When Ken Foy, the star of one of Canada’s most beloved reality TV shows, Yukon Gold reached out to ENTYRE and shared his plans to explore a new opportunity in Peru, we jumped at the chance. Ken was eager to develop a Peruvian gold mine site and try out a new biochemical technology that claimed to safely remove residual gold while cleaning up tailing sites.
ENTYRE quickly got to work, partnering with filmmakers Tom Wilson and local Oliver Smith to dive into possible story leads. However, their research soon uncovered that the potential bio-chemical partner was facing fraud charges. Unphased by the industry’s shady reputation, Ken and his mining crew still decided to pursue the project in Peru, minus the bio-chemical partner.
ENTYRE had already traveled to Peru a couple of years prior, so they quickly set to work, preparing for the trip by finding a local fixer and developing a production plan that involved several days on the Amazon river. After booking the tickets, they found themselves in the humid jungles of Peru, with a determined Ken Foy ready to discover treasure in this idyllic land.
Their journey soon became an eye-opening experience as they learned about the nightmarish trail of destruction left by mining companies across the country. Over 7,000 tailing sites dotted the landscape, leeching arsenic and other toxic by-products from a history of colonial pillaging. ENTYRE captured Ken’s oscillation between disbelief at the devastation and wonder at the vast amounts of gold still laden in the hills.
During the trip, ENTYRE explored several properties on the Amazon river, floating past archaic dredging operations protected by armed prospectors who still use Mercury to coagulate gold flakes, despite the deadly consequences. Perhaps the most cathartic moment was captured when Ken panned a beach near an ancient Inca mine and was thrilled with the promising results.
Our journey was not without danger, from bandits to mosquito bites to treacherous cliffs but we returned to Canada, with enough material to compose our first episode with what we hoped would be an episodic series to rival Yukon Gold. But financing became a major hurdle, and despite shopping the project with our production partner All In Pictures, to various producers in the UK, Canada, and South America, we were unsuccessful in raising additional funds. The feedback we received was that reality TV shows needed to be increasingly sensational, and the vagaries of an international production were too expensive for most broadcasters to take on.
While disappointing, ENTYRE reflects positively on their time in Peru, the people they met, and the stories they heard. Although they couldn’t uncover the complete picture of Peru’s mining industry, two weeks of exploring the unknown with friends and returning with a story in hand was almost as good as discovering a real vein of gold.