Grab a Sneak Peek at a Dream Job with Unearthed
Imagine if you could, this year, jump on a plane and become David Attenborough for a month. Well, that’s the opportunity that Animal Planet’s new series of Unearthed: Film School Wild (premieres Monday 28th April at 9pm), is offering.
For those who missed the first season, Unearthed takes a group of aspiring wildlife filmmakers from all over the world and takes them with a film crew and mentors to Africa. There they are immersed in an intense and competitive crash course in documentary.
It is an incredibly attractive formula, blending the drama of wildlife documentary with the human interest of watching four completely inexperienced young people from all walks of life go through an intense four week training.
This opportunity was open to anyone and in fact none of the contestants were filmmakers to begin with. One of them, Mayuri, was a dentist from India.
I got to catch up with one of these lucky contestants, Amabel Adcock, for the inside scoop on how it feels to get up close and personal with great white sharks, elephants and penguins.
When did you get back?
We got back in middle of August. We’ve been back for a bit of time now.
And how long were you there for?
We were there for four weeks exactly. It was amazing.
So, tell us, how did you first hear about Unearthed?
I watched the last series and thought it was quite interesting. I went onto the website and had a look and saw that they were looking for a 2nd series and I thought oh my god, you know, I’ll regret it forever if I don’t apply for that.
So you’re flying out on the aeroplane to Africa about to start this, what was going through your mind?
Sheer panic. I thought ‘what am earth am I doing?’ Obviously my whole overwhelming idea of the series was a mix of completely terrified and not knowing what was going to happen next and then really, really excited because you know what’s going to happen is probably going to be something quite incredible. And so for the whole experience I was quite terrified and quite excited.
And the other thing was I was terrified even of being in front of cameras. I mean it’s a really weird idea. I think in the beginning we are very different from how we appear in the end. But then you have to get over that and get on with why your really there.
So what was your first impression?
My first impression was seeing Seb (one of the other contestants) walk off the plane dressed like a zebra. In fact, obviously he turned out to be hysterical.
What most surprised you about being on Unearthed?
The amount of things we did. I didn’t think that would be possible. I thought we’d be in Shamwari National Park filming the wildlife there but one of the first things we did was be taken off to islands near cape town, shark diving,
I came away thinking I’d had half a dozen experiences that you’d be lucky to have once, all in four weeks. It was extraordinary.
What was the scariest thing you did?
Shark diving was the most scary. It was weird, it was incredible. I think I was one of the last to go down so I felt quite comfortable by the end but it was totally different. I mean you can kind of deal with animals on the ground because you are used to seeing them but underwater is so alien and it was pretty terrifying but fascinating.
What was your lowest point and why?
When we had to miss out on doing tasks (Unearthed pitches the contestants against each other, and each week one of them has to sit out of one of the tasks).I mean firstly finding out about that at the beginning, that was a bit of a blow. Finding out it wasn’t going to be like the first series. There was a twist to it.
Did that affect your relationship with the other contestants?
Actually we bonded incredibly well, and it was really brilliant. We got on so well. I think we were able to switich between the two. There was always that slight edge, you know if you’ve seen someone else finish their script an hour before you, you’d think oh god… but we had a very open relationship between the four of us. We just laughed and took the mickey out of each other.
If you could pick out the best moment, what would it be?
There’s too many. But I think going in the helicopter to the islands, just hanging out the side of the helicopter. You could see the whole South African coast line and then landing on this island where no one’s ever been and being surrounded by penguins.
I think one of the other amazing moments is just sitting on the jeep and an elephant walks next to you. It’s one of those moments that happens quite a lot but every time it does you think ‘this is the life’.
Has the experienced changed you?
It’s given me more confidence and hope. It gives you another drive to keep on going and keep trying to crack the industry which after a while can really get you down. And also I learnt a lot and I can always refer back to it now. But the confidence is the big change.
How was coming back to the UK- a welcome return or a sad departure?
It was a bit of both. I remember leaving and one of the crew looked at me and laughed and said ‘when are you coming back?’ and I said ‘as soon as possible.’
It was sad to say goodbye to the others but whenever you do something its always great to go home and tell people about it. You know, get back and show everyone my photos and tell everyone my stories, which I’m still doing now.
One of the judges, Harriet Nimo said: “It is so important to find new ideas for story telling and fresh perspectives, and this is even more crucial when trying to reach young people, today’s YouTube generation.” Is this something you’ve thought about? How do you think wildlife filmmaking can be brought into this new generation, are they interested?
When David Attenborough started TV was still just launching. Now it’s so established and there’s this whole new generation of digital media. That has to be embraced somehow.
Firstly I think you can really embrace all these different types of media but ultimately if you find a story that’s enchanting enough and fascinating enough, because you know for a lot of people, the kind of simple things that happen regularly in the African bush are actually fascinating and they’ve never even considered before. I think its just a way of making really telling stories and trying to really get them to a different sort of audience.
Would you recommend the experience to other budding young wildlife filmmakers?
100%. Definitely. If anything even if you decide you don’t want to be a wildlife filmmaker, you are going to have so much fun.
If this is your idea of a dream job then lucky you, because Animal Planet has also begun accepting applications for contestants to be featured on the third series. To learn more about the application process and eligibility, please visit www.animalplanet.co.uk/unearthed. The closing date for receipt of applications is 19 May 2008.
Check out the show this Monday at 9pm on Animal Planet and see Amabel’s adventure for yourself.
By McGee Noble