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Inside NATURE – Making Okavango: River of Dreams | Part One


Join filmmakers and conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert for a behind-the-camera look at the making of the first chapter in their Okavango epic.


(birds chirping) - [Beverly] We're about to start quite a journey, and we wanna take you with us, behind the scenes, on one of the most ambitious projects of our lives.

It's all about finding and then telling the story of the Okavango, and in many ways, finding its very soul.

I'm Beverly Joubert, and this is Dereck, both explorers and conservation filmmakers.

(suspenseful music) Come with us.

- [Dereck] How do you tell the story of one of the greatest places on the planet?

Probably with as few words as possible.

The pictures speak for themselves.

(rapid, stressful music) This is not a project we could have done on our own.

- [Beverly] We teamed up with crocodile experts, underwater crews, helicopter pilots, and cameramen to tackle this great adventure.

- [Dereck] It's taken every tool we have.

(rapid, stressful music) - [Beverly] It's not a search because it's been lost.

We're searching so we can understand it.

(dramatic, suspenseful music) - [Diver] You all ready, lads?

Three, two, one. (gurgling water) - [Dereck] And one way to do that is to get in under its skin, into the water.

(exciting, rapid music) - [Beverly] Swayne did his Ph.D on crocodiles.

He knows what to look for, and where to look, I hope.

(quiet, wet gurgling) There is a lot of tension.

The first dives were to test the waters, and in particular, the crocs for aggression.

(muffled, wet gurgling) - [Diver] Okay, so we're still on that big.

- [Dereck] That was her?

- [Diver] She's back here somewhere.

Well, that's your alley, see.

It opens up at the bottom here, so if we just keep going, if we can get into this one.

- [Dereck] By using a drone, the crew have seen open water, a lagoon that could be a croc lair, through the reeds.

It looks easy to get to.

Well, easy from the air.

(dramatic, suspenseful music) (quiet laughter) - [Cameraman] Did we make it?

- [Dereck] Um, no, we didn't.

- [Boat Pilot] Oh yeah, oh yeah, freedom.

- [Dereck] The perfect croc lair is in the open water, but with reed and papyrus hideaways.

(muffled splashing) (quiet, dramatic music) - [Beverly] These dragon labyrinths have to be some of the most eerie caverns in the world.

Scary, because you don't know when a croc or hippo might be coming the other way.

Cameraman Grant is fearless, pushing in far under the reed canopy into what is largely an unknown realm.

(dramatic, suspenseful music) - [Dereck] The crew placed GoPros just to see what we could get.

The problem was, some just disappeared, and others were impossible to retrieve because crocodiles moved on to them, daring us to come get them.

(muffled, wet squelching) - [Beverly] We had to finally write off quite a few, rather than write off a cameraman.

I think we all know what that sign means.

Sends shivers up your spine, the snapping jaw sign.

(dramatic, sad music) These are some of the largest crocodiles in the delta, one double the length of a diver, with fins.

(dramatic, suspenseful music) (muffled, wet bubbling) There's that chilling sign again.

(dramatic, suspenseful music) (rapid, frightening music) When a guy like Swayne calls it because he has a creepy feeling, you listen.

(muffled, wet bubbling) There's always a bigger croc, and they get energized when the Barbus start to run.

It's a madness of millions of fish, big fish thrashing about in the water, churning it up and making it unsafe to dive.

- [Dereck] While Swayne, Grant, and Taylor and the crew weigh up the risks of more dives, we hit the land.

Well, not the dry land, exactly.

Is this elusive soul of the Okavango underwater, or above?

(rapid chirping) Is it embodied in the massive herds of animals, or somewhere else?

(sweeping, inspirational music) One character starts to develop on camera.

She's been attacked by buffalo.

Actually, this part of the film is quite personal to us.

We were attacked at about the same time, and Beverly put in hospital, but what was weird is that she and the lioness have had very similar injuries, so perhaps we associated with her somehow.

She became symbolic for us, as she found it impossible to run and hunt because of her broken leg and shoulder.

(dramatic, sad music) - [Beverly] So, we basically moved in with this lioness.

She's remarkable.

We called her Fiketsa, short for overcoming a challenge.

The film tackles a scene of her killing newborn letchway, tough in many ways, but we always believed in telling it the way it is, and if you believe that this natural world is perfect, we cannot judge it.

It is what it is.

But our hearts went out to her and her struggles.

(dramatic, sad music) - [Dereck] And the minute you judge something like this, you realize it is all for a reason.

(soft, sweeping music) - [Beverly] She kills to feed her cubs.

(instrumental, inspirational music) - [Dereck] What we didn't anticipate was that her sister would come in and take their kill.

(muffled, guttural woof) - [Beverly] Then we found out she had her own newborn cubs to take care of, too.

We are still, after 35 years, amazed by the perfection of all this, and still in love with it.

It's our life's goal to protect it.

- [Dereck] For me, the worst part of a film is in actually finishing it, letting it go.

Perhaps the real soul of a place is in these complexities, these characters, and its ability to make us fall in love with it, and ourselves, over and over again.

Of the entire number of animals left on the planet, only four percent are actually wild.

The rest are lost to humans.

It's just four percent.

We can't be fighting over the very existence of those last remnants now.

(dramatic, inspirational music)


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