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Woolly Jumpers: Made in Peru
One hour special for Animal Planet - Saturday 16th September at 8pm
What on earth is a woolly monkey?
Sorry, did you say woolly monkey?
To some the mere mention of a woolly monkey draws puzzled expressions and a grin of expectancy - there must be a punchline! A stunning velvety excuse of a monkey, photographs always turn a grin of expectancy into a smile of appreciation. Resplendent in carpet costume this monkey has long been the hidden jewel in the Peruvian cloud forest. Talked about, admired, taken as pets for the home and food for the table, rejuvenating the forest and dancing for a living in bars, this is one monkey with a whole lot of history and a whole lot of problems. I knew all this but it seemed not many other people did. It is hard to recall a specific woolly monkey film. I don’t know why. They are beautiful to look at and as mesmerising as an Olympic gymnast. Theirs is a story worth telling and I wanted to tell it.
As an independent wildlife film maker funding is always an issue. I developed the treatment and put together the production budget. More and more filming possibilities were opening up to me the more I researched the project. The original film concept started to gain more and more layers and timing was to prove critical if I was to capture vital sequences for the film. I felt these sequences were too powerful to miss (you’ll have to watch the show!) and decided against sending out the treatment and losing time waiting for a response. Financially, overheads would be minimal as I was to shoot, write, produce and present the film myself. Someone else would have to pay the post production but that was a risk worth taking.
With a little bit of money left in the bank and a bank manager with a twisted arm I decided to take the risk and fund the film myself. There was one month to prepare before the off and three months to be spent in the field.
My plan was to communicate the problems faced by woolly monkeys that I saw on a one to one level with the audience. This was to be my own passionate voyage of discovery from a film maker and conservationist perspective. There was to be no tub thumping just an understanding of circumstance. There were things going on in Peru that I wanted to understand and wanted the audience to understand with me. The story of ’Toumai’ and ’Anen’, two orphaned woolly monkey babies who struggle to survive, was to run parallel with the investigative nature of the film.
I came back with so many memories and so much footage, including some of the incredibly rare yellow tailed woolly monkey. Endemic to the cloud forests of Peru there were previously only 4 or 5 photographs existing of the species until now.
I was fortunate enough for Animal Planet International to become interested in the film and a co-production agreement followed. Would I do it this way again? Spending the time and money I did on a project with no guarantee anyone would pick it up does sound crazy. But you can wait too long. Too long could be too late. Woolly Jumpers: Made in Peru is a bittersweet story that I hope will entertain and enlighten at the same time.
For more information and remaining broadcast territories available contact Adrian Cale: