CNN airing short film that’s partly about TP and this community

Just wrote up details on the blog, but wanted to share here too. Premiers on CNN’s TV channel this Saturday Aug 7th. First airing at 9pm ET, second at 9pm PT.

We were excited to participate in this — we got multiple of our families together and spent many days with the crew — because it was pitched as a serious look at how rational people from all walks of life are taking steps to be more self reliant. 

Tune in… at worst, you’ll have plenty of ways to make fun of me and others on the team 🙂

Edit: I just saw the film and it’s much better than the crappy marketing made it seem. I hate that it’s anchored around bunkers. But it starts off focusing on the “community” part of a bunker community. Then I/TP come in to say that bunkers are way down the priority list, how the community is growing and diverse, there are sane steps everyone can take without moving to a rural bunker, etc.

I think CNN’s marketing dept (separate from the actual filmmakers) have this idea that they’ll hook in people with the “bunker porn” and then by the end of the show they’ve expanded their horizons. Not the approach I would take — especially anchoring the narrative around bunkers — but it’s one of the better attempts at this that I’ve seen on mainstream media.


  • Comments (34)

    • 5

      Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be sure to watch it this Saturday.

    • 6

      Good morning John,

      Thank you for this info re CNN and the TP community.

      I just briefed my kids about it.

      Don’t worry – Viewers who are not acidheads and drunks know that CNN occassionally “flavors” material.

    • 5

      Thanks for letting us know, John, I’ll definitely watch it.  Thanks for all your great articles and helpful information!

    • 6

      I’ve got it set to record.  However, anything with bunker in the title has me worried.  IMO, it is a tiny, fringe element of preppers that believe having a bunker is the only way to survive a crisis… yet that is all the media wants to show.  Be nice if they could concentrate on maybe Mormons and their desire to keep extra stores of food.  How about regular folks that enjoy gardening and food preservation.  But no, those folks are boring.  Folks that want to hide underground make better TV.

    • 5

      Cool—lookin’ forward to seeing this.  

    • 2

      CNN John CNN, hang your head in shame mate 🙂  Besides we cannot get it in the UK.

    • 5

      Good for you for taking the time to work with the CNN crew. Whatever way it turns out, you may reach new people and help them step in a better direction.

    • 2

      Neat! It’s nice to see they interviewed you guys, considering this is one of the few preparedness websites that’s really down to earth.
      Though, considering this is CNN we’re talking about, I’m afraid I’ll have to turn down on watching it. Not because of it being preparedness, far from it! Instead it’s because you know how the media portrays preparedness. Instead of people that store extras of food they eat, they focus on those with a bunch of MREs, or people with their whole house being nothing but a garden with no electricity instead of those with a small backyard garden.
      With a name like ‘Bunker Boom: Better Safe Than Sorry’ and the description I just found on the schedule portion of CNN’s website, I can’t help but think it’ll be that kind of portrayal.

      • 4

        I saw the film yesterday and it’s much better than the title/trailer/marketing make it seem.

        But I feel ya about CNN. They aren’t the boogeyman that alt-righters make them out to be, but I definitely don’t agree with how Jeff Zucker has jumped on the bandwagon of “turning news into sports” (by his own admission).

        This is an example. The CNN marketing team didn’t even watch the film before titling it and making the trailer — they just went with sensationalist cliche garbage.

        The film starts off looking at a bunker community, focusing on the “community” elements of it. Then I/TP come in, saying that bunkers are way down the list of what rational people should be doing, etc. Then we talk about things in general.

        So it’s not a perfect film, but it does cram a lot into 25 minutes, taking people from standard cliches to “oh, maybe I should prep and the cliches were wrong” at the end. Hopefully.

        Because after all, we’re trying to convince people not already here, and sometimes you have to tailor the message in such a way that they’ll listen ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • 3

      Just saw the film with you guys in it. Really well done and reignited my prepping desire. 

    • 3

      I echo Mike’s comments.  I really enjoyed the film and I like that preppers were portrayed as regular people who want to take care of themselves and their families.  Everyone seemed very relatable and interesting.

    • 3
    • 3

      The short documentary was well done. Thank you to everyone who participated. It helped to see kids and family life and homes and nature to provide context and reassurance that the participants were really grounded in reality yet working to make things better for themselves and their loved ones. The film maker wrote a nice opinion piece available yesterday on the CNN website. I’ll see if I can find the link and post it.

    • 3

      I really didn’t care for it.  The folks they talked with, especially the TP guys, all seemed rational.  However, I’m afraid the main takeaway from the film will once again paint preppers as irrational.  That being because they greatly focused on bunkers and the vast majority of Americans think such a life is irrational.  Hell, the vast majority of preppers think that life is irrational.   I sure do.

      What percent of preppers live in a bunker?  What percent even want to live in a bunker?  IMO, that percent is tiny, yet here again we have a story about preppers and what do they want to talk about?  Bunkers.  What do they picture more than anything else?  Rows & rows of bunkers.

      The filmmaker even stated, “Reality TV seeks the most extreme or fringe behavior, so I knew that impression couldn’t be particularly accurate.”  But what does she do?  She concentrates, and names the film, about bunkers.  Do you not think hiding away in a bunker is not fringe behavior of preppers?  I believe each to his own, so if you want to live in a bunker… go for it.  However, please don’t paint the picture that this is the typical prepper lifestyle.  IMO, the TP guys attempted to give some balance but they always went back to the bunker folks.

      Ask someone what the film was about, they won’t mention the lifestyle of 99.9% of preppers.  They will state it is about strange folks wanting to live out in the middle of nowhere… in bunkers.

      • 2

        I agree with your points, but want to defend the filmmaker Arianna LePenne and her crew, who was separate from CNN. She had a legit vision to tell a truthful story about rational preppers — which was the whole reason I agreed to join, whereas we turn most stuff down.

        But CNN paid for it and ultimately edited and marketed it towards the bunker crap, including picking the name.

        If I had known how much of the film would be framed by / anchored around the bunker stuff, I wouldn’t have participated. The bunker crap distracts too much from the needed messages. And out of the three full days of filming we did, probably < 2% of it was talking about bunkers.

        For example, we can and should be improving existing communities to make them more resilient and hardened! No need to move out to a field of bunkers in a very rural area. 

        I hope the filmmakers take the footage and turn it into more of a feature-length doc that isn’t about bunkers. There’s a chance they do that now that CNN got their clickbait eyeballs.

      • 2

        Maybe she had good intentions, but if so, why even spend time in a bunker community?  She even stated in the opinion piece, “So, I went looking for something different: people who challenged the stereotype.”  Well, I’m wondering, if you want to challenge the stereotype, why film or talk with folks living in bunkers?  Is that not exactly the stereotype she states she wanted to ignore?

      • 3

        I see your point. What comes to mind, however, is that the short documentary was introduced as being the first (?) in a series of short documentaries about community. I think the stereotype challenged was that preppers want to be off somewhere by themselves, whether in a bunker or not. The documentary showed that preppers want to be in community and care about community welfare.

      • 2

        good point

      • 2

        Yes, her thinking was showing that “even people moving into bunkers are focused on community” and “they aren’t as crazy or extremist as you might think.”

        Not necessarily saying I agree with the approach — as you say Redneck, the very presence of bunkers in the story skews the narrative’s center of gravity in a way we don’t like. But at least she was trying to bust stereotypes within that realm, given the money (CNN) mandated some of it have the bunker porn.

    • 5

      If your interested in this aspect of survivalism and prepping I can highly reccomend the book BUNKER by Bradley Garrett,  its just out.

      • 2

        Agreed. We had a nice interview with Dr. Garrett last year, he was the other guest with me on this recent NPR interview, and he’s around this community sometimes 🙂

      • 4

        Yes I am indeed here lurking, John 😀 That interview was so much fun, but I was WAY over-caffeinated. I’m glad you were there as the voice of calm.  

      • 3

        Thank you so much for recommending my book, Bill! Writing the book was certainly an education for me, it’s changed the way I live my life. 

      • 2

        @Brad what was the biggest life change? (Tangible or spiritual, doesn’t matter)

      • 2

        It was my pace that changed. I was moving too fast, consuming too much, living too close to the edge. I didn’t realise how precarious my life was until I slowed down and realised that my pace was controlling my trajectory. It simply wasn’t sustainable. 

      • 3

        Sir your book has changed MANY  peoples ( preppers) lives, sadly most of whom  wont meet or do interviews with  writers or journos because as you are aware they are obsessed with Opsec.

        I only hope you do a second book on the Homesteader/ Offgridder/ Smallholder preppers who are far more numerous than Bunker preppers.

        if you are still teaching in Eire be aware there is a thriving homesteader community there.

        I have been following authors on prepping going back to 1980 with authors like Mel Tappan, Col Jeff Cooper, Ragnar Benson, C Bruce Sibley etc, Your book now sits alongside their works.

        Respects from the UK.

      • 1

        Cheers Bill! I am very aware of how much more sustainable life is in Ireland when I drive through Wicklow – pastures and farm everywhere. Even landing at the Dublin airport, you see horses grazing next to the runway. I guess this is why it was ranked one of the top 5 places to weather a collapse by The Guardian recently (along with the UK – which I’m not sure I agree with after living there for a decade!).

        Do you have Duncan Campbell’s War Plan UK in your collection? It’s rare, and about Cold War government preparation, but it’s an incredible piece of investigative journalism. Also, don’t Richard Mitchell’s Dancing at Armageddon!    

        In fact, maybe we can ask John whether we can get a books and article archive going here? I have a nice pile of (mostly academic) material. 

      • 2

        You should have spent time in the north of England Sir, from Wensleydale to Tynedale and all the east Pennine dales between, its perfect for homesteading / off gridding etc. Indeed people were recently exploring the concept for an entire eco village in Weardale using geothermal energy.

        Yup War Plan is essential reading in the UK for us old Cold War Survivalists:)

        I’m up for a reference list of both Reference and Fiction, I include fiction because in many cases the scenarios in the stories can help people consider threats and options easier.

        Here is my list, first factual/ reference

        Factual and reference

        Archery Steps to Success. Hayward / Lewis
        Bunker Dr Bradley Garrett 9780-241-336014

        Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers   N J McCamley
        Build the perfect survival kit 0-87349-967-0
        The Survivalists Patrick Rivers 0-413-31650-5
        Earth Shock Basil Booth & Frank Fitch 0-7221-1778 7
        The Nuclear Survival Handbook Barry Popkess
        Tappan on Survival Mel Tappan 0-916172-04-x
        Survival guns Mel Tappan
        The Survival Retreat Ragnar Benson 0-87364-275-9
        The Modern Survival Retreat Ragnar Benson 0-87364-980-x

        Dancing at Armageddon Richard G Mitchell

        War Plan UK  Duncan Campbell 009150671-9

        The Survival Nurse Ragnar Benson 1-58160-075-5
        Apocalypse Tomorrow Duncan Long 0-87947-089-5
        When Technology Fails Mathew Stein 1-57416-047-8
        The Coming Global Superstorm Bell and Strieber 0-7434-0888-8

        How to live Off –Grid Nick Rosen 978-0-385-61127-5
        Life after doomsday Bruce D Clayton 0-87364-175-2
        Surviving Doomsday C Bruce Sibley 07219-0780-6
        Outdoor Survival guide Hugh Mc Manners 0-7513-0644-4
        Travel Vans John Speed 99920-1-158-0 (The book for building BOVs)
        SAS Survival guide ( pocket size) John lofty Wiseman 0-00-470167-4 Beneath the City Streets, Peter Laurie: 0586050558                               When All Hell Breaks Loose Cody Lundin (VERY VERY American)

        TRAVEL VANS John Speed (Building BOVs/SUVs/ Campers)

        EMERGENCY POWER FOR RADIO COMMUNICATIONS 978-0-872-615-3 by Michael Bryce 

      • 2

        Here is my library of Fictional material.


        Book list factual and fictional. One set for reference and planning, the other set for mental preparation of how to handle likely scenarios.

