Pia in the wilderness

by firmm Team

Camera and sound

Text: José Manuel Escobar Casado, photos: firmm + the team from "Pia und die wilde Natur"

It is generally known that in all companies with seasonal work, you never start on the first day. There is work to be done in the preceding months that is just as important. In my case, I had received the first e-mail from Katharina on February 8th informing me that on April 12th we would be visited by a German television programme called "Pia und die wilde Natur" (Pia in the wilderness). At once the name caught my attention and watching some of her videos only increased my interest.

The programme consists of Pia having to photograph 3 species, which can be animals or plants, and therefore she seeks the help of professionals. I was able to see her in the Amazon, in the Antarctic, on remote islands, etc. and to the Strait of Gibraltar she came with the purpose of finding Pilot Whales. Their morphology, different from the dolphins we usually know, made them attractive for the programme and, evidently, the Strait of Gibraltar is the ideal place to achieve their objective.

The moment Katharina told me that I would participate in the programme, I received an email explaining how the 2 days I would spend with the film crew would be organised and what questions I would be asked, and which were considered to be the most important. I reviewed several videos of the programme to get to know its dynamics and thus be able to respond according to the format.

In these videos I was able to "meet" Pía, who from the very first moment I found to be very nice and friendly, as well as being a great communicator of science for children because she so expressive and dedicated. For all these reasons, I was looking forward to the 12th of April.

One day before the filming of the programme, I met Marcela and the cameraman Matthias in the harbour of Tarifa to get to know each other and the boat and to talk about their expectations. As I have experience with clients with television cameras, I asked Matthias if he thought he might get seasick on the boat while filming, and he said no, but that he would nevertheless take measures.

D-Day dawned with Poniente, a cold and westerly wind. They wanted to take their first shots on board the firmm Vision on one of our daily excursions, to present the foundation and the work we do. After the informative talk in the harbour, 3 camera operators and Pia boarded the boat.

Luck was on our side when we spotted a blow. Being Sperm Whale season the first thing we thought was that we had found one, but when we saw a second, smaller blow we wondered if it was an adult Fin Whale with its calf, and indeed it was. The cameramen set out to film and take the first shots, and after a while as we moved already away from the Fin Whales, the film crew went up to the upper deck and chatted with Katharina while we watched dolphins and later Pilot Whales. A successful trip and furthermore their goal was achieved.

José and Pia

At the end of the day, the camera team and I got on a zodiac to take more shots and ask me the questions they had prepared for me. This trip also brought some excellent moments, we got to know each other better and that helped me to relax in front of the cameras. All the questions were aimed to understand why the Pilot Whale, despite its whale-like appearance, belongs to the dolphins.

Our arrival back to the port at sunset was the perfect end to a great day. We were all happy with a job well done and the cameraman passed the test of filming in the Strait of Gibraltar without getting seasick, a true professional.

We are already looking forward to seeing the result on television and hope that it will be to the liking of all viewers just like our whale watching tours in the Strait of Gibraltar.

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