The end of July is the time when brown bears start hunting fish in the Kurile lake and because of the abundance of food it is safe to get really close to them. The Kurile lake has the highest red salmon population in Asia.
This time the Japanese crew wanted to film an episode for their TV show on Nippon TV with the very popular Japanese actress Imoto Ayako who was facing her fears. So we first flew to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy from Moscow and then took a helicopter to the wildlife reserve flying over mountains and volcanos.
There is a house and tourist tents and people book space in this reserve almost a year in advance so we were really lucky that the administration agreed to squeeze our crew into their schedule.
To get closer to the area with bears, we went by speed boat accompanied with an armed and very serious inspector. We had to move slowly and not get separated from the group, the wild bears are still wild bears after all 🙂
It is really hard to express what you feel when you see a wild brown bear only in 10 meters away from you, such a mixture of danger and delight that you can only freeze and stare at the them for hours. But we had to get back to the helicopter and fly back to the city for other adventures.
We met with a Koryak family who keep up old traditions but only on arrival we found that the place was created for tourists, and in order to find the real ones who live according to their old traditions we had to travel further to the North. This is sometimes the issue when working on a show without scouting the locations before the shoot.
Back in Moscow the host learned some booty dancing and tried the traditional Russian meal “beef stroganoff” in black bread. We also brought a very unusual hairdresser from Tyumen who cuts hair with an axe and makes an unforgettable show. After he demonstrated his skill on a young woman with long hair, the Japanese cameraman (who has quite long hair) was chosen by the crew to experience an axe hair cut. Accidentally he was really pleased with the result 🙂In Saint-Petersburg we met with two guys who help to overcome fears. Their team came up with using sharp knives, bed of nails, broken glass and a technique to overcome the fear of height.
We also took a roof tour and observed the city from high which is a very unusual experience in St. Petersburg, a cite with very few tall buildings. If you are ever in Saint-Petersburg in summer time it is absolutely recommended as the views are spectacular.
Here is a backstage video about this filming trip. We want to thank everyone who helped us to organise it.
We have just finished another project with London based production company Pilot. We headed to Saint-Petersburg on Easter Day for the new TV series “Empire Builders” which looks into the achievements of mighty Empires through its iconic buildings.
Not only is this our third project with the same production company, but also with British cameraman Nigel Kinnings. We have already shot Tough Trains and Ottomans Vs Christians together and shared some adventures.
This time in Saint-Petersburg we filmed two of the most magnificent buildings, the Winter Palace and the Catherine Palace. Then we headed to Moscow where we filmed St. Basils Cathedral and The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
In Saint-Petersburg we interviewed art historian and Professor Aleksey Lepork who was a real pleasure to work with. He has so much useful knowledge and a good understating of film processes which is a great help.
We filmed in The Winter Palace on a Monday which is when the museum is closed to the public. This gave us a very unique opportunity to use the space without the rush of tourists. We had this experience last summer when filming “Ottomans Vs Christians”, trying to capture the atmosphere of these majestic rooms with crowds of tourists passing through is hard work. Keeping them back to get a shot is often impossible, so to shoot there when it is just the crew, a few members of staff and some cleaners is a pleasure like no other. It’s a strange feeling to walk through these sumptuous imperial hallways alone, you can almost capture the emotion of what it must have been like when they were the homes of the Russian Emperors.
Our favourite team member in Saint-Petersburg Igor assisted us with moving equipment because in the Hermitage/Winter Palace they don’t let crews use their trolleys. The space is so vast to move from one room to another with a lot of equipment it can be very challenging. So having another good pair of hands made it really quick and convenient.
4 hours by Sapsan train brought us back to Moscow quick and easy to shoot the Cathedrals, then a morning of B Roll of the Kremlin and the cameraman and director were on a flight back to the UK.