Life In The Car

Every night we pack our night filming car to the gunnels with 6 cases, 4 car batteries, 2 inverters, 2 desktop computers, 2 custom-built cameras, gallons of tea and a packed dinner that we just about squeeze 3 or 4 people around. Not so much a filming car but a mobile filming office. As you can imagine, now the rains have started, that we’re increasingly anxious about the water-tightness of the car. So far so good however with just one exploded inverter. The rain has become a welcome relief from the dust bath we are used to driving in.

The main challenge of filming at night is navigating around the Mara in total darkness whilst following lions in and out of thick thorn bushes. We don’t use any visible light so our driver Stanley wears night vision goggles and illuminates the road ahead of the car with infra red light. This relaxes the wildlife and prevents creating an unfair advantage for the lions by spotlighting a potential meal.

If we don’t accidentally bump into them, we locate the lions using our thermal camera which can pick out a heat signature from several kilometres away. As we mentioned before in our blog about mistaken identity, this can lead us towards hot rocks and glowing termite mounds but most of the time we find the lions we are looking for. The starlight and thermal cameras are providing us with incredible insight and images of life on the plains at night. I can only compare the experience to SCUBA diving, when you first plunge into the sea and discover it is not full of the sharks that your imagination convinced you were there waiting for you. We have a unique and new view of what is really going on and it is endlessly fascinating to see the plains covered with grazing hippos and romping hyenas once the sun sets.

We have two weeks of filming left to go, who knows what we will find in the dark over these final weeks!

This post written by
Tom ‘Cakeboy’ Stephens


xl said...

Oh Hai Cake Boy!

Please pay attention out there and look around occasionally. You know, just to be safe.

Madame DeFarge said...

(and why are you called 'cakeboy if one may be so bold?). Try not to bump into the lions. I'm not sure it would be a popular move.

Lulu LaBonne said...

Cake Boy's name originated during his first week at work

kate said...

I don't know what's worse: blowing dust out of your nose for three days while driving in the dry season or pushing a Land Cruiser through muck...just glad you're finding lions amongst other shapes in the dark :)