PROSPECTIVE CONTESTANT: RIVER ADAN
AGE: 17 HEIGHT: 6'0"
EYES: BLUE HAIR: DARK BROWN
STUDENT, ONLINE EDUCATION, CLALLAM COUNTY, WASHINGTON
JAMES IRWIN, UNCLE
ELEANOR IRWIN, GRANDMOTHER
PARENTS DECEASED, ACCIDENTAL DEATH/CAR ACCIDENT
SECOND-ROUND INTERVIEW (EXCERPTS)
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY SUPERVISING PRODUCER GREGORY HITCHENS
HITCHENS: Now is the time in our interview when you can ask any nagging questions you might have for us.
RIVER: How much longer will all this take? I figured since you guys came to me, asked me to apply, there wouldn’t be this whole process.
HITCHENS: Well, there’s another interview, and the psych eval, and if you’re selected you’ll have the wilderness survival training. Though you hardly need it, you’ll have to participate in the training if you’re selected. Liability and all that. It’s fundamentals—fire starting, shelter building, that kind of thing. Should be a piece of cake for you. Otherwise, the selection process is variable. So, I’d guess another week and then we’ll do some paperwork.
RIVER: My uncle is the one who really wanted me to do this. I’m not so sure.
HITCHENS: He told us you’d be perfect for this when we spoke to him. And I have to say, your application is the best of the bunch. It’s good stuff, River. You’re not second-guessing, are you?
RIVER: I don’t know. We’re on camera the whole time?
HITCHENS: That’s right—our Skym cameras will follow your entire journey on the show, transmitting the whole thing in 3-D on a virtual-reality platform.
RIVER: So they’re, what, like a drone camera?
HITCHENS: Yes, but much more sophisticated. The Skym recognizes your face, your clothes, it zooms in and out with changes in your expression, and it’s programmed to stay with you at all times, no matter what.
RIVER: And the cameras are self-sustaining?
HITCHENS: They require very little maintenance. You only need to change out the solar battery chargers once a day, and charge the supplemental battery. They do the rest of the work.
RIVER: That contract said something about the show possibly taking a year. It’s a lot to think about.
HITCHENS: Yeah, there’s no set time frame. We’re not a traditional television show, we don’t have a network to answer to. We plan to stream on every media platform for as long as you kids stay out there surviving. And it’ll be hard, but think of the payoff. Not just the money—you’ll have great exposure. You’ll be famous.
RIVER: I don’t care about money. My parents had insurance. And I don’t want to be famous.
HITCHENS: I won’t lie, River. We want you on the show. But you’re right, it’s a commitment, and you need to figure out if it’s what you really want. You filled out the application, and you’ve come this far in the process. Why do all that? You must have your reasons.
RIVER: Why kids?
HITCHENS: Why what?
RIVER: Why kids? Everyone you recruited is under eighteen.
HITCHENS: Well, you’re not kids, exactly, are you? You’ll be eighteen in less than a year. But it’s part of the experiment. To observe what happens when young people are removed from civilization. Not only from the comforts and conveniences of the modern world, but also from the difficulties that society, and older people—people like me—created. Also, while the content of the show will be available traditionally, on televisions and computers, the audience also has the option of streaming the show on our new virtual-reality platform. The technology we’ll implant in the contestants means that their brain waves—yours, if you’re selected—will be transmitted through our new app. The audience won’t just be able to watch the show, they’ll be completely immersed in the experience—they’ll see what you see and hear what you hear, with our special cameras that record everything in 3-D. Frankly, the technology is most effective with a certain plasticity in the brain. The younger the recipient, the better it works. We cast young contestants, but only those mature enough to give it a go by themselves in the wilderness.
RIVER: Transmitting my brain waves sounds . . . invasive.
HITCHENS: It’s completely safe, nothing to worry about. Once you tap out, the ions will be neutralized. What they do, however, is give the audience a fully immersive experience. Your visual and auditory perception will be transmitted, through our 3-D application, into our Cut Off Experience visors. People wear these things, and let me tell you, River, it’s amazing. They get so caught up in the experience, they actually start thinking they can touch the world around them. It’s a real trick of the brain. We’re also expecting that a young audience is more likely to adopt our new technology, really live with it, you know? Your experience out there, in the wild, it’ll make them feel like they’re living it too. Groundbreaking stuff, River. So what are you thinking?
RIVER: Can I do it alone?
HITCHENS: Of course. Other contestants will end up working together, probably. It’ll give them an advantage. But there’s nothing that says you have to, if you don’t want.
RIVER: Yeah. I work better alone.
River Adan is thoughtful, but reserved. That’s where the risk in casting him lies. He’s not forthcoming, and unlikely to share his journey with the viewers in a way that allows them to emotionally connect. Honestly, his interaction with the Skym will likely produce more dead air than anything.
Our observations and psych profile, however, suggest something interesting beneath the surface that we’re hopeful will come out in the tense conditions the show will produce. The death of his parents has led him to become isolated. When he encounters other contestants (and of course we’ll ensure he will encounter others, despite his desire to work alone), we envision some entertaining outcomes.
Otherwise, he’s extremely competent. With his skills, there’s a better chance of him keeping the show going than some of the other contestants we’ve chosen so far. I’d put money on him sticking...