Meet Cockroach Productions - The Orangutan Film Protection Project
Both Nick and Evie spent four years studying anthropology at the University of Cambridge. As such they are keen to produce documentaries that benefit from their anthropological knowledge, as well as sharing an aim to express some of the ethical sensibilities of the discipline in their filmmaking. They are committed to creating documentaries that are fair, well-balanced representations of those who contribute to them.
Evie went on to train in documentary film-making at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology in Manchester, shooting and editing a number of observational documentaries whilst there. In May 2005 her directorial debut Beneath the Budding Greenwoods – a documentary looking at changing attitudes to death in the UK and the growth of the green burial movement – featured in the ethnographical film festival in Tartu, Estonia. She has also produced a number of marketing films for a diversity of businesses.
Nick has a background in stills photography, and was a finalist in the BBC News Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2004. He has developed a passion for South and South-East Asia having photographed in the region for 8 years, with his first encounter with wild orangutans in North Sumatra in 2001. Nick’s directorial debut, MEAT, was a surrealist documentary exposing the realities of kitchen life in a busy English pub. He has also worked as cameraman on a number of other projects in the UK.
Their first project as an independent company is very exciting. Having conducted interviews in Sydney with global palm oil traders, they are about to head off into the jungles of Indonesian Borneo to film at an orangutan rescue centre, covering the relocation of orangutans that have been left without habitat following the encroachment on pristine rainforest by palm oil plantations. Little known and innocuous-looking, palm oil is amazingly found in 10% of supermarket produce – from lipstick to margarine, soap to ice-cream. Being naturally low in saturated fats, sales are soaring as it is marketed as a health food in the wake of the trans-fat scare. In this documentary Nick and Evie will follow the work of Lone Droscher Nielsen, a Danish woman who has lived and worked in a remote area of Kalimantan for the last 15 years, leading a team of seventy Indonesian employees. They will join the team on their daring and often harrowing rescue missions, as they try to save the last remaining orangutan populations before their habitat is entirely wiped out by the palm oil plantations.
This is a tough environment to film in, and Nick and Evie expect to be in the jungle for 2 months or more, depending on what is happening on the ground. As an experienced jungle photographer Nick was very happy to take on Miller’s lightweight SOLO DV tripod legs – every ounce of weight in the jungle is measured in water loss through sweat. The legs’ variable locking angles remove the need for a spreader which would get in the way in the undergrowth of secondary forest, and it will also allow him to get low to the ground for face-to-face encounters with the wildlife.
This film is being made in collaboration with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, and due to its charitable nature Nick and Evie are giving up their time and skills for free. Nick and Evie aim to have the film broadcast by the major network television channels in Europe, the US, Australia and Malaysia-Singapore, and will also be sending the film around the global festival circuit.
For more information, and regular updates on how the project is progressing, go to: