Mountain Gorilla "The Making of the IMAX Film" ..Page 5 of 6
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by Adrian Warren (Director)
As we approached
the gorillas, Craig would go on ahead to assess their mood and situation.
Meanwhile, Neil, Kim, Chris and I would start to assemble the equipment.
Then, under the watchful gaze of our gorilla friends we would slowly move
the equipment in piece by piece - first the tripod, then the tripod head,
battery, cables, lenses, and finally the monster camera itself which took
two people to carry. Every move we made had to be calm and gentle, so
the process was a slow one. Often by the time we were ready the gorillas
decided it was time to move on; and so, after hours of climbing up the
mountain with the equipment, and finding the gorillas we would have to
disassemble it again and follow them. This process could repeat itself
for days on end with no film passing through the camera. But then suddenly
it would all happen and we would come down the mountain at the end of
the day exhausted but triumphant. Wielding the IMAX camera around the
Virunga Volcanoes was a daunting task. Normally when you go on the road
with an IMAX crew and sixty or so cases of equipment you work out of a
10 ton truck and a couple of 4-wheel drives thrown in. In the Virungas
we were on foot, and even with the equipment reduced to a minimum we employed
at least sixteen porters on a daily basis to help us. The camera had to
be supported on a tripod for filming - there was no way it could be hand
held like a 16mm camera can. So once it is in place it is not very versatile
Sometimes we would have the camera ready for one shot and a gorilla would sneak up behind us and catch us unawares. We also had to keep a careful eye on any objects we placed on the ground - the gorillas are intelligent, observant and curious, and more than once we almost lost a lens or a plastic bag when a young gorilla made a cunning approach and took us by surprise.
After many weeks of work with the same gorillas, they seemed to accept our presence very readily. I often wondered how we seemed to them - did they wonder where we disappeared to at night? After working with the tripod for many weeks we tried using a rail device to give the camera some movement on group shots. The gorillas were very curious about this new piece of equipment and we had to be careful about its use. It meant having an immense amount of hardware close to the gorillas, and such were the complications in setting it up that one shot was all we could expect to achieve in a day, if we were lucky. For that reason we worked hard on filming behaviour, pure and simple, from the beginning, a decision which I was very happy to have made when hostilities brought our work to an untimely end.
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