Interview with the Directors of Chimpanzee: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

Out of all of the interviews that I got to take part in for “chimpanzee”, I think the interview with the directors of Chimpanzee was my favorite! I honestly wasn’t expecting things to turn out that way, but I had a blast talking and listening to Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. For one, I loved listening to the directors’ British accents, but I felt so honored to be in their presence and to learn the nitty gritty details of making a film such as this.

First of all, I have to say that I took my kids to see Disneynature‘s “chimpanzee” this afternoon, and I loved it once again. My kids all had fabulous things to say about the film as well. I think there were some scenes that struck an emotional chord with my kids, and it was kind of sweet to see. The film was shot so beautifully, and the story could not have turned out any better if someone had written the script. In fact, a script was written! Nobody expected the chimpanzees to follow a script of course, but they had an idea of how the story would go. (Spoiler Alert) Those plans were CRUSHED when Oscar’s mom, Isha, went missing after an attack.

Here you can read a little of my round table interview with the directors of “chimpanzee”, Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. Mind you that this particular interview may spoil some of the story, in case you want to be surprised. I really think this film is fabulous regardless of knowing what you’re in for ahead of time, or not.

I actually asked the first question, which was:

“So, how nervous were you guys when Oscar’s mom was killed?”

ALASTAIR:  Very. I mean more than nervous. We actually rang up Disney and said, “Sorry, guys.We spent most of your money, and you haven’t got a movie,” because obviously, Disney movies have to have a happy ending, and –”                                                      Photo credit to A Nut in a Nutshell.

MARK: “It wasn’t looking like one.” [LAUGHS]

ALASTAIR: A three-year-old, two-and-a-half year old chimp without its mum, is basically a death sentence. There’s just no question. And then for that adoption to happen..”

“I mean, the scientists have been working with those chimpanzees for 30 years and never ever seen that to happen. So for that that to happen was fantastic for Oscar, but, my goodness, you know, if we’d written the script exactly as we’d wanted, we wouldn’t have in our wildest dreams, have that happen. It’s  just such a lovely story, because male chimpanzees are such macho guys. Their brains are a third as big as, but they have three times as much muscle. And when you meet them they are just…oh!

And to see the intimate grooming — I mean, other than suckling, which, clearly he couldn’t do, that guy did absolutely everything for Oscar. It was a dream come true for us as filmmakers. Absolutely!”

I think the response from Alastair and Mark on this one question tells so much about how fabulous it was that this movie was caught on film. “chimpanzee” is a rare story that we all get to witness!

I loved hearing about the behind-the-scenes portion of filming in the forests of Africa. A brand new “Making of…” chimpanzee clip was just released today. You can see some of the footage at the end of the film, and I love it! You can watch the featurette below:

At the end of the film, and in the making, you can see that the filming crew often wore masks over their faces. Upon first seeing that, many assume that they are afraid of contracting diseases from the chimpanzees and other animals, but it is actually quite the opposite. Humans must be careful around chimpanzees because they can contract diseases from us quite easily. The filming crew took such careful precautions to not disturb the chimpanzees and their habitat. The directors and crew tried very hard not to disturb nature, as much as possible. Seeing “chimpanzee”, interviewing some of the different counterparts to make the film come about, and learning of the making of “chimpanzee”, has all been an extraordinary experience.
I feel as if I have taken away so much and I feel very blessed to have been a part of it all. “chimpanzee” is now in theatres everywhere, so be sure to see the film during it’s opening week because proceeds will go toward saving chimpanzees!


Disney sent me to Florida for the red carpet premiere of “Chimpanzee”. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Emily Buys

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