This year got of to a truly heart stopping start and just kept on going through a wide range of filming assignments. Besides pointing cameras I was asked to present 'Another Day At The office' in Berlin and Helsinki. It seems there's a real appetite for adventure. The BBC's 'Human Planet' series also hit the screens.
Serious Explorers - BBC1
But to kick off I was asked to shoot for 'Serious Explorers' in Guyana. Exploring the jungle gorge around the Kaituer Falls was awesome to use an overused word. The dry season hadn't lived up to its name and the river was pretty much in full flow. Going over the edge and dropping like spiders on a thread right beside the falsl did however leave a dry taste in my mouth. Watching rainbows and the smoking water powering almost in slow motion over the 741ft drop was utterley mesmerising.
Human Planet - BBC1 Hits The Screens
My involvement in this series was spread across 2009 and 2010 with shoots in Arctic Greenland in Winter, Papua New Guinea where we followed the bat catchers, Ijen Crater in Indonesia battling highly toxic fumes with near zero visibility with the sulphur miners inside an active volcano, Goose Barnacle collecting in the surf zone in Galicia and two shoots in Mongolia to film the eagle hunters in action.
Working in concentrations of Sulphur Dioxide some 40x the EU safe working limit was a humbling experience. We had the fortune of wearing filtration gas masks. The miners made do with a damp rag rammed into their mouths. At times the gas was so dense and dehabilitating that the workers found themselves coughing and vomiting. Often the best thing to do was to stay put and hope it cleared.
The camera equipment had a hard time. All the connectors failed with corrosion after a couple of days, the Varicam suffered from head clogging despite being sealed. We had jib set-ups in the crater, on the loose descent and on the rim.
The ABC crane came with us on most of the shoots together with a cable dolly which sometimes called for some out-of-the-box thinking where anchor points were concerned. In Mongolia for instance there are no trees and the rock is diabolically loose. So what to do ???
Silau and Berik watch, eagles on hand, looking for anything that moves. Foxes or even small wolves are no match for a well trained eagle. But filming a live hunt in this vast area of thre Altai Mountains proved very challenging. In the winter temperatures were as low as minus 24c.
Tangent Expeditions International - Arctic Greenland in Winter
The weather proved decidedly difficult as we explored the mountains around Constable Point for ski and snow-board opportunities. When the weather was good, access by snow-mobile proved fast and effective. This short promo film produced by Venturefilm - Brian Hall and Keith Partridge is part of Tangent's core marketing. The Tangent logo links to their website.
How To grow A Planet - BBC2
This series examines the impact that plants have had on evolution. Shooting for this project involved the full kit and caboodle - jibs, track, cable-dolly, macro, super telephoto, lighting the world's biggest cave... Presented by Iain Stewart we tracked primates in Thailand, went into an active volcano in New Zealand, visited ancient temples in Cambodia and explored the world's biggest cave in Vietnam. Han Son Doong has been surveyed at some 200m high. The scale is implausible. The collapsed room sections offered a spectacular glimpse of the evolution of the rain forest that has grown independantly from the forest above.
Handa - Triple Echo for BBC2 Scotland
Before recreational climbing began in the Lake District egg harvesters from the Outer Isles in Scotland had explored the coastline in search of their prey. But with much easier catch why did they climb onto the Great Stack of Handa if not for fun ? Could they realistically have done it given the rudimentary equipment of the time ? This project set out to argue the case that climbing actually started in Scotland. Using tradional ropes and dressed in clothing of the day our three characters head hand over hand across the gap between the main Isle of Handa and the top of the great Stack.
50 Years in the Mountains - a film for Mountain Equipment
To celebrate 50 years of manufacturing some of the world's best mountaineering and expedition equipment this film was commissioned by Mountain Equipment and produced by Venturefilm - Brian Hall and Keith Partridge to form the centre-piece of their marketing campaign. German and Italian versions were also made to satisy the growing European market. With contributions from mountaineering's 'A' list we explore the motivation, rewards, history and inspriration of the last fifty years in the mountains. The title graphic logo links to the film and Mountain Equipment's website.
BAFTA Win for The Great Climb - Triple Echo for BBC Scotland
This 6 hour extravaganza of live climbing on the imposing 650 ft overhanging cliff of Stron Ulladale on the Isle of Harris wins a BAFTA. Congratulations to Triple Echo for masterminding this project. Broadcast at the end of the summer 2010 Dave MacLeod and Tim Emmet forged their way up outrageously steep and complex terrain. Audiences were utterly gripped. It was a spectacular display of worldclass climbing. The OB technical team built and then had their 'scanner and control shacks' flown in by chopper. The camera team played real quiditch.
Coast to Coast - Triple Echo for BBC Scotland
We join well known hill-walker Cameron McNeish on his journey from Aberdeen to Knoydart via the most easterly and westerley munros of Mount Keen and Ladhar Beinn.
Other non-shooting projects
Presentations to the Insight Out Digital production seminar in Berlin, to the University of Helsinki plus the facilitation of the week long Adventure Film Academy as part of the Kendal Mountain Festival and co-leading the Banff Centre's Adventure Filmmakers Workshop for 10 days in the Canadian Rockies