‘Wrecked’ on location: not exactly a tropical paradise

What would you think of if we told you that both seasons two and three of the TBS hit show “Wrecked” were filmed on location on the South Pacific island of Fiji? Let me guess; warm sunshine, some nice down time on the beach and a few tropical drinks, right? Well, here’s the real deal: two cyclones, a missing toe and no ice in 90-plus degree heat.

“Wrecked” follows a diverse group of survivors of a plane crash on a remote island who have no choice but to adjust to a dangerous new life. And by the stories you’re about to hear from David Wolkis, SVP – Production; and Tammy Glover, VP – Production; that wasn’t too far from the truth regarding production of the show.

By the way, season three of “Wrecked” premieres Tuesday, August 7, at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.

TURNER(T): Hi David and Tammy, thanks so much for speaking with us. First, for those who don’t know, tell us what your roles are with TBS.
DAVID WOLKIS (DW): Tammy and I work in the TBS Originals production department, so we oversee all the scripted, late-night and animation Originals for TBS. What that means is we oversee the logistics of the shows, the hiring of the crew, scheduling, budgeting and then the day-to-day, which also includes finding locations, for which “Wrecked” was one.

T: How did you both get involved with the show?
DW: Our creative department - Brett Weitz, Thom Hinkle and team, they develop scripts and execute that creative into television shows. Once they want to shoot a pilot, Tammy and I put together the pieces to actually bring the script to screen. We got brought in to figure out how you crash land a plane on a deserted island and also to work with a 24-year-old and 25-year-old who had never produced a single minute of television before.

T: The new season was filmed on the tropical island of Fiji. From the outside, it really does sound like every television person’s dream. How did it even come about?
DW: Initially, we shot the pilot and the first season in Puerto Rico, and there was a huge Zika outbreak which hit at the end of our season. The economy also got hit when the hurricanes landed, so it was too dangerous to go back. We decided to look for another place that would match the look of season one. Hawaii was too expensive. Tammy looked at other islands in the Caribbean. We looked at New Zealand, we looked at Australia, but the Fiji tax incentive was just too big for us to ignore.

TAMMY GLOVER (TG): I think one of the more interesting things about shooting there was how we found our beach and location. We went on Google Maps, because we knew that we would need a deserted beach that was close enough to some sort of hotel or resort, and it would have to have a road and some sort of slab where we could park trucks. If I hadn't worked in this business for so long, I might not have even thought to do that, because normally the process would be to work with the film commission and a location scout, and they would be on the ground showing you places that are potential film locations. In this case, we identified the overgrown bones of a golf course that had been started by developers and abandoned when they lost their funding. It had all of the elements we needed for our show.

“We had an actor throwing up and passing out the first day because we couldn’t get cold water to set.”

T: What were the best and worst parts of your time in production of “Wrecked” on Fiji?
TG: Well, there's no infrastructure there, so it's really challenging. Every piece of gear has to be shipped in, so you don't have all of the things you would normally have if you were shooting in Los Angeles or the U.K. You're also at the mercy of weather. We had extreme heat. And you can't have planes fly overhead, or jet-skiers out on the water. All of that has to be masked, or you have to find a place where you can do that, and the skilled labor just isn’t there. You don't have people like you do in production hubs like Atlanta, Vancouver, Los Angeles and New York.

DW: We didn't realize it would be so difficult to simply get ice. The first day we're looking at 90-degree weather and 120% humidity, and we had an actor throwing up and passing out the first day, because we couldn't get cold water to set. As much as you plan, you probably don't think of things like that.

T: Do you have any interesting stories from your time on the tropical island?
DW: Well, we got hit with two cyclones that shut us down in the middle of production. Some of the cast and crew had decided to take a weekend trip by renting boats to go to an island, and then the cyclone hit. We were having a hard time just getting everyone back to our Marriott and our location.

We had to rent 4x4s so we could just get them across the flooded roads. They were sending videos of the torrential downpour they had to get through, and a couple of them thought that they might not make it home. They thought that this was the end.

TG: It was really dramatic footage that they were posting on social media. We could see the road being washed away in front of them, as these 4x4s were trying to get back to our location.

T: I’ll be honest, this is not at all the direction I thought this interview was going to go. I thought it would be stories of tropical drinks with little umbrellas in a relaxing paradise.
DW: Everybody who hears that we shot in Fiji gets super jealous of us. But it was the hardest production that I have ever worked on.

“The cast was really good about visiting an orphanage called The Treasure House.”

T: We heard you made an effort to give back to the local community while you were on location. Tell us about that.
DW: The cast was really good about visiting an orphanage called The Treasure House. In the second season, we raised money for them and donated all our cast trailers, which they turned into a school. We donated a lot of our assets to them and also raised enough money for them to get a permit to build an additional wing to their school location. In the third season the cast went back and visited them again. They were actually featured in the local Fijian newspapers.

TG: We also built a water tower. So, the village that we were shooting in for season two now has clean water because of that tower.

T: How do you feel “Wrecked” has grown and evolved over its three seasons?
DW: The showrunners have gotten better at their job - we hired them fresh out of college. They've gotten more comfortable with what they can do, and I feel like if you look at seasons one to three, you'll see that it gets bigger and better. I feel like the show’s evolved and become a better show over the seasons.

TG: I also think something that happens with shows over time, and certainly happened with this show, is that the voice and POV of the characters becomes more defined. In season one, a funny line might work if it's said by any character. But as the show goes on, the characters find their voices and the comedy gets honed so that the personality of each character really comes through and becomes even funnier. Also, the production value has grown because we always want to top ourselves and do something better, and we get better at our jobs.

T: “Wrecked” is unique due to its rather large and diverse cast. What’s it like working with so many talented, funny actors?

TG: With some casts it's a very professional environment where people are juggling a lot of professional responsibilities and family obligations, so everybody simply shows up to do their job as professionals. But then you work with casts that approach the whole production in a different way. I think because this cast is a little younger and they have fewer family obligations, if you follow them on social media, you see that they are genuinely, authentically a family.

DW: And also, since the elements in Fiji are very difficult, I feel like if we had some of our more established cast on this type of show we would have a much harder time producing it. But these guys really banded together and didn’t cause waves. They're troopers for working within these elements and the schedule that they have to deal with.

T: What can we look forward to in the new season? The trailer looks pretty intense.
TG: We have some new characters, and they're all pitted against each other in a “Hunger Games” environment, so there are higher stakes this season. I feel like everything is amplified and more intense. Every season, this show gets better and funnier.

Learn more about “Wrecked” here, and don’t forget to watch the premiere Tuesday, August 7, at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.