By February 20, 2012 Read More →

Phil Burns from Meet the Preppers on Animal Planet Discusses the Show

It has been an interesting 48 hours for all of us who were in Meet the Preppers, namely my family, watching the responses has been educational and enlightening – and frustrating and unsettling.

Phil Burns Intro

But let’s start with an introduction – I’m Phil Burns, the father of 8 on Meet the Preppers.  I’m a co-owner of The American Preppers Network and one of the original founders of Utah Preppers in 2008, which was started before the APN.  I’ve been involved with the American Preppers Network since it was founded, I have a weekly podcast on Prepping,  and have around 80 youtube videos on Prepping and related topics.  I’ve also had several articles published, most recently in Survivalist magazine.

And I’ve seen people stating that I know nothing about Prepping and that I’m a fake.  I’ll let you decide, you can read all the specific details about me here.  Meanwhile, I’d like to give you a bit of history about how the show came to be.

Meet the Preppers Background

I was contacted by a production company who represented Animal Planet over a year ago.  They had been commissioned by Animal Planet to put together a show on Emergency Preparedness because Animal Planet is working on adjusting their brand to feature humans as animals – hence their new slogan “Surprisingly Human”.   They had some crazy ideas about how to portray Preppers and I began educating them.

After we had put together a couple treatments with some reasonable ideas, we selected one and filmed our first demo.  It was about this time that I began receiving calls from Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic asking me if I was interested in being in their pilot.  I really didn’t like the Doomsday Preppers production company’s ideas and tried to help guide them to a better format.  What they have now is much better than what they originally had in mind, but I’m still not a fan of it.

Animal Planet watched our first demo and asked us to make some changes, they did the same thing after we showed them the second demo.  They liked the third demo much better and asked for some adjustments for the pilot.  What aired as “Meet the Preppers” on Saturday took over a year to put together and required a lot of hard work and back and forth.

Phil’s Objective with “Meet the Preppers”

As I helped with the creative work and moved forward with this project, I had one goal in mind for the show: to bring Prepping into mainstream homes and help open their minds to the possibilities of getting prepared.

This show is not about teaching you more about survival if you’re a survivalist.  It’s not even about teaching you about hardcore Prepping if you’re a Prepper (although I do believe you’ll get some things out of each episode). The show is geared towards the non-Prepper and non-Survivalist with the intent of showing them some things that mainstream people are at risk for every single day – and show them some new ideas and possibilities that could serve them in those areas – and hopefully lead them towards more of a Prepper mindset.

(please note, this is Phil’s objective – NOT Animal Planet’s, but this is where I’ve been exerting whatever influence I have on the creative process)

Overview of “My Pink Pistol”

The pilot that aired is called “Meet the Preppers: My Pink Pistol” and we cover a lot of topics.  The primary theme in this episode was to introduce Gibson, my 10 year old daughter and show “prepping” from her perspective.  NONE of her lines were scripted or fed to her, everything she said was said in interviews on her own, my wife and I were not in the house during the kids taping.  Gibson approaches us in the beginning of the show and makes a potential deal with us about a cell phone versus a gun – specifically a pink .22.

For the first half of the show, we’re introducing the family, introducing some of the ideas behind Prepping and setting up some of the activities for the rest of the episode.  I suggest to my wife that due to some recent kidnappings in our area that it might be useful to freshen up the kids anti-kidnapping skills and put them through a drill.  She disagrees with me and we move on to some other things at the house.  Later we take the kids to the water park and run a situational awareness drill on them – they fail, disguised (poorly) as a stranger, I’m able to separate the kids from their mom.  This helps convince my wife that putting the kids through a kidnapping field exercise isn’t such a bad idea.  So we do.

UPDATE: Watch the full episode right here!

Problems viewing?

Feedback about Meet the Preppers and Phil’s Viewpoint

So I’ve seen LOTS of different responses all over the internet, some of them have been good feedback and have given me ideas to help improve the show.  Others have been snarky, arrogant and very close-minded while others have just been libs complaining about guns.

“Phil puts his kids through a traumatic kidnapping experience which is stupid”

Seriously, you think it was traumatic?  Let’s just get that part out of the way.  By the time we filmed that part, the kids had been on set for 3 weeks filming every day.  During that time we filmed multiple drills, events, hikes, outings, cooking, family meetings, you name it.  They only used less than 1/10th of what we filmed in this episode.

