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Become a member today... For a Freelancer join here, for an Organisation join here! :)
See our 'Features' and 'Interviews' pages for stories from around the wildlife, natural history, conservation, environmental and Vegan film-making world! GotKit to sell? Add your items here! (NB. Members post for free!) Looking for work or got something to offer... Visit our Jobs Page.
Also see The Climate Crisis Film Festival ... it bridges the knowledge-action gap, providing a systemic perspective behind the raw human stories of climate change.
Join in later in 2021
for the COP26, November 4th - 7th – We will be back for in-person screenings across three venues in Glasgow. We have something truly special lined up this year so watch this space!
November 1st - 12th
– In parallel with our in-person Glasgow festival, we'll be running a digital program on our online platform, open to audiences worldwide.
Greta Thunberg in New Film: If We Don’t Stop Exploiting Animals, “We Are F*cked”
Vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg’s new short film For Nature urges viewers to go plant-based to save the planet.
On May 22nd, animal-rights group Mercy for Animals (MFA) debuted For Nature, a new short film starring vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg. In the hard-hitting five-minute film, Thunberg explains all of the ways in which human exploitation of animals and the planet have led to health crises such as COVID-19 and environmental catastrophes. Thunberg’s narration, supplanted with gripping images of destruction, points to the interconnectedness of the way humans treat animals and the planet and the consequences they face as a result.
Thunberg is known for her unapologetic approach to educating the public about the urgency of fighting the climate crisis and the 18-year-old vegan does not hold back in For Nature. “The climate crisis, the ecological crisis, the health crises, they are all interlinked,” she says in the film. “We no longer see the links between them … I would like to connect the dots because let’s face it, if we don’t change, we’re f*cked.”
Thunberg on animal agriculture
In For Nature, Thunberg points out that while fossil fuels are seen as the “villians” of the climate crisis, animal agriculture—which contributes to one-fourth of total greenhouse gas emissions—is often ignored.
Approximately 30 percent of the world’s ice-less land mass is used for animal agriculture and 33 percent of all cropland is used to grow food for those animals. Thunberg explains that if everyone were to adopt a plant-based diet, we would save up to 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually and use 76 percent less land.
“The climate crisis is just one symptom of the sustainability crisis we face: We have industrialized life on Earth and broken our relationship with nature,” she said. “More frequent and devastating pandemics, biodiversity loss, and the climate crisis are all connected to this root cause. This is why we need to rethink how we value and treat nature in order to safeguard future and present living conditions for life on Earth. We all, of course, have different opportunities and responsibilities, but most of us can at least do something—no matter how small.”
For Nature is Greta Thungberg’s idea
Released in honor of International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22), Thunberg conceptualized the film and script herself and MFA supported the costs of production, donated footage, and provided research to support Thunberg’s vision. To create the film, Thunberg approached award-winning filmmaker Tom Mustill who previously worked with leading conservationists such as Sir David Attenborough.
“Mercy For Animals is proud to partner with Greta to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings on our planet,” John Seber, Senior Vice President of Advocacy at MFA, said. “Every single one of us can be part of transforming our food system and repairing our relationship with nature. For those of us with food choices, we can eat like our world depends on it. We can stop subsidizing unhealthy and environmentally destructive animal products and help farmers transition to a plant-based farming model that is better for their livelihoods, local communities, the environment, and the animals. We are all part of nature and can be part of nature protecting itself.”
According to Greta Thunberg, the cost of an industrialized food system is clear—the destruction of our planet. In a new video, sponsored by Mercy For Animals, Greta raises the question, will we take action before it's too late? Visit: fornature.earth
“The climate crisis is just one symptom of the sustainability crisis we face: We have industrialized life on Earth and broken our relationship with nature.” Environmental activist Greta Thunberg is teaming up with Mercy For Animals to speak out about animal agriculture and highlight its connection to the environmental crisis.
As part of Peter Brownlee's "Chew Valley People" series, Chew Magna's Richard Brock gets interviewed at home.
"Richard worked for the BBC Natural History Unit for 35 years producing among other things David Attenborough's Living Planet and Trials of Life. But he became increasingly concerned that wildlife shows were not telling the whole story. When he left the BBC he set up the Brock Initiative and began making his own films about the growing crisis he saw in the natural world. He has now published a book called Planet Crunchwhich brings together his views and ideas about where we are now. Filmed in April 2021."
Peter Brownlee is an editor at the BBC NHU. His personal production company is called Chew Valley Films … See: chewvalleyfilms.com
Share your Film Ideas with Waterbear!
Are you aged between 13-24 and have you always dreamt of turning your idea into a film? The time is now.Submit your idea and if you win, we'll turn it into a film for WaterBear and premier it at the 2022 Aegean Film Festival.
This is a chance for you to imagine a better tomorrow by creating an inspiring documentary script about our world. All you need to do is submit your idea. If you win, you’ll be able to turn your vision into a reality with the help of WaterBear’s production team who will produce your documentary, with a budget of up to 25,000. The winning documentary will be premiered at the Aegean Film Festival and distributed by WaterBear.
What’s more, you can all become a part of the growing community of young filmmakers, activists and artists fighting to change the world and join the teams of WaterBear and the Aegean Film Festival.
Screening films from all over the world, the American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) is an annual event held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a vibrant, arts-focused community 70 miles west of the nation’s capital.
