Alan Root

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Alan Root (born 12 May 1937, London) is a filmmaker who worked on nature documentary series such as Survival.[1]

Until 1981 he was married to fellow filmmaker Joan Root, who was a Kenyan-born (to British parents) conservationist and ecological activist murdered in Kenya in 2006. The couple did National Geographic articles together from 1963 to 1971 on animals, Galapagos Islands, and mainly African wildlife.

Notable films include: The Year of the Wildebeest (1974), Safari by Balloon (1975), Mysterious Castles of Clay (1978), Two in the Bush (1980) and A Season in the Sun (1983) African films shot through the lens of Kenya-based film-maker Alan Root, working with his then wife, Joan. The Roots' strong narrative style characterised much of Survival’s output. The Year of the Wildebeest was the epic story of the thundering migration of wildebeest herds across the plains and rivers of the Serengeti. Mysterious Castles of Clay, by contrast, showed wildlife in intricate detail in and around termite mounds, revealing the insects' highly organised society and skills of construction. It received a nomination for an Academy Award.[2] The Roots used a hot-air balloon to film sequences for the wildebeest film, and further explored its usefulness to film animals on the mountains and plains of East Africa in Safari by Balloon. Highlight of their journey was the first hot-air balloon flight over Mount Kilimanjaro. Two in the Bush (re-titled Lights, Action, Africa! in the USA) included footage of a spitting cobra directing its venom at Joan’s face positioned just a few feet from the snake while Alan filmed. A Season in the Sun, an account of wildlife’s struggle to survive the heat and drought of the dry season, won an Emmy and a Peabody Award after it was aired by PBS in 1987.[3] Alan and Joan Root were responsible for many of Survival's most successful films for almost 20 years from the mid-1960s. After their partnership ended, Alan Root continued his association with Survival as a cinematographer, producing his own films and guiding the early African work of camera team Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone, while latterly also acting as adviser to the series. The Enchanted Isles (1967) Alan and Joan Root went to the Galapagos Islands to make a film that retraced the voyage of Charles Darwin.


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