Interview With Disneynature Ambassador, Dr. M Sanjayan- Monkey Kingdom

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Disclosure- I was invited on an all expense paid trip to Orlando on behalf of Disney for the #MonkeyKingdomEvent.  All opinions are 100% my own.

dr sanjayanIt is always an amazing experience to learn first hand how a movie was made from the people that made it.   Today we had the honor of meeting and interviewing Disneynature Ambassador, Dr. M. Sanjayan.  He was so easy to talk to and a very engaging speaker.  You could tell how passionate he is about his work with animals and conservation in general.  He sat down with us at the Sanaa restaurant in Animal Kingdom Lodge to talk about the new Disneynature movie, Monkey Kingdom.  (Keep an eye out next week for my review post on Sanaa but I will tell you it was DELISH!)

DR. M. SANJAYAN (Disneynature Ambassador) is executive vice president and senior scientist for Conservation International. The global conservation scientist, writer and Emmy®-nominated news contributor focuses on the connection between nature and human well-being. He serves on Conservation International’s senior leadership team as executive vice president and senior scientist.

Sanjayan holds a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a research faculty appointment at the University of Montana. His peer-reviewed scientific work has been published in journals including Science, Nature and Conservation Biology, and his expertise has attracted national media coverage in Outside, Time, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, AFAR, Grist and The New York Times. He is also the co-editor of Connectivity Conservation (Cambridge University Press).

Sanjayan is the host of “EARTH A New Wild,” the 2015 PBS television series. Filmed in 29 countries and produced by National Geographic and Passion Pictures, the series reveals how humans are inextricably linked with wild nature.

Sanjayan’s broad-reaching television experience also includes “Years of Living Dangerously,” the 2014 Emmy®-winning series that examines the human impact of climate change, as well as numerous documentaries, including “Planet Earth: The Future” (BBC), “Expedition Alaska” (Discovery Channel), and “Mysteries of the Shark Coast” (featured during shark week on Discovery Channel). Most recently, he hosted the critically acclaimed four-part series on energy, “Powering the Future” (Discovery Channel).

Sanjayan also serves as a science and environment contributor to CBS News. His 2013 “CBS Evening News” report on elephant poaching in Kenya earned an Emmy® nomination in the investigative journalism category. His guest appearances include NBC’s “Today,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “NBC Nightly News,” CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and he is a featured contributor to the BBC’s “Power of Nature” series.

Sanjayan is a Clinton Global Initiative Senior Advisor, a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of National Geographic Society’s Explorer’s Council—a distinguished group of top scientists, researchers and explorers who provide advice and counsel to the Society across disciplines and projects.

Sanjayan writes for Orion magazine, The Huffington Post and Fortune China, and he posts frequently from his expeditions at @msanjayan.

Here are just a few of the fascinating things we learned from Dr. Sanjayan:

  • It took 3 years to film Monkey Kingdom.  The 80 minute film was shot over a period of 1,000 days.
  • There was a team of 6 primary production people and about 12 assistants in Sri Lanka.
  • For every minute you see in the movie, they filmed for 10 days!
  • The best light is at dawn and dusk so they worked for long days.  They started before sunrise and worked filming until late in the evening.
  • The magic is in the editing.
  • The production crew rented a house in Sri Lanka to live while they were filming.
  • This group of monkeys has been studied for over 40 years by a primate specialist.
  • A few other monkeys were followed and filmed but they knew early on that Maya was a special monkey and the story would be about her.

“Monkey Kingdom is like Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones”, Dr. M. Sanjayan

Disneynature Monkey Kingdom

Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom swings into theaters this Friday, April 17th.  

See Monkey Kingdom opening week (April 17 – 23) and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect monkeys and other endangered species in their natural habitats.

image003 (7)Life is an adventure for Maya, the clever and resourceful blonde-bobbed monkey in “Monkey Kingdom,” Disneynature’s new feature film set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya’s world is forever changed when she welcomes her son, Kip, into her complicated extended family. Like all families, Maya’s has more than its share of colorful personalities—and she’s determined to give her son a leg up in the world. When their longtime home at Castle Rock is taken over by powerful neighboring monkeys, Maya’s whole family is forced to relocate, and she uses her street smarts and ingenuity to lead them to untapped resources amidst strange new creatures and unsettling surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim Castle Rock, where Maya can hopefully realize her dreams for her son’s future.

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