Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Escudo and san fran

What an amazing place. Escudos is a 2km long island off the coast of panama.
Its surrounded by sandstone stacks topped with palm trees. A coral reef encircles the island. White beaches are over hung with palm trees and the interior is mangroves.
This little island is home to at least four endemic species. Orchid, frog, humming bird and sloth. It was the last one we were here to film.
There's only a hundred left in the world and they are all here.
Getting to them meant driving as far as we could by boat then wading into the mangroves. Not easy at all. One slip and the camera goes underwater and it's all over.
We got really lucky and were able to film a mother and baby only a couple of feet away and unlike there larger main land cousins these guys are super chilled. They can even be handled and they just sit there looking like a cross between yoda, ET and a bean bag. Very cute.
The highlight for me was filming one swimming, which they do well. I was able to dive beneath him and film looking up as we swam overhead.
We stayed in an idyllic bay. We swung our hammocks in thatched huts on stilts , at snapper and lobster and the day always started with a swim out to the reef.
The down side to the trip is that the island is supposed to be protected and uninhabited.... We saw mangroves being chainsawed and taken away. We saw permanent dwellings and the fish around the island have been decimated.

Bryson our scientist gives the Pygmy sloth five years before it goes the way of the dodo.

San Francisco

I skipped merrily from Panama to the west coast and hooked up with my friend Tuppence for a few days in San Francisco.
What a wonderful place. I had time to explore Haighte and the mission and all the bars between. loved it.

We were filming a Madagascan environmentalist for a Natural world. Out of the forest for the first time, receiving an award in  the city.
Typically i think San Francisco was more eye opening for us than it was for him!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bocas del toro

Sat on a little jetty looking over the carribean. Were in a Small town called bocas del toro.
Were here to pick up food, a generator and dive gear, before we head off to our island.
Its a lovely place with a very laid back atmosphere.
A great if long drive yesterday from panama city. We crossed the canal and was stunned by the size of the ships plying up and down. We crossed the mountains, with the mist lifting to afford astounding views down to both the atlantic and pacific.
The next few days promises to be full on, but with your own coral reef, deserted island and cold beer, you cant really complain!

Monday, 20 September 2010

panama and pole

Off today to a wee island off the coast of Panama.
We're there to film some of the last hundred remaining pygmy sloths.
These most rare of beasts apparently swim in the Caribbean ! i cant wait.
it also looks like I'm off to the south pole in November!


Had a great couple of days working with the composer and musician Nitin Sawhney, in his Brixton Studio.
I was filming him as he worked on the score for Human Planet. I was in awe watching and listening to him playing, a real honour.
on the Thursday evening i got to hang out with him and James Taylor at the Royal Albert Hall as they jammed on the vast organ there.
very very cool to have the place to ourselves!

Friday, 10 September 2010

New York and New Orleans

Now home.
A busy three weeks in America.
I've finished on bears and this trip was somewhat different. First stop was New York to film two stories for Human Planets urban
programme. Bee keepers on top of Skyscrapers and Rat Catchers
in Manhattans less salubrious restaurants.

It was a full on week. The days spent up high getting stung and the nights down low trying not to get bitten.
We visited a wonderful, surprising market where our bee keepers sold their wares and everything on sale came from the city. There where stunning veggies, flowers, pickles and preserves.

We were lucky enough to visit one vast roof top of 50,000 m2 that was one huge allotment ( well it was really a field in the sky). I did a crane shot starting on a fellow pulling up carrots and then start to move as a wheel barrow trundles past, slowly rising to reveal the Manhattan skyline behind us and the streets down below. quite fun.

Our rat catchers were great characters. We couldn't get into the restaurants until they shut at oneish, then we sneaked in with torches. QUITE QUITE disgusting. NEVER eat Chinese in New York. We were all unable to eat for a good 48 hrs after this.

Then onto New Orleans.

This was a one hr special with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwadine looking at the oil slick off the Louisiana coast.
5 star hotel and blueberries for breakfast! my kind of shoot.

Stephen and Mark were charming. Due to Stephens schedule we had a really tight timetable to get our film. we had to try and get ten minutes of broadcast television every day.....tricky.
It was fascinating to see the vast slick BP pr machine in action. and the story defiantly isn't one sided. I went thinking BP was the bad guy, but realised we're the ones that demand the oil and they just provide it. A very complicated problem with the solution being fairly unpalatable for almost all of us.

I do know I had a lot of fun and laughs on air boats, speed boats, helicopters, green peace boats, BP boats and fishing boats.
We also nearly got sucked up by a water spout ( well not that nearly!)
New Orleans is amazing, when you get away from the tourist street its little lanes of wonderful architecture, great food, stunning music and dancing. doesn't feel like America at all.

All in all a full on, challenging three weeks, but fascinating and fun.