ACFF considers submitted non-fiction and fiction films, provided the theme is driven by environmental or cultural conservation. Of special interest are the myriad ways humans interact with wildlife and wild places, issues driven by natural resource conservation, humans as part of the environment, living in a continuum of cultural tradition, lifestyles in conjunction with changes in the natural world and how young people encounter and understand the natural world. The motivating force behind ACFF is the power of film to engage, inform and inspire.
The 2022 Festival plans to utilize live venues providing screenings for a broad range of conservation films, some of which rarely receive a wide showing. Pending filmmaker permissions, films will also be included in our online streaming offerings with closed captions available for each film. Our first online festival in 2021 more than doubled our audience and reached viewers in 30 countries.
Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster – Greenpeace
The UK government wants to be seen as a leader in tackling plastic pollution. They keep saying the right things but what they’re doing is harming people, wildlife and our oceans.
We’ve made a video that washes away all of their plastic hypocrisy, can you help expose the UK government and watch and share this video?
The UK is still the 2nd biggest producer of plastic waste per person behind the USA. Because the UK can’t deal with all the plastic waste we’re producing, the government is dumping it on other countries who can’t cope either.
But plastic isn’t just harming wildlife and our oceans, it’s causing a health emergency for people too. The plastic waste offloaded onto other countries is often dumped and burned in the open air. Nearby communities in Malaysia are reporting serious health problems like respiratory issues, nosebleeds and headaches. While we have all lived through a health emergency over the past year, our government has been fuelling another for longer.
Less than 10% of the UK’s household plastic packaging is actually recycled in the UK. And today, a new Greenpeace investigation has found British waste - British supermarket brands - being dumped and burned in the open air in Turkey. It’s illegal for the government to send plastic waste to countries if it’s not going to be recycled. This is happening while the government claims to be a leader in tackling plastic pollution.
The UK government must act like the plastic leaders it claims to be and stop dumping our plastic waste on other countries, and fix the plastic crisis. Can you help pile the pressure on them by watching and sharing this video?
The government knows plastic is a popular issue, that’s why they want to be seen as leaders on tackling it. By watching and sharing this video we can put the pressure on, and show them that we see through their empty words and want meaningful, proper action on plastic that protects people, and the planet.
Some of you will remember Whitwell Common from past Wildeye weekend courses ... It's a wonderful place, beautifully captured here by Piers Warren
Take a mindful two minutes out of your day to relax in nature.
Whitwell Common is a small nature reserve near Reepham in the middle of rural Norfolk. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Filmed in June 2021. The orchids featured are common spotted orchids, the butterfly is a speckled wood.
It has been scientifically proved that digital nature - such as watching this mindful minute - is good for our mental health - especially if we can't get out into real nature!
Synopsis: during a whole year of observing the bears, we will show the hidden connections between a lone tree, an animal and the whole ecosystem. The viewer will be given an opportunity to peek into the ancient home of thousands of beings, to experience the pace of the inhabitants' lives, to feel the rigidity and delicacy of its construction. Our film will tell the story of the challenges in the demanding life of the Asiatic black bear. We will visit the remaining intact Ussuri forests of Russia where the species is still considered a common occurrence.
Synopsis: old-growth forests are among the most important unaltered areas that have been with us since prehistoric times. Such untouched islands of forest, rather moderate in their size, are located in a few nature reserves and national parks in Russia, where a common visitor may not be able to enter. Our film provides a rare opportunity to observe the forests that have not suffered from hundreds of years of human disturbance. We will travel through the main types of Russian forests to understand how they control life on our planet: through oxygen production and carbon fixation, soil formation and water retention they affect the climate and preserve biodiversity. As landscapes and seasons change, we encounter numerous inhabitants of the forests — mammals, birds, insects, other invertebrates, plants and fungi.
'A-team' of film creatives help to save some of Kenya's last great tusker elephants
Jamie Joseph's latest short film, Kimana Tuskers, aims to raise awareness of the threats against some of the last great tuskers living along the Kimana wildlife corridor in Kenya.
A vanishing landscape is threatening the lives of some of Kenya’s last great tusker elephants. The “A-team” of film production has assembled to try and help. Brittney Deguara writes.
Inside an editing suite at Wellington's Park Road Post one Wednesday afternoon, the sound of elephants stomping, rumbling, and trumpeting echoed.
At the controls in the studio was Academy Award-winning senior re-recording mixer Mike Hedges, known for his work on Sir Peter Jackson’s blockbuster films King Kong and The Hobbit trilogy, and Taika Waititi’s Boy.
Sitting on the lounge, watching her hard work come to life, was conservationist Jamie Joseph – the driving force behind the Kimana Tuskers short film.
Joseph, who wrote and directed the film, referred to the group of creatives who made this happen as “the A-Team”.
The list of credits includes BAFTA-winning wildlife filmmaker Bertie Gregory, who has worked on a number of Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries, and Kiwi composer Stephen Gallagher who worked on The Hobbit, The Lovely Bones, and has collaborated with Ed Sheeran.
Two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou, who stars in Blood Diamond, Gladiator, and A Quiet Place Part II, lent his voice to the narration.
