We had an opportunity to chat with Jax about, Missing in Alaska.
How did you become involved with History's Missing in Alaska TV show?
It was actually a complete accident. I came across the advertisement but it was very vague. I had heard there was a reality show looking for a private investigator for a show out in the Superstition Mountains (north east of Phoenix) so I kind of assumed that is what it was for. I submitted everything they asked for and was talking to a buddy about it. He was nice enough to let me sarcastically know that the dead line for submitting was two weeks prior. I thought “Oh well” but believe it or not, that night I got a call… make that three calls and the next day had a couple skype interviews. That was pretty much that. I was apparently exactly what they were looking for. A month or so later they flew fellow cast member, Ken Gerhard, and I out to LA and a few weeks after, we were in Alaska hitting the ground running with Tommy Joseph on our investigations.
How has your extensive investigative experience and law enforcement background helped you on the show?
Whenever you are in strenuous situations physically and mentally, it is always what is deep inside that gets you through! My training and experience was deeply beneficial for a couple reasons. First dealing with extreme weather, terrain, risks, and dangers added to the need to keep on task for our investigations was a real challenge. Having as fast of response times mentally and physically was very important in those situations and to not react properly could be costly…as in costly with your life or your teams’ lives.
Secondly, as more of the take charge kind of guy, my role was really important in keeping us true to our investigative process and focused on tasks at hand. It is really easy to get distracted by so many things coming at you. Being cynical about the things we were looking into helped also. It is very easy to want to believe but you have to have the pieces there to get a definitive answer and not give into the rush of the moment.
We were very fortunate to have Tommy Joseph as part of our investigative team. Tommy has so much knowledge about native history, ancestry, folklore, etc. That brought a lot of significant clout to our team and showed a lot of people that were weren’t just some crazy big foot hunters running around in the woods.
The other thing to remember is Alaska is a huge place. Texas and California can fit into it land mass wise. There is significant difference in climates, terrains, native Alaskan tribes and pretty much everything from area to area we would be investigating which meant dealing with different people who live vastly different from their neighboring people.
I feel for the most part we were largely successful in being accepted while we worked, but even more importantly, got the respect of many, which helped get us leads and make the investigations that much better.
What is the filming schedule like for the show?
Filming was intense. There was not a lot of down time. We were constantly working, which is good! Each investigation probably took us about 40 hours of “film”. That didn’t include the drive time or the preparation needed for each episode. Each episode took us about a week to film. We would work close to 6 days a week and would be working close to 15 hours a day at a time. So much more went into these episodes than hit the air!
Do you have time to investigate the episode's topic before filming?
Yes, in the downtime we had during the week, we would be working on researching/investigating the information for the next week’s episode. This was extremely important because it kept us moving constantly and not completely starting an investigation from scratch. Each time we would be coming into the investigation with a lot of knowledge of what we were doing and sometimes even a good plan in place for that investigation.
Is there a particular episode of "Missing in Alaska" you are most looking forward to filming?
I can’t really pick which one episode was my favorite. To be honest, as I’ve seen them on TV for the first time, the investigations that were my least favorite to film were my favorite episodes to watch when they aired. In reference to that, I’d have to say investigating Gnomes and Killer Monkeys were my favorite “final product” to watch on TV. Each episode had so much adventure and incredible scenery to be filming in which makes it so hard to decide! I mean how do you decide from being helicoptered on top of mountains, exploring ice caves, riding snow mobiles, or how about just the inherent adrenaline rush that comes with what we were investigating!
Each episode was so unique that I’m going to have to be cliché and say they all were my favorite due to the bond my team had and the amazing experiences we had together!
What do you hope viewers will take away from watching Missing in Alaska?
My hope is that with all the silly reality shows that are out there that our show gives both sides of the aisle something to hold onto. The things we are investigating can be considered “out there” by some, including me, but our team gives a very factual account that lets the viewer be entertained while being educated at the same time into something that is plausible. The unknown is entertaining enough but throw in probably the most adventurous place in the planet, “Missing in Alaska” becomes a real fun ride!
In my hope I envision two people sitting on couch. One wants to believe in whatever we are investigating and the other is a skeptic. They watch the show and are not only entertained but have fun and discuss what they are seeing. This is really what the show is all about!
JAX MENEZ ATWELL OFFICIAL LINKS
MISSING IN ALASKA
ABOUT HISTORY'S "MISSING IN ALASKA"
The Alaska Triangle, a region in northwest Alaska, has more unsolved missing person cases than anywhere else in the world. Over 20,000 people have vanished in the past 50 years alone. Who or what’s behind these cases is unknown. Some believe it’s the work of local predators or simply the rugged, dangerous terrain, but legends thrive in Alaska, and the ominous history of disappearances in the area has drawn comparisons to the Bermuda Triangle. Working together with local experts and eyewitnesses, our team of investigators will go case-by-case to gather evidence, conduct tests, examine history and explore local myths to determine the most viable explanation for the disappearances, all while trying to understand the sinister mystery that is the Alaska Triangle.