The making of Kate Humble: Living with Nomads
Director, producer and filmmaker Alexis Girardet specialises in working in remote communities and the harshest of climates. With both poles, the Atlantic and Everest under his belt, his latest challenge was discovering the little-known Nomadic communities in Siberia, Mongolia and Nepal with Kate Humble for Indus Films’ new series. Alexis shares some of the tales from shooting the documentary.
Integrating with the nomadic communities
Filming Indus Films’ Kate Humble: Living with Nomads for BBC2 took us to some wild and remote parts of the world. The key was to gently ingratiate our way into the nomads’ lives and this worked to varying degrees. In Mongolia we were welcomed with open arms from the start; on my first night I ended up sleeping next to the 89-year old great-grandmother in the family ger (a Mongolian yurt), but in Siberia we ended up barricading ourselves into a room as drunken Russian oil workers tried to kick our door in.
In Nepal, after an initially successful recce, we got the cold shoulder and demands for cash when we started filming. That was really tricky, but we stayed the course and slowly chipped away at the difficulties and hurdles in our way. In the end there were hugs and tears when it came to leaving all of the nomads. It was a very rich and rewarding experience.
Walking with the Mongolian family’s herd of goats, sheep, yaks and horses over the high passes and mountains to their new summer camp will always stay with me. In Nepal, unexpected festivities made for a night to remember – singing, dancing and drinking homemade hooch into the twilight. But, the memory that will stay with me the longest is eating freshly slaughtered, still warm reindeer meat in the Siberian tundra. Our hosts shared what for them is a special feast of raw liver, fresh blood and warm fat, all washed down with copious amounts of vodka, while we sat out in the snow at -25C. It was surreal and wonderful.
Lessons learnt: do talk to strangers!
The thing I’ve taken away from this year of magical journeys and experiences is the warmth, friendship and humanity of strangers – sharing lives and stories, spending time getting to know people living in far-removed places, and yet finding that deep down we all have the same joys and worries. And that life stripped back to the basics is something to be embraced.
Most importantly we need learn to live and understand these remote and wild cultures; they should be cherished and encouraged instead of all too often being pushed more and more to the margins and to the very verge of extinction. Let’s not lose these amazing, inspirational yet tough people and their ways of living; let’s embrace them and nurture them, or at least let them live as they wish to, at peace with nature and the world.
I really hope that we have helped to capture some of these amazing lives and that they come through as warm and dignified people in the series we have made. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Tune into Indus Films’ brand new series, Kate Humble: Living with Nomads, from Friday 5th June at 9pm on BBC Two.