Written by Nandini Nagarajan, CNN
Tiger King 2 takes Disneynature viewers on a thrilling journey through the bush without a tiger cage to catch glimpses of their true nature. The film captures the story of four hyenas, two hornbills, a capybara and a bear, amongst others.
Not just a spectacular wildlife documentary, the movie, which explores the ecosystems and wildlife of Tanzania, has been in the works for almost 15 years.
Producer Adam Neumann had been commissioned to shoot footage of a tiger, mongoose and crocodile when he brought in his friend and business partner to help him develop the script.
“Adam brings everything,” says Moustapha Akkad, director of photography and producer of the film. “This is his baby; this is his baby.”
Akkad and Neumann have worked together on previous Disneynature films and told CNN Travel that they had been expecting the film to be finished in the past year.
“Adam thinks the film is his baby, and everyone thinks it’s Adam’s baby,” says Akkad. “It’s his film — we have support and a team working in full support.”
But while there is one film camera in the movie, the entire production was shot on green screen and isn’t reliant on live animals. For the most part, they needed to shoot their film within the controlled environments of Africa’s wildlife parks.
“We used a camera that can shoot 70 frames per second, that can go in a 300-square-foot. We have those cameras so when we go into the park with our crew, we can record on that. We call it the ‘industrial studio.’ We have all the infrastructure, the camera and all the editing facilities.”
Though the film involves 15 years of planning, pre-production and production, Akkad points out that the filmmaking process is not as lengthy as it might sound.
“It’s not like shooting film with a big crew and asking everyone to wait in line in the cold. Adam was able to just show up in the country and be focused on storytelling and shooting.”
The climax of the movie takes place outside of the park, and the stakes were high to capture a naturalistic effect.
The tethered tank, for example, was no place for an individual tiger to be–indiscriminately entering the enclosure and attacking the sleeping hyenas.
“The tiger set this metal trap for the cub,” says Akkad. “We would be inside the park without all our equipment. We filmed for three or four hours a day, from 7 p.m. to midnight. There were times when we didn’t have audio, because a tiger would just look at us and out of nowhere would kill us.”
While there have been plenty of exciting and grizzly moments in the movie, the filmmakers says the main focus of Tiger King 2 is nature.
“We are not telling a story. Our focus is on nature, the habitats. Our goal is to create beautiful images of the beautiful world of our wild friend.
“We want to tell the truth about nature, the majesty and the power of nature. It’s the end result: the image will follow the life. (This is) not a retelling of an animal that may or may not have existed.”