Hippo: Nature’s Wild Feast
What happens to a couple of million Calories of hippopotamus after it dies ? Well, that’s the simple question we set out to answer in what turned in to an award-winning multi-platform adventure. We hauled around a tonne of filming and broadcast equipment to a remote location on the edge of Zambia’s Luangwa River to find out.
The hippo in question was a bad ass boat rammer that the Zambian wildlife authorities had culled out of fear the animal would kill local villagers trying to cross the river in their canoes. In the dry season, hippos are forced in to giant super pods due to lack of water to hang out in. They get pretty p****d off.
Said, dead, hippo was left to bloat up on the dried out river bank as we dug in, quite literally. A network of ‘hot heads’ – remote controlled cameras with infra red capability – were cabled back to a big tent about 100 metres away from the river. This was to be our HQ for the next couple of weeks. There, 24/7 we watched a bank of monitors and operated each of the cameras – pan, tilt and zoom – using little fighter-pilot joysticks. We had to keep at it round the clock because we were streaming the images live, online, 23 hours a day. It would have been 24 hours a day but the ground temperature of 60 degrees F cooked the kit !
For a couple of days, precious little happened. In fact there was more animal action around our tent – including lion and elephant just wandering by. But then it all kicked off and the feast was on. No-one had ever attempted this kind of live natural history event before so we were in uncharted waters. But, the animals performed – especially the crocs and hyenas; the kit survived – despite being mauled by leopard; and we had a ball – despite the unbelievable smell and the lack of sleep.
As well as 7 days of live streaming, we knocked out a 90 minute documentary. And, for that, we won the prestigious Innovation Award at the WildScreen Film Festival in 2012. Quite a lot lighter than a BAFTA, but much more portable. I am looking at it right now. It stops my credit card receipts from blowing away.
Channel 4, Prime Time & Online
Presenter & Consultant Producer
1 x 90’ doc
7 days live streaming online