by Erica Wilson, Researcher, Human Planet
There aren’t many filming trips where you can eat your central character at the end of the shooting period. Normally contracts, agents and morals put a stop to that! For the crew filming for the urban episode of Human Planet, however, the only thing stopping us getting our teeth into the central character was over 6000 nautical miles, unpredictable shipping schedules and the untimely eruption of a volcano in Iceland.
With two cameramen, Mark MacEwen and Kieran Doherty, I had been tasked with filming a story about mass consumption in Barcelona – a sequence focusing on the central character we fondly called “hero peach”, who had travelled all the way from Chile to satisfy the Catalan hunger for fresh produce.
With flights cancelled due to the volcano, the three of us had the pleasure of getting to know one another over a 900-mile road trip across Europe. Unfortunately the mountain of time lapse and HD equipment took space priority and we all had to squish into the tiny front seat of our van.
A full day and an unhealthy amount of European truck stop food later, we arrived in Barcelona to find that our “hero peach” had already arrived. They say you should never work with animals or children, perhaps this saying could also be applied to boats and ports! What ensued over the following days was a blur of timelapse and HD filming at one of Europe’s busiest ports to catch a glimpse of the peach. Kieran expertly used his DSLRs to timelapse the chaos, some of it using a fantastic tilt shift lens, whilst Mark patiently got some beautiful HD shots with the traditional TV camera.
Our “Hero” was literally wrapped up in cotton wool and transported to a market stall in La Boquería Market. It was absolutely teeming with people so more timelapses were in order for Kieran, whilst Mark struggled to move more than two steps with his weighty Steadicam rig. Pickpockets came and went, taking with them Kieran’s beloved iPhone and also temporarily our senses of humour. Lugging kit around and relentlessly battling against the hordes in the heat became even more frustrating. Each day we started at the crack of dawn and we never finished until late but at least we always had a delicious Catalan supper to look forward to. However, there was one sweet pudding we all avoided – peaches and cream!