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Television

The host of ‘Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory’ on the extraordinary nature docuseries

The host talks capturing the breathtaking footage for Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory and more.

Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory was part of the exciting new content specially released for Disney+ Day that appeared on the popular streaming platform. The series is an adventure nature documentary that visits different parts of the globe to bring viewers the most extraordinary wildlife footage. At this year’s D23 Expo, we sat down with the show’s host to learn more about his show and about himself.

AIPT: We’re here at D23 Expo. How has you’re experience at the event been so far and is this your first one?

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Bertie Gregory: This is my first time at D23 and I am enjoying the craziness of all of it. I’m learning people really, really like Disney and that’s pretty cool. It’s cool to share this project with everyone and to see what else is coming out from the other Disney platforms.

AIPT: I want to congratulate you on your new show, Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory, that premiered last Thursday. I like how it’s part documentary but also there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff showing what went into capturing the footage as well. Why did you go with this approach for this series?

Gregory: I’ve been filming on the big Wild Life series for six or seven years. What I found was when I shared those projects with my friends and family, the thing that they got most excited about and had the most questions about, was not the wildlife bit that we spent all our time on. It was the last five minutes, the behind-the-scenes bit. I was like, “Hang on a second. Why are they so into that? Why don’t we make a show where we still go for these big, epic wildlife events. We still film them at the highest level, but we intertwine that with our adventure.”

Then, people love the highs and lows, right? We can feature that. But it also means we can set these wildlife events within a bigger environmental context. I think all too long, wildlife documentaries mainly have been pretending these animals live in this untouched Garden of Eden, which is just not true. The natural world is in big trouble, and that’s a big problem for wildlife and a problem for us.

To be able to show those things. Talk about those things, and then talk about the positives. There are good news stories. In our Antarctica fin whale episode, we went to go and film these massive whale gatherings that happen in Antarctica. These gatherings are bigger now, we ended up filming the biggest one ever, they are bigger now than they have been for the last 20, 30 years. They were almost wiped out during the commercial whaling era and now they’re protected. Now they’re coming back. We should get excited about that because whale’s coming back is good for whales and good for people.

epic adventures with bertie gregory 2
Photo: National Geographic/Johnny Rogers for Disney+

AIPT: Despite your young age, you’ve been a nature photographer for a while. On Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory, you use a bunch of gadgets to help you out. How has the advances in technology helped you out in the field.

Gregory: Yeah, I mean it’s a game changer the technology that is now at our fingertips. Drones have been a big part of what I’ve done for the last few years just to be able to show things from a totally new perspective. Probably the best example of new tech showing a new angle was on the eagle episode. We were trying to film crowned eagles in the jungles of Zambia. Seeing a crowned eagle is pretty tough. They are very elusive. Seeing them hunting is next to impossible because they hunt in the forest.

We decided that drones would be a good way to do that. I was flying above the eagles so I was getting an eagle’s eye view of the eagle hunting. That’s how we managed to film them hunting, and I think that must be the first time a drone was used to film a crowned eagle hunting. That was really cool. I should say that drones are potentially disturbing to wildlife. Don’t fly drones around animals unless you really know what you’re doing.

In the case of the crowned eagles, we were working with scientists that were totally analyzing the eagle’s behavior to ensure we weren’t disturbing them. We want to film natural behavior, not eagles flying aways. The other strategy we used is habituation. We spent a huge amount of time getting the eagle used to the drone by hovering it a really, really long way away and each day moving it closer and closer. By the end it was accepting it as part of the environment.

AIPT: You go out in some pretty remote regions where you don’t have modern luxuries. What are your secrets to keep yourself camera ready for filming.

Gregory: I find if you keep your standards of what you look like really low, then you really don’t have to worry about it.

AIPT: I’ll leave off on this. What area of the world would you want to visit for Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory and what animal do you most want to document their behavior moving forward in the future?

Gregory: I was lucky enough to check off some of that list in season one. We are working on a second season. This is going to be a really lame, cheesy answer but I can’t tell you the answer to that question. All I can say is just wait for season two.

The entire first season of Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory can be streamed right now on Disney+.

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