UK based Naked Entertainment is the producer of a new reality show titled Stripped and Stranded, commissioned by Channel 5. This factual-entertainment series is not about unclad individuals on a desert island but rather, it shows multi-generational families attempting to complete challenges while relying on each other for support and survival. The real goal of the show is to present all viewers with someone whom they can relate to regardless of what age and background they come from. Even more importantly, the show wants to reveal that we all struggle with relating to someone in our own family and should not discount their potential contributions to our life. One of the great things about reality TV is that it allows the public to see “regular” people, representative of all walks of life. We wanted to find out more about the contestants and the programs itself, so we approached leading casting producer Grivas Kopti. As the person at the heart of finding, researching, and presenting the family members on Stripped and Stranded, Grivas has a perspective unique to all others involved. Mike Warner, Senior Executive Producer at Naked Entertainment sought out Kopti because, in his own words, “He is undoubtedly one of the industry’s most prominent associate producers, and I am positive that he is among the most elite in his field. Mr. Kopti’s involvement on many celebrated and nationally distributed programs is an excellent example of the undeniable success that Grivas brings when he performs the leading role of associate producer.”
Stripped and Stranded was filmed in Panama but the process began in England with casting. The goal of the show was to find families with multiple generations. This meant that normal social media blasts would not work as many of the older generations are not as tech-savvy and tech-conscious. Online forums, newspapers, as well as social media were used to attract interested applicants. Following extensive interviews, Kopti worked with an editor to create 1:30sec Skype audition tapes which were then used to decide which four families would offer the most interest as well as the greatest potential for growth. For those unfamiliar with the role of leading casting producer, Grivas found the applicants, screened them, produced pitch tapes, produced and oversaw all legal paperwork for applicants (on a survival series!), and wrote extensive family biographies which are key in shaping the narrative of each episode. Essentially, Kopti performed as interviewer, legal advisor, film producer and editor, and journalist…all before the show began filming!
Grivas has an extensive and highly successful career in casting. He has been in charge of finding the “right” people for reality shows like; Tattoo Fixers on Holiday, Celebs Go Dating, Naked Attraction, Couples Come Dine with Me, and numerous others. As someone who has always been able to talk and connect with strangers, his natural talent resonates well in the TV industry. His desire to focus on Reality TV is centered around the diversity that it depicts in society. He states, “There is always a magical element to seeing faces on TV that you don’t usually see or wouldn’t expect to see; especially in a show like this one, where we really delve into people’s lives and dysfunction. That’s one of the biggest takeaways for the viewers, insight into communities and homes you don’t see too often.”
The challenge of Reality TV shows like Stripped and Stranded is to show real people in a way that we can all relate. However, most of us don’t find ourselves stranded on a desert island, fighting for survival. The subtext of the show, and its true goal is to depict how family members relate to each other when times are good and bad. The producers hope that, in seeing the drama and struggles exhibited on-screen, viewers will not only discuss, but also learn from the challenges which the contestants endure. Grivas feels confident that all viewers will find something relatable, as did he, revealing, “One of the families was unable to communicate effectively and make decisions simply because most, if not all members, are extremely headstrong, proud and constantly talk (scream!) over each other. I come from a feisty Greek family, so that explains a bit there. You definitely know when we are home; as do our neighbors.”
Stripped and Stranded could be considered “extreme” family therapy. The families learned a great deal (good and bad) about their own feelings as well as those of their family members when confronted with dire circumstances. Just as in counseling, participants were faced with uncomfortable thoughts and history in order to move ahead and grow. Kopti confirms, “After carrying out in-depth research, we concluded that, when faced with challenges and obstacles to overcome collectively, people in disagreement are more likely to put their differences to one side to overcome the hurdles they are faced with. We wanted to put that to the test and see what happens when families who are in some sort of crisis are stripped of their technology and other modern comforts and left on a deserted island for an amount of time to fend for themselves. What took me by surprise, even after extensive casting interviews and from meeting our contributor’s prior to filming, was just how much the families had not communicated amongst themselves. There were a lot of stones unturned and things never said. As families, we want to avoid things instead of dealing with them – which is so detrimental to a family’s dynamic and bond in the long run. Ultimately, from an editorial perspective, we wanted to achieve some resolution and peace at the end of each episode/story. We were hoping to say that when we take away every day distractions and modern comforts from people, we can actually instigate healthier communication and positive, healthy relationships.”
The filming location for the show is Panama. The crew obviously needed open and remote locations as the “stripped” part of the show’s title refers to being stripped of modern conveniences. The natural aesthetics of Panama produced a pleasant backdrop dichotomous to the tense action. Grivas relates, “It’s beautiful landscape. It’s paradise. For a show of this scale, as Stripped and Stranded was, we need to ensure we have an elaborate space, so Panama seemed perfect. It has many different sides to it. Obviously you have Panama City, then you have the beautiful islands. Both were great as a backdrop for the show. It wasn’t only the cast that was at risk for this production. Most of the crew was petrified of exotic spiders and snakes; you can only prepare so much for those kind of things. I think education is key, more than anything, to know how to best handle a potential encounter with a dangerous species.
Stripped and Stranded has yet to air which means you won’t find any spoilers here. Only the participants and the producers know the actual outcome. While much of Kopti’s work has focused on individuals relating to other individuals, he finds the familial aspect of Stripped and Stranded to be very rewarding and complex. Grivas confirms, “Every generation will have something to say and things they want to change, that’s just natural. Parents want the best for their children, but need to accept that that it’s not necessarily what they had in mind for them. And I think that’s okay. It’s certainly something I battle over with my parents.” Stripped and Stranded will soon air on UK’s Channel 5.