×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight the struggles of local wildlife as animals try to cope with climate change that threatens their existence. 

To accompany the show, Netflix and the wildlife production company Silverback Films worked in tandem with the World Wildlife Fund to create an interactive website where viewers can watch added content and discover ways to help the cause of environmentalism. 

The pricy project was filmed over four years in 50 countries, capturing tens of thousands of hours of footage in roughly 3,500 filming days from 600 photographers and filmmakers using some of the world’s most technologically advanced camera systems. Out of that massive crew, about a dozen made up the core group of Silverback’s go-to camera operators. Those were the individuals who hunkered down sometimes for days in one spot in order to get the shots intended to move audiences to action.

Keith Scholey, co-executive producer along with Alastair Fothergill and the heads of Silverback, compares the best lensers to sports stars. “Like in [soccer], you know who the top dozen wildlife camera operators are, and we only selected the A-listers. We didn’t have to persuade [Netflix] that these are the people to use, because everyone wants to have the rock stars of our industry.”

Among this cream of the crop is Sophie Darlington, a cinematographer who cut her teeth in wildlife filmmaking with Hugo van Lawick, Jane Goodall’s cameraman as she undertook her groundbreaking research with chimpanzees in Tanzania in the 1960s. Darlington has worked with both Disney Nature and the BBC Natural History Unit, and says she finds herself most exhilarated when hiding in a blind for 27 hours with a frozen cucumber sandwich in 20-degree weather waiting for the perfect shot. Her work appears several segments of “Our Planet.”

“The luxury about having done this for so many years is that people get to know what your thing is,” says Darlington. Her sequences for “Our Planet” include startling footage of a wildebeest and its calf, pelicans in Australia’s Lake Eyre region, lions and elephants in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, and the sandhill cranes of Nebraska’s Platte River basin.

A shot of those cranes closes the seventh episode. “There’s a sudden invasion of these incredible migrants on an epic journey,” says Darlington, who shot the birds with a long lens. “And they find this cinched waistband of 17-mile stretch on the Platte River where 500,000 of them land to refuel and recuperate. It’s an amazing thing, but it’s so brief.” 

More TV

  • Humans

    'Humans' Canceled After Three Seasons at AMC, Channel 4

    ‘Humans’ is no more. Writer and executive producer Sam Vincent announced the news on Twitter that the show, which aired on AMC and the U.K.’s Channel 4, would not be returning for a fourth season. “In this age of unprecedented choice and competition, we can have no complaints,” he wrote, adding that he and fellow [...]

  • Marta Fernandez Starz

    Starz Executive VP of Programming Marta Fernandez to Step Down

    Marta Fernandez is exiting her role as executive vice president of original programming at Starz, Variety has learned. Fernandez was elevated to her current role in December. She first joined Starz in 2007 and has shepherded shows such as “Spartacus,” “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” “Black Sails” and “Da Vinci’s Demons.” Her current roster of shows includes [...]

  • Academy of Country Music CEO Pete

    Academy of Country Music CEO Pete Fisher Exits; RAC Clark Named Interim Chief

    The CEO of the Academy of Country Music, Pete Fisher, has exited after two and a half years at the helm of the organization behind the annual ACM Awards. RAC Clark, the executive producer of the CBS broadcast, has been named interim executive director, effective immediately. No reason was given for the change at the [...]

  • Sony Interactive Launches Film, TV Studio

    Sony Interactive Launches Film, TV Studio to Adapt Video Game Projects

    Sony Interactive recently launched PlayStation Productions, a studio tasked with adapting the company’s video game properties into films and television shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter. PlayStation Productions is headed by Asad Qizilbash and overseen by SIE chairman of Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden. It’s reportedly already working on its first slate of projects on the [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    'Game of Thrones' Cast Thanks Fans in Emotional Farewell Video

    And now their watch (and ours) has ended. After eight years and eight seasons, “Game of Thrones” came to a close on Sunday night. The series finale certainly split diehard fans who have been invested in the journeys of their favorite characters, but it will be hard to replace HBO’s beloved fantasy series. In honor [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Sets

    'Game of Thrones' Finale Sets New Series High With Staggering 19.3 Million Viewers

    The “Game of Thrones” series finale ratings are here and they are — as you’d expect — staggering. Across HBO, HBO Go, and HBO NOW, the conclusion of the megahit fantasy series drew 19.3 million viewers, overtaking the previous series high of 18.4 million viewers that was set just last week. In addition, 13.6 million [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content