The Tribe was a ground breaking fixed-rig documentary for Channel 4, following the lives of the Ayke Muko’s of the Hamar tribe in South Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Renegade Pictures teamed up with The Complete Camera Company to take on the ambitious task of making the first ever fixed-rig documentary of an African Tribe.
Channel 4 needed, “cameras placed in and around the family’s huts to capture the intricacies of their relationships, their social bonds and attitudes towards parenting and the community” so The CCC made two visits to the Ayke Muko’s to both establish a trusted relationship with them, and evaluate the most unobtrusive ways in which to film their incredible family life.
Following 3 months of kit, crew and logistical preparation, over 2 metric tonnes of technical equipment were boxed up and transported to Ethiopia, some via shipping cargo and nearly a metric tonne by excess baggage where all the kit had to be rebuilt into flight cases weighing no more than 32Kgs. Solid, reliable relationships with ‘fixers’ already located in Ethiopia were vital at this stage, to keep both the kit and the crew safe throughout. This equipment was transported over 200 miles of dirt roads to the Omo Valley, a totally remote and little visited part of Ethiopia. Everything required, from nuts and bolts to cabling and Panasonic AW-HE60 remote cameras had to be taken, with enough spares to keep filming for just over a month.
It took 8 days, 6 technicians and many willing locals to rig the homestead in torrential rain and temperatures regularly exceeding 35°C. The CCC had specialist camera housings with built in air conditioning to protect the cameras from the heat and ensure their reliability. Although roads were washed away and people fell ill, the crew worked tirelessly to rig 24 camera positions and build a gallery from scratch to house the monitors, sound, operators, producers and directors.
The fixed-rig was a long way out of its comfort zone, but the possibilities that lay beyond the technical challenges that needed to be overcome were already clear – The Tribe was absolutely fascinating. The equipment performed brilliantly and that is testament to, not only the technical crew, the engineers and extensive preparation by The CCCC but also the manufacturers of The CCC’s equipment that they performed well out of the parameters for which the were designed.
The final product was a unique and intimate look into true tribal life, a touching yet hilarious series, in which the viewers fell in love with the differences, and similarities between their own families and the Ayke Muko’s.
Facts & Figures
Filmed: September 2014
Aired: Summer 2015
Channel: Channel 4
Viewers: 1.82 Million
A warm, fascinating documentary series
It is starting to lead the way in reality-TV-gone-right
A jewel of the current schedules
The Tribe is such good news because it rather spectacularly moves on from the stereotypes by introducing us to a family in Ethiopia who are, uncannily and hilariously, close to us
What is miraculous about this is the way it highlights our shared humanity