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TV Feature Interview: Destination Truth's Josh Gates

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TV Feature Interview: Josh Gates Talks Destination Truth

Josh Gates Talks Monsters, Magic, and Mayhem

By Stephen Lackey     October 01, 2008


Josh Gates Sits Down for a Fireside Chat About His Series Destination Truth
© Stephen Lackey
Josh Gates stars in one of the SCIFI Channel’s most successful new series; Destination Truth. He’s a passionate explorer and traveler and a true skeptic. He has a degree in archeology rather than something more animal based. “I think what the network wanted was not someone who was a real advocate for these stories but someone who was just eager to find out more about them. So my credentials for the show are that I’m curious.” Gates believes that those credentials help him identify with the viewers and hopefully they help the viewer identify more with him as they travel through these stories. So far, the show has traveled to over 50 countries, more than double that of The Amazing Race and Gates has a goal to hit a hundred.
Gates sat down with us to talk about his show, his beliefs in the mysterious creatures he investigates, and what he and his team hope to do in the future.
What exotic locales Destination Truth will be traveling to for the second half of season two:
“We’re in the second half of our second season, and we’ve aired about half of the episodes and we’ll be doing future episodes in the Philippines as well as a one hour episode in Gambia and West Africa and that’ll be coming up in a few weeks. We’ll be in search of various creatures; there’s a haunting episode in the Philippines as well as a few creature based episodes in the Gambia.
How Gates and his team find subjects to investigate:
“We first want to find creatures or myths or phenomena that have some heat on them. We want to go to a place where we can talk to people who say I’ve seen this thing, I’ve had an experience. So, the first thing we do is we sort of cull local news from around the world and find places where people are having experiences. We don’t want to go somewhere to investigate a creature that no one has seen for a hundred years. That’s the first thing we do then we try to establish a route that makes sense because we actually travel all the way around the planet each time we film. So, we establish a route around the world and line those up with good stories that have good human elements and then we go from there.”
Which episode has been the most challenging to create yet:
“I think the most challenging episode is the last episode of this season which is in Gambia. We had a real problem there with customs. We had clearance to film there, and then when we arrived they were very suspicious of us when we arrived in the country with all of our gear. We obviously travel with military grade night vision scopes and all sorts of other things most people don’t travel around with. We were kind of accused of espionage when we got there and they kept the lion’s share of our gear at customs. So, we filmed that episode diminished in terms of what we had for gear. So that was probably the most challenging episode because we kind of had to make do with what we could sneak out of the airport under our clothes.”
“In terms of harrowing or most dangerous or scary episodes, it’s usually the places where we’re the furthest off the grid. We had a lot of close calls with wildlife this year, with snakes in particular. I think they’re all fun, we have a great time making it.”
Creatures that do exist and ones that are complete myths:
“There are certainly those that completely don’t exist and there are a lot of creatures that we look for on Destination Truth that I don’t have another explanation for. I’m kind of an open minded skeptic; I am someone who needs to be shown that something is real.”
Gates discusses an episode that has already shot involving a creature in Indonesia that he feels does have potential to exist. Even National Geographic has a team embedded there on the search. “I think there’s a good chance that he might be discovered” Gates comments
“I’m kind of also leaning toward the myth of the Yeti in the Himalayas. I certainly at least think that there’s something more going on there than science has been able to tap into. I think there are places where you could make a case and there are cases where you know, you could write it off and there are times when there’s a question mark hanging over it at the end and that’s okay for us too because it’s really for us about the journey and getting our viewers to see these places they’ve never seen and to experience these stories they’ve never heard about.”
On Bigfoot in North America:
“”I don’t really think there’s enough heat on that story. There are tracks in North America where there are pristine forests where people don’t travel to very often but at the heart of all of these creature stories one of the things you have to remember is that you have to be talking about a population of them. Nothing exists on its own. So if you’re talking about primates you have to be talking about a population of them. There’s never really been any credible physical evidence that’s come out of any of the forests in North America to suggest that there's some sort of large primate lurking around there.”
Gates discusses the recent discovery of the Bigfoot that hit CNN that was proven to be fake. He uses this story as example of the “real human interest” that people have in these kinds of stories.
The definition of the word truth:
“In terms of the framework of the show, I think it’s very hard to get to the truth on this show. Obviously, we have a real constraint which is that we are making a television show and I don’t have the benefit, like the National Geographic team I mentioned, of spending two years in Indonesia. The truth is something that’s scientifically very hard to get to. It involves a lot of experiments and hypothesis and testing; truth scientifically is hard to arrive at. I think that that’s part of the design of Destination Truth. It is our destination to where we’re headed. What we hope to achieve on the show is to get the people that are watching it excited and interested in both places that they may have never been or seen before and stories that they may have never heard of.”
“It really is very hard. The number of times I’m going to be able to throw a net over something in Destination Truth and kind of hold it up and say, “you know, I’ve got it” are gonna be few and far between. That’s truth, you know, me with Bigfoot strapped to the hood of my car. What we want to do is get people excited about looking for the truth.”
Avoiding duplication with the Ghost Hunters:
“Most of the hauntings that we do in Destination Truth are of a much different ilk than the stuff that you’d see on Ghost Hunters or GHI (Ghost Hunters International). Most of those (Ghost Hunters investigations) are sort of architectural oriented. This is a haunted building right? So, we’re gonna go and we’re gonna meet those people and we’re gonna investigate this property. The stuff that we do tends to become the nature of where we are; it has a little bit of a different flavor to it. We go to areas where there are you know, haunted forests and sort of wider spaces and that have more to do with, usually a tribal element and things like that. So we feel like it has a very different flavor than Ghost Hunters.”
Being a part of the SCIFI family:
“For me it’s been great. I’m actually a huge sci-fi nerd so for me on occasions when I get to hang out with Battlestar folks, it’s surreal for me because I’m a huge sci-fi aficionado. In terms of being on the reality side of the network, it’s been great. This show has given me an enormous amount of credibility in the hosting world, it’s allowed me to travel to 50 or so countries around the world, and what’s really been great about Destination Truth is that SCIFI has been really great about just letting us go and make the shows without a really bolted down framework. In the land of network television, that’s a rarity.”
Destination Truth airs Wednesdays at 11pm on SCIFI

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 14
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joeybaloney 10/1/2008 8:56:32 AM
This show is a complete and utter misallocation of resources. They would be doing the environment and people’s free time a huge favor if they would just stop this pointless production.
LittleNell1824 10/1/2008 10:41:44 AM
LoL I wondered about this show. I was avoiding it because I thought it was going to be like Most Haunted. A lot tramping around old places in the dark with flashlights and night-vision with the cast exclaiming "Did you see that?" everytime a bug flits by on camera. I'll have to watch it now just to see if it really is a complete waste of time.
joeybaloney 10/1/2008 11:33:43 AM
***A patented joeybaloney Spoiler Alert** In the next episode (and all the ones before and after it) the Destination Truth Team travels to some backwater and hang around with night vision camera’s for a couple of days but, after being scared several times by completely mundane noises and animal movement, come up empty handed yet somehow On The Jazz more than John “Hannibal†Smith. If some cryptid didn't show up after two days of investigation by the DTT then clearly it doesn't exist. ***End Spoiler**** At least with Ghost Hunters you get the feeling that Grant & Jay are being earnest in their investigations. They also have that little thing called “actual results†once in a while. At least enough to get you to go “Wow. That could have really been somethingâ€. There is not a single redeeming quality to Destination Wait Around For Nothing. Gates attempts to be “passionate†about what he’s doing but it’s a shallow act and this is clearly just a paycheck for vacation time.
LittleNell1824 10/1/2008 1:14:52 PM
Awww.. That's what I was afraid of. No need to bother now. It's too much to hope that it would be like "In Search Of..." "ACC's Mysterious Places" or "Sightings" (Remember Sightings?). You'd have to get Linda Moulton Howe and the Fonz (Henry Winkler) involved again for a quality show on the spooky and unexplained.
jedi4sshield 10/1/2008 3:20:05 PM
Destination Truth is a pathetic waste of money. It's a guy and his crew that travel around the world looking for folklore and coming back empty handed with the exception of a few scares mostly due to real animals in these jungles or fish in rivers or what not. Thats what they do to lure you into the show. Atleast Ghost Hunters show you actual paranormal happenings on camera. This show is a waste of time! I would never air an episode unless I had concrete proof of something! Ive only seen a handful of episodes and all they manage to capture on camera is light spot on infrared or something that splashed in a river. Wheres the damn evidence? Not only that, but they only set out in each case for a short amount of time. People living in their own country where these creatures and folklores are sighted dont even have evidence. They have tons of eye witnesses but no hard facts and this guys comes along and thinks he can solve the case like in a few short days or what might be a week or two. I never get the impression that they ever spend more than 2 weeks at any given place. This is why I dont bother watching the show anymore, its a tremendous waste of time. Hell even writing about this show just lost me 10 minutes of my life but it is well worth it if I can save a few lives from what I call Destinaticious Truthcrapis. which is the true latin term for this show.
ultrazilla2000 10/2/2008 2:08:08 AM
You guys have the patience and attention spans of a bunch of 10 year olds. Part of the show's fun is the adventure, or waiting to see if ANY kind of evidence turns up (and yes, there is at times a LITTLE). Of course they don't find a whole lot, if they did, it would be some huge television special sandwiched between news reports. The main problem is like what was stated...they give up too soon. But is that Josh's fault? Why are you trashing him? He bows to his bosses like we all do, and the budget isn't huge, so they have to allocate their time and money. It sucks, but it's completely rational. And no, they rarely say that something doesn't exist just because they didn't find it like Mr. Baloney seems to think. (yet he says he has watched the show?!?) Like I said, the fun is in the adventure of it, along with the humor of the cast and the exotic locations. If it's not your cup of tea...fine! But don't make it sound worse than it is just for the sake of negativity. Little Nell...do yourself a favor and watch an episode or two and make your OWN conclusions. No need to be like the many sheep on these forums, and you just MIGHT like it!
