Definition December 2022 - Web


GREENHOUSE EFFECTS To comply with Covid-19 regulations, shooting took place with Attenborough inside and the crew outside a greenhouse

At the outset of the documentary, in the words of director Mike Birkhead, there was nothing on the horizon to suggest production would be anything other than plain sailing. “Everything was in place,” he says. “Funding, contracts and everything else was ready in early 2020, just in time for us to film in the spring.” All Birkhead and crew had to do was visit some beautiful locations on a project to film spring songsters. However, we all know what happened next; the Covid-19 endemic that was reported in Wuhan, China soon became a global pandemic. Flights were grounded, offices and later schools were closed – and unless you were going out to exercise, most people were all but housebound. However, unlike many projects that didn’t get off the ground for another year or more, it was a shorter hiatus for Birkhead and his team. The rules prohibiting filming for the masses were soon relaxed enough to allow a solitary camera operator to work alone. All of a sudden, Attenborough’s Wonder of Song was back on. George Woodcock, principal photographer on the series, was the solo cameraman tasked with filming the UK scenes – but shooting with Attenborough was postponed indefinitely. Woodcock was chiefly tasked with filming the dawn chorus as well as birds singing into the evening, in locations

across the south of England. He would have no help – only himself, his kit and a series of long days ahead. OUT ON LOCATION Knepp Wildland is a 3500-acre estate situated near Horsham, West Sussex. As Woodcock explains, it was perfect for a project of this kind. “We used Knepp Estate, a fascinating rewilding project in the grounds of Knepp Castle,” Woodcock says. “It’s a popular place because there’s a rich

“Everything was in place – funding, contracts and everything else was ready in early 2020, just in time for us to film in the spring”

BRANCHING OUT The global pandemic forced the crew to explore new ways of approaching a documentary of this kind


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