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