Netflix gives a closer look at 'Our Planet'

Netflix gives a closer look at Our Planet
Keith Scholey and Adam Chapman join in on a discussion on 'Our Planet' at Netflix offices in Los Angeles

Los Angeles - The filmmakers don't just see this as a series but as a revolution that can create a bigger movement online about conservation and sustainability.


Nilanjana Gupta

Published: Tue 26 Mar 2019, 7:34 AM

Last updated: Wed 27 Mar 2019, 11:27 AM

Streaming giant Netflix is set to launch a massive nature documentary series, 'Our Planet' globally in the first week of April. Khaleej Times had the opportunity to peek behind the curtain as Netflix screened the first episode of the series at the company's offices in Los Angeles on Monday, March 18. 
Produced by Silverback Films, led by Alastair Fothergill and narrated by David Attenborough, the series is a celebration of life with a strong message that highlights the other side to it. It tells us that life and nature are vanishing quickly, emphasizing there's an urgency to do something about it. The idea of the 'Our Planet' series is to bring that urgency to a wider audience through Netflix. The filmmakers don't just see this as a series but as a revolution that can create a bigger movement online about conservation and sustainability. 

In the opening episode, we see how various ecosystems are interconnected and each organism has a crucial role to play in maintaining the ecological balance. We begin with the dolphins in the deep end of the blue ocean that chase a shoal of mackerels to the surface of the ocean, making it easier for migratory birds to catch them. While the birds charge towards them from the sky, the dolphins prey on them from below. Moving on to the other habitats, we see many remarkable sequences both on macro and micro levels such as the bees and orchids driving a massive process of the food generation in the rain forest, African hunting dogs chasing wildebeests, flamingos breeding in saline water, polar bears struggling to survive as the sea ice continues to melt away, and so on. We, as viewers, feel like we are in the chase and not watching it from outside. We feel a kind of a connection and take messages through that emotional attachment. 
The last few scenes take us to the glaciers in Greenland that are melting at a much faster rate than they were 50 years ago, as the world continues to become warmer due to human activities. Population boom has also led to a decline in species. We see a lot of darkness, but the filmmakers seemed to be purposefully leaving us with a sense of possibility and hope.  It almost felt unreal but then we also got a behind-the-scenes look at how the crew filmed the scenes where massive blocks of glaciers broke away and merged with the ocean. 
Shedding light on the glacier visuals, producer/director Adam Chapman said, "The actual filming of the carving was probably the most intense twenty minutes of my filming career as we were trying to weave the helicopter between these massive blocks of ice as they were rolling and changing. Very often what would happen is one block would move and from underneath a far larger block would rise up." 
Since its launch in 2007, Netflix has amassed 139 million subscribers worldwide. Series producer Keith Scholey said, "With the series the ambition is to reach as many people as possible and as quickly possible to tell them about how wonderful the natural world is, but also that it's in trouble and we need to fix and actually, we're running out of time. So Netflix was the perfect partner because first and foremost, it could reach almost every country in the world." 
"The other crucial thing for us is that when you, we've done these previous series on conventional television, you know, it's out one day and then it's gone and the audience can't find it. We wanted to have a really active website with it. And there's no point having a really active website if the series has gone away, so Netflix worked perfectly because once those shows are there, they're there all the time and you can actually start a conversation with the audience," he added. 
In the next episodes, the filmmakers delve deeper into each habitat. Scholey said, "Each episode is about a different habitat. So there's one about tropical rainforest jungles.  There's another one about deciduous woodland.  There's two about the ocean.  One about the shallow seas and one about the open ocean and Adam has made a wonderful film about deserts and grasslands and there's also an episode about fresh water. When you get to the end of the series, you have a really rounded feel for what our planet is all about." 
The message was clear. We know what the problems are and the solution often as well, which is to leave the nature alone. If we want to protect nature and make it better, we should just leave it as it is because nature is resilient. It will bounce back on its own. The final message of the series is we can fix the imminent dangers faced by life and nature. 
It's taken the team four years to film the eight-episode documentary series in 50 countries across every continent, and now the first episode is ready to hit the online screens worldwide on April 5, 2019.

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