‘Hunted Australia’: How They Make the Show With TV Magic and “Simulated Accuracy”

Hunted Ben Owens

Hunted Australia is back, and 10 new pairs of Fugitives are about to attempt to disappear without a trace. The aim of the game is for them to evade capture for 21 days. But with the Hunters on their trail, it’s no easy feat.

The Hunters are some of the world’s best investigators, and leading them is The Chief, aka Former Detective Superintendent Dr David Craig. There are Hunters from the Australian Federal Police, Australian Defence Force and British Intelligence, as well as cyber analysts, forensic psychologists, special ops and private security. Using their expertise and replicated powers of state, Team Hunter is ready for anything.

Another problem the Fugitives have? The camera crew following their every move, which doesn’t exactly make for a smooth getaway.

The camera crew became a sticking point for viewers last year, with many wanting to know the answer to one simple question: Is Hunted fake?

Well, we have some answers for you.

TV Tonight spoke to Deputy Intelligence Ben Owen, and the answers definitely clear things up a little.

How Does Hunted Work? Is Hunted Fake?

How the Hunters Access CCTV Footage

Owen hesitated to explain “the exact mechanics of how it works”, but he did say that the show is “simulating, replicating real life”.

“If our fugitive gets on a train, we as Hunters have to confirm that there is CCTV on the train before we request it,” he said. “If we don’t request it, we don’t get it.”

Owen went on to say that they are “able to access” the CCTV footage, “but only if [they’re] in the right place, at the right time, with the right time parameters and confirm there are cameras there.”

He added: “Obviously we can’t get access to real live CCTV and stuff… but I just want to stress again, we’re not given it free.”

Do the Hunters Have to Ignore the Camera Operators?

Yes, but Owen said that it’s actually not something that comes into play as much as you might expect.

“If you think of the size and the ground that we’ve got to cover, if we’re in the right place at the right time, and we happen to see their camera operator, I think we’ve done pretty well,” he said.

Adding that “they’re named covert camera operators for a reason”, Owen said that the camera people are “incredible at their job”.

“They will be blending into the background and making sure they’re out of the way,” he explained.

The camera crew, Owen said, is definitely not tipping the Hunters off on the locations of the Fugitives, though. Quite the opposite, actually.

“As we were filming this one we had some camera operators say ‘I had to hide’,” he recalled. “So even if they see us, they’ll be hiding out of the way, making sure we don’t see them. And one thing we absolutely can’t do, for professionalism and for fairness, is that we would never use any production assets to the benefit of the hunt.”

Is Hunted Staged? The “Simulated Accuracy” of Hacking the Fugitives’ Phones

Again, it’s all about “simulated accuracy”, Owen said.

While he didn’t say how much access they actually had to the Fugitives phones, he did stress that it was “completely accurate to what would happen in the real world”.

He explained: “In the real world of course, law enforcement could be looking at your banking history,” he said.

“Who do you pay direct debits to? Who’s your phone provider? Is there another person you pay money to and could that be a close associate? So we go back months and months and months. In the real world obviously, we’d go back for years.”

As for how they actually get access, Owen said simply that “there’s ways and means” of doing so.

“Of course, if we couldn’t legitimately get into a phone through a law enforcement or intelligence agency, then subpoenas and warrants [would be] submitted to the phone provider, and you’d get access,” he said. “So one way or another, we can get access, whether that’s quickly and we can do it ourselves, or whether it’s a bit longer, again it’s simulated accurately.”

Hunted Australia airs at 7.30pm, Sunday — Tuesday each week, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand. Miss an episode? Catch up on 10 Play.

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