We’ve loved Extreme Engagement here at Reality Titbit. The show combines all the visual beauty of a David Attenborough doc with the relationship drama of your favourite reality series… a dream combo!
Since it dropped on Netflix on Friday, July 12th the show has proven a hit with viewers. This observational doc sees real-life marital drama meet sensational globetrotting as the show’s creators, PJ Madam and Tim Noonan, put it all together effortlessly.
We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with PJ and Tim about how they made the show, some of their favourite bits and whether the whole thing is 100% real.
Extreme Engagement is unlike any other show we’ve ever seen.
Where the F did the idea come from?
Tim Noonan: “Before Extreme Engagement, I’d filmed a documentary series called Boy to Man, where I put myself through male initiations in remote tribes around the world.
It took two years to film and PJ was back home in Australia. I missed her so much but we hadn’t spent a lot of time together despite being engaged.
We couldn’t stomach being apart any longer so we planned to go back out into the wild together and put ourselves through marriage rituals of other cultures.”
Was it a collaborative idea or did one of you need more convincing?
PJ Madam: “We both came to the same conclusion. I knew to the end of Boy to Man that Tim was thinking like this but he didn’t have to convince me at all. Make no mistake, I wasn’t dragged along.
It seemed like the best way to road test our relationship and also simply be together. And man, did we spend 24 hours, seven days a week together!”
Was a trip around the world ever in your plans as a couple?
T: “I’d always hoped we’d be able to travel together and combine our passions for filming. We always knew it was going to be hard, but I think we both totally underestimated how far it would push us on every level.
I think counselling might be a cheaper option for any couples thinking about doing the same thing!”
Let’s talk about how you created the show.
How much planning went into the trip? Was it or real… as some people said that the show looks fake!
Reality TV is generally scripted & or navigated by a production team; no matter what people tell/sell you. But nothing I've ever watched is a fake as #ExtremeEngagement
— Beets by Schrute (@couchsurfer99) July 26, 2019
T: “We would be constantly surprised by suggestions from the locals and blown away by what mother nature had in store for us. Of course, we tried to plan with the locals to map out some specific rituals but things would change daily.
PJ: “The egg cracking in episode 3 comes to mind in Papua New Guinea. People ask me if the baby chick in the egg was staged. Absolutely NO way!
We later discovered that some local boys found six more eggs in that fowl nest and not one of them had a chick inside. Just ours.”
So nothing was fake or scripted?
T: “We had no shooting script… sometimes we didn’t even know the people we’d be living with.
We’d literally land in a location and whatever we started arguing about naturally ended up being the theme of the episode!”
Was it just the two of you shooting the series?
T: “This series is unique in that it was just PJ and me shooting the entire series along with our best mate, Jimmy Hamilton. Ordinarily, a show like this might have about a 10-person crew.
A year’s worth of footage sure is a lot… how did the editing process work?
PJ: “We had a post-production team back in Sydney who were editing while we were travelling.
We only got back about six months ago and because it’s such a highly personalised show, we joke that the team became our ‘counsellors’ while we were out there on the road.”
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