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Wildlife cameraman has some tales to tell
FROM being dragged underwater by a walrus to being pushed along by a whale, as one of the world’s leading wildlife cameramen Doug Allan will have a host of interesting stories as he visits Salisbury at the weekend.
Allan is well-known in wildlife circles for his award-winning camerawork on hugely successful BBC series such as Life, Human Planet, Blue Planet, Planet Earth and the recent, and highly acclaimed Frozen Planet and Ocean Giants.
He is currently on a UK tour, sharing mesmerising footage and incredible photographs as he chats about his latest adventures and gives people an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of the country’s most popular wildlife documentaries.
“We do work with potentially dangerous animals, but if you know the animals well you can take risks,” he says. “It’s always unpredictable. A walrus once grabbed me.
“They usually only eat mussels and clams but they sometimes dive down so they can look up to see seals sleeping on the surface. They grab them, take them down and either drown them or crush them. “I felt something grab me round the waist and pull me down but I hit it and it immediately let go. I was lucky it let go because they can just hold on tighter.”
Having studied marine biology at Stirling University, Allan went on his first expedition to the Antarctic as an assistant diver in 1976 for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
“I did stills photography then,” he said. “It was about showing people these odd places. Then we had a film crew come to our base and I helped them for a couple of days. By the end I just thought ‘what an amazing job’.
“It’s the sum of all the things I have been interested in – underwater snorkelling and diving, wildlife, travel and photography and filming.”
That visit was Allan’s break, as he already had extensive experience working in extreme environments both above and below the water. Entirely self-taught and with a idea for the film he wanted to make about the Antarctic in winter, he started his career as a wildlife cameraman and has now been involved in more than 60 films and series, winning all sorts of awards including EMMYs and BAFTAs as well as being awarded a Polar Medal for his work with the BAS in 1983 and a bar in 2012 for his work filming at both poles.
Allan said it takes about nine days of filming to get a minute on the screen so to get enough footage for a 50-minute episode of high-end behaviour takes 450 filming days.
Allan will be at Salisbury Arts Centre on Sunday from 7.30pm. To book tickets call 01722 321744 or go to salisburyartscentre.co.uk.
For more information or other tour dates go to dougallan.com.
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