Executive Decisions

 Brian 2 by hedge lowres




by Brian Leith, Executive Producer, Human Planet

I realise these blogs are supposed to be action-packed accounts of daring exploits posted by intrepid members of our filmmaking teams scattered to the farthest-flung corners of the world.  But this week I thought we’d bring you a surprise.

So, while we have one team (Mark and Renee) filming the capture of giant fish in the turbulent rapids of a river in Laos, another (Tuppence and Jane) filming tribesmen literally stealing a kill from hungry lions in Kenya, and another (Tom and Rachael) filming a house-move (!) atop a 40-metre tree in Papua - and yet another team (Nick and Bethan) filming a traditional Inuit whale hunt in Greenland… I’m bringing this front-line account to you from exotic Whiteladies Road in Bristol.

You see, not all of us in glamorous wildlife TV get to go on those exotic trips. Some of us have to man the telephones and sit in front of computers back at base, trying to keep track of it all.  Some of us are ‘production management’ staff, in charge of making plans and making sure those plans actually turn into film shoots; some of us are technical staff, trying to make sure that all those sounds and images gathered from around the world are transferred, logged, and stored in a suitable format so that we can actually make the series at the end of all this action; some of us are picture and sound editors, destined forever to sit in darkened rooms imagining what it must have been like to be on location when that mad thing happened.

And some of us never get to go anywhere at all because we’re… well, because we’re just so darned IMPORTANT.  As the Executive Producer of Human Planet I rarely get to travel beyond Redland and Clifton, here in deepest Bristol.  This has its up-sides:  I get to go home at a reasonable hour most days and I can take my son to school in the mornings;  I get to drink lattes in fashionable cafes discussing the latest gossip in Broadcast magazine.

But there are down-sides too:  I wave jealously to my colleagues as they head off down the M4 destined for Iguacu Falls or The Skeleton Coast in Namibia with tents and sleeping bags tucked under their arms;  I have to sit silently at the lunch tables - no intrepid tales to tell, no scars to show off, no shrunken heads to give as gifts to adorn my colleague’s desks.  Yes, it’s a tough life for us execs - we’ve moved on from the heady days of adrenaline and malaria to the gentler slopes of ovaltine and mogadon.  We may get - I said may - the bigger bucks, but we’re hardly the tanned and chilled well-travelled explorers we once were - or once hoped to become.

So the picture of me above shows me standing by my hedge in Redland - about to head south down Whiteladies Road, a gruelling fifteen-minute trek to the BBC offices here in Bristol.  The editor of this blog has threatened to add another photo of me in more adventurous days - crossing a river in the Congo on the trail of jungle elephants… But my shtick these days is purely vicarious adventure.

Brian being adventurous in the Congo (couldn't resist. Ed)

Brian being adventurous in the Congo (couldn't resist. Ed)

3 Responses to “Executive Decisions”

  1. foyster says:

    nice pic Brian!

  2. Pogeyan says:

    Hola Seniore Brian,
    Very enjoyable read even if it was from the deep recesses of a BBC office in Bristol! Looking forward to watching the Human Planet.

  3. Losibali says:

    It’s top-notch work from all locations and contributors, and greatly appreciated. We were fortunate to spend the time with you in early May. Best!

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