Paris-based Marathon Productions has been tailing crocodiles and ostriches in Africa for the past five months, and according to CEO Olivier Bremond, will continue to do so for another six. The end result of this lengthy period of observation and shooting will be two 52-minute films – African Ferocious Crocodiles and Ostriches Don’t Fly. Since Bremond and managing director Pascal Breton established the company in 1990, wildife programming has been a key element of its factual slate (along with history, science, world discovery and human adventure).
The inspiration for African Ferocious Crocodiles came during filming of Families in the Wild. Bremond explains: ‘We did an episode on the zebras, and during shooting we found great spots for the crocodiles. We realized we had some exceptional opportunities for some interesting scenes.’
This won’t be any old flic about the toothsome Nile reptiles. Using remote-controlled cameras fixed under a raft, the crew is filming the crocs’ behavior underwater, which is quite unusual, Bremond notes. ‘What we would love to do is find some conflicts between the crocodiles and the hippos. Of course, we have no guarantee, but the only way to do it would be that way.’
In addition to some croc-hippo action, the film will include insight into the animal’s various incarnations, from protective parent to prehistoric predator. Shooting mainly in Kenya, the US$886,000 film (a copro with Animal Planet and French pubcaster La Cinquième for Discovery International) will be delivered in fall 2001.
When the crew is not busy filming crocodiles, they turn their attention to African ostriches, the biggest birds in the world. ‘There are some seasons when it is very slow with the crocodiles,’ Bremond explains. ‘We always try to do two films at the same time because you can stay longer and you don’t get too depressed doing nothing.’
In Ostriches Don’t Fly, the story of the flightless bird begins with the tremendous egg (which weighs 1.5 kilograms or the equivalent of 25 to 30 hen’s eggs). Moving through the ostrich’s life cycle, the Marathon crew hopes to capture every facet of this amazing animal – its courage and determination, its gentleness and moments of weakness, its occasional violence and its struggle to survive. The budget for Ostriches is US$659,000. As with Crocodiles, Ostriches is a copro with Animal Planet and La Cinq for Discovery International, and has a fall 2001 delivery date.