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Shocking scenes of walruses jammed together “out of desperation” on an ice-depleted beach, a consequence of climate change, have emerged as the defining image of Netflix’s high-profile natural history documentary, Our Planet.
Following a screening of the Our Planet episode Frozen Worlds, members of the crew, including series producer, Keith Scholey, producer Sophie Lanfear, camera operator Jamie McPherson and assistant producer Olly Scholey, spoke to Lynn Barlow about how the episode was made.
The panel shared their experiences working on the nature series and how it was created.
The sequence – a huge topic on social media - was described by award-winning natural history cinematographer Jamie McPherson as “the most powerful he’s ever shot.”
McPherson was discussing the series, which launched on the streaming service on April 5, at a joint RTS-Wildscreen screening of the Frozen Worlds episode, which featured the walruses.
“The sequence has become a symbol of climate change,” said Keith Scholey, series producer of the eight-part Our Planet, which is narrated by David Attenborough.
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In February of this year, Netflix won its first Oscar and its first Bafta. Surprisingly, the awards were not for any of its high-profile drama series, but for two documentaries. The Academy Award went to The White Helmets, a film about a group of Syria Civil Defence volunteer rescue workers. The Bafta winner was 13th, Ava DuVernay’s film about race in the US criminal justice system.
Like an entire generation of wildlife film-makers, Alastair Fothergill was drawn to television by David Attenborough. His 1979 series, Life on Earth, showed the young Fothergill that natural history programming was “a good way to be paid to be near animals”.
Fothergill, who was recently made a Fellow of the RTS, spent almost three decades at the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU). This included a five-year stint as head of department, when he landed several global hits, including The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.