Recently Arctic Kingdom was contacted by NBC- Universal Films to provide location suggestions for certain ice conditions needed to complete visual effects plates for the the upcoming Drew Barrymore film – Everybody Loves Whales. The plot of the film sounds great, “A nonprofit aid worker and a government worker spark as they work together in the effort to free three California gray whales who have become trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle.” It’s slated for a January 2012 release
Kuujjuaq, Nunavik was our suggestion, and it came through with flying colours. Ice floes, pans of ice, ice ridges and perfect weather conditions made for the perfect 2 day film shoot. We’ve shared a few highlights from our photo story here, check out our Facebook page for a full gallery of these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.
I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the recent Disneynature film Oceans was the walrus mother hugging her pup close as she teaches him to navigate the ice cold water off Cobourg Island.
Maybe I’m biased. After all, this was just some of the fabulous footage captured by Disneynature crews working with Arctic Kingdom. And, despite un-self conscious the ease with which the walrus cradles her young, the shoot was not without its challenges. In a recent article posted at the Canada Tourism Centre’s Media center, AK founder Graham Dickson explains:
“Walruses are not only potentially dangerous, but the mothers tend to be protective of their young. So finding one, in clear water, that keeps doing her thing naturally, was pretty incredible.”
Graham goes on to explain that finding animals in the wild is just one of the challenges of filming Arctic wildlife.
“The challenge is to find meaningful connections” between the animals, he says. Some animals are frankly too self-conscious; they’re so aware of the dive crews that they aren’t … themselves. Sometimes, strangely enough, the most intimidating animals make the most fittingly Zen subjects. Like, for example, a big alpha-male polar bear, caught at a moment when he’s well fed and king of all he surveys. Bears in such conditions “are almost blasé,” Dickson says. “They don’t care that you’re around. They don’t fear you. You’re not part of their food chain.”
Arctic Kingdom’s secret lies in the relationships we’ve formed over years of working and returning to the Arctic. Meaningful connections built between our expedition leaders and the local guides we work with help us to find and form connections with the wild creatures that make the Arctic their home.
“[The Inuit] have the strongest connection of anyone to the wildlife,” Dickson says. Roughly half of Arctic Kingdom’s field personnel team comes from the local native communities. “We work not only with youth but with very old elders who don’t speak English. We’re a ‘southern’ company that has spent enough time in the North to actually know some Northern ways. We bring the sophisticated logistics, but we still plug into the local community network and everything the Inuit hold near and dear.”
By relying on the traditional knowledge of Inuit guides, Arctic Kingdom is providing jobs for far northern communities that draws upon traditional knowledge and values, helping build and strengthen the Arctic economy for a changing future. Simultaneously, we’re helping other “southerners” connect with the world of the North (including some extremely photogenic walruses). Not a bad way to make a living!
If you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ve already heard about Océans, actor, director and producer Jacques Perrin’s exploration of the 71 percent of the earth’s surface that is covered by the sea.
A recent story in Time notes,
[The] spectacular new French maritime documentary. . . has done not only twice as much business as [the George Clooney vehicle] Up in the Air since both movies were released on Jan. 27, but is also looking to set a new mark for nature films when it rolls out internationally in the coming months.
Océans is no Jacques Cousteau rehash, and its environmental message, while alarming, doesn’t impose the sense of doom central to recent films like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth or Frenchman Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Home. Instead it seduces the viewer to the maritime cause with awe-inspiring imagery, creating an almost emotional attachment between viewer and cinematic object by bringing the camera into astonishing intimacy with erstwhile unapproachable beings. At one point, a mother walrus hugs her baby protectively as she swims. At another, a diver caresses and plays with an 18-foot, 1-ton great white shark nicknamed “Lady Mystery.”
As we noted in our November 2009 newsletter, we’re proud to have worked with Océans’ producers and filmakers throughout the Arctic, helping them to get some of the spectacular footage that has made this one of the most exciting nature documentaries to hit the international scene in recent years. The film hits North American theaters this Earth Day (April 22, 2010). We can’t wait to see the finished product!
