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Making of “Hippo King”

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Go behind the scenes of “Hippo King.” Filmmakers Will and Lianne Steenkamp discuss their experience creating the film.

TRANSCRIPT

- The idea for the film, the 'Hippo King' started when we came to South Luangwa, and what was it?

In 2011 for the first time, when we discovered these incredible animals behind us.

- Generally, we see hippos bobbing about in the water maybe with a nice yawn showing their tusks, but most people don't get to see much more about hippos, and therefore it's hard to understand and appreciate these animals.

Essentially, the story is about an old hippo bull that's taking us all the way back to the moment he was born.

And takes us through the different life stages that he goes through.

And I think what we were hoping to achieve with this film by following one character growing up here in South Luangwa Zambia, is that we're hoping to show the different side of a hippo, and that a viewer actually can connect with an animal that we don't usually connect with easily.

(crickets chirping) (hippo grunting) - [Man] And it took us about six, seven years of continuously documenting different behavior of the hippos.

And there's a side to hippos that we discovered a soft side, an emotional side even a social side.

- [Woman] We are normally used to filming teeth and claws, and this was a first time that we actually followed a herbivore for such a long time.

And it's been an amazing experience.

- We used an array of different technology to show side that been hardly seen and that's at nighttime.

We were fortunate to be able to secure a thermal camera, that you can film at night without using any lights whatsoever.

There will be zero impact except our presence.

And that helped us to get us little secret view of what hippos are up to at night.

And what we've seen was remarkable.

We've seen things that you never hardly imagine a hippo do.

And of course we did something with high speed cameras to show you the detail of hippos you won't see in a normal speed camera.

And we used very, very strong lenses to get closer than before to give you that intimate view of the hippo that you hardly will see.

I mean, this is a dangerous animal.

I mean, they regarded as one of the most dangerous land mammals on earth.

But with this technology and with time and respect we managed to get quite intimate and close to these animals in a safe way.

And to show that life of a hippo, like never before.

As wildlife filmmakers we make films like these not just for entertainment, and it's for us we see the value in conservation.

A place like this, the Luangwa river, we wanna make sure that our future generations can appreciate this place.

And a river like this doesn't only provide aesthetical value or beautiful landscape behind us where we can appreciate nature, (hippo grunting) correct.

Yes, it supports communities.

It supports all these animals.

And I think for future generations it's really important for us to conserve these, these last remaining wildernesses.

So we hope that The Hippo King will contribute to that, and make people appreciate these wonderful places we still have left on earth.

- And with this character driven film we hope that everyone gets to appreciate, respect and want to conserve these incredible animals.

(hippo grunting) (water splashing) (wind swishing)

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