It was a real privilege to have Martha Holmes, the BBC Life series producer with us at our November After Hours night. Martha (pictured left) had very kindly agreed to give a talk on the making of the BBC's Life series and it proved to be a truly fascinating event.
The high-tech, very impressive Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio was the venue, a fitting place to be discussing Sir David Attenborough's new Life series. Martha was introduced by Nathan Budd, who used to work with her at the BBC Natural History Museum Unit in Bristol, and is now an Assistant Producer in our Interactive Film Unit here. Nathan is a member of the After Hours project team and the event was his idea.
Martha is a great speaker, and made a perfect, humorous and quite moving selection of images and film clips to illustrate her talk. And her talk was so engrossing, in particular the dedication of the cameramen in difficult environments was an eye-opener, as well as seeing clips of the animal behaviour that Martha emphasised new technology is allowing us to see for the first time.
What came across most profoundly for me was the BBC’s commitment to excellence. Martha explained how only the very best shots were used in the Life series - even if that meant disappointing the cameramen who had endured horrendous conditions to get footage that would not ultimately be used. It is this process of selection that ensures the very best footage comes to our screens.
I noticed a small, rapt boy in the audience with his parents - he was first in line afterwards at the book signing and went off happily with his signed Christmas present of the Life series book that Martha co-wrote with Michael Gunton.
As Martha signed away, Nathan told me how he’d spent a year living totally isolated from civilisation when he was working as a cameraman on the BBC’s Yellowstone series. He said that about five shots from his year’s footage were eventually used. He also told me some amusing stories of running away from the wildlife which, of course, included grizzly and brown bears. Now all I need to do is persuade Nathan to do an event about cameramen living in the wild...
Come along to our next After Hours on Friday, 29 January 2010, when we're planning another special event.