by Nicola Brown, Production Management Assistant
When I joined the Human Planet team back in February I felt excited and slightly nervous. Not only was I going to work on a massive landmark series for BBC One but with a team of 20+ new people, some of whom had been on the project for nearly 3 years! But before I knew it I was right in the thick of it all with no chance to worry about anything other than getting shoots out to some of the remotest places on earth. It’s 10 months later and as we finish up in post-production and head towards transmission there’s only a handful of us left. Where did the last 10 months go?!
Within days of starting in our Cardiff office the Rivers team were facing a potential crisis. A crew had recently departed for the Indian Himalayas to film a sequence on the frozen Zanskar River. On arriving in the village of Zangla the team had met with horrendous weather conditions that left them stranded. Daily conference calls deliberated whether we should abandon the shoot altogether and rescue everyone by helicopter! I’d never been on a production like this before. As the days went by thankfully conditions changed and the shoot was able to go ahead. A short film documenting the team’s journey has been made for release with our DVD on iTunes. It’s a compelling watch and really shows a Human Planet shoot at its most extreme.
A couple of months later Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused further chaos in the office as flights out of the UK became disrupted just as a crew were due to depart for Barcelona to film a sequence for our Cities programme. With no official word on when air-space would re-open, the decision was made to take the shoot on the road. Myself and Production Co-ordinator, Andrea Jones went into a frenzy, making last minute bookings and frantically re-scheduling while Technical Co-ordinator Patrick Murray got kit together. Somehow we managed to get the team out in time. Over in Brazil our Producer/Director Mark Flowers was trying to fly back from a Rivers shoot in the Amazon. Mark managed to board a flight from Sao Paulo; in the office however, we were unable to work out where he would land! With no updates availliable from Heathrow or the airline, it was only towards the end of the flight we learnt that he would land in Barcelona. Strangely meaning he was able to meet up with the other crew and go out for an evening!
We finally finished filming in August, launching straight into a hectic post-production schedule of edits, orchestral records and voice over recordings. Seeing the programmes come together gradually has been an exciting process and it’s amazing to see how the shoots we sent out the door have transformed into wonderful stories for television. With transmission only a couple of weeks away, we’re now starting to see the programmes completely finished in full stunning HD and in 5:1 surround sound. Seeing calendars, books and DVD covers makes everything seem all of a sudden very real. The world is about to see the amazing places and meet the fascinating people that the teams have spent the last 3 years putting together. Look out January 2011!