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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Latham

In the Edit of Marco Polo

Since our filming team returned from their epic seven-week adventure across China last summer, we’ve been locked in edit, spinning their fabulous footage into TV gold.  

And we’ve been spoilt for choice.  

From gobsmacking drone shots in the Karakorum Mountains at China’s far Western border with Pakistan to camels wandering the maze of mud-brick streets in the ancient city of Kashgar in Xinjiang; to the bustling night markets of Hotan to the herds of white horses roaming the endless Inner Mongolian's been more of a question of what to leave out rather than what to include. 

This history travelogue was originally conceived as a series in three parts: Stanley Johnson and his youngest of six children Max trace Marco Polo’s thirteenth-century Silk Road journey across China.  

But it soon became clear that we gathered so much great footage - from a country where very few foreign crews have been allowed to film in recent years – that we should extend it to 4 x 60-minute episodes.  

We are also cutting a shorter version, a series of 4 x 45 minutes, which will be sold to the international market as well as making a 90-minute film for cinematic release. So each time the cuts get deeper and more precious footage ends up on the cutting room floor. 

Too much good material is a nice challenge to have though, isn’t it?  

What has been tougher is the number of different languages we’ve been wrestling with in the edit. There’s Mandarin and English, obviously, and Max speaks good Mandarin which really helps. Then we were lucky enough to interview Tajik, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, and Mongolian speakers too. Finding someone in this country to translate these languages has been a headache but luckily our Chinese partners stepped in and provided the transcripts we need. But imagine trying to trim a sentence or de-umm someone speaking a language you’ve got zero understanding of? We’ll be relying on the Chinese team to double check we haven’t accidentally cut someone off in the middle of a sentence or turned their words of wisdom into utter gobbledygook. Fingers crossed!  


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