        Aftermath, Charles Sheffield (Very Good)
        After Doomsday, Poul Anderson
        Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (Hard to grasp)
        Alas Babylon, Pat Frank (Truly a superb classic)
        Amerikan sunset, Jennifer Ladewig (Drivel)
        A Wrinkle in the skin, John Christopher (A character essay )
        Black Sun, Robert Leininger Very good
        Blood Crazy, Simon Clark
        Crabs, Guy Smith
        Comet, (The) Robert Charles Very Good
        Damnation Alley, Roger Zelazny Better than the movie
        Day after Tomorrow, (The) Whitley Strieber

        Day by Day Armageddon J L Bourne (SUPERB BOOK)
        Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
        Death of Grass, John Christopher
        Deathlands, Jack Adrian
        Deluge, Fowler Wright

        Deluge, Richard Doyle
        Drought ,(The) JG Ballard thought provoking
        Drowned world, (The) JG Ballard interesting
        Down to a sunless sea, (either version) David Graham (Truly great, another classic)
        Earth Abides, George R Stewart 2nd only to Alas Babylon
        Earth Winter, Richard Moran
        Eternity Road, Jack McDevitt Interesting future shock
        Empire of Ice, Richard Moran

        Empty World John Christopher
        Famine, Graham Masterson

        Flood, Richard Doyle
        Freeman, (The) Jerry Ahern
        Heavy Weather, Bruce Sterling
        Ice, Arnold Federbush depressing
        Icefire, Judith & Garfield Reeth Stevens entertaining
        Ice Quake, John R Spencer
        Kraken Wakes, (The) John Wyndham
        Last Ranger, (The) Craig Sargeant ( Rambo wannabe crap)

        Living is Forever J Edwin Carter
        Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. (Becoming a classic)

        Long voyage back, Luke Rhineheart( In the top ten of all time )
        Long Loud Silence, ( The) Wilson Tucker
        Last ship, (The) William Brinkley
        Malevil, Robert Merle
        Moonfall, Jack Mc Devitt
        Night of the Triffids, Simon Clark (Good follow on from Day of the Triffids)
        New Madrid Run, (The) Micheal Reisig
        On the beach, Neville Shute
        Out of the Ashes, ( Ashes series) William W Johnstone
        Plague 99, Jean Ure

        Plague of the dead (The Morningstar Saga) Z A Recht
        Patriots, James Wesley Rawles ( A Brilliant piece of work)
        Postman, (The) David Brin

        Resurrection Day Brendan Dubois
        Rift, (The) Walter J Williams
        Savage Dawn, Robert Cole
        Shiva Descending, Gregory Benford
        Some will not die, Algis Budrys
        Stand, (The) Stephen King

        Survivors Terry Nation ( British Classic)
        Survivalist, (The) series Jerry Ahern
        Third Pandemic, (The) Pierre Ouellette
        This is the way the world ends, James Morrow

        Thunder & Ashes (Morningstar Saga) Z A Recht
        Virus, Japanese Author ( lost from my collection)
        When the City stopped, Joan Phipson
        Wild Shore ( The) Kim Stanley Robinson Deep stuff

        World in Winter ( The) John Christopher
        Year of the quiet sun, Wilson Tucker Suprisingly Good
        48, James Herbert
        8.4, Peter Hernon good read
        28 Days Later, Alex Garland
        299 Days the Preparation, Glen Tate ( My book of the year for 2014)

        All good reading stuff for making your mind more accessible to the possibilities and permutations

        Most of these books are very thought provoking and make you think about some issues you otherwise may have overlooked.

        My Favourites are ALAS BABYLON, Patriots, and Day By Day Armageddon

      • 3

        I read a little summary of that book Bill and it does sound interesting. I’m going to give it a listen to on Audible.

      • 3

        Prolly one on the fairest, balanced and reasonably impartial works available that cover our community / sub culture. There has not been a good one for at least 15 years.

      • 2

        Thanks Olly, the narrator for the audiobook, Adam Sims, is fantastic. He also read Donna Tartt’s a Secret History, which is one of my favorite novels. So I was delighted he was available! 

      • 3

        The narrator for the audiobook, Adam Sims, is fantastic. He also narrated Donna Tartt’s novel A Secret History, one of my favorites, so I was stoked he was available!