So, look at the kidnapping scene.  If YOU see the girls on camera, at the least there is a cameraman, likely a sound person, at night a lighting person, probably a producer at a bare minimum.  In this case, there were 3 cameramen, 2 sound guys, a producer and a production assistant with the girls.  They are suddenly grabbed from behind and someone starts running – they thought is was a GAME.  They thought one of their uncles, me, or someone in production was playing with them.  When they were grabbed “this is a drill” was whispered into their ear.  They know how training works, they know how field exercises work and they went for it.  Especially Gibson.  She knows that field exercises are an opportunity to practice what you’ve been taught.

So, how traumatic do you think it really was?  Did you not see their interview about it?  They LOVED it!

“Why the focus on handcuffs?  Why not duct tape or zip ties?”

First of all, the producers felt handcuffs represented the more difficult scenario – which they do.  Getting out of duct tape, zip ties and wire is easy if you know how to do it, a lot easier than handcuffs.  Another comment was “what kidnapper uses handcuffs” – well, they’re actually a lot more efficient and easier than trying to tape or zip someones hands together – A LOT easier.

The most commonly used restraint in kidnapping is phone cord.  It’s easy to get out of if you know what you’re doing – which all of my kids do.  It’s also pretty boring on camera.

Refer to my bio that I linked to in the first paragraph, I teach Urban Escape and Evasion along with Kelly Alwood – my buddy that kidnaps them.  We teach executives, Military, LEO and regulars civilians how to escape illegal custody.  I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to kidnapping – these commentors don’t have the first clue beyond what they’re imagining.

“Phil’s a fanatic, kidnapping is a stupid thing to prep for, what moron would try to help his kids not get kidnapped”

Ok, look people – Phoenix, AZ is the NUMBER 2 KIDNAP CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.   I live within 12 hours of that capital.  Since we filmed that episode, there have been 3 kidnappings/attempts in my area – 2 of them within a mile of my house.  The 2 kidnappings I’m discussing with my wife in the show were 2 real kidnappings that happened in my area in the previous month to filming.

The only reason ANYONE would think that kidnapping is not a risk is because they keep themselves blissfully ignorant of the facts.  Your child is at risk.  If your child was taken – it would be THE END OF YOUR WORLD AS YOU KNOW IT.  It would shatter on you.  I’m simply suggesting you do something to mitigate the risk – that you PREPARE.

“Phil show his guns on a wall – that’s stupid.  What idiot would show where he keeps his guns.  What moron would keep his guns on the wall in a garage?”

You are all 100% correct.  I would not show you where I keep my guns.  I did show you a location with a lot of guns that was a stupid one.  The producers wanted to show a ‘gun wall’.

You figure it out.  If you think you know where  I keep my guns you’re wrong.

“I didn’t learn anything new about Prepping”

Yes you did.  You just either aren’t willing to acknowledge it or you didn’t pay attention.  At the very least, you learned a little bit about kidnapping and that you don’t know much about it.

If you feel like you’re such an advanced Prepper that it offered you nothing – then it really wasn’t made for you.  Remember, the goal with the show is to get people thinking about preparedness – not about doomsday.

“This idiot is letting little kids handle guns”

And the idiot that said that keeps his kids ignorant and in fear of guns.

My guns are kept SAFELY.  I’m a certified firearm instructor, range master and have years of experience with them.  There were 2 other certified range masters on the set every time  there was a gun out.  My kids have been shooting since they were all little and safety is DRILLED into their brains.  If my kid and your kid walked into a room where a gun was sitting around – your kid is the one that would end up accidentally shooting themselves or someone else – not mine.

“This guy is showing the world his Preps and his “OpSec” is shot”

I can’t stand this ignorant statement.  Please look at the masthead (big graphic) at the top of this site!   It says: “Freedom Through Teaching Others Self-Reliance”.  That’s not just a pretty sentence – it is my creed in life.  My mission in life is to teach others Preparedness.  I’ve been doing it for years.  I refer you again to my bio linked at the top, I teach and show preps publicly everyday of the week.  I emphatically deny the theory that a Prepper should “hide”.  That’s a chicken-sh*t attitude that helps nobody.  If you have a light, God tells us to hold that light on the hilltop and share it with others.  If you have talents, God tells us to invest those talents heavily, not hide them under a rock.

Two final thoughts; 1)If you think I showed you “all my preps” on tv, think again.  2)If you didn’t catch on, we just demonstrated on the show that if you try to come after us, the entire family will be shooting at you – and there’s quite a few of us.

Take your chicken opsec and go read somewhere else – that is NOT what we teach here.

Next Steps

Several people have asked what’s next.  Depending on how the pilot tested, we may be signed right away.  We have 5 more episodes written and ready to film.  If Animal Planet decides it is not for them – we have 3 other networks that are interested in picking it up.  Soon, there will be another episode – it will likely discuss home fire safety (with a drill!) and will help teach families how to prepare their homes for a fire.

