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Introducing HuffPost's First Documentary, On Why You Need To Care About Antarctica

11/09/2017 08:55 BST | Updated 11/09/2017 08:55 BST
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I went to Antarctica to film a documentary about climate change for HuffPost. Sounds simple, right? Except... I wanted to do something different. I didn't just want it to be something that disappeared into the depths of the internet, or prompted that glassy-eyed look that tends to descend on many of us when the words climate change are uttered.

I didn't want to try and match the BBC or Werner Herzog and make something beautiful. We all know Antarctica is beautiful. I wanted to show the other side. The grit, the determination it takes to even get out there. The damn hard side of actually filming in such an unforgiving environment. Besides, there were only two of us going - a miniscule operation compared to the BBC's camera crews. The first time I'd ever picked up a camera was last year when I ventured from writing into video; I wasn't exactly a veteran filmmaker.

Nor was I a science journalist. I have no degree in marine biology, or glaciology, or any other kind of "ology". My only claim is I kinda like our planet, and I hate seeing people screwing it over.

But I've felt for a while the whole conversation around climate change and what the hell we should do about it is rather exclusive. Anything I ever read already assumes their audience has their PhDs and MAs, and I'm there furiously Googling complex phrases and long complicated words because I have no idea what they mean.

And the same with the documentaries. I mean, they're beautiful. Stunning. But I watch them and I have to press pause every few minutes to understand what on earth someone just said. And sometimes - and I'm going to whisper this - *I actually start thinking about something else*. Like, what I'm going to eat next, or if they'll ever make a third season of Narcos. I'll admit it, I tune out because the science goes way over my head.

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So, I turned my idiocy to my advantage, and I figured, if I don't understand, and I'm actually interested, what chance has anyone who isn't too bothered, or who doesn't have time to furiously Google, got? And those are exactly the people we should be speaking to. The people who are already interested and who do 'get' what's happening, are already going to be doing something about it.

So, fast forward weeks of intensive research and planning, and we find ourselves onboard the Ocean Endeavour. I was given the go ahead for the project on the basis I act as a kind of presenter. I dislike being in front of the camera, so this basically filled me with dread, but I just pretended that the footage wasn't going to go anywhere (don't think it's quite sunk in yet that it's actually going to be online, available, for everyone to watch. Gulp).

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I still don't really know what I'm talking about - meaning there's definitely no chance of me talking down to anyone - and so when I interview all these incredible scientists and researchers on our expedition, I get them to explain again and again what they mean.

I ask what probably sound like really dumb questions - the kind of ones you secretly Google on your phone (except, oh yeah, no internet in Antarctica). And I get those experts to answer again and again, until they've told it more simply.

We also figured we should make this documentary about people. Because climate change is about people. The current conversation mostly consists of numbers and percentages and degrees, but we're hoping to change that. Because no one empathises with numbers. You can't connect to or be inspired by a number. But you can by people. (And animals; I'm actually now conducting a full blown love affair with krill - more on that later - and I've decided penguins are totally preferable to people.)

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So we stick our cameras in everyone's faces and demand they explain why they're here. What drives them? How did they afford to get here? What are they going to do when they get back?

And we interview Rob and Barney Swan until they're probably sick of the sight of us. But we're hoping all this is going to lead to something different. Something new. Relatable. Something people can watch and have that "lightbulb" moment where they finally realize what's going on and why they need to care. We're hoping people are going to see Antarctica melting because of how we are acting, and realise, as Rob put it, that it is eventually going to come and get us. So we'd best all act, before it's too late.

Lucy Sherriff is a multimedia journalist, and presenter/producer of HuffPost's first original documentary, Antarctica: End of the Earth