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Bringing Bush Diary to life

Published: 
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Paolo Kernahan, Bush Diary executive producer, left, chats with programme host Robert Clarke on a shoot for the programme.

 

Bush Diary, a local nature television series DVD containing four fact and fun filled episodes is available to the world on Amazon.com, yet viewers in this country can’t turn to one of our local television stations and see more of it, or even more work like it.
 
Executive Producer Paolo Kernahan confessed that local television executives were sadly not particularly interested in the content. “They were more interested in our ability to pay for the timeslots we wanted,” he revealed. 
 
“It was also a ding-dong battle to secure a primetime timeslot. In fact we were once told by a sales representative that it is a no-no in the television industry to put local programming in prime time because it would chase away viewers.”
 
Kernahan who is a very familiar face on local television, bringing us the real news and the fake news on various television stations during his career as a broadcaster said he was inspired to team up with journalist and avid outsdoorsman Robert Clarke for the nature television series because he observed “there was a void in the market for this sort of local content. 
 
“I have always been a fan of channels like National Geographic and PBS and there is no reason why we can’t have programming of that quality that focuses on our country.”
 
Most would agree with Kernahan’s view but getting support for the project wasn’t easy and he depended on a small but committed group of sponsors to pull through, even as he tirelessly fished for more support.
 
“For every season, we usually hand deliver more than 150 advertising booklets to potential advertisers and sponsors, and usually, we tend to get responses from less than ten.”
 
Even with a tiny core team of four, Idiom Productions has managed to maintain high production values with this well-scripted series, which was first broadcast in 2009. 
 
With ten shows per season Kernahan hesitated to put an exact estimate on the cost of producing an episode. 
 
“To do just one season of Bush Diary, it could cost close to half a million dollars,” he offered. 
 
“In addition to paying the crew, we must also pay for tour guides, boats, accommodation and, in some cases, security. There are also food costs for the crew because shooting wildlife means a lot of overnight and weekend stays. And of course, we must pay the local television stations to air the programme. 
 
“So our costs are quite high. These shows would not be possible if Idiom Productions did not undertake several side projects to meet the shortfall in funding/advertising revenue.”
 
Bush Diary seeks to spread the very important message of conservation through education and tries to show the immense potential for ecotourism in Trinidad and Tobago. Each episode was shot over several months. 
 
“Several months of getting up well before the crack of dawn and spending considerable periods of time out in the unforgiving elements waiting for extremely unreliable wildlife to show up,” Kernahan explained.
 
“Shooting outdoors presents unbelievable challenges; you have no control over the weather so essentially your schedule is dictated by the conditions outside. Then there is no guarantee of finding wildlife.”
 
For Caroni Swamp, the first episode presented on the DVD, Kernahan says, “we went to the swamp every month, every day during low tide in the morning with the hope of seeing the scarlet ibis in close proximity. 
 
“We eventually got those shots after many months of disappointment, just as we were about to give up.”
 
Of course, you couldn’t tell by looking at the packed half-hour episode on the Caroni Swamp. 
 
The crew managed well, despite their challenges, and they are even rewarded with a rare gem of an event, which they share with viewers.
 
They persevered because they felt their work was important.
 
“We are taught the importance of this work every day we go out into the field or when we receive feedback from viewers,” says Kernahan. 
 
“When we are on location, we feel as though we are making discoveries about a country we live in. We are ourselves learning about places that would not ordinarily shoot into the media spotlight. Viewers often remark that they are surprised to hear of the wildlife and environments, which are featured in our shows. 
 
“This means there is a tremendous need for education about the country that we live in. We are attempting to inspire and motivate people to protect our natural heritage.”
 
The Bush Diary team has explored wildlife habitats across the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, working for several months in the Fullarton Swamp in the Icacos peninsula, the Aripo Savannah, along the Northern Range in Lopinot, Fondes Amandes and Brasso Seco, exploring the mangroves at Invaders’ Bay, Waterloo and Claxton Bay, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago and more.
 