To all those many, many people who have told me they loved the show – THANK YOU!  It is absolutely nerve wracking to put your heart and soul into something and make it the best you possibly can and then throw it out there for the world to see!    It has been a fun process and a great learning experience.  I hope to be able to do a lot more!


Update:  Meet the Preppers review by East Tennessee Prepper

Update: Phil Burns interviewed by Doctor Bones about Meet the Preppers

Listen to internet radio with Preparedness Radio on Blog Talk Radio

About the Author:

Known online as Phil801, he is one of the co-owners of The APN and has been a professional software engineer for over 20 years. He was raised in a Preparedness Oriented family and lives a self-sustaining lifestyle as a third generation, LDS, Prepper. He grew up farming, canning and learning to live off the land in the forests, mountains, rivers, oceans and cities of Missouri, Tennessee, Hawaii and Utah. In early 2008, he co-founded as a blog to talk about and teach Prepping. Over the next couple years, they produced hundreds of articles about Preparedness. Prior to UtahPreppers, he had been actively blogging elsewhere about building his self-sustaining farm and raising his 8 children in a preparedness lifestyle. In 2011, Phil officially became a partner and Co-Owner of the APN and lead the technical restructing of the company.

27 Comments on "Phil Burns from Meet the Preppers on Animal Planet Discusses the Show"

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  1. Tom says:

    I had no idea this show was on. I hope it will play again. Do you know if a re-run is on the schedule?

  2. Drisana merry williams says:

    I loved the show and hope you will do more and that looks like a gun shop display not a home display. I did not like the way the other show was done nor how they had so called experts rate them….and how they choose what was and wasnt showed…just keep up the good work …

    Les and Dris Williams

    • Phil Burns says:

      Thanks Drisana! I appreciate the feedback – and yes, the gun wall didn’t look like anything that someone should do! Those guns are all back in my gun safes where they belong.

  3. moses says:

    do you realize strength in a survival scenario is the element of surprise? every one on this show has told the world what they have , where they have it, who they are and what their strengths and weakness are. they have made themselves easy targets to those less prepared than them…”loose lips” as one person said while being filmed and giving he name and location.

    • Tom says:

      It’s almost as if you didn’t even read the article!

    • Roger says:

      Just remember “IT’S A MOVIE”. How do you know they’re not just setting you up. I could tell you where all my stuff is and still come from behind and you would be done. Don’t be so sure of what you see. Things can change at any time. If you came to my house with your attitude after I had done a show like you may leave with holes in you. LOL

  4. Judi says:

    My husband and I loved your show!!! So hoping we get to see more of you and your amazing family. Keep preppin’!!!

  5. Keep it up Phil. You’re the real deal and I’m so glad you’re willing to share what people need. I have to agree on the kidnapping issue. You are bringing to light something that could absolutely save lives…in so many ways! Big cheers from here in Phoenix. I salute you brother!

  6. keebler says:

    I loved the show–I’m live pretty remote,I want to be prepaired in case Huge Hurricane wipes the area out,and I am the only one with supplies,thanks for the show—I did “Learn” from it.
    Hope there are more –I’ll be watching.

  7. Z-man says:

    Haters gotta hate, keep up the good work Phil and don’t let the @$&* bring you down.

  8. Medic11 says:

    I did not see the program, and while I am a big fan of OPSEC, from what I read, I cannot see where Mr. Burns compromised his in any way. There must be a balance between secrecy and helping the neighbors, and it looks like he achieved that balance fairly well.

    If we all become hyper-secretive and do not share what we have learned, we are shirking responsibility.

  9. Craig Burma says:

    I believe this show represented a viewpoint of prepping respectably and an air of common sense planning all families can learn from. I hope Animal Planet continues this show with future episodes. Good stuff!

  10. TED says:

    I am 64 and lds, most mormons are preppers some soft core and some hard core but all members are advised to have 1 or 2 years supply of all things needed. im talking about millions of people, I THINK YOU SHOULD MENTION ON YOUR SHOWS THAT THE BEST PREPPER LINK IS LDS PREPPERS maby people will look on prepper links and start helping themselfs and become less dependent on the government.and stop thinking preppers and mormons will be targets in times of need,TED. OREM,UT I THINK YOUR SHOW IS GREAT KEEP IT UP.

