Okavango - A Flood of Life: Behind The Scenes
‘Okavango: A Flood of Life’ tells the story of the ebb and flow of a precious life-giving flood in one of Africa’s most arid regions, creating an explosion of life that turns the sandy soils of the Kalahari into one of the most environmentally productive habitats on earth. Narrated by River Bushman Senabe, this documentary is an intimate telling of the personal significance of this natural phenomenon both for his community and the animals that surround it. Throughout the year of filming, our team, led by veteran and pioneering filmmaker and producer Brad Bestelink were on the ground day and night to capture the action entirely in 8K.
The flooded Matisibi Channel.
The story of this pristine wilderness is a human one, where River Bushmen have carved out a harmonious living for hundreds of years. In today’s world, it is impossible to ignore the human impact on every wildlife story and this film embraces this perspective. Working with the expertise of those that understand its rhythm better than anyone else, our crew were able to bring a unique angle to a firmly established genre. Epic wildlife sequences cut to stunning shots of Senabe and his community forging their living on its shores and we see and understand the transformation of the Delta through his eyes, as if we too are walking alongside elephants and rejoicing in the first rains or simply sitting round the fire with Senabe as he shares his story.
SB (centre-frame) - full time River Bushman, part time clown!
Every year, billions of litres of water flow into Botswana’s Okavango Delta. To convey this sheer quantity and the transformation it brings means that the story of the Delta is one best told from above. Footage from helicopters equipped with our Shotover is prominent throughout the film. These shots transition flawlessly to an eye-level perspective, with specialised vehicles on the ground ready to capture the action below. Filming also took place below the surface, with REDs in underwater housing stabilised by gimbal and operated by hand to showcase the Okavango’s underwater jungle and its resident fish populations. In addition, a filming technique Brad pioneered is used to give a unique perspective into Africa’s underwater giants in their natural habitat.
Termites are one of the key architects of the Okavango Delta and
play a major role in the film.
As well as above and below-ground videography, we also witness the action from within. Termites, like hippos, are another great architect of the Delta. ‘Okavango: A Flood Of Life’ faced an enormous challenge in conveying the importance of these tiny creatures in the overall dynamics of the Delta. We met this challenge head on, with macro-photography of the termites scurrying in their tunnels and epic time-lapses that show their ceaseless activity throughout day and night as they rush to repair damage to their homes. Time-lapses and lapse-times of their chimneys demonstrate the fruits of their labour, which stand in the face of dramatic weather conditions and changes. Once the flood arrives, we zoom out to wide aerials and witness how this army of tiny soldiers is responsible for the creation of the Okavango’s thousands of islands, the only remaining dry land once the floodwaters sweep in.
The flood transforms the Okavango Delta into a tapestry of habitats unlike anywhere else on Earth.
‘Okavango: A Flood of Life’ is a beautiful and personal telling of life and death in the Delta. We see the role of key species, including humans, in the creation of one of the most extraordinary and pristine wildernesses left on our planet, as well those that revel in it. The audience is left inspired and in awe at the abundance which the flood gives and the devastation it leaves in its wake – it truly is a flood of life.
Blog written by Hannah Gormley and Andy Crawford-Bestelink