Greetings Reddit! I am Gavin Thurston and have been working as a freelance cameraman, predominately in wildlife, for over 20 years. Feel free to ask me anything!

If interested, here's what I've done over the last 10 years.

Edit: Thank you all for the amazing response so far. When possible on location I 'Tweet' so if you are interested in following what I'm up to then please follow me there

In an attempt to answer the common question: How did I get started?

I took my first photo aged 10 with a very simple box camera. Oddly, it was of an Orca in captivity at Windsor Safari Park (now Legoland) in the UK whilst on a school trip. I found it magical that by one press of a button you could capture a moment in time and share it for years to come. My passion for photography grew over the years at school where I taught myself to process and print my black and white photographic efforts.

I left school at 18 with the idea of going to University in London to study 'Film and Photographic Science' (yawn, thank goodness I didn't!). I needed a holiday job for 9 weeks before Uni to get some beer money so on the day I left school I literally walked into a small film company called Oxford Scientific Films near where my parents lived. I managed to show them my photographic portfolio and they gave me an interview there and then! They offered me a temporary job but said they couldn't pay me but they would pay my bus fare and give me lunch. I loved the place, work and people so much that I asked for a permanent job and skipped University. I learnt sooo much over the next 4 years working with wildlife and on commercials, feature films and IMAX (as a tea boy mostly). Sweeping, tidying up, holding lights, cleaning lenses etc. etc. I learnt by watching the masters of their crafts.

The pay was appalling and so I had all sorts of evening jobs like selling loft insulation, Betterware door to door and as a cocktail barman at a Harvester restaurant.

Finally after 4 years I knew it all and needed to move on to greater things and more pay so applied for jobs with the BBC. I got several interviews and finally got a job as assistant cameraman at BBC Bristol. I worked there for another 4 years alongside some of the greats including Alan Heyward, Andrew Dunn, Martin Saunders, Hugh Maynard etc. (IMDB or Google them). At the BBC I realised I didn't know diddly-squat about the job and so stepped onto an even steeper learning curve that I have never got off.

After another 4 years the pay was again not enough to support me, my wife and child on the way. The advice I was given with the reputation I had been building was to go freelance. Amazingly, word spread and in the space of 2 weeks I had been offered 2 year contracts with NHK, Partridge Films and the BBC NHU as a freelancer!! They were all offering interest free loans so that I could buy a camera kit and then work to pay off the loan. I was gobsmacked and took the BBC offer as it was where I was based and new the producers etc. The BBC leant me £18,000 ($30,000) and I bought a second hand ARRI HSR 16mm film camera and lens. On the strength of a 2 year contract in my hand the bank lent me a further amount (which I am still paying off until 2022! as part of my mortgage even though the camera was superseded 10 years ago).

I remember my first big job as a freelancer was filming Terns (birds) on the Farne Islands off the north east coast of UK. The producer Neil Lucas accompanied me up there and helped me into the tiniest of fishing trawlers (think miniature Deadliest Catch) with my newly purchased camera kit. I didn't have insurance and pictured loosing the lot to the sea. The sequence turned out fine for a David Attenborough series called 'The Trials of Life'. The rest as they say is (Natural) history.

After 30 years in this career I am still married with two sons (who put me up to doing this Reddit IAmA). I am still working full time.

Some brief advice on how you can get started

My advice to anyone wanting a career in Wildlife film making: Firstly, get out there with any camera you can get your hands on. Get photographing or videoing. Build a portfolio and hone your skills, use the internet and books for advice on technique and find out for yourself whether this really is your passion. Could and would you sit in a hide for 4 weeks, 15 hours a day on the off chance of capturing a unique piece of behaviour? If you find yourself complaining at all then I suggest you try something else. If you love it and want more, then go for it.

I am a great believer that you make your own luck and opportunities in this life. Don't just follow the normal path, think outside the box to make your luck change. Any employer in any business will only employ you if you are going to bring some skill to their company. You need to build your skills so that you can offer something to the wildlife film making industry rather than just saying 'I always wanted to do this'. If you have a talent or skill or knowledge to offer then someone will want you to work for them.

If any of you want feedback on video or photographic efforts then I will be keeping a check on this IAmA thread over the next few months or perhaps longer if there is still interest. Remember we all have to start somewhere.

Thank you.

Comments: 1452 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

nitrousconsumed421 karma


GavinThurston236 karma

Thank you!

Moonrat330 karma

Whats the longest you had to sit still and not move?

