Brian Moser on the challenges of filming in remote and challenging conditions

So, did anybody ever get ill? And then what would you do if that was the case? 

On Disappearing World

Yes. Or were you all so fit and healthy that it didn’t matter?

No but flu-type illness, yes, it could knock you out for three days, so who knows, how to deal with a virus… I mean, no, I hope not. As well, I think that it was, you know, you get a kind of a flu, which just knocked you out really. But we were very lucky. ….

But you take with you the bare essentials, so you take a bit of morphine, if it was a mosquito area you would be taking an anti-malarial pill. You’d take anti-snakebite serum, some splints. It amounted to a bit of stuff. Because we had to carry it. Well, in this case with the Cuiva, we were mostly in canoes, their canoes or our inflatable dinghy. It was essential in order to carry the cans, because all the film was in cans. 

From a technical point of view, they weren’t ideal circumstances for filming and then making sure that the film was kept…

Well, you had to keep it, to a degree, air-tight. Actually, on our first film, a zoologist friend had told me before we went in, he said, “Oh, make sure, if you can, bring it from England, bring a small milk churn out with you.” And from there on in, we kept the film in a watertight, airtight milk churn. Which was our saviour. Because in the very first film, called Pira Paraná, in northwest Amazonia, we actually turned the canoe over. We went broadside on into a rapid. I mean, our Indian guide shouldn’t have let us get to that stage. Everything went into the water – including the camera and the tape recorder. So, before it even started, we had to dry out all the gear. Luckily, the film was all sealed, but to see it bobbing gown over these rapids… you were able to go and pick it all up and dry it all out. And luckily again – I suppose it was so obvious, but it wasn’t at the time – you had pretty sealable plastic bags to put our clothing in. We did have that. And if you put desiccators… 

Yes, I know what you mean. 

And the other alternative is to desiccate your rice. In other words, sort of begin to dry it out, then sealing your valuable things into that, leave it each night in sealed plastic bags, and we managed to dry out the camera. And also, we obviously had to leave it out in the sunlight to get dry, and it worked. After three days, it was working. So that’s the answer to that. 

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