Filmed by Emmy and Peabody Award winners Dereck and Beverly Joubert, NATURE’s new three-part miniseries, Okavango: River of Dreams, shares the tale of a unique ecosystem at its finest and most beautiful to its epic extremes. We sat down with the filmmakers, who have lived in the Okavango for 35 years, to discuss some of the challenges of the shoot as well as what they hope viewers take away from the series.
NATURE: Why was a miniseries the best way to tell the story of the Okavango?
Derek Joubert: I think that when we started looking at the story of the Okavango, we realized that telling it over three parts, or even four parts, five parts, six parts, ten parts, a miniseries would’ve been better than just a one hour. It’s just such a complex subject to tackle.
Beverly Joubert: It’s so intricate, and we wanted to be very intimate, and really understand both the water as a character, but every species in the Okavango.
NATURE: What were some challenges you faced while making the miniseries?
BJ: Our one challenge that we had in 2017 was we had a freak accident with a buffalo at night time. And he took us out. He basically knocked into us together, he impaled me, and he ran off with me. And so that was a challenge on its own in trying to stay alive. It took 18 hours before Derek could get me to the emergency room, and I had seven surgeons. They put me back together, a little bit like that nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty.
DJ: You know one of the other day-to-day challenges is that if you want to get up into those stylized, intimate views that we were talking about, we had to go through water. So the final tally was that we lost 28 cameras because sometimes we were putting them underwater and when going to retrieve them, we found that crocodiles were sitting on them.
Nature: How would you describe the filmmaking style?
BJ: We really wanted the animals to be telling the story, and to be telling the story of the Okavango.
DJ: We really wanted to bring those characters right up close to you so that you can look into their eyes, and understand what it’s like to be a lioness like Fekeetsa, moving through the swamp.
NATURE: What do you hope viewers take away from the series?
BJ: Gosh, you know, I hope viewers go on a virtual safari in so many ways. I would love people to be totally embraced by the Okavango, as we have over the last 30 years.