Planet Earth II is well underway (even if it hasn't hit the U.S. yet), and it has already provided some incredible moments, like the near-death experience of an iguana that went viral. The scenes can be so perfect that they're almost impossible to believe. But what audiences don't see is the months of work that can go into getting a single shot like that incredible video of a swimming sloth.
It's often not just the amount of time it takes to get a shot that drops jaws, but what the producers and crew go through to get that shot. Six producers have shared crazy stories from the production of Planet Earth II with The Guardian. One story, in particular, will get your heart pumping.
"After hours of winding through narrow channels surrounded by towering reeds, our dinghy got stuck in the vegetation. Not a big problem usually – but we soon noticed we were surrounded by grumpy hippos," says producer Dr. Chadden Hunter, who produced the "Grasslands" episode. His crew was looking to film the "Swamp Cats" of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
From The Guardian article:
“Don’t get too close,” warned [local cameraman Brad Bestelink]. “Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal, and they snapped my last boat in half.” As we waited for them to move off, we were eaten alive by so many mosquitos it was a relief to get out of the boat and sink into armpit-deep black water.
We pushed the boat above our heads, while our legs underwater were getting slashed to ribbons by sword-grass. Then Brad surprised me. He told me to take my shoes off.
“With shoes on you’ll step on a crocodile and press down without knowing. It’ll take your leg off!” The look on my face demanded more explanation. “With bare feet”, he went on, “you can feel a crocodile’s skin and yank your leg out of the way.”
We gingerly pushed the boat on into the night, as long dark shapes lurched out of our way in the inky water. I’ve never paid more attention to every footstep.
So, next time you feel like you're having a tough day at work, be thankful your boss hasn't asked you to take off your shoes so it's easier to feel for crocodiles.