Well, hello there. So here we are again after another wonderful weekend, another week ready to be attacked with gusto and enthusiasm. As promised, we are continuing where we left off last week with a day in the life of a film crew by Wingman Films team.
“…The temperature is climbing, and the lions are firmly bedded down now, not even the youngsters are stirring. Our patch of shade is getting pretty skinny, so we decide to find a spot along the riverbank and have a break to see what other delights have been created in the kitchen. We find a lovely bit of shade under a couple of ebony trees and enjoy a welcome breeze. Lucida, our DNPW wildlife officer, keeps a watchful eye out while we stretch our legs and then it’s time for lunch; couscous with roasted veggies, grilled lemon chicken kebabs and ice-cold sodas make for a refreshing feast, reminding us how well looked after we are.
We get back to find that not much has changed in ‘lionland’, everyone is still snoozing or trying to catch flies but what we can’t tell the lions is that we passed a herd of about 400 buffalo on our way back from lunch and it looks like they’re headed directly for the lions. We position the vehicle so that we won’t interfere with the hunt but will still be able to get a good angle on the action. Camera batteries are changed, multiple fresh batteries strategically laid out. Camera lenses are blown clean and checked for debris, boom microphone is switched on for recording ambient noise, routes are planned for if we need to move the vehicle in a hurry and water bottles (thanks for those RPS!) are filled, it’s game time.
Aaaaaaand nothing… The buffalo have clearly chosen another route to have a drink. I guess we’ll have to see what the rest of the afternoon has in store for us and at least the vehicle is a bit tidier now. The lions haven’t noticed our frantic efforts to get ready to film the demise of a buffalo but do notice that given the position of the sun, our vehicle is currently providing the only shade in the area, thanks to its canvas canopy. One of the young males stands up and saunters towards the vehicle, flopping down directly under the camera. The rest of the pride sees this and comes over and lies down so we’re now surrounded by lions that are too close to film.
Thankfully it’s not long before the pride gets thirsty and starts moving towards the river. As they move off, we drive down to the water’s edge to get some shots of them drinking and playing. As the lions walk towards the camera they look so at ease in their own environment and I realise that doing what we do wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for organizations like DNPW, Conservation South Luangwa and the Zambian Carnivore Program. Their teams work tirelessly to protect the Luangwa Valley, a combination of anti-poaching patrols, research, law enforcement and mobile veterinary teams and as a direct result, no lions have been caught this year by poacher’s snares for the first time in 20 years here.
Happy hour is over, and the sun is setting so we get some amazing silhouette shots of the lions and once we lose the light it’s back to camp for us. We radio the lodge when we’re about 15 minutes out and are greeted by the staff with cold towels and warm smiles. After unpacking the car and downloading the footage from the day we head towards the bar for something cold and are asked about our day by the barman. Chatting to him puts the day into perspective, wildlife filmmaking is not a quick trip but rather a journey that pieces together a thousand moving parts to tell a story as old as time.
A piping hot shower before dinner and then we’re spoiled by the kitchen again, roasted butternut with feta and rosemary, old school fish & chips with homemade tartar sauce and mushy peas. The crew, who are all from Bristol in the UK, all say that it’s better than what they get at home, a serious accolade from people who love their food. A quick cup of tea around the fire to discuss tomorrow’s plan, hoping that the buffalo play their role to perfection, then time to sink softly into the welcome embrace of a beautifully fluffy pillow.
P.S. We did get the hunt sequence…!”
Wow, thanks Wingman Films team for sharing this with us. I don’t think we realise just how long and hot the days are and whilst there are exciting hunts and delicious meals there is incredible patience needed to capture the required sequences. So next time you settle down to watch a documentary, just think of the hours spent during the day watching and waiting for the animals to get up and perform for the camera. It takes a special kind of patience to be able to do this, we are grateful to those who endure it all and make it happen for our enjoyment.
Now, there is little else for me to follow on with after this so I shall gracefully bid you a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.