Oceans opens this Thursday, and we couldn’t be more excited. Here are five new preview clips, via Collider.com. There’s a brief ad at the start, but it’s worth sitting through!
Last week, we featured some footage from the Spanish television show Desafio Extremo, which features travel adventures all over the globe. Arctic Kingdom had the pleasure of bringing the Desafio Extremo crew north for their Buceo Ártico episode, and we’re really excited with the moments they were able to capture on film.
Over on the Desafio Extremo website, they’re hosting a poll, where viewers can vote for their favorite trip from the current season. Personally, we’re partial to one episode in particular. But really, can you blame us?
In the video below (Jesús y María al final logran encontrarse con los narvales) Jesús and Maria encounter a narwhal at last. There’s gorgeous underwater footage leading up to it, but, if you’re too impatient, skip to 2:30 to see the whale!
Vote Arctic! Vote Often!
Long-time readers of the Arctic Kingdom blog might remember this post, where I mentioned that expedition Expedition Manager Tom Lennartz was up on the ice near Baffin Island with a then-unnamed Spanish film crew.
Well, the footage from that expedition — part of the series Desafio Extremo, or Extreme Challenge — is now online. And it’s pretty spectacular, capturing both the beauty and danger of diving beneath the Arctic ice.
Check out the videos online here, and if you read Spanish (or feel like cheating, as I did, with a free online translator) you can read Jesús Calleja’s account of the adventure on his blog, which really captures the adrenaline of piloting a snowmobile across the sea ice, as well as the combination of on-the-ice flexibility and strong infrastructure needed to pull off a filming expedition to the Arctic!
Here’s a teaser for the show. Visit the Desafino Extremo site for more photos and footage of the adventure!
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This week, Expedition Manager Tom Lennartz is exploring the area around Kangiqsualujjuaq, a village 1,688 km (that’s over a thousand miles) north of Quebec. Located on Ungava Bay, the village is an access point for viewing all sorts of wildlife, including caribou, seal and beluga.
On this week’s trip, Tom is working with a film crew to capture footage of the polar bears in the surrounding wilderness as mothers and cubs emerge from their dens, shot against some of Canada’s most stunning scenery.
Now, keep in mind that the satellite image up top was taken in the summer. This time of year, the wilderness surrounding Kangiqsualujjuaq is cold, with long nights lit by the rippling green light of the aurora borealis. With the Torngat mountains creating a stunning backdrop, this is a breathtaking landscape, full of amazing wildlife.
I’m hoping Tom will be able to access the blog this weekend and give us some updates. And I wouldn’t mind a few photos, either!
Much of this footage was taken by filmmaker Doug Allen on an Arctic Kingdom expedition to Lancaster Sound in 2002 & 2003, near the mouth and leads that form at the mouth of Admiralty Inlet. Expedition Leader Thomas notes, “It was a priviledge to be on the floe edge alongside such a well known filmmaker.”
Maybe it’s Knut‘s influence. Over the last few months, several German-language films about the plight of polar bears in the wild have hit both the television market and the big screen.
The latest film to come across my radar is Im Einsatz fur Eisbaren, featuring the German actor Hannes Jaenicke. Jaenicke travels to the Canadian Arctic to investigate the threats, including climate change and hunting, facing polar bears in the wild.
Here at Arctic Kingdom, we’re proud to collaborate with filmmakers from around the globe. Recently, we had the pleasure of working with with Thomas Behrend of Blue Planet films on his German-Language film Eisbären Können Nicht Weinen (or Polar Bears Don’t Cry). The film is currently playing at Germany’s Green Screen Festival, where it is up for a Jury’s Special Award.
This is the second of Blue Planet’s Arctic films to receive acclaim. Das Abenteuer der Eisbärenkinder (The Adventure of the Polar Bear Cubs in English), which was also filmed with help from Arctic Kingdom, won the Magnolia Award at the Shanghai TV Festival in Singapore, as well as the “Bester deutscher Film Naturvision” in Neuschönau, Germany in 2008.