capture and get to a designated extraction point in one of the most exciting games of cat and mouse ever made. We spoke to Joel about his experiences filming the show... Tell us about Manhunt... It's an action adventure series. It's like the world's biggest game of hide and seek being played against actual countries. I break into these countries or pierce there borders or do something to get me someplace I'm not supposed to be. Then I survive, evade, do a lot of tracking and counter tracking, using all sorts of tricks and ways to throw these countries off my track. These countries have their special tracking teams - national police, whatever they are - they use all their assets to hunt me; SWAT teams, tracking dogs, drones. Whatever it is they need to capture me before I get to my extraction point. It sounds like a pretty intense couple of days! It's really intense! When I come home I'm done for five days. All I do is eat and sleep, my adrenalin levels are shot. I'm just a kitten! You've travelled all over filming for the series, with hunts based in locations including South Africa , The Philipines, and Panama. Which of the locations sticks in your mind as the most challenging? There were two that stick in my mind. I mean, every single one of them had it's own challenges. Some places it was the terrain, some places it was the unit, some places it was some other aspect that was unexpected. But the two that stick in my mind are South Africa, because I loved the experience and not only was I being tracked by some incredibly skilled trackers but I was also in Kruger National Game Reserve, there are literally lions and leopards and hippos and crocodiles around every corner so that was a very different aspect, and then the second one that has stayed in my mind is the Philipines. That was the hardest and most difficult because I hate the jungle - I don't even like taking tropical holidays all that much - and that jungle that we were in was the worst, the most tangled, the most overgrown and humid jungle that I've ever been in and it was brutal. In both of these situations you have the trackers who are chasing you plus you have the natural elements as well, the man eating animals and the unforgiving jungle, which is the biggest threat to you? It's all of it! One thing that you'll hear me say a lot is that "the situation dictates" and that means that you can't ever get locked into one tactic or rule and you can never think too rigidly - that's a real hallmark of special forces - you always need to assess each situation. You can't just focus on the environment or the trackers or the animals because it's fluid and you just have to react to everything but, in answer to your question, sometimes the environment definitely took it's pound of flesh! In Panama, for example, some of the crew stumbled into a swarm of killer bees and two of the guys went into anaphylactic shock and so we had to just shut down and get those guys out of there. You'll see it and some other really serious injuries that the crew went through in the special behind-the-scenes episode so yeah, in some places the environment is not friendly. You mention the film crew. Did they have any survival training to help them as well? I have two guys with me that I roll with most of the time. My producer is British Military and he is just fantastic, he knows his stuff inside and out and we have a great time, there's no problem and it's fantastic to have him along. The camera guy (laughs) poor camera guy, he has no training or experience and it makes things more difficult. I see the footage back and the hunter forces are picking up on these tracks and I have a look and I'm like "That's not my boot print, that's the camera guys" so (laughs) it is challenging but it's also kind of cool because it's like doing this with one hand tied behind your back and that's cool because it just adds to the experience. You also resort to some pretty sneaky tactics to avoid capture - are you always prepared to do whatever it takes to escape? Well, yes and no. In combat and in the field teams and in my background there are no rules, it is win the fight and go home with your friends and your buddies. That is the be all and end all and there are no rules because it's war. This is a little different. This is more of an honour thing. I'm going up against these guys who are the best at what they do and while I will pull sneaky tactics all my sneaky tactics will be within the confines of the particular scenario that we're in. I guess I've moved into a different stage in my life where other things are more important so, while I will pull sneaky tactics it's all within the confines of what we're doing, and I expect the hunter teams to do the same too. When they go outside of the scenario, that's not cool, but when they pull sneaky stuff within what we're doing, oh yeah, that's good! You say at one point "I'd die before I quit", is that really true or is there ever a time when you know you're beat? It's totally true and at the same time, again, the situation dictates. It reminds me of when I was a BUDS instructor. For my last two years that I was with the SEALS I was a BUDS instructor which is a really tough training programme that the guys go through and one of the things that I taught was the diving phase. There's a very difficult test that they have to pass that involves them being underwater and trying to reestablish their air source while having their hoses tied in knots and so it's a very difficult test both physically and mentally but the challenge is to work all the knots and the problems out to the very edge of their consciousness but if not to actually go unconscious because if they do that then they fail because it obviously doesn't serve any purpose to think "well, I'm not gonna quit" and go unconscious underwater and drown. Basically it's all about learning to push yourself to the very, very edge of your ability and the edge of your ability is often way further than you think. How realistic are the challenges you face on the show compared to your military experiences? Very realistic. That's the coolest thing about this show and that's why I wanted to do it! There have been so many shows that have taken aspects of the military and then put them into a TV show format, they're influenced by the military but they bring it into the Hollywood world. With this show we've got badass camera guys and producers throwing themselves on the coals and going through real military style mission profiles. We work out how we're going to get in and how we're going to get out and we try to keep it as realistic as possible so, yeah, we're going through the real experience as far as possible and then the crew are there and they're trying to film it as it goes down so we're getting something real and powerful and honourable rather than just dumbing it down. Which challenge did you enjoy the most? I enjoyed South Africa the most, because it was different, because of the trackers, and because the guy leading the trackers was this really cool Australian ex SAS frogman who has now become a really good friend of mine through the experience. That was awesome. Read more HERE