The opportunity to enter the world of reality TV came a decade ago with an "out of the blue" phone call from Bunim-Murray Productions.
"We basically helped them set up their first 'Real World' house for MTV," says Thompson.
Since then, Wexler has created solutions for a multitude of "Real World" challenges, specializing in creating the unobtrusive technology required for the show.
"In a recent episode, they took a bunch of kids into a spooky, dark, abandoned prison in which we put 45 cameras," says Thompson. "It worked real well, so well in fact that a few of the kids fled in the first few hours," says Thompson.
John Murray, president of Bunim-Murray Productions, has high praise for Wexler.
"Not only have we needed equipment, but answers and new ideas as well," Murray says. "We've learned so much together that going with someone else now would be like getting a divorce."
Wexler has provided equipment and expertise for many other reality TV shows, including "Eco Challenge," "Bug Juice for Disney," "Road Rules" and the highly successful "Cops."
Back on Palau Tiga, video photographer Biff Bracht and his wife Alicia Alexander spent the entire two months with the Survivor contestants.
"Wexler's equipment was great stuff," says Bracht. "It really took a beating and held up under the most brutal conditions."
Today, Wexler is considered one of the largest privately owned video equipment rental houses in the United States, with 82 employees and annual revenues of $17 million. That is expected to jump to between $20 million and $22 million next year, with more than half of that total coming from reality TV accounts.
"Our revenues have been increasing about 25 percent each year," says Joel Ordesky, vice president of operations for Wexler.
"The 'Survivor' job for CBS was 10 one-week rates, basically $45,000 times 10."
Wexler Video was asked by Survivor Productions to create equipment for its "Survivor II" series in the Australian outback, but turned down the opportunity.
"There are so many reality-based shows in this area that I see no reason to put our stuff through those rigors again," says Thompson. k
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