BBC Home
Explore the BBC


Chat: Hotseat

Last Updated: Monday November 13 2006 19:40 GMT

Hotseat: Planet Earth film maker

Jeff Wilson

Top nature documentary Planet Earth is back on our screens.

We've seen some amazing scenes of the world around us, but have you ever thought about how it's been filmed?

We asked you to send in your questions and we put the best to Planet Earth film maker Jeff Wilson when he came to the Newsround studios on Monday.

Have there been times when you or your team have been attacked or chased?
Khyati, 13, Greenford

Luckily we've never been attacked. We're really wary about how close to get to animals - it's not in their interest or our interest to get into a position where we might be attacked.

We have had close calls with animals but we will remove ourselves from a situation which could be dangerous.

When you're filming animals like lions they don't tend to go for the vehicles we travel in because they don't associate them with food.

What was the hardest thing you've had to watch during filming?
Sophie, 10, Watford

In Planet Earth there is a sequence that involves chimpanzees hunting and it's quite hard to watch because they're such close relatives to humans. Like us, they're very vocal and everything happened so quickly.

There was about 30 to 40 chimps screaming and drumming on the trees while hunting monkeys. They also came across another group of chimps and it didn't end very well for them. It was hard to watch.

What was the most breath taking scenery you came across whilst filming?
Rhiannon, 14, Penarth

The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, Africa. It's one of the hottest places on Earth but everywhere you look it's covered in volcanic crystals. They're all different colours so there are lots of green, yellow, white and blue crystals that have been thrown out the volcano during eruptions.

What is your favourite animal you have filmed so far?
Devika, 9, Bristol

I've been filming snow leopards in Pakistan and they are my favourite animal. They are stunning with their amazing bright blue eyes.

How many years have you been a fan of animals?
Lucy, 11, Coventry

I used to collect snakes when I was younger. My parents used to make us learn the snake book so that we knew which snakes were poisonous and which were okay to collect.

And we've always had pets - as long as I can remember.

What was the most scary moment you've had during filming?
Elsa, 10, Maidenhead

In the next programme of Planet Earth there is a sequence on colugos, which are flying lemurs. We had to film them during the night and one night at about 4am I got bitten by a pit viper, which is a very poisonous snake and for about two hours I was a little bit scared.

We went to hospital but by the time we got there I was getting better and didn't need treatment.

I was also stalked by a puma - a big cat - once when we were filming. I think I got too close to her and her cub and she was warning me off.

When did you decide you wanted to work with animals?
Ruby, 11, London

I grew up in Kenya working with animals along with my family so I always had a passion for them - even before I could walk!

I always knew that I would work with animals, although originally I thought I would become a vet rather than a film maker.

My elder brother sometimes bullies me. Are wild animals mean to their brothers and sisters or are they nice to them?
Eddie, 11, Cambridge

I've seen rivalry in animal brother and sisters for sure. It tends to be playful and there is a lot of love behind the fighting rather than meanness.

Do you think it is important to stop global warming to help protect animals and wildlife? (PS. I love the series!)
Amy, 14, Glasgow

Yes - it's very very important - and I think climate change is not impossible to stop. Everyone can do their bit.

It's little things - like if you turn off your computers and TVs and make sure nothing in your home is using electricity on standby. And if you are going to the shops and you can walk then make sure you do.

If you want to help an animal and you don't, do you feel guilty?
Alice, 10, Thurso
It's never nice to see horrible things happening to animals - whether it's inflicted by other animals or by the environment they live in. It is heartbreaking to see those things happen and you do wish you could help every animal you see in trouble but it's not your job to do it.

How long did it take to film the whole Planet Earth series?
Beth, 12, Keighley

It took just under four years including editing it together. It took about 2,000 'filming days' to make.

Have you ever cried at something you have seen happen?
Paige, Ashford

I have cried - but it was tears of joy rather than sadness. The first time we filmed snow leopards we didn't think we'd get anything. We were filming for seven weeks and we were worried that we'd go home without any shots. But the leopards were there on the first day and we were so happy I cried.

How do you capture your footage on film always at the right moments?
Zahra,14, London

We have to be out filming in the field for incredible amounts of time - sometimes two to three months.

The filming of the penguins you see in Planet Earth took a year so you need an enormous amount of patience observing the animals. We know the behaviour we have to film so it's about watching and waiting for the right moment.

But we don't always get it right, we do miss it sometimes.

How do you become a wildlife film maker?
Catriona, 8, Lanarkshire

I did a work experience placement at the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol and I worked for a few independent film companies. But there are several ways of getting in.

You can either decide to become an animal behaviour scientist - someone who specialises in studying animals - and get in that way. Or you can do a film degree and learn how to make documentaries.

But ultimately the thing that connects wildlife film makers is that we have a huge passion for the animals we work with.

It must be brilliant to film these incredible animals for a job, but do you ever get bored of doing it?
Cory Tucker, 12, Exmouth

We do get bored. For instance myself and a cameraman spent the best part of two months sitting in a hide for 14 hours a day, seven days a week. We only had a small letterbox-sized hole that we could film through.

In that time we only saw the bird - called a Paradise Bird - we had to film for 15 minutes. So we do get bored sometimes!

BBC Homepage >> | CBBC Homepage >>

Meet the Team | Help | Contact Us | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy