If you haven’t been mesmerised by the pure natural wonder of the BBC’s Planet Earth II TV series, then we would be very surprised indeed! The series has been made with the help of a film company based in Norfolk, and they’ve recently been discussing life on location.
For those who don’t know, so far the series has covered the life and goings on of everything from the frozen roof of the world to the tropical jungles, with some of the world’s rarest species of animals featuring alongside some harsh realities on what really happens in the wild.
The baby iguanas certainly made a stir in the first episode when it was shown how they are made to run a treacherous gauntlet of countless racer snakes as they dashed to safer grounds. And then there were calls for the grizzly bears to become the next contestants of Strictly Come Dancing, after their amusing dancing against trees to rid themselves of their itchy fur was shown, plus much, much more!
In excess of 10 million viewers each week when the series airs on a Sunday evening has proved that it's a popular show, and there’s no hiding away from the fact that it is fast becoming one of the best and most-adored nature documentaries in history!
Here in the Eastern Counties, we are feeling extra affiliated to the series thanks to a film company based right here in Norfolk.
Ember Films, based in the village of Hackford, not far from our East Anglia holiday parks, was part of a 12-strong team of principal photographers working on the series.
Jonathan Jones, the co-owner of Ember Films, recently spoke about how the show had altered his perspective in terms of the way we looked at nature.
He said: “It’s shown the amazing diversity of life on Earth.
“There are no rehearsals – it’s all completely wild.”
Jones carried out his work with just one other person, when he jetted off to the Seychelles, made expeditions to the Himalayas, got to task in Africa’s Namib desert and waded through the urban jungle of Hong Kong.
He said: “You want to keep the team away as long as possible, so for budgetary reasons you keep it small.
“It also means you have a minimal impact and the animals often aren’t aware that you are there.
“But that’s where natural world cinematography is really unique – you have to be able to do everything and if anything breaks you have to fix it.”
Jones’s contributions to the show include golden moles, fog-drinking beetles, unusual crabs, exotic birds, and some fascinating city-dwelling lizards.
Talking about locations, Jones described every location as having its very own set of unique challenges. He picked out filming in the Seychelles in particular, saying it was a tropical paradise, but it was one of the more demanding locations.
“I thought it was going to be great, but it was so physically demanding – lugging equipment up and down big cliff faces, getting on and off boats, cuts and bruises. I was even bitten by a large centipede,” Jones said.
Moving on to the Himalayan shoot, he said: “In the Himalayas we were at 6,000m for three weeks. And there’s lots you have to be careful about in the desert – just coping with the heat is enough.”
When discussing the general demands of the series, he said: “You might be filming for a month just for a few minutes’ footage.
“You have to realise that not every shot is going to pay off. But who knows, you might get three snow leopards in one shot fighting each other.
“That’s unheard of and something that’s never been seen before.”
Watch the extended trailer of Planet Earth II, here:
Image and video courtesy of BBC Earth.