Guillermo Navarro (‘Hostile Planet’ producer) on ‘connecting emotionally with the animals’ in world’s harsh terrains [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Guillermo Navarro “wanted to make use of film language to tell the stories” of “Hostile Planet.” The Oscar-winning cinematographer (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) served as an executive producer on this NatGeo documentary series, which takes viewers to some of the world’s harshest terrains and examines the animals who live there. Watch our exclusive video interview with Navarro above.

In most nature documentaries, “the host is the main source of the narrative,” Navarro explains. “Someone is talking to you, driving you through the process.” Though this series is hosted by Bear Grylls, Navarro wanted to “lower the level of the voice-over” and allow the visuals to tell the story.

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He also wanted those visuals to be strikingly different from other shows of its kind. Traditionally, the photography in nature docs is “more observational,” shot “from a distance, providing images for the narration.” Navarro “wanted to put the lens right there at the moment, and not just have it at a distance observing. I wanted to create a much more immersive experience” to put the audience with the animals “in their journey. In that way, you can connect emotionally with the animals, and they become a character.”

To achieve this, Navarro made use of new technologies, such as drone photography and lightweight cameras. A nature documentarian, he explains, must be “pretty much invisible, and not affect the animal behavior.” Because the equipment is smaller, “there’s ways to move the camera that before were impossible to do.” The drone, in particular, “was an incredible tool for this show,” allowing the crew to get in close with the animals, especially from above.

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In addition to winning the Oscar for shooting Guillermo del Toro‘s “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), he also earned an Independent Spirit Award for that film and received a nomination at the BAFTAs. He also worked with del Toro on “Cronos” (1993), “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001), “Hellboy” (2004), “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008), and “Pacific Rim” (2013).

He is also a director, and has helmed episodes of such television shows as “Narcos,” “Hannibal,” “Preacher,” and “Luke Cage,” as well as the TV movie “Cocaine Godmother” (2017).

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