As any nature filmmaker can attest, it takes a lot of lurking and a certain amount of luck to get that out-of-this-world shot.
The team behind Wild Canada, which has been airing on CBC Television’s The Nature of Things, was blessed with both. They also benefited from experience – British Columbia-based creators Jeff and Sue Turner have worked with the BBC’s documentary unit on the landmark series Planet Earth and Frozen Planet – and technology: ultra-high-definition cameras wrapped in underwater gear; tiny cameras inserted unobtrusively into beaver lodges, mounted to drone helicopter rigs, or onto poles to get snake-eye-level shots.
The results are stunning, showing animal behaviour never before captured: masses of capelin surfing the waves onto a remote Newfoundland beach to spawn; wolves leaving their salmon catch behind for ravens and eagles and then returning to eat the skin; muskrats helping beavers insulate their lodges.
Aside from attracting “well above” the usual ratings, according to The Nature of Things executive producer Sue Dando, the series has also sparked a tide of viewer interest in how the footage was shot. So the CBC quickly ordered up a making-of episode, which airs Thursday evening. Prepare to be wowed again.
“What’s interesting about natural-history filmmaking is every time a new series comes out, the bar is raised,” says Jeff Turner, who has long wanted to tell Canada’s story. “You have to keep doing better than what you did before … and with each success you have to go deeper and further and longer.”