GavinThurston630 karma

I once sat for 12 hours a day for 17 days to try and film Lace Monitor females returning to dig their newly hatched young from a termite mound in S.E. Australia!

BronwynMaye307 karma

Did you get the shot?

GavinThurston896 karma


mezzanine224104 karma

That's amazing. You had to be rolling or ready to get the shot constantly, without distraction, or a break, right? Unless you had a great AC or 2nd camera with you.

What's the crew structure like on these types of shoots?

GavinThurston215 karma

On average the shoots are around 3-4 weeks. You don't get days off on location unless the weather is so bad you can't film or prep. The days are 16 hours or more. You can only sustain this if it is your passion! Usually the team is me plus one other. Before I get on location though there is often a year of preperation by a team of researchers/scientists/assistant producer/producer/production coordinator etc.

[deleted]33 karma


GavinThurston59 karma

Thank you.

There are probably less than 50 full time wildlife camera jobs in the world. Nowadays the production companies ten to supply the major £$ equipment.

Some companies are always going to cheat in some ways. I'd like to think that the productions I work on won't do that, but that's beyond my control.

Blargyidonton261 karma

Have you ever pissed yourself while waiting for the perfect shot?

GavinThurston534 karma

I was once filming antelope fawns in southern Russia (then USSR) I was dropped off to get in the hide before first light and picked up after dusk - 15 hours or so. Bursting for a piss I couldn't leave the hide for fear of scaring off the antelope/fawn so I dug a hole in the sand and peed into it thinking it would soak away. Two hours later I was still stood with cramped legs astride of a crater full of piss that refused to drain away!

foobarbecue235 karma

IAmA volcanologist studying the ice caves on Mt Erebus, and can attest to Gavin's ability to simultaneously film and entertain. It's really something; the moment the scientist begins to tire of rappelling and climbing up the same rope repeatedly, he finds a bottle (ok, a box) of wine in his hand, or is regaled by a Gavin stand-up routine. All of my other caving experiences at the wrong end of a camera have been tedious, but working with Gavin, Chadden, and Jason was a joy.

-Aaron Curtis

GavinThurston174 karma

Aaron. How the hell are you? thank you for your kind words. The footage of you with your lasers for Frozen Planet is looking amazing. I think you'll be fighting of the groupies when it airs! How's the world of volcanology? Were you back down in Antarctica this season?

jgz8438 karma

AMA Request: Aaron Curtis, or should we wait till after Frozen Planet comes out?

GavinThurston11 karma

Yes. Come on Aaron Curtis. An AMA to coincide with Frozen Planet is a great idea.

GavinThurston130 karma

Brilliant! Love it!

yunoanon210 karma

What was the most amazing thing you have ever filmed?

GavinThurston326 karma

The film I have had the best response for is the 'Jungles' episode of the recent Human Planet series. However the most amazing experience I have had was filming the wading chimpanzees in Congo for David Attenboroughs "Life of Mammals". I could see so many human traits in their behaviour.

TheCyborganizer85 karma

Can you post clips of some of your favorite shots? (If not, can you reference specific parts of those episodes?)

What was the most challenging shot you ever had to make?

GavinThurston302 karma

I can't post any video clips as they are all copyrighted by BBC or Discovery. However there are quite a few clips on YouTube. Check this one I shot for instance which I shot in Australia for "The Life of Birds"

catmoon312 karma

I loved that scene but why did you never release the extra footage?

GavinThurston136 karma

That is in the hands of the BBC!

internetsuperhero54 karma

As an Australian, I'm so proud right now. Aussie wildlife, Fuck yeah!

GavinThurston75 karma

You have some pretty unique wildlife! But that is true of many other countries too.

That_Guy_JR188 karma

Thanks for doing this!

My first question is, how much are documentaries "staged"? Is there any coercion in getting species to interact? I ask this because, especially in US documentaries, there's a lot of Mortal Kombat style fights between predators which I highly doubt would happen on a regular basis in the wild.

Second question, what do you think of Sir David? He is the definition of "awesome" in my book, both as a presenter and as BBC controller. Is there anything that surprises him after all these years?

GavinThurston317 karma

My pleasure.

The high end documentaries made by prestigious companies such as BBC and Discovery generally are very authentic and made without staging scenes. It is more than their reputation is worth to be caught out rigging/staging behaviours sequences.

