Saturday, 12 November 2011

Wild Arabia - Oman

First of hopefully a few shoots on this new BBC series looking at the Arabian Gulf.

A lovely story following a father and son as they prepare for the annual camel races around the Eid festival.
The father ‘Salif’ and his son ‘hussar’ were two of the gentlest, quietest people I have met. They had a lovely way with their camels and were a pleasure to be around. Getting any form of excitement or passion out of them though was a task we were never quite able to achieve!
Most mornings started at 4 and we drove through the starlit night, pausing at the garage for a hot, sweet sort of drink, then at ‘Joss’s place’ a wonderfully smiley, papa New Guinean looking fellow. Who deflated our tires for the desert every morning and reinflated them in the evening on our way out… a great little niche business.

The dunes were stunning. Endless waved and swells of golden crystalline sea.
The first few mornings we got Saif’s eldest son Abdullah to drive us into the dunes. An incredibly skilled driver. I watched closely and after a good long period of study…. 2 minutes, declared that I could do it.
I couldn’t and got stuck…
2 hrs digging later, Hussar (the 10 yr old) extricated us….
Manliness levels at all time low (that is till later in the week when we tried to trot on the camels and my manliness and manhood both took a battering).
Driving inadequacies aside, the morning’s were lovely as we tried to capture the beauty of the pre dawn light, with father and son sat with their coffee pot on the fire, camels moored behind them and the call to prayer drifting in over the sands from a distant mosque.
There’s a glorious 2 to 3 minutes as the still soft ball of sun crests the far off mountains and sits Buddha like and majestic behind the camp fire, before it ignites into fiery splendor.
I am generally blue arse flying it at this point to reap as much as I can.
We would then work with the guys as they rode their camels off into the sand sea. Using a long, long lens I would try and anticipate where they would pop up and try and stick a frame around the glorious curves.
I also had the steadicam with me. A magical toy, but back breaking and a pig to use. You stumble around like a poisoned tortoise, the very antithesis of grace, yet the results (inshallah) are these dream like floaty desert scenes of wonderful fluidity…
As the sun got hot and light became harsh we would either recce locations or head back to Jos for reinflation then breakie and hotel, before heading out later.

The food out and about was great. Abdullah our guide, guided with a rod of iron. And we were very very much told where we were going and what we were eating.
This was usually a Pakistani restaurant. Usually full of colour, people and good

The food was excellent. Dahls, mutton and flat breads all eaten with the hand (our own)…yum!
We managed to see two unseasonal weather types. Both falling in the ‘ well I haven’t seen this since 1932’ categories.
Incredible sandstorms every afternoon (To be fair these weren’t uncommon just unseasonal). Filming a train of camels fighting through the blizzard, turbans flapping looked incredible yet played dangerous games with the kit.
We filmed a bit every day of the sand and built up a nice sequence but lordy we had some cleaning to do every evening. And not just the kit, sand in every orifice god had gifted us with.
Then towards the end of our trip…the sand storms ended and the rains began!
Yes and not just ‘oh look at that its raining, rain’ but ‘holy Maloney there are cars floating through the city’ rain.
Still. Washed the sand out of the cameras.
And so we come to the camel races that Salif and Hussar had been training for. These were on the edge of the towns, one each day over the Eid season. For the biggie we had hundreds of people lining the track..even woman! (Strange, shy creatures, rarely seen, fairly rare and often dressed in exquisite cloths’ s and wearing batman masks….maybe an interpretation of their true origin).
The different tribes or clans or stables would ride up the track singing their arrival, then gather at one end until you had a huge flock of camels and white clad, bearded, dagger wielding men.
I would drink their coffee. They would refuse mine. A friendly pattern formed.
Two camels would be brought forward and made to sit, then the jockeys upon a command would leap on the backs and in unison tear down the track, with the idea being to be in complete synchronicity  (bit like synchronized swimming).
Sometimes this worked, although often the camels would go a bit special and tear into the crowd.
Initially the locals – people and camels- wouldn’t let us get anywhere near the action, but then we started dressing local styley and all was good. Camels ignored us, locals welcomed us….ish.
Sue was making the film about the film so all our rubbish attempts to film and ride and in fact simply just ride were caught. Chaddon was filmed shampooing a camel for show day and I was clearly filmed once again digging a car out of the desert!
Fascinating shoot. Looking forward to exploring Arabia more.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Okovango Ele's

My first Animal Einstein’s shoot.
We ventured to the Okavango delta to film elephants. I hadn’t been back here for 15 yrs.
A small team of myself Rich, Giles and Liz landed in Maun and was met my Mike holding and TJ - wonderful people. Local filmmakers of prodigious talent and kindness.
It was their camp we went to. Set up on the shores of the Okavango floodwaters.
Little tents with bucket showers and gin and tonics by candlelight…perfect.
Days were spent filming from mikes Cessna or on foot.
I had never been to this part of the delta and was blown away by its beauty. Huge bodies of water surrounded by game of all descriptions, it felt we had stumbled on eden at times.
The Botswana elephant haven’t been slaughtered or abused like most of the continents gentle giants, so they were very calm and came to within 6 ft of me, a situation I just wouldn’t have allowed in Kenya. But I was under the watchful eye of ele expert Mike, so never felt in danger. It was so wonderful to experience and be so close to these, my favorite of animals.
Mike and TJ had such good guys working with them, who helped with the kit, made amazing food and provided cold beer at appropriate times. A truly luxurious shoot.
One evening I was taking a bush shower, my glass of wine in hand, when a shout went out that lions were in camp. I turned and saw a male lion amble past at about ten feet… magical.
Liz and mike did some wonderful pieces and we were able to get one very special piece where we guessed the water hole the ele’s were heading to and managed to have them sat quietly on one side with the family of ele’s playing and drinking right in front of them. The knowledge of people like Mike and mike is invaluable and yielded amazing intimate opportunities.
The week disappeared far too quickly with none of us wanting to leave.
Hopefully a lovely piece due to an amazing location, my favorite subjects, great presenting and incomparable local knowledge.


This was my second shoot for the animal Einstein’s series.
only a week but what a glorious one.
We were based in South Africa up on the Botswana border at a long term Meerkat research project.

clear rippled dunes rose from bleached grass and scrub.
Here the little guys were completely habituated and ignored us completely, which I found a delight.
Rich was again doing sound, Jo the wonderful series producer was here. Sophie was directing and liz was ‘da talent’.

Soph had worked at the project for a couple of years which ment she knew the ‘wee folk’ inside out. Coupled with ‘Jof’, our man who knew and could, we were in capable hands.
The first morning we were gathered outside their Den before sunrise, all speaking in hushed tones and keeping our respectful distance. We didn’t have to worry, the merkats were bomb proof  and within 5 minutes of the first little sentinal scurrying out and standing ramrod straight in the early Kalahari light I was lieing next to him at a distance of about 30 cms!
Surely alongside cheetah cubs they are designed to be filmed back lit. They’re soft fire lighting up like angelic auras.
The pups were the size of a healthy samosa and too cute for words. They bundled along like balls of fur blown by the wind, continually demanding food in a most undignified fashion.when the unit of about 30 moved off, they did so at a surprising speed and you can suddenly find yourself lieing prone with a camera, with nothing to film but the remains of a scorpion they’ve just demolished.

There skill with the dispatch of scorpions is astonishing to behold. They must have an immunity, as I really can’t believe their wee black noses don’t get hammered. When they’ve pulled them from their holes they dance around the deadly insects and nip off they’re stings, before carrying them to the pups. The pups then learn how to tackle the scorpions and get a scrummy lunch as well.

One evening we followed the group home to their den and before they all descended below ground, they had a mass hug/groom/love in. A huge puddle of meerkats all creening in pleasure tangled in a delicious knot.
Lieing next to them, the familer feeling of honour and privilidge at witnessing something magical pouring through me.

On another evening we were able to capture a world first.
Right outside the den, a subordinate mother gave birth. Few have witnessed this and none have filmed it.  It felt somehow sacrosanct to witness the arrival of the minute pink beastie. Sadly its chances are slim at best. but I wish it well.

our last evening was spent around the fire with steaks on the bar b and lovely chilled wine. The dazzling Kalahari stars wheeling overhead.
Stunning place, stunning animals, stunning crew.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Next stop Ibiza on my musical journey.
The usual team and stunning pianist Gwilym Simcock stepped off our Easyjet flight into a Barmy Mediterranean evening.
Our apartment overlooked the sea and was part of a great gay hotel, with a bar so full of German men with tight shorts it was tricky getting to the bar.
Jane's knowledge of the island was invaluable, not only for finding the best shots but also the best restaurants.
We interviewed Carl and did some filming of him having a lesson from Gwilym at the resident DJ's villa up in the hills....nice.
Carl wasn't on until 3am! at 'Space'.... so we had a little rose to pass the time.
Filming in the club was great fun. a few thousand people having a good time with the big man Carl, doing his stuff. so filmed and danced and drunk until the sun came up!
Then headed to the beach for a swim and a coffee and carried on filming till our flight back.
Came home shattered. great experience. funny old place, not sure I'd choose to go back.

Bagpipes, Provence and Alastair Campbell

My Sky Arts series continued with a wonderful little trip to Provence.
Jane, Brigid and I popped down to Neme, grabbed a hire car and headed towards the vineyards.
I had forgotten the effect this place has on me. The sun, warmth, smells of lavender and thyme, the fields of vines and sunflowers, stunning walled properties with faded shutters.
We stayed in a gorgeous little auberge with views up to mont Ventoux.
We met Alastair for lunch in his local village. incredibly charming open man. the afternoon was spent interviewing him and his lovely wife and their house nearby.
It was a privilege to sit and listen to somebody so intricately involved with the top echelons of power of our countries recent government.
Early evening was spent filming Alastair performing at this local bar. The village market was in full swing, so it made for a wonderfully visual sequence.
as the sun dipped behind the hills, we grabbed some GV's before heading for a barbecue at the Campbell's.
a delightful evening was had.
Our early morning flight home was trying.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Lake turkana

The Turkwell team
I've just got back from one of my most amazing trips to northern Kenya.
Myself and good friend Nick went out to film with nat Geo on a big documentary on the Leakey family and no less, the origins of mankind.
The team consisted of us. John, JJ and Katie.
It was great to be part of an international team although with the obvious difficulties when discussing ' side walks, fannies, tomatoes and double fisting'.
Although we quickly found common ground with beer and dysentry.
Our time was split on the Western and Eastern sides of lake Turkana. That vast magical body of water that sits at the northern edge of Kenya and tips into Ethiopia and Sudan. it has been a site of human habitation since the very begining and this is why so much work is based here.
Our first few days were spent at Illoret on the Eastern Shore. Here we worked with Maeve and louise Leakey as they uncovered a stunning Pelarovis skull ( great big old type of buffalo).
We were made very welcome and it felt lovely with louise's kids and dog running around. 
We broke out the toys straight away and had the steadicam steadying and the crane craning.
We worked hard here and enjoyed our cold beers at the days end. The heat was impressive and that and the barren landscape was a constant reminder of the appalling drought and famine afflicting this part of the world.
All too soon we were cramming ourselves and a tonne of equipment into a caravan and we were flown across the lake and dumped on a dusty airfield. it was hotter here...some how.
A bit of a drive ( involving bag theft, bad driving, shocking driving and OH MY GOD driving) and we were taken to Turkwell. This was Richards 'centre of operations' up here. There was a lot of construction going on. It is a bold confident mans vision. enter Richard.
We spent an hour each day interviewing this incredible man. It was an honour to hear his tales and thoughts and visions.
We filmed water and veggie projects, lovely stuff by the river and some complicated CGI pieces that the simpleton in me, couldn't quite grasp, yet still fascinated me.
Supper conversation was never dull. often way over my head, but never dull.
We all slept out on the veranda due to the heat. this was also our Yoga centre, where the four boys  did our tibetan Five rites every evening before beer o'clock... we think they probably cancelled each other out on the Karmic scales.
We made a couple of forays into the bush to visit remote digs. The first was to Helene roche. A charming french lady, who ran a tight ship with tea at 6, aperatives at 6.30 and supper and wine at 7.... we battled through.
Towards the end of our time there Ben showed up in his Eurocopter. 
We had this wonderous toy for a few days and he started by ferrying us to Eliye Springs, a wee resort of thatched huts on the shore of the lake. It was here we spent the last few days.
Mornings and evenings were spent filming aerials of this most remarkable of landscapes. lava flows, crators, mountain ridges, soft light, hard light, fishing communities and dhows. Crocodiles, flamingos, zebra and topi.
One evening Ben set us down on the knife edge crator rim of centre island in the middle of the lake. Sulpherous smoke billowed out and tiny dots of flamingos flew in pink clusters far below.
We had a lovely time with prime lenses filming the local fishermen and stunning people who inhabit this unique environment.
I learnt a lot from this trip. it was a lovely crew and a great mix of serious film making, arty film making, laughter and memories.

A few beautiful Turkana children we met along the way

My assistant

Ready for Anything!


Arriving at Turkana

pilot and dog refuel the 206

Director and academic !

fool and talent

John on the crater rim

my beach hut and heli

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ronnie Scotts

I've been playing with Sky Arts, doing their lovely music series.
We got to Film the lovely Sue Perkins doing her performance at the Cheltnam music festival. She did brilliantly.

Also as part of this we filmed Carl Cox starting to learn the 'funk piano'. charming guy who interviewed at his place in Brighton then having a mentoring session at the festival hall before beheading to Ronnie Scotts where we filmed a jam session with the 'brand new heavies'!.
If i hadn't been feeling like death warmed up it would have been incredible, as it was it was just brilliant.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

springwatch 2

Now back from Springwatch.
What a lovely bunch of people. Real professionals and great fun.
After Scotland we headed to Skomer, off the Welsh coast, here we commuted to work on the ferry every day and had a lovely week with presenter Iolo Williams and a shed load of puffins.

The last week was land fill in Essex..mmmmm
The hotel was bejazzletastic and the location stank.. but still we laughed! the week was spent with the lovely Lizz Bonnen presenting and a herd of foxes.

live television is a real Buzz and it kept us on our toes. Cracking locations and a great team. Im now home shattered and starting to plan for northern kenya in a few weeks.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Im now bombing around the country on Springwatch.
the first two weeks are beavers in Scotland.
Today is the first day of live and nerves abound!
we've had a great week and got some incredible stuff.
Were based in the western highlands on a stunning estate.
Lovely team, delicious smoked goose and fine tweeds.
all good really.

nitin sawhney

On may 6th Nitin Sawhney had a concert at the Royal Albert hall with his old school friend James Taylor.
nitin asked me to produce a film of the event.
So with the help of graham, charlie and robin on cameras and kathy editing and helping direct we ventured forth.
An amazing night. I was on stage and be there with such brilliant musicians in front of 6000 people was unforgettable.
were now cutting the film and will hopefully have something to show soon.



Got to interview Bjorn from ABBA at a cornish hotel!!!
what a man , what a legend.

first love

Im having great fun shooting a music series in london about people who had a passion for music early in life, then lost it and want to go back to it.
the first was Sue Perkins playing the piano, then Emilia fox learning the Cello with Julian Lloyd Webber - this was great as I got to meet her dad Edward Fox. Such an honour.


A few weeks back I got to head back out to Kenya to make a film for the David Scheldrick Wildlife trust.
It was magic to catch up with old friends both human and elephant.
I spent a couple of weeks travelling between Nairobi, Tsavo and lamu.
The trust has a new plane for anti poaching so i felt very spoilt bombing around in my own light aircraft.
The trust does an amazing job and it was great to be out with the anti poaching team. We also filmed doctor Poghorn operating on a bull elephant with an arrow wound on the slopes of mount kilimanjaro.

I also caught up with lovely Wendy up in ithumba

the anti poaching boys

little orphan Solio