  11. Kathy says:

    Bravo, Phil! As a newbie LDS prepper, I’ve really gleaned a lot from Utah Preppers and now “Meet the Preppers”. I thought you did such a good job in your show of painting preppers in a positive light. It was funny, eye-opening, engaging, and educational. Gibson was so endearing with her enthusiasm for prepping! I was initially one of the people that was scared for Gibson in the kidnapping scene but then I realized that if I could see it, there was a camera crew there and she surely knew it was a drill. Good for you for educating and empowering those girls! I am beginning to think that Orem is Prepper Paradise! I believe Kellene Bishop hails from there and one of my two prepper friends here in WI came from Orem. Nice work! I eagerly await your next installment! Thank you for the countless hours and sacrifice you’ve given to help educate others to be prepared! PS – Do you have any of your illegal custody training stuff available online? I would love to attend a class but there are a few states in my way! :)

    • Phil Burns says:

      Thanks Kathy! Welcome to Prepping! :) I appreciate all your feedback and I’m really glad you like the show. I do have some E&E videos on my youtube channel at: it’s mostly how to pick cuffs and stuff like that. I teach with OnPoint Tactical and we go all over the country. I don’t think we’ve ever been in WI though! You can check out the schedule at Hopefully we’ll be having new episodes coming out soon, still waiting to hear!

  12. Laurren says:

    I watched the pilot and I found it very educational and entertaining. I must admit, the kidnapping unnerved me at first. But as I watched the show, I came around to see what your goal was.

    Congrats to a great show and I hope to see more! :)

  13. Candy says:

    I am so sorry that I missed the show. I’ve watched a couple other Prepper shows on TV and learned how terribly inadequate we must be…and that we’re not one of the rich set as some of those folks must be. It would be nice to see a down-to-earth prepping show that shows folks who live the “real life” as most of us do. I applaud your efforts in teaching your kids safety…in all forms…whether it be gun safety or personal safety. The ones that DON’T teach their kids these things and keep them in a glass bubble, are the ones who will suffer the most when it comes to a real-life situation. Good for you on your MO for sharing, teaching and empowering and thank you for doing just that. Every little bit helps.

  14. Roxy says:

    I’m a little late and just watched the show and all I have to say is GREAT JOB! While I don’t totally agree with your methods (and I both have pity for and am envious of your wife) I think that you did a superb job of presenting the Prepper lifestyle without making us look like a bunch of back woods kooks! This is a great show and I look forward to more episodes. BTW, you should try to do a class in Portland, Oregon in the near future…

    Thanks again for the show.

  15. Megan says:

    I caught part of the show on TV the other day, I missed what it was called and glad to finally find it again and see the whole thing! I really hope you get to do more episodes! It also puts a lot of my fears to rest reading here how versed on the subject you really are. They should mention more of it on the show. To at least try to show skeptical people you know what youre doing. I really don’t understand why people bother to make rude and hateful comments. wasted time on they’re part.
    As for me, it’s got me thinking about how to educate my 2 yr old and future children about dangers like kidnapping when they are old enough to understand it. It’s definatly something we can relate to, something we all worry about – and rightfully so.
    I hope to see more. Thanks!

  16. Randy says:

    Kudos! I didn’t get a chance to see the show on Animal Planet but I saw all 5 parts on youtube. I love how the realism is portrayed in this show rather than just the extreme style of prepping that is mostly blown out of proportion on other shows. You give a real in depth look at not only preparing for a major catastrophe but situations that may happen in everyday life. I was a bit concerned at first with the whole kidnapping scenario in wondering what it would do psychologically to the girls. However, since it is obvious that you do train your family on a regular basis you would know what your children are capable of experiencing. It’s hard to believe but there are a lot of parents out there that don’t know how their kids would react. I also enjoy the fact that the entire family is on board with your preparations. It would be horribly difficult to accomplish anything without their support. I wish you all well and I look forward to the next show whenever that may be.

  17. Donna says:

    I didnt know this show was on TV, watched it on this site and I love it. I hope to see it again. You did a great job with training your kids. As a past victim and lucky survivor of a violent crime, I wish my father taught me how to escape from an attacker. But no one ever thinks it wil happen to them. I think ALL KIDS should learn how to safely use firearms, and stop the liberal looney nonsense that guns are dangerous. They are only dangerous when they are in untrained hands, or in the hands of a criminal. Otherwise they are nesessary for personal protection. Police are never on the scene until the crime is already committed, and they do not protect you from becoming a victim. I think I want to become a prepper, but I would have to convince my husband. Can you help?

  18. Ken says:

    Just watched the first episode of Meet the Preppers…really enjoyed it. Just wanted to say that I thought you and your family represented well. I could really relate (I have 5 kids and my wife acts surprising similar to yours…lol). I enjoyed Doomsday Preppers from the perspective of being able to see what different people are doing, but I felt the producers had their own agenda and tried to make people seem like they were gun nuts or wackos. I don’t know what kind of relationship you maintained with the producers, but I thought you came across well. I hope there’s enough interest to warrant more episodes. Good luck to you and your family.