Sir David Attenborough is as awesome as he appears to be. The biggest surprise is that he is still working flat out aged 84!

megagoosey148 karma

Wow, I had no idea he was that old! Thanks for doing this, so far this has been my favorite AMA all year.

GavinThurston255 karma

You're welcome. My sons put me up to it!

silentkit171 karma

Have you ever felt like intervening in the events you're filming? I know you're not supposed to interfere and all, but don't you ever watch some big-eyed newborn fluffball getting swallowed whole by a python or whatever, and think, "Screw it, I'm breakin' the code!"

(And I know, pythons gotta eat, too, but I know it would be hard for me to watch something endangered get got.)

Also, thanks for the AMA! I've been watching David Attenborough for most of my life, and I've always wondered about the brave souls who sit in a blind for 40 hours to get 15 seconds of bird-mating footage!

GavinThurston522 karma

Generally we do not intervene in natural events. This is often harrowing to experience animal suffering. However the ethos is that if there wasn't a human there then the event would still happen. I have intervened on two occassions though: I was filming green turtle hatchlings on the north west coast of Australia, each nest produces around 80 hatchlings. However only a handful make it even to the sea before being eaten by gulls etc. After 6 days of filming, myself and the producer both got up and ran down the beach scooping up the hatchings in our T-shirts and took them down to the sea. Still the gulls managed to get a few but at least that clutch got a head start in life. There will be people out there who will condemn us for for even doing that.

SeeminglyTomC170 karma

What kind of thoughts went through your mind when dressed up as a gorilla and sat amongst the wildlife in Congo on Location?

GavinThurston298 karma

The Gorilla suit stunt was partly to prove a point to the scientists that I could get close to sitatunga antelope, 3 meters dressed as a gorilla and 500 meters as a human. It was a carefully prepared 'stunt', the main risk would have been elephants. I had three people watching my back and in radio contact with me. I felt safe as I trusted their judgement. I did sweat like a pig though!

SeeminglyTomC111 karma

It must have provided such a stark contrast to the incident when the gorilla attacked the tent (?) you were inside. Meticulous planning to a spontaneous attack. I suppose that made you sweat even more!

GavinThurston225 karma

That is probably the most frightening wildlife experience I have had. I was on my own in the hide and could sort of see the whole scenario building over 20 minutes or so, culminating in the Gorilla giving the hide an exploratory thump. My kidneys ached for days.

phnx0221166 karma

My questions are actually asked by my five year old daughter. She is a huge fan of David Attenborough, and has seen everything he has made. She loves nature, watching animals interact with plants, and collecting and keeping insects.

Her questions are: Do you like to watch things grow? Do you use a tiny camera, or a big one? Why do the bladderworts look so scary?

GavinThurston178 karma

Seeing things grow is fascinating and we use a technique called timelapse to be able to speed this up. Quite often this technique reveals extraordinary things. Generally I use a big camera, there are times however when a small camera is better! Bladderworts are indeed scary but only if you are the size of a water flea.

internetsuperstar161 karma

When you know you're faced with a marathon sitting session do you ever pretend you're an FBI agent waiting to catch a drug deal?

GavinThurston294 karma

All the time!!

Shoegaze99156 karma

Do you ever take a moment and think about the joy and wonder you bring to people with your work? That what you do helps millions of people better appreciate the beauty around us every day?

(Routine viewing in my household are series like Planet Earth and the like. We watch them as a family, always.)

GavinThurston299 karma

Thanks for watching! Look out for "Frozen Planet" coming out towards the end of this year. 7 x 1 hours about life at the polar extremes. The joy is all mine!

Goodtunesftw134 karma

Has there ever been something that you saw, but didn't catch on camera that was rare/awesome?

Thank you so much for what you do! I appreciate it immensely. Those documentaries are some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

GavinThurston372 karma

The most amazing thing I witnessed looking through the camera viewfinder but didn't manage to capture was a Gorilla female feeding, she stopped to catch a butterfly in her hand and held it up briefly to her eye to see what it was. She then almost seemed to raise her eyebrows in recognition before releasing it and watching it fly away. As a cameraman there are many things I witness but fail to capture on video. If you impressed by what you see on TV there is way more out there to see and witness!

loldongslol91 karma

What is the most frightening example of nature you've witnessed? Also; I'm currently attending school studying both Environmental Science and Film. Any advice for someone who would one day love to have a job just like yours? Thank you.

GavinThurston159 karma

I have just returned from Alabama where I have been filming for a new 8 part series for Discovery on "America". We were fortunate/unfortunately there when the E5 tornado hit Hackleburg and Phil Campbell. 57 people died and the destruction is indescribable.

For advice on how to get started in this industry I will wait and do a more detailed reply in due course.

onemanlan56 karma

Aww dang, I would have bought you a beer and thanked you for your awesome work if I had known you were here. Cant wait to see more of your work!

GavinThurston122 karma

Shame I didn't know that. I do like beer. Also where we were was a dry county!! Had to drive to the next county for a drink!!

theswedishshaft79 karma

The CV you linked to lists "Royal Humane Society Award for Bravery 1984", what did you get this for :) ?

GavinThurston174 karma

In 1984 I swam out to sea to try and rescue a hang glider pilot that had crashed into the water. It was March in the UK and the water temperature was COLD. Along with another bystander and a yachtsman we tried CPR for 20 minutes until the Life boat (RNLI) arrived. Sadly we were unable to save his life.

Drjellyfish79 karma

What is David Attenborough like? I mean, does he like to have a few beers with the crew? Thanks for your AMA!

GavinThurston186 karma

David Attenborough is as nice as you'd expect. He is a real team member not just a presenter!

cecius75 karma

Does Attenborough have a "must lie down while being filmed" clause in his contract with the BBC?

GavinThurston117 karma

Only to film things which are inches off the ground otherwise he wouldn't fit in the TV frame.

stanfan11468 karma

Have you ever worked with my uncle Rom Whitaker? He's a giant crocodile expert in India who has done BBC specials before.

GavinThurston98 karma

No, but a freind of mine, Robin Smith has just filmed and produced a film with him. he comes across very well on screen.

Ohioho65 karma

have you ever encountered an unfavorable ailment while trouncing about jungles?

GavinThurston205 karma

Kneeling on the forest floor in the forests of Congo I picked up some nasty parasitic worms/nematodes that burrowed under my skin. They itched like crazy as they drew roadmaps around my legs for weeks. Nothing seemed to be able to kill them. I even tried half a bottle of single malt whiskey (ingested from a glass with ice). Finally they just died off and I squeezed them out as puss!

[deleted]60 karma


GavinThurston112 karma

I wasn't involved though it was me who convinced the producer to do it as a base jump rather than abseiling.

knowhatimsayin58 karma

Have you ever been in serious danger while filming? If so, Where? What happened??

GavinThurston215 karma

The dangers whilst filming are nearly always people related. I have been unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sudan when the war flared up back in 1992! And again in Panama City when Manuel Noriegas troops were shooting live rounds at students! The producer and I escaped both times unscathed. There are too many guns on this planet!

YellowTango58 karma

How do you film for example inside an ant colony? I've always wondered how you guys manage to film with such detail inside tiny environments.

GavinThurston107 karma

I have filmed inside a termite mound for a BBC 'Wildlife on One' about 17 years ago. I remember being bitten many times. I have designed my own lenses to be able to get into tight spaces.

freakscene54 karma

How do you get animals to act natural for the camera? Like, how do you prevent them becoming interested in you?

GavinThurston122 karma

Generally the idea is that the animals are unaware of your presence and often they are so engrossed/preoccupied in their behaviour that they don't care that you are there. If you interrupt or displace their behaviour then you have failed!

aslyter4552 karma

How many crew members work on each film site usually?

GavinThurston87 karma

Usually 2 or 3 people on a team. Though if it is hide work then the cameraman may it there for up to 16 hours a day on their own.

codered132248 karma

Have you drank your own piss?

GavinThurston114 karma

Only by accident. Though I have it on good authority that is doing so can get you out of trouble or win bets!

iswear44 karma

What was the most shocking animal-wild-intercourse-scene that you've witnessed/recorded and couldn't publish due to inappropriate content?

GavinThurston75 karma

I suggest you travel to the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, Polonurruwa during mating season for the Toque Macaques! The Kama Sutra is put in the shade!

goldencat42 karma

I just want to say that Planet Earth and Human Life were absolutely breathtakingly amazing!

My question: Is there any place you'd love to shoot still?

GavinThurston118 karma

This planet is huge and what I have witnessed on it is a fraction of what is out there. The biggest issue is getting to see more of it before we as humans trash it all!

johndrama41 karma

What kind of places did stay in predominately while filming? Hotels, Campsites or just camping where you would get the best shot? I'm assuming it wasn't very glamorous at best.

