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From the Amazon to Siberia

dan 1

«We filmed a lot of Yakutsk’s city center, Old town, Lenin square, opera house, local markets, shops and streets». Cameraman of the well-known American TV channel «Travel Channel» Daniel Zagayer came to Yakutsk for one week to capture the best places of our Republic. He agreed to tell about himself and his goals.
dan 2Daniel Zagayer editor, technical supervisor and director from Los Angeles, USA. He is known for short films and TV shows Sack (2011), Time Capsule (2014) and The Great American Comedy Tour (2014).

- Tell us about your work experience.

- I am a Technical Supervisor and Drone operator for the show Expedition Unknown on Travel Channel. It makes me responsible for all the camera gear we use for the show. We travel with almost 30 cases of gear, including cameras, lenses, drones, lights, slider, image stabilizers, diving and climbing equipment! My responsibilities include making sure everything works properly, fixing broken gear and operating the cameras and Phantom 4 Drone.

- I would like to ask about your studies.

- I’ve dreamed of having an adventurous traveling job which involves cinematography since I was young, watching documentaries like Planet Earth and shows like Man vs. Wild Bear Grylls. I studied at the University of Southern California where I made a lot of strong connections with fellow students whom I keep in touch after graduation. My friend was working on a show for Discovery Channel called «Naked and Afraid». They needed someone who could assist with cameras and backing up media so he offered me for the job. I was hired after my interview and was shocked to find out that the executive producer for that show also produced Man vs. Wild! On my first episode I worked six weeks in the Amazon Jungle filming people who survive with mosquitoes, snakes, giant spiders, piranhas and pumas. It was the scariest and most difficult job I’ve ever done and I nearly quit but father encouraged me and eventually I learned to get really good at working in these environments and now I absolutely love it!

- Why did you choose TV?

- I wanted to work in the television industry because of my love for cinematography and telling stories. I’ve been making short films ever since I was very young and I really liked to operate the camera. TV lets me travel and tell stories using a video camera and doing documentaries. It allows me to see the world and meet with lots of interesting people. Writing has never been my strong side. So I was never attracted to newspapers or magazine. I’d much rather express myself with a camera.

- What is Travel Channel?

- Our research team in Los Angeles is looking for interesting stories around the world. We discovered the Mammoth’s Museum in Yakutsk and we wanted to learn more about their organization and the field work being done to collect Mammoth DNA.

- Has Travel Channel ever been in Russia?

- This is my first time visiting Russia. Our show, Expedition unknown is doing a story about the Mammoths. Why did it go extinct and what is being done now to research existence? Our show also has a cultural side where we try to show local people in Yakutsk and talk about the area.

- What areas of Yakutsk did you want to make the film?

- We filmed in many places of Yakutsk’s city center, Old Town, Lenin square, opera house, local market, shops and streets. Our host took a dog sled ride though the countryside. We would like to show off a bit of culture, music, dance, food and the local people in every place we visit. It helps to contextualize our story and show the human side of our expeditions. We also showcased some traditional dishes like raw frozen fish, colt and venison. I liked to film the Kingdom of Permafrost where we were showed what goes on underground and how mammoths and other ice age animals could be preserved for so long.

- What were your thoughts about our Republic?

- The most surprising thing to me about Yakutsk was how much it resembles other eastern Asian countries. We filmed in Mongolia last year and its capital Ulan Bator very much resembles Yakutsk. Also the Yakut people of eastern Siberia have much more Asian look than I expected. I was surprised to learn about the native Yakut language. I was also pleased to discover how nice and hospitable people are here. Everyone was very happy to be filmed on TV.

When will we watch your show?

- Our show «Expedition Unknown» will air on Travel Channel in January or February 2017. There will be a two hours special about the mammoths. Yakutsk will be featured in the show as one of the locations that we have visited during our expedition.

- Where will you go after Yakutsk?

- We are always searching for the next adventure. My next exciting destination will be Australia!

Catherine Carter,

Photo from archives of Daniel Zagayer