February 28, 2024

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Capturing the Wild: An Exclusive Interview With Wildlife Filmmaker Bertie Gregory

Wildlife filmmaker Bertie Gregory recently went on an epic 219-day adventure documenting animals in their natural habitat. With his new six-episode release of Animals Up Close on Disney+, Gregory will showcase the wonders that came along with this experience. While chatting with Innovation & Tech Today, Gregory discusses the filming experience, his daily inspiration for getting up close and personal with these creatures, and what he hopes viewers will take from this new series. 

Innovation & Tech Today: So, you’ve got a great show getting ready to come out that was a six-part series filmed over 219 days. What was that like?

Bertie Gregory: It was a lot of time away, but it was great. We did those 219 days within a calendar year so it was pretty epic. The most number of filming days we did for one episode was the puma episode. We did 51 days for that episode in Patagonia. In wildlife films, it’s all about time because you need to learn the habits of the animals and learn the landscape that they exist within. And then on top of that, you need to get lucky, and the more time you spend in the landscape following the animals, the greater chance you have of getting lucky. And we certainly got lucky on this project.

Bertie Gregory on the tree platform filming the elephants below on the Bai. (National Geographic for Disney+/Mark Mclean)

I&TT: Are you guys on foot? Do you guys have like four-wheelers? How are you getting around?

Gregory: Yeah, so in that case (puma episode), there’s like a road that ran through her main core territory. So we’d drive in 4x4s every day, and we’d be scanning from a bunch of different viewpoints, whether that be tops of mountains with good views or from the road. And as soon as we found her, there was no road network where she was. So yeah, we’d lead with cars and then carry everything we needed.

Bertie Gregory filming a puma walking past in the foreground. (National Geographic for Disney+/Anna Dimitriadis)

I&TT: That’s amazing. What got you into this amazing, incredible, super exciting career field? Like, did you have some inspiration coming up? Were there any big people that inspired you to want to get into this field?

Gregory: My family. I’ve got my mum, dad, and three brothers. They’re all obsessed with water sports and being in the ocean. So from a really early age, I was always thrown into the sea, and I grew up sailing and surfing. I think when you spend that amount of time in the ocean, cold and wet, you gain an appreciation for it and a love for it.

As I grew up, I started to get obsessed with the natural world and figuring out how to sneak up on animals. When I was a teenager, I started taking pictures of the animals that I was obsessed with because I found that was a great way to channel my obsession.

Bertie Gregory sitting in the shallows looking at sea lions. (National Geographic for Disney+/Jeff Hester)

I&TT:  One thing that I find that’s universal is that people love animals. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your political background, or anything like that. People love animals. Why do you think that is?

Gregory: Well, I think because we’re animals ourselves. We’ve got this innate caveman and cavewoman instincts deeply buried in our DNA. We love the view of the ocean. We love the sound of bird songs. That is unanimous across humans. And I think because modern-day society is so disconnected from nature, a lot of people lose that connection.

And I think that’s the power of wildlife documentaries- it’s a chance to reconnect people, to re-fuse those neurons that maybe haven’t been activated in a long time. And I hope when people watch Animals Up Close, they come away just feeling really excited about the natural world and how amazing some of the animals that we live alongside are.

Wide shot of Bertie Gregory standing at the front of the Australis, leaning on the railings. (credit: National Geographic for Disney+/Tom Walker)

Catch Bertie Gregory’s six-episode series Animals Up Close on Disney+ starting September 13th! 

By I&T Today

By I&T Today

Innovation & Tech Today features a wide variety of writers on tech, science, business, sustainability, and culture. Have an idea? Send it to submit@innotechtoday.com

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