By Kellene Bishop
With the upcoming premier of National Geographic TV’s Doomsday Preppers (airing Feb. 7th, 2012), I have decided to finally take some time to write a piece for this blog. On the 7th, beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, National Geographic will be airing two episodes. I will be featured on the second one. Nope, we’ve got no idea at all what footage, content, or angle the show will take for my segment, and that’s just going to have to be O.K. whether or not I have patience.
Right before we started filming I prayed in earnest for 3 things: 1—that I didn’t want to bring shame to my faith, 2—that my actions would speak well of practical, peaceful preparedness, and 3—that I wouldn’t bring any shame to my husband or the rest of my family with my actions. I suppose anything can be edited to sound like anything that a person wants nowadays. But in spite of some logical reasons why a “prepper” such as myself would NOT appear on a television show, and some rational reservations expressed by my husband right up to the last minute, I felt very strongly that I needed to go forward with it. Even after reading the riled protest of another prepper who was featured on the pilot episode and believed that she was maligned by being edited in an unflattering way. (In fact, I was actually surprised with her ire because personally, I thought the show reflected well on her and secondly). I’m more of the opinion that if you don’t say anything embarrassing, you don’t give them any ammo to mess with.
But there was an additional concern that both my husband and I had in moving forward. We were both concerned about whether or not I could physically endure the rigor necessary for two days of filming. My health had really tanked recently. Prior to the scheduled shooting days, I had been in bed in some serious pain right up until the first day of the shoot and was certain to have some more pain to deal with—with or without 16 hour days. But again, I felt strongly that this was something I should do and that the Lord would fill in the gaps of what effort was still necessary after I did my best. And it turns out, He was right. I moved forward with some minor debts, but I moved forward in peace nonetheless.
My faith did not go unheeded. One miracle manifested itself early on and came in an interesting way. About 6 months prior to the filming for Doomsday Preppers, I had been asked to participate in a show for The Learning Channel. Like the Doomsday Prepper show, as I prayed about it I felt strongly that I needed to do it. It took weeks of work beforehand to perform some really hard labor and long days to get everything “camera ready.” The last few days leading up to the shoot for TLC, I had several friends generously donate hours out of their day to help me really go in and get all of our preparedness supplies, food items, and other parts of my house organized—you know, for the dang cameras. As I added to those supplies over the next 6 months, it was simple to stay organized and neat—thank goodness, because little did I know that my health would be so compromised less than 6 months later when National Geographic’s production company wanted to come into town. There was no way that I would have been able to put in the physical exertion again for that many weeks to get ready for Doomsday Preppers. As it turned out, not only was I SO incredibly blessed with all of the work that had been done earlier in the year—it was done in exactly that same areas that Doomsday Preppers would be filming. As it turns out I was also doubly blessed because the 3 long days of filming that I had for the TLC show really prepared me for the lesser, 2 days of filming that I had with the National Geographic TV crew. Instead of being nervous and self-conscious, I was more ready to just be me. And by the looks of the first commercial that I’ve recently seen promoting the show, I kept my sense of humor about me during the process—thank goodness!
When I watched the previous episodes of the pilot for Doomsday Preppers which had aired the summer before, I was actually really impressed with how they presented the individuals. I saw plenty of things that I know non-preppers would scoff and scorn—but I suspect it would be more from the foreign nature of the self-reliance thought process and lifestyle, not because the people were portrayed as loons. I didn’t feel like I saw anything that would be embarrassing to a person who was willing to be more self-reliant in their life. I think all of the people were portrayed as positive, level-headed people who have firm hearts that drive them to take care of themselves and their families in the face of the realities that they believe will come their way some time down the road. I heard no talk of zombies, or threats to harm and kill anyone else, nor did I hear anything that I thought was incongruent with a preparedness lifestyle. There were tactics that I disagreed with, but nothing more than what a football coach might come up with after watching his team play. I was shocked—in a good way—to be frank, and impressed. I didn’t know that television could ever accurately portray people mindful of self-reliance in a rather accurate light. And frankly…I was jealous.
Not only was I jealous of some of what I considered to be FABULOUS set-ups (a car that runs on wood, plenty of acres, all family members drawn near and on the same page, an entire self-sustaining ecosystem right outside your backdoor, and naturally generated energy with plenty to spare!) But I was a tad bit jealous for another reason. You see, I was invited and had accepted to be a part of their pilot show. I was excited about the concept. But a little bit of Hollywood politics got involved and suddenly I was informed midstream (last winter) “Oh! The executive producer of TLC’s ‘Extreme Couponing’ saw all of your stuff and when she found out that you coupon too, said you HAD to be on their show!” I guess they hadn’t seen a grocery “stockpile” like mine quite yet on their relatively new series. (I hate that word, by the way. When I think of a stockpile, I think of garbage. But that’s just me.) I was relatively appalled when I looked at their pilot episode portraying what I thought were crazy people who I thought would fit better on TLC’s Hoarders. (In fact, at least one of the women featured in the pilot is an absolute fabulous couponing guru AND entrepreneur that I have a great deal of respect for.) I was nearly certain that I didn’t want to be a part of that show. It wasn’t me. It only remotely had anything to do with self-reliance because couponing was one of the strategies I employ to be sufficiently prepared without breaking the bank. “But I don’t want to be on their show. I have no interest in looking like one of those crazy people. I like YOUR show” I explained to the black hole of sound on the other side of the phone.
