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The making of A Day in Kenya's Bush


"The first time you get so close to an animal that you can see the flies on its face, your whole body is quivering."

A couple of years ago Kay Bamford-Burnell and her husband went on safari in Kenya. She recorded more than 10 hours of tape which has so far been distilled into two award-winning shorts: Dawn Till Dusk and A Day in Kenya's Bush. We caught up with her at the Cotswold International Film & Video Festival and asked her about that adventure.

"We were in Kenya for three weeks - sleeping under canvas in the actual bush. We were up at five o'clock each morning and used to get back at eight at night, a quick shower then a meal under the stars and straight into bed, with a Masai Warrior guard outside the tent in case the animals came.

male impala"I used a Sony 3-chip Hi8 camera. My battery belt was fully charged. The camp staff took batteries into the village for re-charging and we charged some from the cigarette-lighter of the van.

"When we were in the Masai Mara a television crew was filming. They cut off some of the territory and they were baiting the animals. Brian our English guide-cum-driver who could speak their language as a native was livid. We tracked our own animals and we would go for days without seeing a soul because we kept away from the tourist areas. Hence we got the pictures.

"All the background you hear on the soundtrack is natural sound. The only bit I laid on was where my three colleagues still cameras clicked, I was the only one doing video. I cut those shutter clicks and pasted a neighbouring piece of live sound in their place. There were over 400 clicks to remove.

elephant"I was as close to the animals as it appears. One of the elephant's trunks hit me! We took four hours to get the shots of the rhino. I had to pick a position and remain absolutely still in the vehicle otherwise he could have charged, I could not even move my camera. If I had leaned over I could have put my hand on him. The sweat from fear and excitement was horrendous.

"The shots of the flamingoes over the lake were the result of patience and being in the right place, we just had to wait. I found it difficult to cope with the heat as we were there all day.

elephants"If pressed to name my favourite shots I'd say: the beauty of the pink flamingo birds across the lake is one and my baby elephants is another. I like all animals.

"I did not keep a journal but recreated it afterwards. I knew my feelings. The first time you get so close to an animal that you can see the flies on its face, your whole body is quivering because nature is so marvellous. I knew what I wanted to say. For the first film I used my own voice. For the second I felt it could be controled better if I had someone else speaking my words. Joy Cuthill, a member of our video club - Worcester Camcorder Club - read the script.

Dawn to Dusk was edited on my VCR with the old jog-shuttle, but I couldn't remove all the clicks of the still cameras and I wasn't happy with it. A Day in Kenya's Bush was edited on Adobe Premiere with Sound Forge to get those minute clicks out and use lots of other shots as well."

Kay Bamford-Burnell.Kay has been Chairman of Worcester Camcorder Club for a number of years, last year she removed herself from club competitions so that she could help other members with their work. But she is back making her own films, so look out! Her most telling comment echoes the sentiments of other top movie makers:

"When I look at my own films I can see the mistakes there - but you have to stop somewhere. The day I can't see mistakes is the day I won't make a good film."

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Page updated on 09 October 2011
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