Skip to main content

Beeb Picks Up Monkey-made Movie

LONDON: Great Britain’s BBC will broadcast what it says is the world’s first movie “shot entirely by chimpanzees.” The documentary was created during a study of chimp perception in which scientists gave the primates specially-outfitted cameras. A brief video clip on the BBC Web site looks a bit like outtakes from “The Blair Witch Project,” at least with regard to the absence of a Steadicam.

Primatolotist Betsy Herrelko gave 11 chimps at the Edinburgh Zoo a ruggedized video camera, the “chimpcam,’ and watched what they did with them for the next 18 months. The chimpanzees were soon making cinema, showing a particular fascination for the viewfinder. They were also supplied with a touch-controlled display on which they could select different video feeds, including one of their food prep room. The chimps figured out the touchscreen but displayed no particular preference for any of the feeds.

The experiment at one point was interrupted by chimps being chimps, the Beeb said, with two males vying for the job of alpha chimp. Eventually, they took to the video project in what the network is referring to as a historic television event, although perhaps more in the chimp TV reality vein. Chimps have had a high-profile on American Television for years in guest appearances and scripted comedy, for example. “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp,” aired on ABC from 1970-72. More famous TV chimps are listed at www.ape-o-naut.org.