Creating and developing original factual, reality and wildlife based content ideas in China and beyond
Adrian Bottomley oulines two conceptual production ideas that he is currently working on (and seeking collaboration for) in and around China.
Firstly, let me say that my head is full of ideas. The spectacular landscapes, esoteric festivals and fabled plants and animals that inhabit our core Asian markets in the wild west of China and Mongolia, offer a myriad of remote location options and production possibilities. So whether it is unique access to the eagle hunters and snow leopards of the Altai or the blue poppies and tantric festivals of the Tibetan snows, please do get in touch. We are always happy to share our best ideas.
Now to the nitty gritty. As you will appreciate, I would rather not divulge all the wherewithall with regards to the following projects but in the hope of sparking some interest from potential collaborators, here are the basic conceptual frameworks for both programs.
Four Rivers. Three Weeks. Two Adventurers. One Expedition.
In May 2018, Hong Kong based adventurer, Adrian Bottomley, has planned the first expedition to fully traverse all four of the great Asian rivers that roar down from the Tibetan plateau and carve their parallel, steep-sided river valleys through northern Yunnan.
Here, for around 100 km, the four mighty rivers run roughly parallel to one another, though separated by high mountain ranges with peaks over 6,000 metres. After this area of near confluence, the rivers greatly diverge: the Dulong and Nujiang Rivers become the Salween and Irrawaddy respectively and flow through Burma into the Indian Ocean, the Mekong heads south through Indochina to Vietnam and empties out into the South China Sea, and the Yangtze flows into the East China Sea at Shanghai.
According to UNESCO, the region "may be the most biologically diverse temperate region on earth". For decades the region has been a hot spot for plant endemism in Asia and was, for example, the botanical backdrop for many intrepid plant hunters of the past including George Forrest and Frank Kingdon Ward. The protected area is home to around 6,000 species of plants, over 300 of which are believed to be found nowhere else on earth. More than 200 varieties of rhododendron and more than 100 species of gentians and primulas are also to be found. The fauna found in the area includes the endemic black snub-nosed monkey, the snow leopard, takin; the Asian black bear and the red panda. There are also numerous rare bird species.
Culturally, the region is also a melting pot with many of the twenty-five minorities to be found throughout Yunnan represented here, including the Drung tribe, the smallest of all of China's minority groups, whose oldest women still have full facial tattoos. Some of the other minorities include the Tibetans, Nu, Yi, Lisu, Pumi and Naxi.
The aim will be to connect all four rivers in one expedition by traversing their steep sided valleys and crossing the three seperate mountain ranges that divide them. Starting at the Yangste River near Benzilan, we will first climb up through pine forested valleys and cross the spectacular Baima Snow Mountain massif before descending through Yi and Tibetan communities to the second of the mighty rivers - the Mekong.
From the Mekong River Valley we will climb once more up through spectacular rhododendron forest to cross the Se La pass, trek down into the beautiful Sekatong Valley before traversing a ridge of Bilou Snow Mountain and descending to the Nujiang River Valley. From here, the most challenging traverse still needs to be completed, a challenging one week trek through thick, untouched forests and high altitude passes to the remote Dulong River Valley. This final section of the expedition will explore arguably the most prolific single temperate biosphere in the world.
In total, the expedition will take approximately three weeks.
The storyboard for the expedition could be factual, reality-based or perhaps include a well-know adventurer (or two) or team of field experts. The factual backdrop would include diverse ethnographic, botanical, environmental, geographical and cultural issues that are affecting this unique and spectacular biosphere as development begins to encroach on its people, topography, fauna and flora.
Such an expedition could also be part of a broader series that could explore similar issues in other unique biospheres in China, or Asia more broadly. To discuss and develop the idea further please do get in touch.
Finally, you can see an amazing birds-eye view of the region using the latest updated version of Google Earth by clicking on the image below. For the moment however, the feature only works using the Chrome browser.
Encroaching Tiger, Rising Dragon.
As the most populous country in the world and third biggest in area, China has the largest number of neighbours (14) sharing its 22,000 km land border namely: North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
The economic, political, environmental and cultural impact that the rise of China is having on the peoples and wildlife that inhabit the regions adjacent to its borderlands are both varied and immense. For the past two years, Whistling Arrow has been developing invividual backstories in each of these neighbouring countries to give audiences an interesting insight into the diverse issues that are at play with the awakening of the 'sleeping giant'.
Given the geographical and cultural diversity of its many neighbouring countries, the project ultimately lends itself to multiple part series, with each episode documenting a very different primary 'storyline' in most, if not all of the 14 countries, to give viewers a personal and initimate insight into the myriad issues at play.
The 'stories' could potentially highlight different issues including smuggling (both people and animals), environmental pressure on rare animal populations such as the snow leopard, the economic impact of new Chinese roads on remote villages on the other side of the border (for example opening a huge market for holistic shamanistic and Himalayan medicines), increasing Chinese cultural assimilation of neighbouring communities to the detriment of traditional dress and music - and so on.
Again, to discuss and develop the idea further please to get in touch.