Return to the Mara
Wildlife film making doesn’t need to be about travel to foreign parts. But it usually is.
We could happily film subjects close to home, reveal extraordinary new behaviour of the strange creatures in our back gardens. But we rarely get the opportunity to do that. Broadcasters and funders tell us that 'the viewers’ are more interested in lions and whales and polar bears and don’t really give a stuff about the 'mundane’ life forms closer to home. Bugs, the broadcasters say, are 'a hard sell’.
Which is why wildlife film making is almost by definition about travelling to far off remote places. And spending quality time there. The more remote and exotic the better, for stints of 3 weeks, 3 months or more. Wherever we go, we almost always meet and work with scientists and local people, usually accept their hospitality, sometimes live in their houses, always make new friends.
For me, many of the details of the past locations hard to retrieve easily. But a few places stand out. Kenya’s Masai Mara being one, where I can recall some spectacular high and low images; two bouts of malaria and one of amoebic dysentery, various random food poisoning events and frantically digging trenches in torrential rain to stop the equipment tent being washed away remind me to respect the Mara, but don’t in any way inhibit me from wanting to return.
And we're on our way back there now...