News

Trio survives reality TV, Mother Nature's worst

SURVIVORS ALL: Michelle Thatcher, Melissa Ramirez and Dax Pointon have been around the world for their art. They recently held a joint exhibition at Maroochydore. Below are shots from their time on the TV reality show, Survivor US.
SURVIVORS ALL: Michelle Thatcher, Melissa Ramirez and Dax Pointon have been around the world for their art. They recently held a joint exhibition at Maroochydore. Below are shots from their time on the TV reality show, Survivor US. Contributed

SWATTING away acid-spraying beetles, checking beds for scorpions and enduring the wrath of Mother Nature are not usually occupational hazards for artists.

But then Dax Pointon, Michelle Thatcher and Melissa Ramirez are not ordinary artists.

The trio spent many years working in the art department for the ground-breaking reality TV show Survivor US and it's left them with plenty of stories to tell.

While Panama-born Melissa spent 15 seasons as a scenic artist, Michelle was the arts purchaser for 12 seasons and Dax has worked his way up from art assistant to art director by working on 20 of the show's 26 seasons.

 

The Sunshine Coast-based trio met while working on Survivor in some of the most hostile environments in the world.

 

Everything you see in the show, from the tribal council setting, to the immunity idols and even antique-looking artefacts, has been designed and made by the art department.

They arrive on location a month before producers and contestants to design and build sets and often spend another month there after the 39 days of filming to pull everything down.

But it's not as glamorous as it sounds.

When Dax started, the budget was tight and crew slept in two-man tents.

Now they at least enjoy the small creature comfort of working in an "air-conditioned box".

He said working on a set where cameras were rolling 24 hours a day on a rigid schedule of challenges and tribal councils that could not be altered meant artists had to draw on every ounce of skill and ingenuity to bring things to life within the confines of their time and resources.

"It is amazing what people can do with their hands," he said. "In an age where everything is becoming more digital, it is refreshing to work with people who can, say, weave a basket to fit around some bottles using the native trees."

 

This interaction with highly skilled, like-minded people helps them overlook the typhoons, earthquakes, severe lightning storms and unruly wild animals they have encountered.

 

Michelle said despite the gruelling schedule on location, she was still inspired by what she experienced and spent all of her free time on personal art projects.

"You spend so much time bringing to life the creations of other people, it is nice to be able to work on something that is your own," she said.

After filming wraps up on each season of Survivor, the crew holds an auction of artworks to raise funds for the villages where they have worked for months.

The money has helped to fund improvements to schools and hospitals for

remote, often Third World, communities.

Closer to home, the trio are no strangers to the art scene, having exhibited individually in cities all around Australia.

Their collaborative exhibition, Output, was held on the Coast recently, where Dax has lived since the '70s and Michelle since the early '80s.

Worst behind-the-scenes hazards

1. Poto Beetles in Brazil, 2000. They came in plague proportions for a week and would secrete acid on to your skin.

2. Typhoon in Philippines, 2012. Travelling to the set by boat battling three metre waves.

3. Intense lightning storm that struck Tocantins in Brazil, 2000. Hearing a tickle in your ears before each strike, which would almost knock you off your feet on impact.

4. Earthquakes in Samoa, 2009. Crew and contestants evacuated to higher ground after tsunami threat.

5. Gastro outbreak in Nicaragua, 2010. More than 40 people were struck down at the same time.

Topics:  reality tv survivor



New driving program for the disadvantaged

ON THE ROAD: This program offers the opportunity for people who have found it difficult to navigate the licensing system.

The program offers up to 10 free driving lessons with an instructor

Magpies and Thunder armed and ready for memorial clash

AUSTRALIAN Army Thunder vs Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies Matthew Locke MG Charity rugby league match in Bellingen.

Community to again pay respects to fallen local hero at league event

Premier League's newest team faces FFA Cup challenge

HOT FAVOURITES: Coffs United is expected to progress through to the second round of the FFA Cup.

Grafton United faces reigning premier in first round FFA Cup clash.

Local Partners

Coffs kids kicking off with respect

Rugby players from the Australian Army Thunder team are in town and delivered a special program to schools ahead of their clash with the Bellingen Magpies.


REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

Messing with your head

MIND BLOWN: What could be weirder than the realisation that we have another completely separate brain and nervous system than the one originating in our heads?

Fascinating connection between your gut and your brain

Sir Elton John coming to Mackay: What you need to know

Sir Elton will come to Mackay and Cairns in September.

Tickets to the concert go on sale on March 14

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

A taste of the country life without the hard work

HERITAGE PARK: This home on the cover of the Real Estate Property Guide has everything you love about semi-rural living.

Get a taste of the country life without all the hard work

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!