Ever since Discovery's Planet Earth shattered cable viewing records, producers have been scrambling to cash in on the public's rekindled affection for wildlife television. First came Disney's Disneynature brand, which borrowed Planet Earth footage and called its big-screen production Earth. Now, on March 21, Discovery returns with Life, an 11-episode series narrated by Oprah Winfrey and, like Planet Earth, co-produced by the BBC. Whereas Planet Earth broke down the globe by ecosystem, each Life episode focuses on a different animal group. But as with Planet Earth, the real wonder is how the hell they got those images. We decided to find out.
SCENE: KOMODO DRAGONS HUNTING
LOCATION: RINCA ISLAND, INDONESIA
CAMERAMAN: KEVIN FLAY, 51
"We wanted to film a dragon hunt, which had never been done. We went in the dry season, when there was one good watering hole left on the island. We knew the buffalo needed to go there. From the ranger station to the hole, it was a 3.5-mile hike with a 70-pound camera. At noon, the buffaloes would come to the watering hole. For days the dragons showed no interest. On the sixth day a buffalo walked toward me, flicking blood over its back with its tail. Within minutes, dragons were walking toward it. The next day we got our first bite. Then we decided to follow the buffalo with the bitten leg. Five days after the bite, the wound opened, swelled, and festered. The buffalo would be limping with five dragons following. It became upsetting. We'd gotten to know that buffalo. One day a big dragon bit it three times. It happened in fading light and we had to leave. We hardly slept that night and ran up the hill at sunrise. The buffalo had died. There were nine dragons ripping it to pieces. They ate everything but the bones and walked away with their bellies rubbing the ground."