GavinThurston72 karma

We stay in a variety of places but I do spend on average about 3-4 months under canvas. Very rarely we get to stay in posh hotels.

o0DrWurm0o40 karma

David Attenborough is my personal Dos Equis man. I can only imagine what it must be like to interact with him. As an American, I went out of my way to acquire the BBC version of life. He is the undisputed best narrator for these.

The Life series was amazing; I think the reptiles episode had some of the best cinematography I've ever seen. Did you appear in any of the ending segments where they show the trials and tribulations of the camera crew?

GavinThurston108 karma

David was disappointed that his narration was replaced with Oprahs for the US transmission. He was delighted though when out of the initial 9 million DVDs sold the American public chose the copy with his voice!

Rubix2239 karma

What is Sir Attenborough like off camera? My father met him once in the 80's while he was filming in Zambia and according to him he's quite the life of the party. Is that true even today?

GavinThurston70 karma

Still true today.

mazlo39 karma

You've traveled to more places than most on your job. What are some of the most memorable and your favorite countries, places or sites that you think people should visit before they die?

GavinThurston56 karma

Four places spring to mind:

Mondika in the Republic of Congo, for sheer adrenaline wildlife on foot, the highlight is seeing Gorillas in the wild up close and personal. Not for wusses! Hallo Bay in Alaska. Again, full on adrenaline wildlife encounters on foot with Brown Coastal bears. Sumatra: Tigers, Bears, Clouded Leopards, Elephants, etc etc. Boa Vista in Piaui, Brazil. To see Brown Capuchins that use rocks to crack nuts. A glimpse at our ancestral roots.

TOMASAW35 karma

What is the most personal experience you've had with an animal in the wild?

GavinThurston97 karma

The most personal experiences are usually with parasites!! And although 'personal' they aren't pleasurable experiences. Why can't parasites evolve o get what they want from you without making you itch or ill?

ellipsis921035 karma

Wow I envy you, what an awesome job !

GavinThurston64 karma

Thank you.

legodt34 karma

What is the most common gear you shoot with? How do you feel about the influx of DSLR video these days?

GavinThurston74 karma

The advent of amazing quality from DSLRs means that the industry is open to more people. When I started out you had to spend around £50k ($75k) to have a chance. Now a Canon or Nikon that shoots video too costs around £550 ($750). Some of the scenes in the feature film 'Slumdog Millionaire ' were shot with the Canon 5D mk2!

I mainly shoot on a Panasonic P2 Varicam 2700. Amazing quality leap even since 'Planet Earth' days.

walkman34 karma

What was a moment you felt like, "I cannot do this anymore!" or felt like giving up?

You mentioned the gorilla attack to be the scariest moment, what's another hairy moment you had maybe early on in your career or when you were less experienced?

What's a time when you had to engineer something on the fly to get the right shot?

When you're sitting/laying in some fairly hostile nature environments for weeks at a time have you ever gotten stung/bitten/narrowly eyed that venomous snake at the last second, etc etc..?


GavinThurston108 karma

I have nearly given up many times. Cold, wet, uncomfortable, homesick, frustrated. But I always think what else could I do? I have no other skills and ultimately love the job more often than I hate it! That's why I'm still doing what I love.

The nature of the job means adapting/engineering things on location all the time. For instance I have just returned from Alabama where I have been filming Dismalites - tiny larvae that glow blue to attract their prey. They were so small that my standard macro lenses couldn't get close enough. I ended up buying some guttering from Lowes hardware store to make a mega extension tube. It did the job and I used that for the next 10 days! The natural world is actually very benign. Give me a charging elephant or striking venomous snake any day over a drunk teenager with a gun!

ad555531 karma

Have you ever worked with Steve Irwin?

GavinThurston67 karma

I worked with Steve Irwin before he was famous about 20 years ago.

Narosia27 karma

What is your favorite animal of those you've filmed?

GavinThurston55 karma

I am a big fan of primates in general, partly because I find the behaviour easier to predict and interpret. I think my favourite being the Western Lowland Gorilla. I think we as humans have a lot to learn from how they behave socially!

ukbrah27 karma

What is the one thing you would miss if you stopped doing this line of work? and what is one thing you wouldn't miss (besides the parasites :P)?

GavinThurston68 karma

I would miss being part of a team that produces inspiring TV. I was inspired when I was younger by "Life on Earth"!

The parasites will be with me for ever!!!

exfiles27 karma

how many (and which) countries have you been to?

