As The Amazing Race co-creators and executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are making Race To the Center of the Earth, NatGeo’s first global competition series, they’re incorporating the same type of efficiency and organization as they plan the complicated routes four teams will take in the nonstop sprint around the world.
Although the winning team will split a $1 million prize, van Munster and Doganieri insisted at TCA today that this Race is different because the participants are adventure junkies looking to push themselves to the limit on various continents. None of the adventurers is a professional athlete; all they share is their love of adventure and a desire to test their own limits. The show promises to combine a survival show with the cinematic look and feel of an action film.
Co-executive producers Kirk Durham and Darren Bunkley, Doganieri, van Munster and director of photography Josh Gitersonke came to the TCA winter press tour to talk about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the series. Doganieri started by saying they want to show the beauty of the world in this race and both she and van Munster stressed how, because of The Amazing Race, they’re welcome almost anywhere in the world. Van Munster said, “Countries welcome us because we’re not controversial.” Doganieri added: “We always try to leave a country the way we found it. We don’t leave anything behind.”
Kirk Dunham, who is on Team Canada for the show, described how his team crisscrossed that country from east to west three times to search for “epic locations” for the show. The list was narrowed down to 21 locations from the original 4o. They showed a clip of a fjord in Quebec that was breathtaking.
A big challenge for the show is making sure all four teams have a balanced number of challenges. Doganieri said that because the teams come from four different places on the globe, they all have to deal with different types of inclement weather and physical challenges such as climbing or biking or swimming. The production team took months to do test runs to make sure it was fair for the teams.
The eight episode Race to the Center of the Earth premieres June 1 on Nat Geo.