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Rob Sullivan

To Bruce and the Amazon

Posted from: Belem

We've done it. We've reached the port of Belem, the gateway of the Amazon, where the mighty river finally meets the Atlantic Ocean. There was a great atmosphere on the boat as we pulled into port at sunrise. Everyone's thoughts are naturally turning towards home, and despite the weeks of exhaustion there's a lovely light feeling in the air.

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Rob Sullivan

Kayapo Cures

Posted from: Krinu

We're on the final main shoot of the series, staying with the Kayapo Indigenous People on their reserve in the south of Para state. They are proud warriors yet at the same time very gentle hosts, and have given us a very warm and traditional welcome.

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Marina De Brito

The elusive pirarucu

Posted from: Jacare
The pirarucu is the largest scaled fresh water fish in the world. It is emblematic of the Mamiraua Institute because of the successful management programme they have implemented, which has increased the stocks of this once endangered fish very successfully in the reserve. It has become emblematic of our shoot too because for days we have been trying to catch one.

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Marina De Brito

Waiting for fish

Posted from: São Raimundo do Jarauá in the Sustainable Development Reserve, Mamirauá.
We went out this morning to go fishing with Jorge from São Raimundo de Jarauá, not just for any fish but for the largest, scaled, fresh water fish in the world. Its name: the pirarucu. Pira means red in the local indigenous language and rucu mean fish, so the red fish. Its scales are famed to be red and really quite beautiful, but none of us have ever seen one.

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Marina De Brito

Fish Stock

Posted from: Sao Raimundo do Jaraua in the Sustainable Development Reserve, Mamiraua.
We have been here for three days now. This is a small community of about 20 wooden houses on the banks of a river channel called Jarauá. The channel comes off the main river Japurá, and Japurá feeds the Amazon river itself about 36 kilometres downriver from here.

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Keith Schofield

Floating through Ages

Posted from: Jarauara Community - Rio Japura.
The Priest was right. He's a Catholic and entitled to be I suppose. The Catholic faith is massively on the resurgence here. Maybe they all believe his theories on mosquitoes. Not a part of my body is munch-free.

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Keith Schofield

The dark side of the Amazon

Posted from: Tabatinga
I’ve never blogged before. It won’t be easy following some of the most wonderful writing you will have read so far. I prefer to be quiet behind my camera and film stuff – like quiet and shy people do – and leave the writing to those who are gifted at it.

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Matt Norman

Goodbye to the Amazon

Posted from: Manaus
Am back in Manaus with Laura, Rob and Dudu and it's been quite an adventure. We have left Bruce back in Tabatinga and crossed flights with the other crew in the air so didn't get chance to say 'Hi' and wish them luck.

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Matt Norman

Log Spinning

Posted from: Loggers’ camp nr Atalaia
The next day it’s up early and into the jungle for a long sweaty walk. It’s pretty tricky as we cross streams and ditches by balancing our way along narrow branches. The Dr has joined us and it’s hysterical as due to his somewhat large size he is supported by two loggers for each crossing in case the branch snaps. He sees the funny side to everything so the atmosphere is great. It’s been raining heavily and has just stopped, so the humidity factor is really cranking up high.

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Matt Norman

Arrival in Logging Camp

Posted from: Atalaia
One last adjustment to the camera and we swing it out over the water on our 25’ crane to film some passing shots of the boat. We have travelled ahead on a smaller, faster boat in order to rig this and not hold our journey up. The shot works well by having the camera drift across the water and up over a tree as the boat passes. It really captures the landscape that we are passing through in one smooth shot.

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Matt Norman

It's a long way up

After a long boat ride the river was becoming narrower and Philippe guided us to a small encampment. From here we hiked for 40 minutes into the jungle and arrived at an enormous tree stretching high up through the canopy. This was to be our platform for filming shots of the jungle from above the canopy.

Matt starts his ascent up a tree, complete with kit...

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Matt Norman

Avoiding the stench of feet

Posted from: Near Atalaia, on the river on the way to logging camp

We have resumed our boat journey to the remote logging camp and didn’t quite make it in daylight today so have pulled into the riverbank to sleep the night. Laura has stayed behind in Tabatinga to start transcribing the Matis tapes so it’s a very male affair for this section of filming. The sleeping options are pretty limited with hammocks being tied to every possible place inside of the cramped boat. This isn’t too pleasant as inside it stinks of diesel fumes and it's boiling hot from the lack of ventilation.

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Rob Sullivan

The Last of the Marubo Shaman

Posted from: Parana
We've just spent a week filming with the Marubo people, the most powerful tribe in Vale do Javari, a vast indigenous reserve in the far West of Brazil. We chose the remote village of Parana for our filming, because it's home to a very young and very gifted Shaman called Robson.

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Matt Norman

Scorching Hot Wax

Posted from: Parana
As I'm writing this I've just broken into a secret stash of dry roasted peanuts that have been traveling in a camera box since Peru. Sat joining me for this mini-feast are three little wide-eyed Marubo kids who are loving this treat as much as I am.

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Matt Norman

The Bug Game

Posted from: Parana
The Marubo village stands high up on a bank overlooking the river and it’s from there that I’m shooting a time-lapse shot of a stunning sunset expanding over the bend in the river and the jungle beyond.

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Rob Sullivan

Boats, Bugs and Breakdowns

Posted from: Aurelio just outside of Tabatinga
Whilst the Amazon and its tributaries may flow smoothly and steadily, you can be fairly guaranteed that trying to film here won't. This place throws new problems at you every day: from illness in the crew to boats breaking down, to tricky tribal negotiations and obstructive bureaucrats, not to mention swarms of insects, torrential rain, knee-deep mud and unbearable heat. As producer/director, my job is to deal with all of these problems as they arise, try to find practical solutions and keep the production going. Every delay is extremely costly, financially and editorially as valuable filming time slips painfully away.

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Matt Norman

High Shots

Matt sets up the jib - but isn't quite prepared for the audience

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Matt Norman

Beauty Queens

Posted from: Benjamin Constant
The big shoot tonight will be following Bruce as he enters the Benjamin Constant Carnival Beauty Pageant. Rob and I arrive early evening to film a time-lapse shot of the arena as preparations are underway and the dusky sunset turns to night. I set the camera to record one frame every six seconds so that when the image frames are played back at the normal 25 frames per second (as is the normal frame rate) the transition of dusk into night, with clouds whizzing across the sky, appears 300 times faster. As we wait for the time-lapse to record, the band and compere test the sound PA for what is sure be a night of Brazillian mayhem.

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Matt Norman

Football in drag

Posted from: Benjamin Constant
We filmed Bruce walking around the corner to the Bloco football match and we were met by quite a sight. A loud cheer went up to greet us from the friendliest bunch of Brazillian men who were halfway through putting on their dresses, wigs and makeup. A beer can was thrust into Bruce's hand and he was instantly embarrassed as the newest member of the football team.

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Matt Norman

Easy Rider

Posted from: Benjamin Constant
We are back on the river today, which feels great. It's just a 20-minute ride to the small riverside town of Benjamin Constant where we will be spending the next four days filming carnival. Brazil is about to go carnival crazy so it should be a fun shoot ahead.

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Matt Norman

He's got knives...and he knows how to use them

Posted from: Tabatinga
Today the new production team of Rob, Laura and Leti arrived in the border town of Tabatinga. It's an unusual place in that despite being tiny it has one half of the town in Brazil while the other half is in Columbia. They arrived pretty exhausted after three long plane rides and were greeted by a torrential thunderstorm and an electricity blackout in our hotel. It was fun to meet up and despite the jet lag it was great that they were all full of excitement for the adventure ahead.

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Bruce Parry

Drunken football in drag

Posted from:Tabatinga
We’ve a new team just arrived and Rob Sullivan is our new leader. How nice to have some new blood. Just like Matt at the beginning and Steve thereafter, Rob is now directing. I’ve only met him once before at a good friend’s wedding but we got on instantly. Also we have the amazing Leti who has worked non-stop for months sorting out the Brazilian phase of the trip. With her also is my mate Laura who it’s great to see out here and who’s been hard at work on recces too.

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Bruce Parry


Posted from: Tabatinga
I heard from Steve today. Apparently he's just had the best few days surfing imaginable on the coast of Peru as a break on his long journey home to the madness of the office in Cardiff. It has given me a smile all day to think of him out in the water.

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Laura Santana

Border Towns

Posted from:Tabatinga
We've arrived in Tabatinga after a simply mammoth journey. Three planes, three time zones and 24 hours after we set off we (Rob, Leti and myself) are greeted by the superman himself - no not Bruce - but our incredible fixer Marco. Marco is not only a professor of biology, he is an ex-commando, pilot, skipper, cook, and a truly lovely guy. Leti and I both spent a month each with him on our recces (pre-shoot trips) for films 3-6.

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Willow Murton

The journey through Peru

Posted from: Ayahuasca Retreat Nr Iquitos
Standing under the dark night, washed in floral water and freshened after the day's walk to the ayahuasca retreat, this is one of those rare moments of reflection on a shoot. The jungle pours in around me with its clutter of insects and flow of the stream, illuminated by the occasional firefly. After three months in Peru, this is the last section of our second film to be shot. The thought of it being over seems implausible.

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Bruce Parry

Oil spill

Bruce travels to an oil spill with Guevara, an environmental monitor for the Achuar

Matt Norman

Death Row and a Mud Hole

Posted from: Andoas
After days of travelling in tiny boats we make it to the grotty settlement of Andoas. We arrive late and are staying in a hostel made of plywood, as it’s the only accommodation in town. Around us are a few sparse bars and directly opposite a brothel lit up with twinkly fairy lights and blaring out 80’s music until the early hours.

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Matt Norman

Turtle Swims to Freedom

Posted from: Wijint
Today we have been invited by Manto to go fishing with him and some other Achuar from the community. Zubin is so looking forward to this. He’s been wanting to catch a fish on the Amazon since we started this adventure and at every opportunity we have either been too busy filming or the boat has been travelling too fast. This scene should be great as we will be experiencing one of the Achuar’s traditional methods of community fishing so Zubin has promised us that he will be supplying the much needed food for us to eat tonight.

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Steve Robinson

Getting a helping hand

Steve and Matt receive plenty of help from the local children whilst filming in an Ashaninka community.

Matt Norman

The Coca Pit

Posted from: Louisiana
7.20 am: We walk 10 minutes up through the woods and come to a small clearing with a wooden house. A very poor-looking mum and dad with six scraggly young children greet us. They look somewhat puzzled by our motives and the driver quickly reassures them so it’s happy hand shakes all round.

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Matt Norman

A Surreptitious Journey

Posted from: Louisiana
5.00am: There is a beautiful sunrise and the mist crosses the mountains as Bruce, Luis and myself meet early. We await the possible go-ahead of a filming opportunity with illegal cocaine paste manufacturers. After lots of pacing and phone calls from Luis he finally gives us the thumbs-up. We load a lightweight shooting kit and jump into an unassuming car with local San Francisco number plates.

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