Born in China is the first Disneynature co-production with the nation. Bob Thompson has more tidbits about the doc.
1. Logistics nightmare. Disney producer Roy Conli, who has spearheaded previous animations such as Tangled and Big Hero 6, says negotiating the logistics of shooting in isolated regions of China was complicated. So was assembling a crew from China, the U.K. and the U.S. Conli had to work out timetables that saw production teams film over three-month intervals, and then rotate out of the country, which the Chinese government required.
2. Location, location, location. The locations were demanding. Especially difficult was the snow leopard habitat 5,000 metres above sea level on the northeast part of the Tibetan plateau. Crews were more comfortable at the Wolong Nature Reserve in the Si Chuan province in Central China, where endangered giant pandas live.
3. Patience with pandas. Extra effort and lots of patience were required by all of the film crews, but the team shooting the pandas suffered for their art. “They wore panda costumes and smeared themselves with panda scent,” Conli says, “so they could get as close as possible.”
4. The voice. Narrator John Krasinski is a master voiceover actor. He’s done TV ads for Kodak, Puma, Apple TV and Carnival Cruises. Conli admits he considered many voices for the narrator job, but settled on the The Office actor.
5. True to life. Disneynature has a string of successful nature documentaries to its credit including Earth, Oceans and African Cats. Born in China continues the trend, but the film does contain a death sequence.