"Creating science documentaries that are interesting and engaging is hard," says Chip. "The thing about science is that it is often abstract, but people don't relate deeply to abstract ideas, they relate to emotion. Even if they do relate to an abstract idea, it's because it gets them excited, and that's emotional." One way to get emotion into a piece of scientific documentary film is to tell human stories, treat the subject like a mystery, and take the viewer to places they don't normally get to go.
"The travel associated with writing and directing docs was phenomenal, at least for me," says Chip. "I was lucky enough to visit some truly remarkable places - the Amazon rain forest, the outback of Australia, the Serengeti Plains of East Africa, Indonesia, the back vaults of the British Museum and all over the United States and Europe. The down side was that I was always working. I wish there had been more time to go off the beaten path. But it was worth every minute - staring at the night sky in Africa where the stars were thicker than traffic in Los Angeles, but far more beautiful; gazing at seven giraffes galloping across the plains so gracefully they seemed to be moving in slow motion; watching a full moon as it rose through the branches of the rain forest where we camped in Brazil. The sun coming up in one of the hottest places I had ever been (not counting Death Valley), an area in Australia jokingly called the North Pole."
It's been some time since Chip has worked on any documentaries, but a few of them are still available on DVD, and the Emmy nominated documentary based on the book he wrote with William Shatner is also now available.