The hit show Destination Truth begins its third season on Syfy Sept. 9, bringing host Josh Gates and his crew to the forests of Romania, the Bermuda Triangle, the abandoned city of Chernobyl and King Tut's tomb to investigate reports of paranormal events, cryptozoology and strange happenings.
We got a chance to participate in a conference call with Gates, who told us about some of the scarier moments we'll be seeing this season, cutting through the red tape in Egypt, and whether we'll be seeing a crossover with Ghost Hunters.
We asked him how he preps the newbies traveling with him this season for what could be the adventure of a lifetime ... or the most terrifying thing they've ever done.
"We give them all this really scary speech, right?" said Gates. "Everyone gets this terrifying speech about how it's going to be really hard and you're going to be sleeping on floors and you're going to be eating bugs and all that kind of stuff. ... We've had people who've worked on Amazing Race and Survivor, and they find the experience of working on Destination Truth a lot more difficult. ... We film getting up and going to breakfast. We film stopping at gas stations. We film going out at night, and we stay up all night looking for the creature or the phenomena that we're looking for. So it's really a 24-hour-a-day job. So I think the first thing we do is we try to tell everybody that that's what it is, that you have to be the kind of person that really wants to go and have a real round-the-clock adventure."
Keep an eye on the new medic, Rex Williams. He was a fan of the show and managed to get himself on the crew, but in the episode we previewed, the poor man loses his lunch in the forest.
Gates told us about some of the issues they have filming in other countries. Egypt, in particular, is known as a shooting nightmare. "Well, you know, it is; it has a reputation as being a very hard place to film in. And in fact, Ghost Hunters International had filmed there, or gone to film there, and had hit some real snafus." He said that in countries like this, you really have to know someone on the inside, or depend on local producers called 'fixers.' "We had been recommended a guy in Egypt. ... Another production company had said, don't look any further; this is the guy you want.' ... He's this really young guy, he's like 22 years old. And his father is a very famous fixer in Egypt that has been fixing there since the '60s. And so this kid has sort of apprenticed his dad and is just dialed in to everything."
Gates said the local managed to grease the right palms and get them what they needed. "It was just effortless. And this guy just really got everything working for us. And it's amazing. A lot of the roadblocks to filming in countries like this are things that are difficult to smooth out from here, and you really need someone good, who really knows the local politics, the local economy, the local government and often military things. You just need someone who understands the whole mechanism. And this guy was just terrific. And so we managed to get in and out of Egypt without a problem." He added that he'd love to investigate stories in Western and Central Africa, but the unstable political situation there would put the crew in too much danger.
Gates said that the most dangerous episode of the season was the one in Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city destroyed by a nuclear accident in 1986. "You know, we actually pitched that internally as a joke, almost, at first. We said, wouldn't it be amazing if we could go to Chernobyl? There's a whole ruined city that sits right in the shadow of the reactor there that has been abandoned for 30 years, and that is still very radioactive. We talked to the government in Ukraine, and we talked to producers in Ukraine, and we started to realize that if we were able to meet certain production challenges and keep people from being exposed to radiation, then we could do something that really hadn't been done before. And really have free reign to wander around a totally abandoned city." No word on whether the crew glows in the dark now.
Gates said that they have both supernatural and perfectly mundane freakiness on the show. "This year we had a very close call ... on a very old plane in Romania that we chartered for a flight to try to do some aerial photography. And we had essentially an accident in the plane while flying. And that's actually in the premiere episode. ... There certainly was a moment where I thought maybe we were ... filming our final episode."
In the same episode, cameraman Evan has a terrifying moment in the forest. "Evan is one of these guys who's a road warrior; he's shot on a million reality shows. He's shot in war zones. He's a real pragmatic, down-to-earth guy. And he got really shaken up by something unseen in this forest. And it's a really compelling moment where a member of the crew has an experience that fundamentally, physically knocks him around, and so we moved that into the premiere episode, because it's just such a neat and really scary moment."
Gates revealed that there are going to be a few crossovers with Syfy's other hit series, Ghost Hunters, this season. "I'm actually in a Ghost Hunters episode ... and there's a little bit of crossover this season when Rob [Demarest] and Dustin [Pari] from Ghost Hunters International are going to be appearing in one of our episodes ... You'll also be seeing Steve [Gonsalves] and Tango, as well as Jason [Hawes] and Grant [Wilson] in a few episodes where we actually go to them and have them take a look at our evidence from our paranormal episodes. And, since they're seasoned at what they do, get their take on our evidence." He joked, "So that's a great way to kind of do the Flintstones-meets-the-Jetsons routine on the show."
Destination Truth premieres Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 10/9C on the Syfy Channel.