Gordon Buchanan

Cameraman

GordonBuchanan

Having spent his childhood on the hills and shores around his home on the Isle of Mull, there was little surprise that Gordon Buchanan would pursue a career in wildlife filmmaking. In September 1989, at the age of seventeen Gordon landed the opportunity of a lifetime when the renowned filmmaker Nick Gordon offered him the job of assistant. Gordon immediately left school and soon after left for Sierra Leone in West Africa where he was to spend the next eighteen months, documenting the lives of the animals that inhabited a tiny fragment of the Gola Rainforest.

In September 1991 Gordon’s next project took him to the Amazonas region of Venezuela. After a tip-off from a scientist working in the area, Gordon and Nick set off to find the Piaroa tribe, an indigenous people whose ancient practice of worshipping and consuming the world's largest species of tarantula was a gift opportunity for a wildlife film maker.

During his five months in Venezuela Gordon travelled by canoe far up the Orinoco River, encountering many of the Amazon's most secretive animals, and the famed Yanomamo Indians who had virtually no contact with the outside world. The resulting film for Survival Anglia titled ‘Giant Tarantula’ was a huge success, and went on to win several awards.

From Venezuela, Gordon then spent most of the next two years in Brazil on the Amazon and its tributaries. During this time with Nick he journeyed the length and breadth of the greatest forest on earth, filming the wild, the weird and the wonderful, for four Survival Specials. These films were 'Creatures Of The Magic Waters', 'The Web Of The Spider Monkey', 'Gremlins: Faces In The Forest' and 'Jaguar Eater Of Souls'.

In January 1995 after five years learning his craft, Gordon finished his apprenticeship, scraped the necessary money together to buy the bare bones of an Arriflex camera kit, and for the first time set foot into the industry as a cameraman in his own right.

Two very shaky years followed, with little work and a lot of debt while Gordon struggled to gain recognition. However with time and persistence work began to trickle and then flood in.

In recent years Gordon has made a name as a respected film maker specialising in big cats. Filming lions and hyenas at night in the Serengeti in 1999 lead to Gordon teaming up with esteemed film maker Mike Birkhead to make two films for the BBC 'Natural World' series. The first ‘Leopard Hunters’ was a particular challenge in very difficult terrain. The leopards of Sri Lanka are highly secretive and largely nocturnal. This was to be the very first film on the Asiatic leopard. In this film Gordon captured aspects of leopard behaviour never filmed before and, incredibly, some behaviour never previously witnessed.

 

His second 'Natural World' was filmed mostly from elephant back, on foot and with the help of some creative off road driving. ‘The Tigers Of The Emerald Forest’ intimately documented a truly wild tiger population in North Central India and the efforts of scientist Raghu Chundawat to protect India’s wildest tiger population.

Gordon was major contributor to the 2004 'Big Cat Diary' series. Together with the other members of the leopard team he captured some of the most sensational Leopard footage that the series has ever seen.

In addition to his work behind the camera Gordon has made successful forays into working in front of the lens. First in ‘Leopard Hunters’, Gordon proved to be a very competent and natural presenter. His relaxed and informal manner was put to good use in two series for the BBC’s 'Wild' strand. ‘Wild Scotland’ and ‘Wild West Country’ were hugely popular with the BBC2 audience, and have provided an interesting diversion to Gordon’s main love of filming.

At the start of 2004 Gordon, with his wife and new daughter Lola, returned to the Isle of Mull to commence a 50 minute film about the wildlife on and around his native island.

Skills Summary

  • Experienced long lens/sync director/cameraman
  • Formats: S16mm Film, Digibeta, Infrared & Low Light
  • Climbing, scaffold, rope access filming
  • Elephant back (Stand free & Elephant Tripod)
  • Remote camera operation
  • Aerial filming (fixed wing and helicopters)
  • PADI diving qualification
  • Conversational Portuguese
  • Set design construction and lighting - macro, large area and underwater
  • Big cats (South America/Africa/India/Sri Lanka)
  • Credits include BBC, CH4, Partridge, MTV, Survival, Discovery, STV, Granada

 

Mike Birkhead
Gordon Buchanan
Saritha Wilkinson
Nigel Buck
Carolyn Naylor
Valmik Thapar
Martyn Colbeck
Joe Loncraine
Jeremy Evans
David Mitcham