I was looking forward to Sri Lanka a lot and apart from the disappointing light for filming, (white skies pretty much throughout) the island is very diverse and very beautiful.
I somehow thought that it would be like India, a country I’ve visited many times, but it’s not. India has Hinduism, Sri Lanka has Buddhism; India has crumbling new build architecture; Sri Lanka builds to last; India has litter everywhere, Sri Lanka appears to have no litter. I’m sure there are many, many other differences, but as a brief visitor these are what you immediately notice about the place.
I started in the mountains around the Horton Plains, a place of continual flux as the clouds scream through bringing with them the rain that feeds the island and beautiful ever-changing light. Look closely at the trees and every branch is clothed in the most exquisite flora of lichens, mosses and tiny flowers. I’m going back to the Horton Plains later this year to start a new film for Terra Mater that I’ll be filming between Colombia shoots over the next eighteen months.
At Yala, on the East coast, the leopards are easy to see but they’re easy for everyone and everyone seems to be there to see them. This had it’s advantages since it left the rest of the park’s wildlife for me alone. Brilliant! So I found it best to leave the tourists to the leopards and go shoot something else like mugger courtship, rutting spotted deer and the beautiful painted storks who gather in huge numbers with other waders and wildfowl in the shrinking pools at the end of the dry season.
I have a real passion for elephants, particularly Asian elephants and Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia to see wild elephants. As the dry season progresses and water becomes harder to find, the elephants gather in larger and larger numbers at Minneriya, a place of perpetual water thanks to early Sri Lankan water engineers. Understandably you are not allowed to drive after the elephants, but with careful positioning the elephant herds will slowly move towards you until they’re close enough to touch. What I love the most about elephants is that you can look at their eyes and stare directly into their souls.