4 x 60 mins - Five / National Geographic
Spiderlight Films 2009
The latest in a line of tough men, tougher jobs docusoaps, this new series benefits from a thoughtful voiceover, considered editing and non-invasive soundtrack replacing the sturm und drong that typifies the genre.
The Sunday Times 02/08/09
Ice Patrol follows the Royal Navy’s sole ice patrol ship, HMS Endurance on her five month voyage to Antarctica. As an ice-breaker she can venture deep into the pack ice and her two sturdy lynx helicopters allow her to penetrate further into the frozen interior than any other vessel.
I formed my own company, Spiderlight Films, to win this commission with Channel Five and National Geographic. I and three other members of the crew spent 10 weeks onboard Endurance as she carried out her mission in Antarctica. Being “embedded” in this way allowed us to win the trust of the ship’s company and really get close to the action on this incredible voyage.
This was an HD project and we pioneered the use of tapeless technology in these extreme conditions by using the new Sony PDW700 and two Sony PDW EX3‘s to record the series.
We supplemented the onboard and shore footage with spectacular aerials shot on the Gyron camera (many thanks to David Baillie of Wildcat Films) and from the open door of the Lynx helicopters using the 700 and a Portamount.
Personally, it also meant performing just about every role going with much of my time either spent self-shooting or being director/soundman with the main camera.
The original plan was for the series to be six episodes but Endurance’s mission was cut short just before Christmas when we experienced a catastrophic engine room flood off Cape Horn which very nearly resulted in her sinking. The heroic story of how the ship’s crew saved Endurance is told in the final episode.
Ice Patrol aired on National Geographic in August 2009 - the first episode more than doubled the audience for that slot over the previous week. It airs on Five in January 2010.