LittleNell1824 10/2/2008 3:39:57 AM
I tried it last night, Ultrazilla. I completely respect your right to like the show. You'd probably laugh out loud at some of the shows I like. But here's what I thought of this: It's amazing that the only production value you need for a show like this is a night vision camera and some actors willing to oohh and aahh over a possum walking behind a tree. Sure, Destination Truth doesn't have a big budget, yet they still manage to do as little with it as they possibly can. I've seen better "investigations" on YouTube by amateurs, and YouTube videos don't wear out their welcome by going over 10 minutes long. You can say it's because I don't have an attention span, but why should I torture my attention span on shows like this? There are much better documentaries, history books, and real nature that my attention span would actually enjoy. Bring back Sightings, leave the spooky narrator voice at the infomercial office, use the night-vision sparingly, and do some real investigations. Then I'll be happy.
joeybaloney 10/2/2008 7:51:36 AM
Please allow me to follow that up with a Nelson Muntz HA-HA. Also, for the record: If given the opportunity to get paid to do what Mr. Gates does I would jump at it and milk it for all it’s worth. Still makes for a very shitty and boring show though. Also as well: My comment about the creatures not existing was more satirical in nature and meant to convey that 2 days worth of investigation is a complete waste of time. I gave some thought to capitalizing the word complete BTW. And I wasn’t making the show seem any worse than it is. It is a show of very poor quality. The only person being negative for its own sake here is you in not respecting our dislike of the show. I’ve watched it 3 (well, almost a full 3. Didn’t make it thru that last attempt all the way) times and there is a reason for the dislike. But I love you anyway.
StarlightGuard 10/2/2008 4:47:40 PM
I'm still uncertain of this show. I always see the commercials, I've never really sat through more than a quater of an episode, and yet I'm not convinced it's a waste of resources. Not yet, anyways. The same goes for, what is the show, Monster Quest? Is that it's name? I think it is. I used to watch Most Haunted as well...and then I started watching less and less of it. It got to the point where I was just watching the first 5 to 10 minutes of it and that was enough. I didn't need an entire hour of them jumping and screaming in night vision. If it's one of the most popular shows on SCI-FI, they must be doing something right. I don't know what that'd be though.
LittleNell1824 10/2/2008 8:21:30 PM
My sister really enjoys Most Haunted and Paranormal State, so she'd probably enjoy this one as well. We both love a good ghost story and have led our own ghost hunts (do you know how embarrassing it is to call and ask site permission for one of those?), so I know how fun it is to tramp through the dark with cameras hoping for some activity. I just don't like it on TV when they get all excited about something that's obviously a cockroach on the carpet or moth in the air. (And no, I have never seen anything on a ghost hunt.) I love the "A Haunting" series on Discovery. Even though they're dramatized (and partly fictionalized) I still prefer just hearing from the witnesses. The stories ring true for me. Everyone knows someone who's been through a haunting, and if it's a bad one, the whole family will avoid a certain area of the house, or simply move. It really does happen more often than anyone thinks it does.
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