The film weaves the stories of five teenagers inspired by Greta Thunberg as they rally against anxiety, climate denial, and white privilege to pull together a record-setting strike in Aotearoa. With intimate access to New Zealand students’ meetings, homes, and personal video diaries, filmmakers, The Rebel Film Collective, have dedicated the film to the late politician and environmentalist, Jeanette Fitzsimons, who makes a brief appearance.
Doc Edge Festival 2021 will be in theatre, Auckland and Wellington and online nationwide from 3 June until 11 July. Full programme release and tickets on sale, Tuesday 27 April. docedge.nz
Ewan McGregor Discusses the Perils of Narrating Nature Docs
Ewan McGregor could simply live off of being Obi-Wan Kenobi for the rest of his life. No one would blame him. But his resume is a lot more impressive than that. He’s done just about everything in Hollywood. One job we didn’t even know about, though, is his role being Scotland’s answer to David Attenborough. The Star Wars alum narrates nature documentaries for the BBC in his home country. With smooth pipes like his, it’s easy to see why they picked him. However, as Seth Meyers pointed out, there is a downside to being the voice of the natural world. Because sometimes you tell the tale of a baby bird falling off a giant cliff into a rock. And that’s how you end up traumatizing a four-year-old.
McGregor virtually visited Late Night With Seth Meyers to discuss his new Netflix series Halston. But first the host wanted to discuss McGregor’s role with BBC Scotland. While trying to find a video about guillemots for his young son to watch during the pandemic, Meyers learned McGregor narrates nature documentaries. That sounds like a pretty great gig. Right up until you have to calmly describe a baby bird plunging to what appears to be certain death. (The actual clip makes the whole thing so much worse.)
Ewan McGregor talks about narrating BBC nature documentaries, getting stuck in Los Angeles during quarantine and portraying an iconic fashion designer in the series Halston.
The Eco-wakening is here.
Friends, we have great news! You are not alone in caring about the health of our planet! New findings reveal that millions of people around the world are concerned about nature, and that number is growing.
1. More conversations: On Twitter alone, the number of posts related to nature loss and biodiversity has increased by 65% since 2016
2. Demand for urgent action: Over 159 million signatures for biodiversity-related campaigns have been collected in the last five years
3. Businesses are changing: The number of companies committed to implementing sustainability measures is increasing
1. In June 2020, major European funds threatened to withdraw their 2 trillion US dollars-worth of investments from Brazil unless key decision makers did something to stop the surging destruction of the Amazon rainforest
2. Last September, political leaders representing 84 countries committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030
3. As of 2019, legislations restricting single-use plastic items have been passed in 127 countries, following sustained global protest
Thank you for being a voice of change!
What more can you do?
1. Share this email
2. Read this blog on how consumers, like you, are driving sustainability
3. Are you a business? Add your voice to those urging governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss in this decade.
‘You care for birds, and they heal you’: film profiles world of a Black falconer
A new documentary, The Falconer, follows Rodney Stotts, who found fulfillment in working with raptors and inner-city kids
Falconry is a profession with roots in the ancient Middle East and medieval Europe but one of its practitioners is making some history of his own.
Rodney Stotts is one of the few Black falconers in the US. He works with raptors such as red-tailed hawks and Harris hawks, as well as with an owl named Mr Hoots. He is now the subject of a new documentary directed by Annie Kaempfer, The Falconer, that screened at the Atlanta film festival ahead of the second annual Black Birders Week (an event created after a white woman called the police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park in New York last year, prompting a national outcry).
Stotts has seen his work hit by the Covid pandemic and is relocating from his previous raptor sanctuary in Laurel, Maryland, to Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia. The new site takes its name from his late mother’s nickname – Dippy’s Dream. Stotts spoke with the Guardian about honoring his mother through his new project, the importance of exposure to falconry in inner-city DC, and mentoring the next generation of Black falconers.
Create a nature documentary while sea kayaking The Maine Island Trail.
Dates: August 14th - 27th 2021
Max Enrollment: 10 students
Film experience: Intermediate
Outdoor experience: Neophyte and up
Become the complete nature documentarian with this Classroom in the Wild collaboration
between American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking and Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine. From first shot to final edit, engage in a holistic approach to
filmmaking in which you will develop your command over each phase of the filmmaking
process. After a week of capturing your story in nature, you will explore the art of editing by
crafting your field footage into a finished nature documentary for your portfolio.
A sea kayak is an excellent tool for the nature documentarian to commune with nature. It
provides the stealth necessary to film wildlife up-close, something impossible to achieve with a
motorized vessel. Our sea kayaking workshop is truly an immersive educational experience; you
are bound to get wet. But you’ll learn how to keep your camera equipment and camping gear
dry. Award-winning documentarian Tom Donohue will guide you in the skills and thought
processes necessary for capturing your story while registered Maine Sea Kayaking guide Josh
Lipkowitz will teach you the skills necessary for island exploration.
Sea kayaking the Maine Island Trail is a dream destination for many sea kayakers. There is no
better time to enjoy this unique adventure then mid-August when the waters are at their
warmest and the air cool. Our adventure begins on the Saturday night when you meet Tom and
Josh at our first campsite for dinner and orientation. We’ll start the next day in the water to
learn the basics of sea kayaking. After lunch, we’re off to our first island in search of a story.
In total you will have five days to capture your story.