In the four episodes presented in the first Bush Diary DVD, the team visits the Caroni Swamp, explores mangroves, gets excited by avian wonders to be found at the Beetham Sludge Ponds and Mount St Benedict and learns how to fight forest fires.
 
Smart use of social media by the production team has helped to expand their fanbase and win interest from people who didn’t see the series when it was broadcast on television.
 
“Without social media, these shows could have never had the kind of success they’ve had,” says Kernahan. 
 
“The technology has allowed for an outreach and a connection with viewers that simply wasn’t possible before. Social networking has also helped in the area of marketing, for which small production houses have no budget.”
 
At idiomtv.com you can purchase the DVD, find out what the production team is up to, ask questions and view additional material generated during production. 
 
The DVD is packaged using recyclable material and comes with a well put together and informative eight-page booklet. Kernahan has been known to deliver copies by hand, free of charge, using the opportunity to meet fans and connect with them. It is also available on Amazon.com
 
So will there be another season?
 
“We would certainly like for there to be more seasons of Bush Diary,” says Kernahan. “Our main challenge, of course, is attracting advertising revenue to bring the shows to life.”
 
QUOTE
Viewers often remark that they are surprised to hear of the wildlife and environments, which are featured in our shows. This means there is a tremendous need for education about the country that we live in. We are attempting to inspire and motivate people to protect our natural heritage - Paolo Kernahan, executive producer han explained.
 
“Shooting outdoors presents unbelievable challenges; you have no control over the weather so essentially your schedule is dictated by the conditions outside. Then there is no guarantee of finding wildlife.”
 
For Caroni Swamp, the first episode presented on the DVD, Kernahan says, “we went to the swamp every month, every day during low tide in the morning with the hope of seeing the scarlet ibis in close proximity. 
 
“We eventually got those shots after many months of disappointment, just as we were about to give up.” Of course, you couldn’t tell by looking at the packed half-hour episode on the Caroni Swamp. 
 
The crew managed well, despite their challenges, and they are even rewarded with a rare gem of an event, which they share with viewers.
 
They persevered because they felt their work was important. “We are taught the importance of this work every day we go out into the field or when we receive feedback from viewers,” says Kernahan. 
 
“When we are on location, we feel as though we are making discoveries about a country we live in. “We are ourselves learning about places that would not ordinarily shoot into the media spotlight. 
“Viewers often remark that they are surprised to hear of the wildlife and environments, which are featured in our shows. 
 
“This means there is a tremendous need for education about the country that we live in. We are attempting to inspire and motivate people to protect our natural heritage.”
 
The Bush Diary team has explored wildlife habitats across the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, working for several months in the Fullarton Swamp in the Icacos peninsula, the Aripo Savannah, along the Northern Range in Lopinot, Fondes Amandes and Brasso Seco, exploring the mangroves at Invaders’ Bay, Waterloo and Claxton Bay, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago and more.
 
In the four episodes presented in the first Bush Diary DVD, the team visits the Caroni Swamp, explores mangroves, gets excited by avian wonders to be found at the Beetham Sludge Ponds and Mount St Benedict and learns how to fight forest fires.
 
Smart use of social media by the production team has helped to expand their fanbase and win interest from people who didn’t see the series when it was broadcast on television.
“Without social media, these shows could have never had the kind of success they’ve had,” says Kernahan. 
 
“The technology has allowed for an outreach and a connection with viewers that simply wasn’t possible before. Social networking has also helped in the area of marketing, for which small production houses have no budget.”
 
At idiomtv.com you can purchase the DVD, find out what the production team is up to, ask questions and view additional material generated during production. 
 
The DVD is packaged using recyclable material and comes with a well put together and informative eight-page booklet. 
 
Kernahan has been known to deliver copies by hand, free of charge, using the opportunity to meet fans and connect with them. It is also available on Amazon.com So will there be another season?
 
“We would certainly like for there to be more seasons of Bush Diary,” says Kernahan. “Our main challenge, of course, is attracting advertising revenue to bring the shows to life.”

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