Interview with Hostile Planet producer, director and cinematographer MATEO WILLIS: “Many animals live at the limit of existence and small weather changes can have dramatic consequences"

Hostile Planet is six episodes due to appear on National Geographic every Sunday at 9pm. The series explores six brutal environments and examines how their inhabitants have adjusted their unstable predicaments.


Speaking to Telly Binge, Willis says the shows the viewers a harsh reality. “Hostile Planet is the natural world as it is now, it’s not always pretty. It’s not always sugar coated but it is authentic.”

“We have captured the drama, excitement and adventure of the best stories in each of the habitats we explore.”

This new series is hosted and narrated by Bear Grylls, known worldwide as a face of survival and outdoor adventure. The team also included Tom Hugh-Jones and Martha Holmes as Executive Producers, whilst Benjamin Wallfisch composed the score.

Mateo admits filming was a guessing game, “The world’s weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable. Hurricanes when we didn’t need them or calm conditions when we wanted to film hurricanes. We had to wait over a year for the right conditions to film avalanches for example.”

“Animals always have it harder. Many live at the limit of existence and small weather changes can have dramatic consequences.”


Crews travelled all seven continents in 82 shoots over 1,300 days of filming. They employed 245 crew members on location and logged approximately 1,800 hours of footage.

“To make this show was a massive undertaking, three years from start to finish. Several hundred people worked on various parts of the production; from the planning, to filming, to editing.”

“Often there were multiple shoots in various parts of the world filming simultaneously. Keeping track of who was where was quite a challenge!”

Technology continues to improve and Mateo says this means television shows can be more ambitious. “Cameras are smaller, have many more functions and are more sensitive to light. We particularly focused on technology that would allow us to film an animal’s perspective on the world.”

“For example – a small drone with a mounted camera allowed us to build the experience of a golden eagle soaring over a high mountain ridge. Remote cameras that the animals triggered themselves allowed us to capture rare footage of creatures too shy to get close to.”

He was also the Director of Photography is new Netflix show Our Planet, “They both look at a rapidly changing world and the effect it’s having on animals. I think it’s fantastic that we have both shows, different in style but similar in message.”

“There are many stories to tell about the natural world and many ways to creatively do it. Both productions were crafted by a dedicated and experienced crew.”


Mateo concluded, “We stand at a crossroads without historical precedent. The natural world is shrinking rapidly because of human development, wildlife numbers are plummeting. Across the globe more people live in towns and cities than in the countryside and that number is set to rise over 80 percent in the next thirty years.”

“Raising awareness and translating that into actions, big and small, will be crucial if it is to survive. My hope is that Hostile Planet will make a small contribution to increasing that awareness.”

Hostile Planet appears on Sundays at 9pm on National Geographic