Then, following a weekend to get home
and recuperate, you will start on your edit in our on-line classroom. Editing teaches you what
you need to know about your camerawork. You’ll discover both your successes and errors from
the field. Overcoming mishaps is at the heart of documentary storytelling. Tom will guide you
through the process with class lectures each morning and an individual review of your cut in the
afternoon. At the end of edit week, we will screen all our films together.
Covid-19 Safety Protocol
Our classroom in the wild was created with safety in mind. During this time of pandemic, we
believe that outdoor recreation is more important than ever and in-line with safety protocol.
Each student will be provided their own tent for sleeping. We will not require students to wear
masks while kayaking but we would encourage use when in close proximity to others. Be aware
that the state of Maine requires out-of-State visitors to either pass a Coronavirus test within 72
hours of arrival or spend 14 days in quarantine. You can check current guidelines at Maine.gov.
We are in favor of testing and vaccination as these measures will keep our small group safe.
Editing from home with Zoom is another safety measure while being an effective way to learn to
edit. You’ll share your computer screen directly with Tom. You’ll also share in your fellow
classmates learning as they develop their stories under Tom’s guidance. Even at a distance our
sense of community will continue online.
Included in the Sea Kayaking week is everything you will need from food to shelter to a tandem
sea kayak during your time on the water. You only need to bring layered clothing and your
camera gear. We recommend leaving your laptop at home. Do bring a hard drive so we can
transfer your camera footage during the expedition. For those preferring to rent cameras, Tom
will work with you to assemble a camera and audio package. It will be delivered to you at our
first campsite. We strongly recommend accidental water damage insurance for your cameras as
we cannot be responsible for them.
Tom Donohue (Film Teacher) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has been
leading Maine Media Workshops for almost 20 years both in Maine and abroad in Cuba,
Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina. His most recent National Geographic assignments ranged
from environmental pieces in the Galapagos Islands to filming polar bears up close in the Arctic.
Josh Lipkowitz (Wilderness Teacher) is the owner and Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide for
Mountain Sea Explorations. Josh has a graduate degree in Conservation Biology. His passion is
leading people young and old into the outdoors on foot, skis, snowboards, surfboards, sailboats,
canoes, bicycles, and sea kayaks.
David Jester (Teaching Assistant) is a Paramedic and Fireman for the State of Maine as well as a
passionate Sea Kayaker. David recently pursued his dream of making documentary films by
enrolling in Maine Media’s 4-week Documentary Film School taught by Tom. David’s student
film went on to be accepted at two important film festivals last year..
Giant otter thought to be extinct in Argentina resurfaces. Literally
Ten days ago (16th May), Sebastian di Martino was kayaking along the Bermejo River in Argentina’s Impenetrable National Park when he heard a splash. He looked around and saw a brown-furred animal swimming through the water, occasionally dipping below the surface and then reappearing. It was a giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), a species believed to be extinct in Argentina.
“I was surprised and excited,” Di Martino, director of conservation at Fundación Rewilding Argentina, told Mongabay in an interview. “At the beginning, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Richard Brock's Book and Films, PLANET CRUNCH, are still available for FREE!
PLANET CRUNCH The Life (or Death?) of Planet Earth by Richard Brock is ambitious project of 3 x 25-minute films on YouTube and Vimeo, plus a book. It's another attempt to draw attention to the challenges we all face; especially involving biodiversity. Uniquely…all…together. Now.
Planet Crunch – The Life (or Death?) of Planet Earth is a unique perspective on planet Earth at crunch-time. Based on how the media have lifted the natural world to the front-page headlines, the book is richly illustrated, packed with commentary on wildlife, natural resources, impacts of global politics, population, climate change and our future.
Richard Brock, filmmaker, author and publisher, has created a book for everyone. He describes it as political, challenging, cheeky, significant, educational and even rude! A publication that is both up-to-date and down-to-earth.
It’s for all those who are concerned about the future at this time of “Planet Crunch”.
Pre-order a FREE copy for your bookshelf or give as a gift. And please extend the project – pass on this offer to friends and contacts and like/share on all your social media.
Donations to charity will be welcomed. If you would like to contribute – say £10 – to Richard’s preferred charity local charity, the Avon Wildlife Trust, based close to where he lives, near Bristol, or to a charity of your choice, please do so. These days many charities need income to help continue projects around the world.
Uniquely ... Altogether ... Now ... The Life (or death?) of Planet Earth - Planet Crunch covers Nature and Us, Population, The Media, Tourism, Money, Waster and Plastic, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Water, Food, Biodiversity, Shopping, Farming, Forests and Fishing.
Under the ice can seem like a completely alien world... Kathryn Jeffs (Series Producer) talks us through the difficult process of capturing 'The Brinicle' on film.
Wild Stories (2020)
– BBC Earth take a look back at some of the most iconic natural history moments from landmark series such as Planet Earth, Life, Life Story and Frozen Planet, and go behind the scenes with the producers and directors who captured them.
Welcome to BBC EARTH! The world is an amazing place full of stories, beauty and natural wonder. Here you'll find 50 years worth of entertaining and thought-provoking natural history content. Dramatic, rare, and exclusive, nature doesn't get more exciting than this.
Lot's of great content on Sandesh Kadur's Felis Creations TV YouTube Channel!
Team Felis is glad to inform you that our YouTube channel is up and running. From unseen wildlife footage, short films, documentaries, cinematic showreels, behind-the-scenes to video reviews about cinema gadgets and gizmos — you wouldn’t want to miss out on all the exciting content we have lined up for you.
