An enchanting book - it reminded me of early Gerald Durrell - and it gives us a rare insight into the unexpected problems, the surprising solutions, the frustrations and anxieties of a natural history cameraman.' Redmond O' Hanlon, author of Into the Heart of Borneo. James Gray has fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a natural history cameraman; over the years, he has filmed everything from human lice (which he had to feed on his own blood) to polar bears in the Arctic, anacondas in Venezuela, gorillas in Rwanda, caiman crocodiles in South America, elephants in Thailand, and pandas in China. In this highly entertaining and informative narrative, the author describes his (sometimes very scary) experiences filming wild animals - and introduces readers to some of the tricks of the trade. Keeping the television producers happy requires not only an inordinate amount of patience and perseverance, wading through swamps or squatting in trees for days on end - but may also require giving nature a helping hand. This delightfully funny and eye-opening book is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys wildlife programmes.
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(234mm x 156mm x mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
In a bleak, icy landscape a man sits on a toilet bucket with a rifle across his knees. Is this your image of a wildlife cameraman? Perhaps not, but part of the appeal of James Gray's captivating collection of reminiscences is that he's thoroughly down-to-earth even when filming lovely, elusive golden monkeys halfway up the Himalayas. In a gently humorous style, Gray relates his sometimes hilarious, sometimes scary experiences with exploding eggs, beer-loving pandas and coiling anacondas. Yes, there are lions and polar bears, but some of the starring wildlife is surprisingly small: not everyone would be prepared to donate their own blood to feed a tribe of human lice. In one memorable chapter the focus is primarily on humans, describing funeral and reburial ceremonies in Madagascar. All these stories are enhanced by intriguing colour photographs of some of the unwitting TV stars. Naturally, the question in many a documentary viewer's mind is: just how do they get those dramatic close-ups? Gray is happy to share the secrets of his trade, revealing that sometimes the exciting footage is the result of three patient weeks spent looking for a bear's head in a snowdrift. Other times 'camera courage' transforms a mild-mannered cameraman into a crazy operator recklessly filming the angry elephant rapidly bearing down upon him. And when all else fails, the solution is to manipulate reality. Some of the best sequences in the book describe Gray's attempts to control wild creatures by, for example, doctoring flowers with a tempting dose of diluted honey. Aspiring cameramen and women will enjoy Gray's account of how he got started in the business, and feel perhaps more than a little daunted on reading of the four long years devoted to his first project, a study of the humble but mesmerizing damselfly. They will also appreciate the candid afterword in which Gray discusses the impact of his career on the environment and, more personally, on his family life. This provides a thoughtful and thought-provoking conclusion to an unforgettable collection of animal-centred adventures. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - James Gray
James Gray's television credits include work on Living Planet, Trials of Life and Life of Birds, all with David Attenborough; two of his own films have won Wildscreen Panda Awards, the highest accolade for a wildlife programme: Polar Bears: Shadows on the Ice for ITV.