Guest post from Executive Producer Jon Kroll
Of the comedic tone we took in editing Big Baboon House, one of the biggest creative decisions we faced was: should the baboons “speak”? Ultimately, we determined that since we were making every effort to develop the baboons as archetypical reality show characters, it would help to add dialogue to some of the scenes.
At first, we added too much baboon dialog to the show, and it felt like the inmates were taking over the asylum. Then we pulled back too much and found some of the scenes feeling dry and missing the monkey talk. Eventually we settled on a balance that felt right. We found that the scenes in which the characters were exhibiting more typical baboon behavior needed no dialogue at all – in fact, in many cases, their natural vocalizations portrayed more emotional clarity than anything we could have come up with. But in the more stylize scenes – the competitions, the beach trip and the unforgettable Christmas celebration – the dialogue played more effectively.
While adding the dialogue was certainly stretching the typical boundaries of a nature documentary, we were dedicated to bending and sometimes breaking the rules throughout the creative process of this show. That said, in the end we tried to be sure to infuse the show with plenty of factual takeaway from this unique social experiment.
Tune in to Big Baboon House on Nat Geo WILD this Saturday from 8-11P to see for yourself.