Archive for September 12th, 2006

Alastair Fothergill talks to Jana Bennett at the BBC

This morning, as part of the BBC Storytelling Festival I went to ‘Alastair Fothergill, Series Producer of Planet Earth, in conversation with Jana Bennett‘. It was a fascinating look at just how something like Planet Earth gets made as well as Alastair’s thoughts on narrative as well as nature. (pic here)

We also got a sneak look at the forthcoming movie. On this Alastair talked about the rise of documentaries in cinema, and that people will still go and see a film after there’s been TV content. His Deep Blue film proved that, as it was massive in Asia. He went on to explain how with the advent of digital cinemas and shooting in HD, the gap between big and not so big screen is shrinking. Also how films like March of the Penguins and even the Al Gore movie are putting docs back. On MotP, he said, ‘it’s not a very good movie, in fact they even used some 16mm shots from my Life in the Freezer from 1993’.

The Q&A was interesting as someone asked “The show seems very clippable. How do you both feel about clips of Planet Earth appearing on YouTube?” Cut to nonplussed Fothergill.. ” I don’t even know what YouTube is..(Jana explaines)….ah, I’ve spent to long in the desert”. Jana went on to say that it shouldn’t be there… but as long as it’s intact and not mashed up, that’s a lesser evil, if it brings people back to the beeb. And as the comments below the clip above show, people really loved Planet Earth. Hopefully this is exactly the sort of thing that iPlayer will address. In a what’s the point of ripping it, it’s on in HD anyway sort of way.

Other points… he talked about Planet Earth brought in people from all backgrounds “a personal best for me was a write up in The Listener and Nuts magazine in the same month” (Having checked this I think he meant the Radio Times as the Listener went bust in 1991)

He also made a point about how some of the stuff he been shooting has actually altered the way scientists and biologists think about animal habits and behaviour, and that the BBC is well trusted in the academic community. You say you’re from the BBC and people don’t hang up on you, they say ‘ I use your clips in my lectures’. He went on to make a sly reference to getting scientists onboard through proper investigation, rather than ‘sitting on crocodiles’.

In other nature news, it seems some very sad and sick people have been taking revenge on stingrays down under. And though I personally prefer Fothergill’s rather than Irwin’s approach to wildlife. I’m pretty sure Steve would in no way approve of this.

P.S. Planet Earth returns in week 46 I think… And the homepage will no doubt do it’s bit and go into HD/panaramic/widescreen/ mode.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
September 2006