Tooma boy Alo Baker is one of the stars of Foxtel’s new show, ‘Aussie Dreamlivers,’ that sees him and two mates head off into the Alaskan wilderness with a 4WD and a bunch of cameras searching for adventure.
They encounter grizzlies, glaciers and guns, and film it all for viewers back home, learning the process of documentary filmmaking as they go.
“We we’re sitting in Maccas in remote parts of Alaska googling how to do camera settings and things for different shots,” he laughed.
“So we had lots of fun, and also spent lots of time on YouTube looking at online tutorials on how to do use cameras and how to use editing software. That took a long time – we filmed this in 2014. To be honest, I watch it now and I still think it looks like a pretty rough job, but Foxtel were like, ‘we love it!’”
Alo first fell in love with Alaska on a “fairly typical” gap year trip around America back in 2010. After umming and ahhing with good mate Jonny Hibbard about going back, eventually they bit the bullet and decided to just wing it.
After dozens of emails sent to every TV network they could think of, the pair, along with cameraman “Gimley,” landed the backing of National Geographic.
Nat Geo supported them with equipment and advice, and helped them find a home for their show. Alo reckons his background in radio, which he’s been working in for ten years, helped him sell the idea – but mostly, it was a matter of persistence.
“I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card, but I really believe that if you work hard then good things will happen,” he said.
Their appetite for risk-taking didn’t hurt either.
Alo recalled one particularly hair-raising experience, that almost saw them come face-to-face with two aggressive male grizzly bears.
“At one point we were hiking on a trail and there was a mountain bike lying in the middle of the trail by itself – which is super random,” he said.
“The bike tyre was shredded, it was mangled. We walk up the trail another few metres, and there’s a guy on the ground on the foetal position as we walk around a bend in the road. This guy jumps up, saying ‘Are you guys alright? Did you see the bears?’ And we were like, ‘what bears?’.
“He tells us that ten minutes earlier he was riding along the track with his mate. A bear’s come up between him and his mate and another one has come up behind him, these two massive male bears. He’s locked up the brakes on his bike, and he’s gotten off and slowly walked backwards while the bears are grunting at them. So he’s retreated, and the bears have chewed the tyre off the bike in that time, and then we walked past only minutes later.
“A lot of things went wrong – at one point we ran out of fuel, and we managed to get the RV to a petrol station and the petrol station had a big sign up saying ‘Out of Fuel.’ The sunroof falls off the RV at one point, one of the guys crashed it inside a tunnel and blew out tyres…but we had a great time!”
Alo is hoping a few people from the region are able to watch the show.
His parents, Rosanne and Richard Baker, certainly will be – although in segments like the above one, he might be wishing they weren’t! Now that the show is ready to go and about to air, Alo has a pretty clear idea of what his next priority should be:
“I can’t wait to get back and have a lamo at the Tumba Bakery!” he said.
The first episode of Aussie Dreamlivers airs Thursday, October 4, at 7.30pm on A&E.