You don’t have to live a self-centered life in order to live an existence on the edge; a prime example of this is cinematographer Ross Radcliffe. He has spent his life accepting and pursuing the more precarious and physically challenging productions. Whether living in a tent during Alaska’s 50 below temperatures for Discovery Channel’s The Last Alaskans or the thrice Emmy nominated Alaska: The Last Frontier, communicating the story of Thailand’s Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary, or a plethora of other projects which don’t afford the comforts of a soundstage; Radcliffe’s work establishes him as a prolific professional with true artistic intent.
Canadians are known for being outdoorsy. Growing up in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada gave Ross a foundation for the physical approach for which he is known. That might seem an unusual trait for a cinematographer to possess but once you consider the types of projects Radcliffe has been a part of, this makes perfect sense. His fellow professionals have seen Ross filming in -45 temperatures while hanging out of a helicopter in pursuit of spectacular footage of wild animals. This typifies the passionate pursuit that has become the calling card of this DP. This combination of technical ability and physical conditioning has allowed Ross to capture stories in remote, intense, and harsh environments that set him apart from the vast majority of others in the field.
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has been mentioned in shows on other networks, in films, and talk shows. The annual TV event celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. Ross was on the boat and in the waters of Cancun, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas filming these magnificent and intimidating creatures for Shark Storm as part of Shark Week. As the most widely known TV event of this multiple Emmy Award- winning network, Shark Week: Shark Storm investigates why thousands of sharks converge at times in these mass gatherings when there is an entire ocean to swim in. Ross relates, “I felt incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to swim alongside some pretty amazing sharks. I will never forget how strange I felt the first time I willingly dove into the ocean knowing there were sharks beneath me. Swimming beside a shark and getting that true feeling of just how large and fast they are was truly something. They cut through the ocean like a knife. They are simply amazing creatures.”
Back on dry land and in a much more familiar setting, Radcliffe worked on the Travel Channel pilot Life’s a Trip with Patrick Warburton (film & voice actor perhaps known best for his roles on TV blockbuster Seinfeld-Emmy, Peabody, SAG Award-winning staple of NBC’s line up for years, and the Emmy Award-winning Family Guy) and his son Talon Warburton. The episode was filmed on Rankin Ranch in Caliente, California. Both Patrick & Talon spent a week working as cattle ranchers with the family who operates the ranch. Father and son performed many chores including: moving hay bales, riding horses, participating in a cattle drive, and even preforming pregnancy checks. Ross and his camera were with Talon & Patrick as they discovered the funny, exhausting and sometimes disgusting life of a cattle rancher.
It’s an adventurous spirit who seizes the idea that life is to be lived to its fullest. Ross Radcliffe has experienced this life while also allowing all of us to experience it in some small part because of the talent he possesses. The acclaim that his work has received vets this but Radcliffe plans on putting a new spin on these stories as well. He reveals, “my plan is to write a book one day about all of my adventures. A lot of the circumstances I’ve been in have led me to tense and sometimes dangerous situations. In those moments you have to stay incredibly focused on the story you're telling while also being extremely aware of your current situation. Composure in tense situations may be one of the most important qualities in my line of work. I’m hoping that others can not only be entertained but also learn something about striving for excellence under uncomfortable conditions from this book.”
Author: Kelly King