September 2009

Jake Drake-Brockman at work

Jake Drake-Brockman

Jake was the sound recordist for four of the six Last Chance films. A couple of days ago he was killed riding the motorbike he loved.

To say that he was the sound recordist doesn't quite do it though. The shoot for each of these films ran for three weeks, and, typically there would be six of us; Stephen and Mark, a director, an assistant producer, a sound recordist and a camera operator. The six of us would embark on adventures to remote places for three weeks.

The team sometimes camped, sometimes got ill, got better, talked about life at home, sometimes fell out and made up, but we didn't spend much time apart. For three weeks at a time (six weeks in Madagascar and Africa as we ran the two shoots back to back) we were all we had.

Everybody liked Jake. He was cheerful and unassuming. He was the sane one. He stayed on the level when we all had our moments of madness with the heat and the stress. Having a team that can do their job is crucial, but having a team that can handle the experience and keep other people on course is crucial too and he was one of those. He was a bloody nice bloke.

Jake was a well known sound recordist having done lots of shoots of all kinds, but probably best known among the wildlife fraternity. He had made films with elephants and lions and all sorts. That was how we came to invite him onto the team. But Jake had another story that would sometimes entertain us on long journeys. Jake was once in the band Echo And The Bunnymen and we would ask him about stadiums and tour buses and the rock and roll lifestyle.

On the Mexico shoot, looking for Blue Whales, he brought a small guitar. In the hours between sightings he would be found playing on the front of the boat, or was happy for others to have a go. I loved the fact he brought the guitar and did my fair share of time on it.

Jake's other mysterious ability was his capacity to recall the number of every part of his classic motorbike. We would be sitting in the back of a landrover crossing an endless plain and Mark would say "What's a 1346, then?" and Jake would say "It's a bit of the rim of the wheel."

Jake came with us in pursuit of Northern White Rhino, Aye-aye, Komodo Dragon and Blue Whale. You glimpse him briefly in the Rhino film when elephants suddenly appear and he's caught fixing a microphone to Mark's chest.

Jake was hugely loved. People just liked having him around. He is in the films, not just because he recorded the sound, but because he contributed to the spirit and the joy of the experience. In the end, that is what the films are all about. They are better films because Jake was on board and we will miss him.

Tim Green, Series Producer, Last Chance to See


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