Head on over to youtube.com/c/FelisCreationsTV to like, and subscribe to stay updated with our content. And after watching, don’t forget to hit that share button!
Co-founder and Director of Felis Creations, National Geographic Explorer and Filmmaker Sandesh Kadur has a passion for visual imagery and has made his mark as a wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker.
A BAFTA award-winning filmmaker who is known most recently for his work on Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ and National Geographic’s ‘Wild Cats of India’. Kadur creates award-winning wildlife documentary films and photography books exposing the need to conserve threatened species and habitats around the world.
His documentary films have aired worldwide on such prominent networks as National Geographic, the BBC, Netflix, Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet. Sandesh’s work has won a slew of prestigious international awards, including a 2017 EMMY nomination and the 2017 BAFTA for his work on BBC Planet Earth II.
Visit www.sandeshkadur.com to learn more about his work.
"Sahyadris: Mountains Of The Monsoon" follows the wildlife of the Western Ghats, from the peaks of the High Ranges, where the drama of the Nilgiri tahr rut—never before fully captured on camera—takes place during the height of the monsoon, to the thick shola forests, home to the highly endangered Lion-Tailed Macaque, to the dry deciduous forests at the foothills of the mountains, where elephants and other wildlife wait in expectation for the coming deluge. Also explored is the relationship between spirituality and the strong conservation ethos of India, a land of over a billion people.
British Icon of the Week: Sir David Attenborough, the Godfather of Nature Documentaries
The great Sir David Attenborough turns 95 tomorrow (May 8), so we're marking his milestone birthday by making him our British Icon of the Week. If you fancy celebrating his big day by watching some of his landmark nature documentaries such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet, BBC America is showing a whole host of them Saturday, plus a program about his life and career, Attenborough's Journey, which airs at 8pm EST. Check out the full schedule here.
And in the meantime, here's a guide to just 10 highlights from his remarkable career.
1. He served as Controller of BBC Two from 1965 to 1969, at which point he was promoted to Director of Programmes, which made him responsible for content on both BBC channels.
During this era of his career, Attenborough was mooted as a potential Director-General of the BBC, which would have given him overall editorial control of the corporation. However, he has said he had no appetite for the top job, and stepped down from his Director of Programmes role in 1973 so he could focus on making programs with the Natural History Unit.
2. He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programs made in black and white, color, HD, 3K, and 4K.
He received BAFTA's top accolade, the Fellowship award, way back in 1980..
Johan Rockström: ‘We need bankers as well as activists… we have 10 years to cut emissions by half’
The eminent Earth scientist argues that we cannot just wait for the world order to change when it comes to tackling the climate crisis – we all have a duty to act now
Johan Rockström is one of the world’s most influential Earth scientists. As director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, he advises governments, corporations and activists, including his Swedish compatriot, Greta Thunberg, about the latest research on the climate and biodiversity and argues for better science communication. Last year, he co-edited Standing Up for a Sustainable World, a book that brought together essays from climatologists, economists, environmental defenders, financiers and school strike activists. In recent months, he has teamed up with David Attenborough to create a new Netflix series, Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, participated in President Joe Biden’s climate summit and co-organised a declaration by more than 100 Nobel laureates.
The Nobel prize summitin April declared a planetary emergency. Why now? Scientists have known for at least three decades that human activity is destabilising the climate and accelerating the collapse of ecosystems. This statement, signed by 126 Nobel laureates, is a world record. Never before have we seen such a global uprising of Nobel prize winners. They issued an emergency call from science to humanity, calling for reason, truth and humanism in the transformation towards an equitable and prosperous future in a safe operating space.
Breaking Boundaries tells the story of the most important scientific discovery of our time - that humanity has pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept Earth stable for 10,000 years, since the dawn of civilization. The 75-minute film takes the audience on a journey of discovery of planetary thresholds we must not exceed, not just for the stability of our planet, but for the future of humanity. It offers up the solutions we can and must put in place now if we are to protect Earth’s life support systems.
ZDF Enterprises has begun filming on its 10-part series Africa From Above.
Produced by Off the Fence Productions, the series (pictured) looks at the continent’s people, places and wildlife. ZDF Enterprises is the lead partner and global distributor. Additional partners include ARTE, Austrian public broadcaster ORF and broadcaster UKTV.
The series will explore Africa’s history, architecture, industry, cultures and wildlife. as well as cities and towns across the continent, revealing how people survive in more extreme locations.
“This production will capture Africa in a way that has never been seen before, using the latest technology, airborne and on the ground. We are delighted to offer this beautiful series to our clients shortly – these are the kind of pictures audiences are longing to see in the current times,” said Ralf Rueckauer, vice president of ZDFE.unscripted at ZDF Enterprises.
We've already started the groundwork on Mammalz 2.0. But, as we're closing in on the 'closing-for-now' date for the current Mammalz web platform and iOS app, we wanted to be available to answer any questions you may have about what is coming, how we'll stick together as a community during construction and anything else you'd like to know about the future of live nature storytelling on Mammalz. (Or what we had for breakfast It's an AMA after all )
You’ve probably heard that Mammalz 2.0 is being built and that we’re closing the current Mammalz on May 14, 2021. Rob and Alex hosted a live AMA (Ask Me Anything!) to answer questions about what to expect in the new version and how we’ll be sticking together as a community during the construction. Here's the replay in case you missed them live.
