After “One Tree Hill‘s” eighth season wrapped in March, series regulars James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti decided to forgo the typical poolside party destination in favor of a whole different kind of vacation.
Along with Lafferty’s brother, Stuart Lafferty (who die-hard “OTH” fans will recognize from a Season 2 guest appearance) and nature photographer Ian Shive, the costars took a no-frills trip through Florida’s National Parks to explore some of nature’s hidden gems.
They filmed their adventure as a pilot presentation for “Wild Life: A New Generation of Wild.” The fifteen-minute presentation is available online and we’d highly recommend checking it out — you’ll see the four friends meet manatees, navigate alligator-infested rivers, and even visit a sunken statue of Jesus at the bottom of a river in the John Pennekamp State Park.
It’s an idea that they’ve been kicking around for quite a while.
“James and I and his little brother Stuart had always wanted to put together a travel documentary, and we were actually pitching it around a couple years ago,” Colletti tells Zap2it. “We wanted to do a European travel vacation show and gear it toward college kids on a budget and a time limit, and find secret spots, hidden gems in Europe that people would want to check out.”
Unfortunately, the execs they met with were interested in taking the show in a different direction that was all too familiar to Colletti, having had his high school personal life aired for the world to see on MTV’s reality drama “Laguna Beach.”
“We found that people were interested in a reality TV aspect that we didn’t want. It was too personal, too much of partying and whatnot,” he says. “They would run with those ideas and it kind of freaked us out. We wanted to feature the surroundings and feature the travels themselves, in a more respectable sense, so it didn’t work out. With work, it kind of fizzled for a while.”
When they began working with Shive, their excitement about the project was reinvigorated. Lafferty tells us that retreating into nature was just what he’d needed after 10 months of working on “One Tree Hill” in Wilmington.
“When we’re in Wilmington, we’re very much in our comfort zone,” the 8-year series veteran says. “Work is a very easy place to be, because everybody knows each other and we’ve been doing it for so long.”
Getting his hands dirty was a refreshing change. “To get together with my brother, who is also a really good friend of Stephen’s, and to go out there with Ian and really sort of get out of our comfort zone and be subject to the elements and enjoy the natural surrounding habitat, it was kind of a shock, but it was also very much needed,” Lafferty explains. “It was a great wake-up.”
Though the “One Tree Hill” stars are the subjects of the pilot presentation, Colletti says that they’re not planning to be the stars of the show if they can get the documentary series picked up.
“We don’t want to feature ourselves going on these adventures, we want to bring other people, other personalities into it, bringing an awareness to people so they can understand their surroundings,” he says. “There are these amazing places in your backyard that are very accessible and cost-effective. Personally, you can take a lot from that.”
“We had an absolute blast. I’m very proud of it, honestly,” Lafferty adds. “I think it’s a really positive project. I hope it’ll make people want to have a good time like that, go out and have similar experiences. That’s really what it’s all about. We’re trying to show people that these are easy things to do and it’s so accessible.”