We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them questions about the experience of making their films.
Answers provided by Hannah Hoare, Showrunner
What inspired the story?
Following the pride and filming the cubs, it quickly became apparent that one cub was different. He was always on his own, off to one side, not joining in with play-fights. We were really drawn to him from the word go, the little underdog – the Misfit. We focused on him and just watched all the drama unfold. We could never have predicted his incredible story.
Share about your surprising or meaningful experiences during filming?
The night we found the tiny Misfit lost and alone, away from his pride, was heart-breaking. He came so close to being attacked by a leopard it was almost unbearable to film. The crew’s hearts were in their mouths. Even more remarkable was seeing the reaction of his teenager brothers when he finally found them. At first we were hugely relieved that’d he’d found the safety of the pride, but quickly realized how wrong we were. It was an extraordinary insight into lion behavior, and an emotional rollercoaster.
What impact do you hope the film will have?
We’ve been able to show that lions are far more nuanced than just being formidable predators and I hope perhaps that might help some people see them in a different light. Their family relationships are complex and intriguing; what befalls one has an impact on another. Lions need wildernesses in which to live out their lives and it’s up to us, to humanity, to ensure we protect those places. The more people who engage emotionally with lions, the more they are likely to commit, I hope, to protecting their world.
What challenges did you face while making the film?
Filming at night is very tricky. The crew were at a huge disadvantage compared to lions – their night vision is seven times better than ours. Our thermal camera made it possible for us to film – but we had no way of seeing what was going on either side of the camera, or behind us. We had some nerve-wrackingly close encounters with some very big cats!
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on big cat species?
There’s a fascination with the wild version of the moggy that lives in our houses. But lions are unique, the only social cat. Multiple animals maintaining relationships means there are always compelling stories to be told. Following a pride over time is like getting hooked a soap opera – you get to know characters and you want to tune in and find out what happens next. For a film-maker, there’s a rich vein of stories.