GavinThurston67 karma

I have been to over 80 countries! A bit tedious with two finger typing to list!

pjakubo8625 karma

What's the worst insect bite you've ever gotten?

GavinThurston66 karma

I have been very fortunate not to have been bitten or stung by anything serious. Usually the problems arise when an insect bite gets infected in the tropics. Good hygiene is pretty essential if you don't want to get ill or die! I have only had a few days of sick in my whole career! Single malt whiskey is a good prophylactic!

SovietCommander25 karma

Were you the cameraman for Mr. Attenborough when he was talking about sloths?

GavinThurston61 karma

If it was for Life of Mammals then yes.

[deleted]25 karma


GavinThurston13 karma

On top of all the other great comments, your kind words have made my year. That happens to be one of the shots of which I am most proud with a cable dolly I have developed. Thank you. What is your film called and when can we all see it?

BrMwPn19 karma

Have you ever discovered a new species while out?

GavinThurston43 karma

Yes, I discovered a new species of parasitic wasp that preys on tiger beetle larvae on the Isle of White in Southern Britain about 28 years ago. It was named after Gerald Thompson who was the scientist who described it.

EndlessOcean17 karma

Did you ever work with Nick Gordon, the nature photographer?

GavinThurston42 karma

I never had the chance to work with Nick Gordon though did meet him several times. His contribution to the industry will be missed. (I hope you don't mean Gordon Buchanan! Who is alive and well and kicking.)

fenderbender17 karma

I have a few questions and comments. I found your reply in which you said you are a two finger typer, so if you can't answer these questions, then I understand(even though you are a man of great patience :P)

So if you can't respond to any or all, then I would just like to say that I can't even tell you how much I appreciate all the work that you have done to open my eyes, mind, and heart as well as for millions of people with the work you've done with Planet Earth, Human Planet, Life, etc;.

  • With a life like yours, I can't imagine you regretting much, but if you do, what is it that you regret? (One of my current regrets, is that I haven't been able to give you a big hug for all that you've done for me as a person)

  • What made you wanna get into this?/Climax of your life?/Single moment that you realized that you want to essentially spend most of your life in the wild filming it for millions of people to see?

  • How has your constant activity around the globe affected your way of life most?

  • If you have kids/wife, how has your job affected the life you have with them? How have they reacted to your constant movement around the world?

  • How has your work personally affected you?

  • When you do come back to civilization, how often do you wish that you were back in the wild?

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. You have blessed Reddit with your altruism and patience in a way that will be remembered throughout all of Reddit History. I love you

GavinThurston35 karma

*Despite an amazing career/job I do regret neglecting my family and freinds so much over the years. *As a child I was keen on photography and interested in wildlife and somehow managed to stumble into doing this as a career! *Travel broadens the mind and seeing/witnessing things first hand is always an eye opening privilege. *I am lucky to have a very tolerant family!!

Spinal36514 karma

What do you think of the Panasonic AF-100?

GavinThurston23 karma

I have recently bought the UK version, the AF-101. It produces awesome images though is tricky to use. I also have a NanoFlash solid state recorder so I can record higher bit rate HD. Again amazing technology is becoming more affordable.

RobsonBoombastic13 karma

Hi Gavin, It appears you have THE dream job. I bought all the mentioned series on Blu-Ray and I love the cinematography, the stories, the sound, the narration.
I believe these shows are culturally and historically very important. I work as an editor for Canada's national broadcaster (BBC and CBC do a lot of co-productions) and I would love to work on similar docs.
How much pre-production is done for a series like Human Life, as far as the story goes? Is it shaped by the editor or does the crew know more or less what it's going to look like?

Also, how much footage is shot vs the length of a final episode? Regards,

GavinThurston30 karma

Often there is over 2 years research and preparation before the first shot is taken. The crew know more or less how the sequence should look before the plane ticket is bought. However with 'Natural' history film making the story is often dictated by what actually happens on 'the day'. For Planet Earth I believe the shooting ratio was over 400:1

cocopoil13 karma

Thank you for your amazing shots, we all appreciate it very much!

GavinThurston20 karma


davie1812 karma

How much does this job pay?

GavinThurston21 karma

After 30 years I am still overdrawn, have a mortgage and no pension scheme. But you have to ask yourself what you want from life. For me I have a selfishly rewarding, sort after job and getting rich, although nice, isn't on the agenda.

Mister_Popo11 karma


GavinThurston26 karma

I once filmed a Sumatran tiger, of which there are sadly only around 300 left in the wild, taking a crap!