Ryan Thomason

The Colony Interviews: Reno Ministrelli

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First off, I’d like to thank Reno (and Discovery Channel for all their help in getting this together) for taking the time to answer my questions! We’re hoping to have more of the participants from The Colony to talk to soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

WPR) What was your favorite build?

My favorite build was definitely the Windmill. I loved working on that project. Regardless of how miserable I was living in such an unsanitary and unsecured environment I found peace in the Windmill. I bonded with it in a sense and I made it mine. There are not many things I could find happiness in the “post catastrophic” simulation but the creativity required to put that beautiful Windmill together was exactly the mind occupancy and goal I needed to stay focused and get through the experiment. Plus, the thing turned out really cool looking and worked as a metronome as we slept when it purred at night. The vibrations of the prop had a very pleasant roll through the house at night and it was very peaceful.

WPR) Do you keep in touch with any of your other Colonists?

The other Colonist and I talk, text, email, and facebook on a daily basis. It’s weird because the only people you can really talk about the experience with are the people you spent the time with. It is very difficult for the average viewer to understand exactly what we went through. Granted I watch the show and I am amazed how well the production team was able to cut everything together and I praise them for an excellent job. But, the bottom line is, unless you’ve been there, you don’t know. I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was. I lost almost 30lbs. That was scary for me; we were all scared at the way our bodies were changing.

WPR) It looked like leadership and security was an issue for a long time, why did it take so long (30 something days) to finally get addressed?

It was always an issue because nobody was experienced in any of the circumstances we were facing. We didn’t know how to react and we tried functioning as a Democracy. It clearly didn’t work; I personally knew it wasn’t going to work. We had to try and it had to be proven several times for everyone to agree we needed one leader. I was the person to bring the idea to the group’s attention at lunch. I knew when I brought it up I was automatically out of the running because nobody likes a power hungry teammate. I was just pulling for Sally at that point, she was the favorite and we were very close. I trusted her more than anyone else.

WPR) How hard was it to keep a mindset that this wasn’t totally real?

At times I would “snap out of it” but it became a game, and you had to want to be the best player of the game or it was going to eat you up. Of course I wanted to leave at times, second guessed why I volunteered, and wanted to kick myself in the ass for getting into that mess. When I looked around I had nowhere to go, nobody to call, no email to check, no texts, nobody letting you know they missed you or cared and I just dealt with it. The best way to deal with it and not think about the outside world was to allow yourself to get completely encompassed in the experiment. I knew I wanted to leave the experiment a better person, more knowledgeable, and hopefully better prepared.

WPR) What was the first thing you ate after the show was done?

EVERYTHING! I swear to God I ate everything. I remember the announcement of “THAT’S A WRAP!” and I couldn’t believe it. All of the sudden there was food: sandwiches, brownies, sodas, rice krispie treats, salad, cookies, fruit, EVERYTHING. I seriously ate so much food after we finished filming that I made myself sick. I was in the hotel with a stomach ache cursing myself for being so stupid and eating a bunch of crap. It was probably 3am and I woke up vomiting, cramps, some of the uneasy stomach pains and feelings I’ve ever had. It was awful, but I remember when I was eating all that food I was so happy. It was all worth the puking and other unmentionable flu like symptoms.

WPR) Did you have any kind of culture shock after going back to the real world?

I felt socially handicapped. Original Productions had a wrap party for us and it was my time to finally get to meet the camera guys, producers, basically all these people that knew every single detail about the last few months of my life and I didn’t know A SINGLE THING about them. What did I do? I forgot what kind of drink I wanted from the bar, was afraid to eat the food because I was sick all night the night before, and my outgoing self I once was went right back in the corner with my fellow colonist and we all kind of just talked to each other for the most part. The people I couldn’t wait to get away from while on set, were the people I was immediately drawn to in a bar filled with people.

It took a few weeks to get back in the swing of things in “The Real World” but I was back to work after a short vacation and visit with my family. I’m too antsy as it is. I couldn’t just sit around anymore, so I went back to work and I’m still back working full time.

WPR) Has anything about you changed that you owe to your time on The Colony?

So many small things have changed in my everyday life but most importantly my outlook on life has changed. It’s hard to explain, but I missed a lot of tangible little items every day: COLD water, shower, feeling clean, flossing my teeth, etc. The list can go on and on, but now I appreciate my dental floss so much more, and I do it more often. You have to try and understand that the world as you know it and everyone you know are completely taken away from you. You’re starting from scratch, with people you’ve never met, in a place you’ve never seen, and accomplished so much together. We chose to strive instead of survive, and I am so much more hopeful in life general because of it. It just goes to show that working together and putting differences aside creates so many positive opportunities.

WPR) What was the hardest thing you had to do/went through while on The Colony?

The hardest thing I dealt with besides the lack of food and security was definitely the lack of friendship. It was all work and very little play. I know I’m a very difficult person to deal with for those that don’t know me, but I felt misunderstood every day. I love to have fun, joke around, be sarcastic, poke fun at people, and make every day as enjoyable as possible. I guess some people didn’t get my humor or sarcasm and in order to keep the peace I had to adjust the way I spoke to people and dealt with situations. I was starved, I sliced my arm open, I was attacked, sleep deprived, dirty, you name it….and all I really wanted to do was just chill out and have a good time with some cool people that I didn’t really know outside of a work environment. Thankfully I was given a brief opportunity after filming to do so and I’ve built some great relationships.

WPR) Which Colonist surprised you the most with their change/turnaround during the experiment?

Everyone changed so much during the duration that it’s kind of hard to pinpoint one person. I know that some people embraced the opportunity more than others. I tried to encourage those that were limiting their involvement to take advantage of the situation but it because clear the people that let themselves truly live the experiment experienced the most change.

WPR) Would you do it all again?

IN A HEARTBEAT! Are you kidding me, as miserable as it was living there, I got do build some really cool sh*t and I might not ever have that creative opportunity again. To fabricate such amazing things out of scrap metal and parts from a HUGE array random things and put them together and serve a function, and to use resources with such efficiency and the very limited margin for error is a test of man/woman. It was such a rush and one of my proudest accomplishments. I am so fortunate to have been chosen for this experiment and I want to share my knowledge with the world.

Thank you Original Productions and THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!

Love,

Reno Ministrelli

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