Vegan Organic Network "Save our Wildlife" Short Video Competition – Call For Entries
1st prize: £500, 2nd prize: £300, 3rd Prize: £200 and more prizes to be announced.
Winning entries will be part of our social media campaign targeting the public and delegates attending COP26 the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow this November.
Our film competition aims to spread the message that:
To Save our Wildlife we must move to a Plant Based Food System.
Of all mammals on Earth, ONLY 4% are WILDLIFE, 60% are farm animals and 36% are humans.
By adopting a plant-based food system, land used by farm animals can be converted to wildlife habitats.
80 percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for farming animals (livestock farming).
When we remove the farm animals from our food chain, corn and soya fields required for animal feed can be transformed into nature reserves.
World agriculture must move towards “people nourished per hectare”.
Veganic agriculture is green, clean and cruelty free, it uses less land, water and fossil fuel resources than farm animal (livestock) dependent systems and creates a wildlife friendly environment where nature can thrive.
Make a short film and help spread this urgent message to your friends, family, community and to politicians around the world.
National Geographic Unveils Incredible American Landscapes and Wildlife in New Documentary Series NATIONAL PARKS
Garth Brooks to Narrate and Executive Produce
From Wildstar Films, the 10-part Series Captures Stunning Landscapes and Intimate Glimpses Into the Lives of the Charismatic and Intriguing Animals That Inhabit These Parks
NATIONAL PARKS Premieres in 2022 on National Geographic
Nowhere in the world is there a national park system like America’s. Each park is a jewel and, collectively, they are a national treasure. America’s national parks are famous the world over. Places like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are not just names but touchstones that evoke clear images and treasured memories. For Americans, these iconic places are part of the cultural DNA. They are so important to who and what America is that the country would not be the same without them. In 2022, join narrator and executive producer Garth Brooks (No. 1-selling solo artist in U.S. History) and National Geographic on an extraordinary venture across world-famous and lesser-known NATIONAL PARKS, each of which is an American jewel.
America has more diverse landscapes than any country in the world. From the deeply cut canyons of the Rio Grande to Hawaii’s constantly erupting volcanoes, National Geographic reveals to the world the diversity and wonder of this beautiful country. Each episode showcases the breathtaking landscape and extraordinary wildlife in parks full of rich surprises and wonder, brought to life with Brooks’ narration.
The award-winning creative team behind iconic natural history films and series like Disneynature’s “Earth” and “Elephant Eden” as well as BBC’s “Planet Earth” and “Frozen Planet” brings you NATIONAL PARKS, shot using cutting-edge technology including long lens cinematography, remote camera traps and the latest high-resolution drone technology. The series will capture not only stunning landscapes and “frozen moments in time” but intimate glimpses into the lives of the charismatic and intriguing animals that inhabit these parks.
“NATIONAL PARKS is a celebration of the natural wonder and power of nature in our backyard. From iconic places to secret gems, this series will open the gateways for all to explore the breadth of the beauty and tranquility,” explains Janet Han Vissering, senior vice president of production and development for National Geographic. “We are proud to partner with Wildstar and their incredible breadth of talent to open a window into the very best wildlife and natural history programming, and to be narrated by none other than Garth Brooks.”
Leading us on this journey is narrator Garth Brooks. Few people embody America, its mesmerizing stories and infinite potential more than he does. As a singer and songwriter that many consider “the voice of America,” Garth brings authenticity and a heartfelt understanding of these natural open spaces that will resonate not only across America but around the world.
“Our National Parks are truly an amazing gift. The land is what defines us. The land is what tells the American story,” says Garth Brooks. “It is such an honor and I’m so excited to be a part of this series – a series that celebrates all our heritage.”
Watching Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher, I wonder why we like to imagine animals are our friends - By Pippa Bailey
Must we see something of ourselves in animals – read our emotions into their behaviour, attribute to them a level of human-like intelligence – to value them?
The boundaries between her and I seem to dissolve, just the pure magnificence of her” – so says a man of the octopus sitting on his chest. “All I could do at the time was just think of her.” Many men could do worse than appropriate these words for their human partners.
Craig Foster, the film-maker who plays the part of the student in the beautifully made My Octopus Teacher, which this year won the Oscar for best documentary feature, is searching for a cure for burnout in the cold waters of False Bay, South Africa. In a kelp forest there he finds a young octopus, and decides to free-dive every day of her short life to visit her. “I remember that day when it all started…” Foster intones, as though it’s the start of a romcom; the music swells when she reaches for his hand.
There is no doubt that the octopus is an incredible creature. It is a delight to watch it hide itself in a sheet of algae, or approach the camera holding up a shell as a shield, or escape a shark in the safest place it can find – the shark’s back. But Foster’s assertion that humans and octopuses are “very similar in a lot of ways” is absurd: octopuses are believed to have been the first intelligent life on the planet, evolving some 230 million years before mammals, and three-fifths of their neurons reside in their arms.
Foster imagines the octopus as being like “a human friend”, waving to say, “Hi, I’m excited to see you”; he can feel her trust for him, he says, her invitation into her world. He wonders what she’s thinking, what she dreams about. In places, their “relationship” feels fetishised, held up as spiritual and sacred. When the octopus loses an arm to a pyjama shark, Foster feels “vulnerable, as if somehow what happened to her had happened to me”, as if he is psychologically “going through a type of dismembering”. As her limb grows back he feels himself healing, too, their “lives mirroring each other”.
