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Wild Indonesia filming Indonesia

 

Destined for Indonesia
By Andrew Jackson

I've been in the industry for more than 20 years. I started work as a sound engineer in BBC radio before joining their journalist training scheme to work first in the radio newsroom, and then in television. My first directing job was to make a five-minute magazine item on the brewers of the world's strongest beer, and I never looked back. From there I went on to direct items and programs from issues as diverse as men building submarines in the back garden to sewage pollution on beaches.

MountainIn the mid-80s, "green" issues were big news, and with a zoology degree, I found myself more and more tied up in environmental programming. In 1986, I produced my first environmental series, which was called "Natural Concern." Unwittingly, I had turned the corner onto the natural history path, and after several more years in the environment, I started working on more traditional natural history programs for the BBC in Bristol.

As luck had it, it was a perfect time to have moved into the field. Viewers were demanding a different kind of animal programming. In 1992, I left the BBC and teamed up with Jeremy Bradshaw of Tigress Productions to begin working on the highly acclaimed wildlife series, "In The Wild." Over the next few years,I worked with Bob Hoskins, Christopher Reeve, Goldie Hawn, Holly Hunter and just recently, Julia Roberts.

Going Wild


Tiger

"Wild Indonesia" was is some ways an extension of the new methods we had tried to introduce with

"In The Wild," but this time, applied to a more traditional program. Here was a place with an incredible diversity of animals - the only country to house both tigers and kangaroos - and the story of how it became that way is the story of Wild Indonesia.

"Wild Indonesia" presented a particular logistical challenge for us. How to cover 17,000 islands spread across an area stretching from New York to London. Once we'd figured that out, we were then faced with how to access the animals there, many of which were rarely seen, let alone researched. As we had tied ourselves to telling the story of Indonesia's evolution, we had to make sure we did every island and every species' story justice. Obviously, we couldn't cover everyone, but we certainly had a go. The series has one of the highest species counts of any I have ever worked on.

Discovering Indonesia

LandscapeIndonesia is one of those places where most people have difficulty in pin-pointing on a map. Bali is well known, but few of us know it's part of Indonesia. At least, that was the case when "Wild Indonesia" was being planned. Unfortunately, we now know it for all the wrong reasons. However, as with many places in the world, what we see on our newscasts is only a small part of the story. As a boy, I lived in the Far East, and it has always fascinated me. As natural history horizons have widened from Africa to South America, India and Asia, Indonesia has become increasingly more and more enticing.

The problem was access. It was and in some cases still is a very difficult country to move around in and gaining filming permissions almost impossible for certain areas. However, in 1993 I took a crew into to do some filming of tigers on one of the larger islands and began to build some strong relationships. My knowledge of the language from my childhood helped enormously. From there, it was a matter of convincing the networks that there was a story to be told about this mysterious place. The rest, as they say, is history.

Telling the Story

All good stories are comprised only of the elements that directly relate to the story. Nursery rhymesare among the oldest stories in the world. Their success is due in part to their simplicity. In "Little Red Riding Hood," Filming Indonesia

we have no idea what kind of forest she's in, what the weather was like, etc. We know only the facts that are directly relevant to the story, and it was through this filtering method that we both eliminated and included the people and animals of Indonesia.

 

We decided very early on that an encyclopedic look at the country would be no better than a shopping list and probably less interesting! A story -- a strong story -- was needed to pull together Monkey

the two worlds of Asia and Australia, which the islands of Indonesia lie between. We chose the idea of the formation of this amazing country and the resulting colonization by the animals. Through this story we could not only get in an amazing tale of geological change but a fascinating tale of adaptation by various species into plants and animals which occur nowhere else on earth. We wanted to take people on a magical mystery tour of this most spectacular country and hopefully give in insight into just one of the ways which scientists now think it was formed.


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