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The Great Mountain Sheep Gather

Category: Feature Documentary

Client: Windfall Films

Producer: BBC Four

This is a special one – in 2019 Chris was brought onto the team as a freelancer by longtime collaborator and primo drone pilot Mike Foyle, along with six other experienced drone teams. Thanks Mike!

We were working with Windfall Films and director Johnny Shipley to document the journey of the farmers who owns the flock of Herdwick sheep on Skafell Pike – England’s highest peak.

The film was almost entirely shot by drone, with a few 360º shots from cameras mounted to the shepherd, the sheepdogs, and a few lucky sheep.

To cover the enormous distance walked by the shepherd, his sheepdogs, and a supporting team of other shepherds, each drone operator was based at separate locations along the route.

Being a ‘Slow TV’ film, the order of the day here was to shoot long, flowing drone shots to tell a story. Each shot had to have a beginning, middle and an end, with the idea that it would be left as-so in the edit. This is a far cry from our usual work in TV, where a day of shooting drone shots is represented by a couple of 1- or 2-seconds shots in the final edit. One of Chris’ shots came to about 4 minutes in the film! Consequently it was a very creatively rewarding project as it forced us to think a little differently.

In addition to a bit of voice-over from the shepherd, the main narration came from poetry written for the film, narrated by Maxine Peake which brought a haunting beauty to the scenes.

When the film was broadcast on BBC4 it was the middle of the first lockdown, and viewing figures were high as it offered people the experience to escape their living rooms, be reminded of rural scenes,  and visit the craggy peaks of the Lake District.

The whole experience was made even better by the fact that the film won a BAFTA in 2021! It was awarded Winner in the category: ‘Photography – Factual’. A huge congratulations to all the drone, camera, sound and post crew for their hard work. 

Check out the team’s BAFTA acceptance speech – all filmed by drone of course!

The film also won an ‘Award for Excellence’ in the GTC – Guild of Television Camera crew.