Producer Jeff Collins on Nat Geo’s new Hutterite documentary

Producer Jeff Collins


The National Geographic Channel debuts a new, 10-episode documentary this evening that was taped at the King Hutterite Colony near Lewistown, Montana.
“American Colony: Meet the Hutterites”, provides a rare glimpse into the lives of the small colony.
In tonight’s feature interview with reporter Edward O’Brien, “American Colony” producer Jeff Collins explains why the families granted access to the filmmakers and the struggles and temptations they face on a daily basis.


14 thoughts on “Producer Jeff Collins on Nat Geo’s new Hutterite documentary

  1. Dear Mr. Collins,
    As a native of the State of OHio, I am qutie familiar with the Amish Communities but knew next to nothing about the Hutterites other than of their existence. I saw an episode of the series last night for the first time.

    I was so moved by Bertha! She is such an inspiratonal woman; living in a community she obviously loves,yet conflicted because she is such an independent thinker. WOW. I will watch the show until its end.

    This probably is not possible, but, I would love to write Bertha a letter. Can i do that, through you?

  2. I think you need to call other Hutterite Colonies to ask them how they feel about the episodes, I have been watching the episodes and I think most of it is true but a lot is scripted, and yes there have been other films made, for instance the movie How to get to Heaven in Montana was filmed on a Hutterite Colony, I suggest to get a hold of it and watch it and see what you think..

  3. You may already know how much this has hurt the Hutterite community. Why would anybody want to do something like that to an entire people? I know you say it’s not true, but it’s obvious to all who see these episodes that they’re staged, and yes, it’s portraying the Hutterites in a negative light. This is a Christian community, why then is that not more evident, it should be the key element. In fact the opposite is true, most of what is shown is defiance, rebellion, disrespect, foul language………… Why is it so important to you to show all that? Sure Hutterites struggle with the same issues as all other people, but does it serve any real purpose to air them?
    You also need to get some facts on Hutterites straight, one being: Wesley is not the only Hutterite with a college degree. There are over 100 trained teachers among the Hutterite – yes university trained teachers.

    A lot more can be said….

  4. The National Geographic effort to portray the Hutterites is focused at
    King Ranch Colony. If it is trying to be informative about Hutterites in general, the focus is
    too narrow. But, the fact that three elders are upset about it must
    mean that it contains too much truth for comfort.

    I have seen short interviews on the Internet and the level of thinking
    by the Hutterite respondents is not great, but what can you expect
    when education is neglected, even denigrated, as it is in many
    Hutterite Colonies. The people shown in the King Ranch story are the
    exact and precise product of the system Hutterites have cultivated for
    many decades. National Geographic did the filming and interviewing at a Hutterite
    Colony and they are showing stories they found, not ones they have

    So it seems to me.

  5. George Maendal, you said a mouthful. I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. After reading some of the comments made by Hutterites and what seems to be a common trait among Hutterites, like never taking responsibility for ones actions and always blaming sombody else and this time it happens to be National Geographic for airing the King Ranch Colony in a negative light. They need to sit down, relax, take a deep breathe and evaluate the situation. When reality sets in, it would be nice to hear just one amoungst the Hutterites say, “Houston we have a problem” we need help!

  6. George, no truer words have been spoken. As an ex-hutterite I too have been watching the episodes and quite frankly I have not seen one untruthful event. While some of the scenes were re-enacted or scripted, all were based on factual events as I recall them based on my own life. I can see why the elders are upset that their lives are exposed to the entire world if you will. No longer can they hide behind those walls, their clothes and beards and pretend to be “holier then thou.” The young people recognize the need for higher education, while the elders shun their parents for even considering such an abhorrent idea for their children. While many would like to blame the national geographic for exposing or in some cases taking advantage of a fragile situation, I couldn’t agree with you more, the National Geographic did not create this problem they only filmed it and exposed this facade.

  7. I have tremendous respect for the people in this colony but I have to admit that Bertha touches my heart. While they all seem to be good, hardworking, faithful people, There is something about Bertha that is so sweet. She has survived so much with her husband’s suicide and then being shunned because her kids were at the high school playing sports. How difficult that must have been for her. Yet her son gave up sports for her and I thought how many teenagers in my world would do that out of love for their mother. I really like these people and we could all learn something from them. I can’t say that about most reality shows. If I was told that I could have coffee with any Kardashian or Bertha, I would choose Bertha, hands down.

  8. I love this show. The women are the center of the family and are so strong I would love to spend time learning how to cook, can and sew with these women. Many if us have to learn this on our own but the young girls have such a wealth of k.owledge right at there fingertips. We need these skills especially now a days. Learning does not always need to be done at a college. You cant learn what I see these women know just in a book. I love the way the women interact. You can see how much everyone cares for each other and how they live there faith. Thank you for bring this show to tv. I wish I had claudias mom she is great.

    • I agree with you Lynne. We have made living complicated. Of course, life is not easy but I feel that many of us have lost the foundation that Bertha, Claudia and the others have. Their faith, work ethic and love for each other is inspiring to me. It’s unfortunate that education isn’t valued, especially for women. These people should not be considered dim just because they live a simple life. Imagine what they could accomplish if they embraced higher education.
      I wish them the best and I hope that they will be back for another season. They feel like family to me. I grew up in Ireland and they make me think of my loved ones that are gone. Bertha and my Granny had similar values. Granny lived in a three room cottage without electricity and plumbing until she was seventy. She worked in the fields along with the men and her faith in God was her number one priority. She never owned a television or a telephone. She was the wisest person I ever met and I miss her very much. When I watch the Hutterites, I feel like I am visiting family. May God continue to bless these good people.

  9. Why can’t you people on Nat Geo understand that we WANT a true depiction of people, not soap operas! What you fear may be boring and nonentertaining isn’t to us. I hope you learn this from the Hutterite series.

    • Dear Augusta,

      The producers of American Colony had a challenge. They admired the Hutterites at King Colony and wanted to present a coherent story suitable for today’s TV market. I think they did a great job. I only hope the publicity doesn’t have a negative impact on the wonderful people at King Colony. I want to personally thank Jeff Collins for intr
      oducing them to me! Thanks Jeff!
      George Maendel
      Unity, Maine.

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