Wild Shetland: Behind the Scenes
by Brydon Thomason -
Wild Shetland: Scotland's Viking Frontier is available to watch on BBC Scotland, Wednesday 23rd January 2019 at 9pm. Shetland Nature's Brydon Thomason asssited the production team as a consultant and field guide. In this blog he gives us a behind the scenes look into the filming of the documentary.
All images credit Brydon Thomason/Richard Shucksmith.
For the last 12 years there hasn't been a season go by that we haven't worked on, or featured in TV productions about Shetland. We feel truly humbled by this and see it as a privilege which we do with genuine pride for Shetland, our way of life and especially our natural history.
But this one is really special. From the moment we first met with Maramedia producer, Jackie Savery, myself and Richard Shucksmith put our heart and souls in to help make the film be everything Shetland's wildlife deserved it to be! We were already well aware of their impressive portfolio of award winning films such as 'Highlands- Scotland's Wild Heart' and 'Hebrides- life on the edge', we knew this would be the real deal.
Photo: Richard Shucksmith
The team we worked with were fantastic, making our jobs all the more enjoyable. Cameramen such as Raymond Besant, Justin Purefoy and Fergus Gill were not only exceptional behind the lens but true gents and better still, great craic too.
The whole team at Maramedia deserve a mention and high praise, from the researching through to the final edits as do Fraser Purdie for the music and indeed Ewan McGregor for the narration- bringing a touch of Hollywood to the production!
The whole film making process is fascinating and extremely emotive. Everyone gets on the same page and gives it their all. Each of us, with our respective areas of expertise collaborating and coming together with ideas and solutions to get the best out of every shoot.
As well as facilitating and advising on many aspects of the film, our main role was as otter consultants and field guides. This was a dream assignment for us- to work on a family from their first few weeks of venturing out of their natal holt, through to the eventual family separation. We work on otters week in, week out throughout the seasons and especially for projects like these, need to know what they are doing, where and when.
It's crucial we get the crew in the right place at the right time. But there is a balance between what the team might want; what will look good on screen, what's possible- but most importantly, making sure the wildlife comes first- that is our primary responsibility.
It has to be said here that the Maramedia team were respectful of this at every stage and we were impressed by this from the outset. Many production companies want to push things, which never works with us but they have a very good and responsible understanding of this.
The standard of wildlife film making has moved on to an astonishing level in recent years through the combination of technology and indeed tenacity. Each new documentary series reaches new heights in how wildlife is filmed and brought to our screens and now, through this fantastic film Shetland will stand out like never before.
Many of the sequences shot are truly unique, never having been filmed in Britain before and I am especially pleased for Richard to have some incredible footage in the film as well as a stunning timelapse done by Rob Brookes. It was also great to have Shetland Seabird Tours involves for the Noss Gannet sequences.
This film is a beautiful, exciting and inspiring celebration of Shetland, its wildlife, cultural heritage and natural beauty. It is the result of many individuals and professionals committing whole heartedly to have made it what it is and we, like everyone involved are extremely proud- we hope it's as much fun to watch as it was to make!