Namibia filming for MTV’s The Challenge
MTV filmed on location in Namibia in south-western Africa for its structured reality adventure series The Challenge: War of the Worlds.
The Namibia shoot marked the show’s 33rd season on MTV. Since its launch in 1998, the producers have filmed all over the world, setting physical challenges for a varied cast of reality genre stars – who compete for cash prizes – while also making the drama of their on-set relationships part of the show.
Namibia provided select locations for an earlier series of the show in 2012 and executive producer Justin Booth kept in touch with Guy Nockels, the CEO of Namibian service company Namib Film.
“We have the desert with endless dunes, river canyons and next to it the sea,” says Nadia van den Heever, a production manager with Namib Films. “[MTV] needed all types of locations for different challenges and we were lucky that they chose Namibia for this reason.”
The show filmed on Namibia’s coast between the city of Swakopmund and in Walvis Bay to the south.
Producers also secured approval to use locations in Dorob National Park, north of Swakopmund, as the region offered a selection of harsher locations suitable for the show’s various physical challenges.
The production team built physical endurance sets at dune locations in the park. Access proved a challenge as the sets were about 12 miles from their Swakopmund production base.
“We worked with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism,” says van den Heever.
“[They] visited the site on a regular basis to ensure that we adhered to the rules. We made sure to have designated roads and parking areas to avoid extra tracks in the sand.
Unseasonal weather worked against the team when a set built in a dry riverbed flooded as the result of a rare inland cloudburst, but a new location and set were secured in time for filming.
“Once the show wrapped, we did a rehabilitation of all the locations, ensuring that any signs of civilisation had been removed from the national park,” says van den Heever.
Shooting lasted around six weeks with 24-hour shoot days as the crew also had to capture the conflicts between the cast members as they regrouped between challenges.
The Challenge team hired some of their ancillary equipment locally, but otherwise imported most of their production kit from the US.
Namibia is best known in recent years for hosting George Miller’s dystopian action movie Mad Max: Fury Road and Tom Cruise’s film version of The Mummy.
For Mad Max, Miller shot car chase stunt work in the country’s deserts for around 120 days with stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. Tom Cruise and director Alex Kurtzman doubled locations near Swakopmund for Iraq and Egypt, building a collapsible town set for war zone action sequences.
See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Namibia.