Animal Documentary Series:
Location: London, United Kingdom. Year of Production: 1999
Brief: This was a ground-breaking animal documentary series. It was observational, unplanned and pioneered this reality style of programming. What also set it apart from the majority of documentary productions of its day was that it was 90 percent self-funded. After securing a modest pre-sale from Discovery Channel for their newly launched Animal Planet Europe, producer-director John Gubba went ahead with producing 13 episodes funded by his own company VSI Enterprises.
Benefits: The animal documentary series features the real-life adventures of Trevor Smith, whom we billed as “the most versatile animal wrangler on the planet.” As Trevor is now the first to admit, it raised his profile and turned him into one of the most sought after choreographers of animal action in the filming business today. One episode shot in Beirut was pick of the day in the Observer when it first screened and was featured in a magazine article the director wrote to publicise the show.
Technical: The first episodes were filmed on Betacam SP. This included a trip to Cairo, where we took Egyptian cobras to Egypt to film the making of a movie starring Omar Sharif. But most of the episodes were self-shot on DVCAM by producer-director and narrator Gubba. Armed with a small Sony DSR 200AP and a single radio mic, this self-shooter became an expert at making the most of natural lighting. With a lot of the episodes including behind the scenes footage on the sets of films, commercials and pop promos, there was plenty of glitz and glamour in this animal documentary series.
Testimonial: “Hosting the Wild Thing series is one of the best things I have ever done. It was brilliantly produced by VSI and has been shown all over the world.”