Friday, 20 April 2012

Survival - Meerkats

This was a big shoot.
My first shoot for the BBC's new landmark bluechip series - Survival.
Did a lot of planning for this with my friend Sophie Lanfear.We were to film meerkats which have been filmed a lot before. We wanted to be more intimate, more involved in their life's and to film it in such a way nobody had done before.
We came up with inverting a steadicam and putting the new red epic on the bottom, so that we would be operating an inch from the floor in their world.

We were using prime lenses with a wee depth of field so with wireless gearing , Sophie was in charge of aperture and focus. It was a real team effort and we practised on stuffed toys being dragged around on strings and pulling focus between Colman's mustard tins and marmalade jars placed around the room.

All good practise but nothing to carting that lot around in 40 degree heat for 6 hrs.

the buggy
Sophie's ingenious solution was 'the beach buggy' , yes we looked like very lost golfers, but it worked !
It was a five week shoot and just the two of us, so fairly full on. Luckily  I'm very funny and charming which helped a lot !
We were based in the southern Kalahari near the Botswana border. The meerkats have been studied for over twenty years so Completely habituated.
We would be up at 4.30 and finished downloading and cleaning at 8 ish every night.
It was a lot of graft but huge fun as well.

Our meerkat project guide became a good friend called joff. Soph and him were both meerkat experts so as per usual I felt like the dunce in the corner.
the experts

We had some amazing moments. Filming an adult teaching a pup to disable a scorpion with the steadicam at 240 frames a second and being in the middle of it  as thirty five meerkats mobbed a cape cobra was such a buzz.

The meerkats are such social interesting, entertaining creatures, you never tire of them and just hanging out with them in the middle of the day gave such pleasure.
And if you sit still long enough you'll get a look out on your head.

Really looking forward to working more on this impressive series.Definitely my favourite shoot for a long time.
Can't wait to get back out there for planet earth live 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent work on the show, we loved all of the film and the narratives surrounding Swift and her family.