There are, to my mind, two extremes in documentaries about animals: those that present the animal kingdom as separate from people, their only human presence David Attenborough’s narration (other presenters are available); and those, such as Tiger King or the masterful Blackfish, that document an overly close relationship between humans and animals: obsessive, intrusive. My Octopus Teacher doesn’t go that far, but still I found the lack of distance uncomfortable.
Historic moment as BBC Studios in Bristol announces a new home 28 May 2021
Natural History Unit and Factual Entertainment Bristol, known for some of the BBC’s most popular programmes will leave its Clifton site for a new home in the City Centre.
BBC Studios, the principal commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group has announced it is leaving its Bristol site on Whiteladies Road in Clifton and moving to a new home in the city centre.
Staff from the world-renowned Natural History Unit (NHU) and Factual Entertainment Bristol, which make some of the BBC's most popular programmes, including Antiques Roadshow, Countryfile, Gardeners' World and Bafta-award winning DIY SOS, will move to Bridgewater House in Finzels Reach, close to Temple Meads railway station.
Ralph Lee, Director of Content for BBC Studios, said: "Moving to a new production base in the centre of Bristol will enable us to continue to support and celebrate the creativity of the Natural History Unit and Factual Entertainment, build on our legacy and invest in our future.
"Bristol is the largest BBC Studios production base outside London and its indisputable success and ambition has empowered us to make this commercial investment. We want to grow our production business significantly and retain our position at the pinnacle of programme-making in a highly competitive global market."
Julian Hector, Head of BBC Studios NHU, said: "I'm so proud of the Natural History Unit's 64-year heritage, which has firmly established Bristol as the wildlife content production capital of the world.
"Our promise has always been to bring audiences emotionally closer to the natural world through story-telling craft and state of the art technology. In doing so, we show our responsibility to protect it.
"Now we are moving into a 21st century sustainable base in Bristol city centre, which will give our teams the best possible creative environment. For people who dream of giving the natural world a voice, our new home will become a beacon to join us."
BBC Studios Natural History Unit currently has more than 25 projects in production for clients such as BBC, Apple, Discovery, Nat Geo and NBCUniversal. It has been based on Whiteladies Road since its formation in 1957. During that time, the NHU has made pioneering series and awarding winning programmes such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet II, which have transformed the way global audiences see the natural world.
Also moving to the new production base is Factual Entertainment Bristol, which alongside long-running TV favourites is also the creative force behind BBC One’s Countryfile, Nigella: Cook, Eat, Repeat for BBC Two, Inside the Duchy for ITV, Party at the Plaza for Channel 4 and a growing digital business producing content for clients including Pinch of Nom and YouTube.
Sallie Bevan, Head of Production, Factual Entertainment Bristol, said: "Our incredible teams make programmes which are watched by millions of people every week, and it is more important than ever for us to represent and be relevant to our audiences.
"Our new home in Bristol city centre will allow us to do our best creative work and bring us closer to our audience and enable us to connect with new and diverse talent from across the region.
"We have many fantastic memories of Whiteladies Road but moving to the new building will allow us to carry on growing our business."
BBC Studios Bristol will lease three floors of Bridgewater House in Finzels Reach. A refit of the office will begin as soon as possible, and staff will start to move at the end of the year or early 2022.
The rest of the BBC's staff in the city, including teams working on Radio Bristol, Points West and programmes for Radio 4, will remain at Whiteladies Road while future options are explored.
Discovery’s EMMY NOMINATED Series SERENGETI Returns this Summer by Discovery
13 May 2021
ORIGINAL CREATIVE TEAM IS BACK INCLUDING EMMY-WINNERS SIMON FULLER AND JOHN DOWNER AND ACADEMY AWARD WINNER AND EMMY NOMINATED STORYTELLER LUPITA NYONG’O
This summer, Discovery journeys back to the vast, nearly untouched plains of Tanzania revisiting some of our favorite faces and meeting new ones along the way in SERENGETI II. The ground-breaking series highlights the majestic animals who call the Serengeti their home and their day-to-day lives living together. Created and produced by Emmy®-winner Simon Fuller (“American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance”) and directed and produced by Emmy®-winning wildlife filmmaker John Downer (“Penguin: Spy in The Huddle”), the continuation of the six-part series gives unrivaled access to one of the most pristine and unspoiled corners of Africa. Featuring a lush original score and narrated by Academy Award®-winning and Emmy® nominated actress Lupita Nyong’o, the revolutionary series follows the heartwarming stories of a cast of African wildlife including lions, zebras, baboons and cheetahs over the course of a year, showcasing the dramatic moments that make each day of survival on the Serengeti a feat. The upcoming season will air across Discovery platforms later this summer.
When it launched in 2019, the premiere episode of SERENGETI debuted as the highest-rated nature documentary on all of television since Discovery’s North America in May 2013 among P25-54, earning a 1.20 L+3 rating on Discovery. In addition, the premiere episode of the series reached 6.3 million total viewers across all airings on all Discovery networks including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Discovery en Español. The series earned two Emmy nominations including one for Nyong’o for Best Narrator.
