2016 is an important year for us, as it marks 30 years since Jean worked on her first film, the one that caused Viewfinders to be formed. In November 1986 an ambitious and epic bird watching race was held in Kenya. Seven teams of obsessive birders from five countries, three in each team, crisscrossed the country for 48 hours in an endeavour to set a new record for the number of bird species seen in that period of time. They used rally cars, planes, boats, buses, ferries, motorbikes, dug out canoes and anything else that would move. This event caught the attention of the late Adrian Warren, who in record time put the footage all together in three weeks, ready for transmission before Christmas. It was a little half hour programme entitled “The Great African (Bird) Safari Rally”, and was fronted by the comedian Bill Oddie. We had a lot of laughs, and raised a massive Sh 750,000 (which was a lot 30 years ago) for the Gertrude’s Garden Children’s Hospital in Nairobi. This specialist children’s facility is a world leader in the treatment of Burkitt’s lymphoma, which is prevalent in this part of the world. The rest, as they say, is history, and since then Viewfinders have been involved in nearly 1,300 very varied films.
Having said that, Jean has had a miserable year with poor health, having developed vasculitis, which was found to be caused by lupus. This little understood condition seems to bite unexpectedly, when you think you are getting better, and hit you with something else – in this case pericarditis. For several months, she has been on a massive regime of steroids and other medication, and she is not one of those lucky people with whom such medicine “agrees”. It’s been a battle, but hopefully the worst is over and things are almost under control again. If we can get the lupus into permanent remission, things will get dramatically better. However, health notwithstanding, the old girl is feeling her age, and feels the word “retirement” has a suddenly attractive ring to it. How we close down a 30 year old institution, with its history and its reputation, we don’t know. But somehow we will ensure that things continue, even if it means hauling in other production companies to assist. If there is anyone out there who would like to take over (preferably with Kenyan immigration status), please let us know.