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TV and Film

TV production

  •  After 1991: Independent (as Trinity Productions)
  • 1981-’91: Series producer, CBC-TV’s “the fifth estate” investigative series
  • 1975-’81: Field producer, CBC-TV’s human interest “This Land” series
  • 1973-’75: Field producer, CBC-TV’s “Country Canada” agriculture series
  • 1968-’73: Studio producer/director, CBC-TV, Toronto

Screenplays and Scripts: Projects as an independent

“Edith Cavell” : The Belgian Film Board commissioned Robert Fripp to write this dramatic treatment and screenplays for a four-part historical TV mini-series. Edith Cavell was the director of a nursing school in Brussels when the German army occupied Belgium in 1914. An organizational genius, Cavell helped two hundred stranded French and British soldiers to escape. From collection points near Mons in western Belgium, resistance workers brought these men to Brussels, where Cavell housed them and fed them during a famine before sending them on with guides to escape across the tightly-guarded border into neutral Holland. “Edith Cavell” tracks the harrowing fourteen month saga of Cavell and her Belgian colleagues from two resistance groups, from the battle of Mons to a German firing squad in Brussels, fourteen months later. [More…]

“The Hand of God”: An IMAX film development for the Templeton Foundation (Grant #10929). Robert Fripp wrote this 45-minute giant-screen format movie (IMAX) to capture the joy and the awe of discovering the nature of our universe and our place within it. Initial stimulus for this production is Michael Reagan’s book, “The Hand of God”, which juxtaposes photographic images of stars and galaxies with quotations from scientists, theologians and other eminent figures about the nature of science, belief and the cosmos. (2003-2004)

“A Significant Experience”: A screenplay based on the novel of that name. While the German Army advances on Cairo, British officers quarrel over whether to flog a young cadet for being sloppy. For a movie optioned by director John Wood. (1998)

“A Chimpanzee Trilogy”: Robert Fripp consulted to Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and ANC Productions, Tokyo, on sequencing and script for three related documentaries: A Political Animal (politics in chimpanzee societies is as ruthless and complex as in ours; Weapons and Tools (chimpanzees use a range of tools); and, Ai: the Intelligent Chimp (Ai reads many Japanese words, counts, and shows extensive reasoning ability). Award: Ai was elected best popular science film, Banff Festival, 1998

“In The Beginning”: Ancient Civilizations series / Client, TVOntario Scripted the award-winning final episode, suggesting why many ancient civilizations collapsed. Award: Bronze Prize, Columbus Ohio Film Festival

“Solitary Journey”: Robert Fripp devised the screenplay and scripted this independent production for independent director Vic Sarin. The film merged sequences from the successful Everest climb in 1952 and interviews with Lord Hunt and Sherpa Dawa Tensing. 1988 Awards: An unprecedented triple first at the Banff Mountain Film Festival Award: First prize at the Yorkton Film Festival (1990?). Several European awards.

“The Gurkhas Of Nepal”: This independent production visited an elderly Gurkha who had seen World War II service with the British Army in North Africa and at Monte Casino. Commendations at the American Film Festival, New York, 1983; Banff, 1984.

Operating as Trinity Productions. Documentary versioning…

Television producers working in other languages want to sell their programs in the worldwide English market. This involves more than translating the original script. The market demands new, more culturally appropriate scripts and faster pacing, so programs must be re-edited from scratch; and new music, because rights were not cleared outside the home country. Robert Fripp created Trinity Productions in 1992 to turn clients’ products into English language programming:

“Refuge In Ryukyu”: Clients, NHK Enterprises 21 & ANC Productions Inc. Two million years ago, rising oceans flooded a vast tract of land, becoming the East China Sea. Mountain peaks became islands in what is now a thousand kilometer arc stretching from Japan to Taiwan, the Ryukyu Island chain. Countless animals took refuge from the rising water in the Ryukyu Islands. More than twelve hundred species live only there; many have diverged from ancestors seven hundred kilometers away, in China; and many are rare. “Refuge in Ryukyu” traces extraordinary migrations of extraordinary lives. 1997

