Mandrill March

Gabon in Equatorial Africa is a fantastic location. This assignment involved shooting Baboons, Elephants, Hippos, Guenons and Gorillas – what a treat. When the Borassus palms are fruiting and on offer everyone comes to the party.

To shoot the Mandrill plucking palm nuts I stuffed a 10mm right next to the bunch and sat back about 15 feet with my remote. The big male slowly approached, grabbed a few nuts, had a good munch, gave me a stare and then swiftly latched onto the camera and tried to run off. Good fun dashing after a baboon trying to steal your Arri – I have no idea why he didn’t grab the nuts instead!


The mass migration of almost 1000 wild Baboons had never been filmed before, in fact, it had been seen by very few people. After a month of waiting the radio call from the scientific researcher finally came to life and crackled “their coming!”. It was all over in 20 minutes and two 400ft loads of film as hundreds passed by the lens.

The work resulted in a Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cinematography nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Mandrill March from the BBC CONGO series
Producer: Brian Leith
Cinematography: Phil Savoie
Super 16: Kodak 7246
Location: Gabon

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