The Crimson Wing - Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward

  • The List
  • 16 September 2009
The Crimson Wing - Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward

Who are they?
Aeberhard and Ward are established cameramen working within the nature documentary genre and both have over ten year’s experience of filming specifically in Africa. The Crimson Wing is their first project as co-directors and producers.

How The Crimson Wing came about

The film’s inception came from a colourful, aerial shot we had taken of Lake Natron. The place had never been filmed before, which in itself was intriguing. We had the idea then of making a different kind of ‘nature’ film, but we didn’t actually get out onto Natron until three years later. This project has really been six years in the making.

About filming on Lake Natron
We filmed over a period of sixteen months in a heat of 47 degrees. The shoot was physically gruelling and very difficult to pull off logistically. The birds [the Lesser Flamingos] are extremely susceptible to disturbance, so in order to shoot within 12 foot of them, we had to build these huts out on the salt lake, get up at 4am and stay there all day so the birds remained unaware of our presence. The lake looks like another planet and it’s a place that has been seen by so few people; it’s so exceptional we wanted to bring it to people’s attention.

On trying to break the mould
We didn’t want this to be a typical nature documentary; we wanted to break that mould, but subtly. From the beginning, we decided that we wanted the life cycle of the flamingos to be the focus and we didn’t want to let the facts dominate over the innate poetry of Lake Natron and these creatures. We wanted to tell a very human and symbolic story in which the narrative evolved from nature and wasn’t about nature.

Interesting fact
Lake Natron is under severe threat from soda, or salt, mining. The environmental impact of this has not been fully assessed as so little research has been done on the lake and so few people know about it. Seventy-five percent of the Lesser Flamingos breed out on Natron and they face extinction if more isn’t done to understand the potential impact that this mining could have on the bird’s environment.

The Crimson Wing is out on selected release from 25 Sep

Trailer: The Crimson Wing

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