The Hero films testing television in Panama City with Dwayne Johnson
Reality TV series The Hero filmed on location in Panama City for its first-season run. Hosted by action movie star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, the show puts a group of contestants through a series of physical and moral challenges as they play for a cash prize.
Filming locations within the US, South America and also in South-East Asia were initially on the list as potential filming locations for US network TNT and production company Five by Five Media. However, after four days scouting in Panama City, the production team decided to film the entire show in the Central American country, working with local servicing company Panama Films and with the support of Panama Film Commission.
"Being that this was a first-season show," says Co-Executive Producer Joe Coleman, "we wanted to land in a location that was close enough to the US that would allow us to have the option to bring in last-minute crew, gear and support, yet still fill the vision of something exotic and different that our audience wouldn't expect and haven't seen before."
“In a short period of time they already had locations for all the episodes with all locations close one to each other,” explains Anel Moreno of Panama Films: “This was very important to the format of the show because they had to start every morning in the cast house, go on to the challenges and back home all in one day and sometimes we filmed two challenges in one day.
The producers wanted to find locations that the audience and contestants wouldn't expect and that showed off Panama in a way never before seen.
Anel Moreno, Panama Films
“The staff presented a first brief of possible challenges on location and they decided to stay longer in Panama. They never went to the other countries.”
Moreno was concerned about the practicality of some of the planned action scenes because while Panama Films specialises in full production services, these don't normally include stunt work. However, the production brought its own team of skilled pilots and stunt co-ordinators to work alongside Panama Films.
"The Hero had more than 20 locations that ranged from the heart of the city to the depths of the jungles and everything in between," Coleman comments, "so you could imagine that with that number of locations we would pretty much see the best the country has to offer."
The full shoot encompassed caves, mountains and jungle environments, but most of the locations were within a 90-minute drive of the city centre.
“The producers wanted to find locations that the audience and contestants wouldn't expect and that showed off Panama in a way never before seen,” Moreno adds.
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