“Daphne & Eleanor”: Clients, NHK Enterprises 21 & Nexus Inc. It’s hard to find a more positive wildlife story. Daphne Sheldrick and Eleanor have given their lives to caring for orphaned elephants. Eleanor is herself an elephant. Thirty-six years ago, Daphne Sheldrick nursed the motherless baby back to health and returned her to the African bush. Now a fine old matriarch, Eleanor takes Daphne’s scared little orphans into her band and teaches them survival skills. Filmed in Kenya. 1997

“Ebola: Diary Of A Killer”: Client, Media International Corporation (MICO) Tokyo. In early 1995, an epidemic of ebola virus killed 245 people in the town of Kikwit, Congo. This documentary charts the day to day advance of the disease. This is a bilingual (English, French) version, based on NHK’s Japanese original. 1996-7 “Ground Zero Plus Fifty: the aftermath of 50 nuclear years”: NHK International August 6, 1995 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This day of special NHK programming required a much condensed international version. 1995

“Hunting The Dragon”: Clients, MICO & Ex Terra Foundation, Edmonton. The client wanted two, one hour-long documentaries about T. rex and the plant-eating Mamenchisaurus into a single 50 minute English and international version. 1995 “People Of The Clouds”: Clients, MICO & NHK The rainiest place on earth, at the eastern end of the Himalayas, is home to a people who still practise matrilineal traditions going back several millennia.

“Wild Nature Japan”: a wildlife series / Client, MICO The client asked Robert Fripp to create a new, ten-part wildlife series for international television sales, combining footage from NHK archives. 1996

“Tree Spirits”: / Client, NHK Natural Science Unit. The client wanted a re-edited international version of this tale of Borneo’s flying-lemurs. 1995

“Life at the Source of Life”: Client, NHK Natural Science Unit. All flesh is grass. And all marine life starts from the bottom of the food chain with planktonic blooms in the northern and southern oceans. The client wanted a tightly edited, re-scripted version of this documentary. Brilliant microphotography shows that fractures in winter sea ice function as incubators, protecting and nurturing plankton through arctic winters. 1995

“Re-building The Ark”: Clients, NHK Enterprises 21 & YOU Communications Ltd., Tokyo Loss of their forest habitat is causing these small South American primates to become extinct in the wild. But before conservationists can return them to the wild, they have to create new rain forest. The client wanted English and Portuguese (for Brazil) versions. Award: Best documentary, American Primatological Society, Wisconsin, 1996

“When Animals Think”: Client, MICO. Birds and mammals exhibit what humans might call true intelligence. But how to demonstrate this? My client wanted the program cut down and re-scripted for the international markets.

“The Wondrous Fishes of Lake Tanganyika”: Client, NHK Natural Science Unit. Beautiful photography in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika follows research into the seemingly endless variety of cichlids in the lake. 1994

“The Polar Bears Of Wrangel Island”: Client, NHK Natural Science Unit. A mother emerges with two tiny cubs from her winter den on this Arctic island. The program follows their growth through the summer. Re-edited for the English and international version. Rescripted. 1994

“Canopy”: / Clients, NHK & MICO Tokyo. A visually gorgeous NHK documentary about plant and animal life in the tops of rainforest trees. Robert Fripp scripted the English edition and wrote marketing materials. “Kanzi: an Ape of Genius”: Client, MICO Tokyo Kanzi, a pygmy chimpanzee, has shown how intelligent chimpanzees are. Robert Fripp cut “Kanzi” down from a Japanese original. MICO (NHK’s export arm) sold this program widely. It won several major awards.

“Nanospace”: Client, MICO Tokyo Robert Fripp reworked this three-part series about the worlds of very small things. His English language version helped NHK and MICO win the prestigious Prix Leonardo, at the Parma biennale, Italy, in 1993.