Needless to say, I went through all of the work and everything to do the TLC show hoping that SOME good could possibly come out of it that would benefit my passion for preparedness. As it turned out I got the best of both worlds. I didn’t get embarrassed and shamed by being featured on the show because I actually stuck to my guns during filming. I didn’t want to argue with my husband in front of the camera or maliciously tease him. I didn’t want to clear a shelf of items that I would never need or use. I didn’t want to buy things just because they were free in order to get my dollar number down. In other words, I guess I didn’t play well with others for TLC because, thank the Lord, my segment was scrapped. I’ve never been so happy and relieved about being kicked off a team in my life. No one had to hit me over the head to help me see that THAT was a blessing, but I confess that since I did feel right about moving forward to do their show in spite of my misgivings, the fact that the show got scrapped gave me no small amount of self-doubt as to my ability to listen and hear which way the Lord was guiding me—but only for a moment.
A of couple months after the TLC thing died down, I got the call from National Geographic TV and was invited to do their show. I had never applied to be on their show; they simply called me clear out of the blue. Cool. I remember after they called me, thinking, “Hmmm. Maybe I really was supposed to do this show.” But then I went back to my cynical stuff. “Burn me twice” and all that… As such, I didn’t really allow myself to think much of it after that first day. I guess I had my guard up. I told myself not to get too emotionally involved this time around because nothing would come of it. So each time another e-mail and another “hoop to jump through” came across my e-mail, I just took it with a grain of salt knowing that it’s in the Lord’s hand. I’m a short, seriously overweight, nothing special woman in a suburb in Utah who’s a bit batty about being prepared for whatever curveballs come my way. I don’t believe in preparing for “the end of the earth. I mean really, if it’s the end of the earth, who in the world am I to think that I’ll battle against the Lord’s will to end it all and come out the victor? So, what could be so interesting to a show called Doomsday Preppers? *grin*
This was my frame of mind when I was sent an intimidating, small-font, lengthy appearance contract from the production company on behalf of National Geographic TV. Being the daughter of two generations of attorneys, and with a brother and a sister-in-law as attorney, and having been responsible for drawing up all of the legal documents for my own commercial financing days, I felt comfortable reviewing the contract myself. And on my own I felt that there was a very problematic portion thereof. Just to be on the safe side—not wanting to cause any trouble where it wasn’t necessary—I ran the concerned area of the agreement past my dad. Unfortunately, he agreed with me exactly. He and I discussed that just 5 words would make the agreement acceptable, but otherwise, I just couldn’t sign it. So, when the executive producer sent me an e-mail asking me for the status of it, I sent it over to him but with my 5 word modification. (In hindsight, it’s kind of cool that the big whig was following up with me for the things he needed from me. I mean wasn’t he busy enough having lunch with some of New York City’s biggest personalities? Hee hee) A day passed and he e-mailed me back and apologized explaining that it’s their hard and fast policy to never accept modified contracts. They never make exceptions to this, and no, they weren’t even supposed to ASK to make an exception either. I either have to take it as it is, or there would be no show experience for me. I was surprised at the peace, and the fact that I wasn’t bummed out as I kindly wrote him back, told him that it was too bad that I wouldn’t be on the show but that I was still a big fan of it and would be happy to cheer them on from the bleachers instead. I expressed hope that he would understand that I just could not knowingly put myself in such a risky position with the way that the contract was presently written. OK. Yes, I allowed myself to be a bit bummed right after I hit the “send” button on that message, but I knew that what I had done was right and that was going to be enough. Though once again I did question whether or not my spiritual wires were fried. Why did I feel so positive about moving forward with the show if it was just going to end up being all for naught? Oh well. I just shrugged my shoulders and figured this was just going to have to be one more of these moments that I would understand later in life when I was more mature spiritually. (that’s what I always try and tell myself when I just don’t get it. *grin*) I had officially kissed that boat good-bye. Imagine my surprise when I was e-mailed just what I needed to address my contractual concerns—something I was told would never be done. I literally got goosebumps when I read the words on the e-mail. The “never happen” just became a “no problem” occurrence.
It was a great experience indeed and for so many reasons. I learned so much, I was helped so very much, and I look back on what my husband and friends and I presented to the cameras without any misgivings or regret.
As the commercials begin airing nationwide for the episode to air on February 7th, 2012, I’m shocked at how much feedback I’m getting—a mix of good and bad, foul and crass language along with the congrats, haters and lovers. I’m pleased thus far with what’s on their website and the smidgen of footage I’ve seen in the commercial. I hope that when people watch it they see the realistic side of preparedness and relate to the good old fashioned value of being self-reliant and taking responsibility for our own care, our own family, and our own health. I hope they cut through the zombie and apocalyptic nonsense and see the value and honor of being self-reliant. Dare I hope that a couple more folks will jump on the bandwagon? Yup. I do indeed.
How to handle a real life wardrobe malfunction? What caused a room full of 30+ women to gasp in shock? Do the Preppers get paid to do the show? Just how “real” are some of those moments? How many cameras are on you? How to lose a camera for the sake of privacy? Tune in for Part II…