One of the most interesting documentaries made in recent years, “The secret life of the Shannon,” brings viewers on a truly spectacular journey along one of Ireland’s greatest geographical features.
The natural history documentary is presented by Colin Stafford Johnson. Over the past two decades Stafford-Johnson has tracked and filmed animals all over the world, including tigers in India and birds of paradise in New Guinea.
In 2006, he won an Emmy for cinematography in the film "Mississippi — Tales of the Last River Rat" for Discovery Channel. He has also worked with renowned broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough on the well-received BBC series "Planet Earth."
This natural history documentary reveals the secret lives of the wild inhabitants of the Irish shores. Over the two years of production, Colin traveled the full length and of the river Shannon dozens of time to bring viewers the remarkable portrait of one of Ireland’s best known rivers.
The documentary is beautifully filmed and scored. Following the river from dawn to dusk through the four seasons, the documentary captures the river’s everchanging moods. It explores the countless waterways, islands and lakes that make up the the entire river system and focuses on some of the river’s more unusual inhabitants.
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Produced by Wicklow-based company, Crossing the Line, the series pushes the boundaries of wildlife film making in Ireland. The team used a host of techniques to bring never before filmed Irish sequences and stories to Irish viewers. Most notably, the team used the cutting edge Phantom High Speed Camera, used to such great effect in Christopher Nolan’s film ‘Inception,’ to slow down and capture fast moving animals in all their glory.
The production is undoubtably not just a journey of delicate beauty but also a journey of discovery, following the Shannon's wild creatures throughout the year.
The Shannon has been described as both a barrier and a highway – a silver ribbon holding back Ireland's rugged landscapes of the west from the gentler plains to the east. On its journey south, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes, where on little-known backwaters, Ireland’s wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else.
Emmy award winner Colin Stafford Johnson spoke to IrishCentral in New York recently about the series being picked up by PBS.
"It's delighful that more people get to experience the wonders of the river Shannon."
Stafford Johnson offers thoughtful reflections on what it was like inside his canoe or by the light of his campfire. "A kaleidoscope of color and action crosses the screen with giant butterflies and dragonflies powering up and taking off in slow motion.
"It was a breathtaking experience," said the Irish native.
The documentary has been renamed for it's American premiere 'Ireland's Wild River' and will premiere as part of the nature explores series on the PBS network on Wednesday, Feb 26.