When it comes to factual television, dinosaurs are still a big, big draw.
The fully-animated March of the Dinosaurs (working title) is combining CGI with a filmic approach to bring an unlikely story to the tube – that of dinosaurs in snowy winter. The feature-length doc, coproduced by the UK’s Wide-Eyed Entertainment and transatlantic Yap Films (Toronto/Leeds) , also has National Geographic Channel U.S., History Television Canada, France 5, and Germany’s SuperRTL on board as partners. The program, airing in the U.S. in January and Canada in February, will be distributed by FremantleMedia Enterprises internationally.
A producer on the epic BBC/Discovery/TV Asahi series Walking with Dinosaurs, Wide-Eyed Entertainment CEO Jasper James serves as executive producer for the project, which he describes as a ‘coming of age’ tale about dinosaurs in the Arctic. Directed by Matthew Thompson (Hawking’s Universe, Discovery Project Earth), the story stems from recent scientific finds regarding the southward migration of dinosaurs in the North Pole. The end result, says James, will incorporate a narrative feel to depict the story of dinosaurs enduring harsh winter conditions on a 1,000-mile march through the Arctic in order to survive.
In the last decade or so, James says, only the most intrepid paleontologists have gone into the far northern reaches of Alaska and Baffin Island, enduring remote locations, hard ground and permafrost, to find out more. ‘It’s only recently that people have gone to lengths to go up there [and] what they’ve found is a whole thriving community of creatures who lived there, which is quite surprising when you imagine what it might have been like,’ he says.
March of the Dinosaurs (with a working title of Escape of the Ice Beasts for the U.S.) takes these scientific findings regarding the conditions that the dinosaurs would have endured and tells the story through one Arctic-born dinosaur, or edmontosaurus. The doc will show the little dino undertaking a treacherous migration in order to escape a winter with four months of darkness, freezing temperatures, snow and ice.
‘A lot of science is embedded in the whole premise [and] the way it’s structured is very story-driven,’ offers James. ‘We really are following the trail of this young dinosaur and his trials with life.’ A narrator hasn’t yet been announced for the project, and James says the amount of factual information in the narrated script will be up to the assorted territories airing it.
‘What’s different about this is there’s a very solid story here,’ he says. ‘In fact, you don’t have to make the science explicit. It can be wholly implicit.’
This story originally appeared in the November/December issue of realscreen, which can be read in full here.