Jonny Keeling on his over 20-year-long career in wildlife documentary

Updated: Dec 18, 2018, 08:26 IST | Letty Mariam Abraham

Working on his latest offering Seven Worlds, veteran producer Jonny Keeling reflects on his over 20-year-long career in wildlife documentary

Jonny Keeling on his over 20-year-long career in wildlife documentary
Jonny Keeling

He is the brain behind the now-iconic sequence of a baby iguana being chased by a knot of racer snakes, which featured in the docu-drama, Planet Earth II. But to narrow down Jonny Keeling's career to a 120-second-clip would be doing disservice to the man who has spent over two decades bringing the exotic wildlife into our living rooms.

Currently working on a new outing called Seven Worlds that aims to highlight the wildlife species and landscapes that each continent has to offer, the executive producer, Children's Natural History, BBC Studios, says the show will depict a "revelatory story behind each continent".

"Every episode will cover one continent. Each of them has a different character according to where it sits on the planet, and with regard to its history and the animals. A week spent in Antarctica is drastically different from that in Asia. Despite having worked with animals for over 40 years, there were so many things I was not aware of, and learnt through this show."

One may assume that infotainment is lagging behind its richer cousin, fictional entertainment. However, Keeling reveals that the trick is to bait viewers with an emotional storytelling. "Our shows stand on three pillars: it has to have an emotional storytelling with twists and turns. Secondly, it has to be innovative by way of featuring new animals or new locations that can add value. Lastly, the content must have factual integrity. With so much fake news out there, we have to make sure that what we present are reliable stories."

An advocate of thorough research, the veteran adds, "We have a team of 20 to 30 people, many of them have doctorate and PhD degrees. We also contact people who post interesting developments on social media. It is then verified, followed by weeks of pre-production, procuring necessary permissions for shoots, and extensive planning before we finally roll."

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