Manakin Moonwalk

To film the disco dance of the Red capped Manakin, you have to find them first and in the deep jungle that’s not easy. Known as ‘El Stenographo’, due to their wing-snapping they sound exactly like a busy typewriter. So we used our ears – as males gather in the jungle treetops their racket reminds you of a busy office back in the 1960’s. After locating a group of randy males and hoisting up the camera, tripod and myself into the trees, I ratchet strapped the lot to a tree trunk, then I ratchet strapped myself as well. Fellow cameraman Mike Male joined me a week later. Needless to say we both almost fell out of the trees when we first witnessed the moonwalk – good thing we were strapped in!


The hardest bit was getting out to the location – a two-hour hike mostly up hill on a slippery, muddy jungle trail. With all the cases and tripods it meant a few trips – after three days of humping torture we agreed together to stash the kit in the jungle. Using bicycle cable locks we linked the Pelicans cases together and stashed the lot under palm fronds. We reasoned if anyone could find them and get them out they deserved the gear.


The footage of this sequence was bought for the PBS Deep Jungle series and it’s now plastered all over the web on You-Tube, would be good to get royalties, ha, dream on.

In the end I’m very pleased so many new viewers are exposed to this exceptional jungle dancer.


Manakin Moonwalk from the BBC Battle of the Sexes series
Exec Producer John Sparks
Producer Director Camera: Phil Savoie
Editor: Tim Bevan
Additional Photography: Mike Male
Super 16: Kodak 640 Primetime
Location: Costa Rica

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