“We are thrilled to be traveling back to one of the most magical places on Earth. It is an honor to be part of these animals’ lives, following them a year later and to be introduced to new friends along the way,” says Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Factual and Discovery. “Simon and John are renowned storytellers and they have once again delivered the next level of this one-of-a-kind series.”
It is the following year, and many of our loveable familiar faces are back – Kali, Sefu, Nalla, Tembo, Bakari and Shani – are living their lives in their beautiful world. And as the world turns, so does the circle of life as we are introduced to Aiysha, daughter of season 1’s KiKay and her cubs along with Shani’s stallion Punda, the leader and protector of the family and father to all of the babies.
Fuller and Downer continue their collaboration on the second season of SERENGETI and have welcomed the entire team back including composer Will Gregory and serene storyteller Lupita Nyong’o. Their work captures the experience of Africa’s unimaginable beauty with its equally unforgiving brutality, highlighting daily challenges of life on the Serengeti.
“Making season one with our partners at Discovery was a dream come true and now with season two, the dream shines brighter than ever. John Downer’s extraordinary filmmaking has captured even more incredible footage and with the inspirational voice of Lupita Nyong’o the storytelling touches your soul like never before. I can’t wait to share the stunning beauty of the Serengeti once again with the world,” says Simon Fuller.
Director John Downer adds, “It is a thrill to share with the world the lives of these incredible creatures and even more rewarding to present them to audiences around the globe. Many of us have been unable to travel for quite some time but we kept filming. We can’t wait to bring the majestic scenery and the daily dramas of these beautiful animals to people’s homes.”
In SERENGETI II, the world’s most captivating animals try to survive in the beautiful, demanding lands of Eastern Africa, stopping at nothing to protect their offspring and prove their worthiness to their families.
SERENGETI is made by XIX Entertainment and John Downer Productions. It was commissioned for the BBC by Jack Bootle, Lead Commissioning Editor. BBC Studios is distributed globally.
Sir David Attenborough: did you mislead me? by Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski
14 April 2021
Those stories you told; of smoky jungles filled with exotic animals, of untouched coral reefs overflowing with life, of African plains dominated by millions of migrating animals and awaiting predators. These weren’t fictitious lands. This was real: this was planet Earth. Or so I thought.
In 2009, seduced by these visions, I bought a cheap camera and left behind corporate life in London and headed to Africa on a one-way ticket. My goal was to document the beauty of the natural world and share it with as many people as possible.
It turned out that things weren’t always as they seemed on those BBC documentaries. Everywhere I turned, wildlife was under pressure. Animals were losing their homes to deforestation, targeted for body parts or to create bogus medicines, hunted unsustainably, or kept in cages for our personal amusement or financial gain.
Documenting these stories became my focus. I would spend the next decade travelling to some of the most remote places on the planet, often working undercover, writing about, filming, and photographing human-animal conflict.
I lived with shark fishermen in Mozambique, trained as a wildlife ranger in Zimbabwe and Borneo, and went on a military-style mission to expose Namibia’s annual seal cull. There was a trip to track the ‘tortoise mafia’ through Madagascar’s sacred forests, and another to document the dog-drowning dungeons in Cambodia.
I’ve spent recent years working to expose cruelty in the exotic pet trade and Wildlife Tourism industry, and been subjected to scenes that no one should witness; images that are burned into my brain. In the process of working on these projects, I’ve seen the worst of humanity, and also the best.
The stories contained within ANIMOSITY provide a snapshot of human-animal conflict in today’s ever-changing world; complex, multifaceted issues that often lead to more questions than answers.
Would you fin a shark to support your family? Is killing and eating dogs any worse than chickens? Why does one animal make a suitable pet and not another? Can we condemn ancient traditions and practices that involve the sacrifice of critically endangered animals?
It is the role of photojournalists to document and then to broadcast the truth, without judgment. Well, mostly without judgment. I look at the photograph as a modern day fossil: a permanent reminder of a planet in flux, and a record of what may soon be lost forever.
Animals have always been viewed as commodities to eat, exploit or enjoy. It’s going to take a monumental effort to change perceptions and reverse the statistics. But we cannot continue on the path that we’re on, because sometimes - as we are witnessing in the face of a global pandemic - the animals bite back.
So sit back, enjoy, shed a tear, and be repulsed or inspired by some of the stories contained within AMIMOSITY.
And to Sir David – who has shifted focus from celebrant of the natural world to its fierce defender – you’re my hero.
This is Environmental Photojournalist Aaron 'Bertie’ Gekoski's Introduction to his latest book ANIMOSITY – Human-Animal Conflict in the 21st Century.
We say: ANIMOSITY is a brilliant title for this book ... "Human-Animal Conflict in the 21st Century" is an huge problem in our ever-expanding human world but it is mostly out of our sight, hidden away in far-flung places as we continue to encroach on the natural world, using and abusing it until it screams and breaks. Aaron is really an hero for shining a light on these atrocities, born out of wildly different cultural perspectives and complex socio-economic situations. Those that choose to read this stunning book will undoubtedly encounter feelings of "animosity" but also a greater understanding of our dire impacts on animals, the natural world and a keen desire to do something about it. JP
Meet The Apex Serpent Of Iberia! The Venomous Montpellier Snake – with Ewan Wilson
Some of my favourite animals to film are the big scary ones! Great white sharks, nile crocodiles, big bears! I love them all. But I am currently living in central Spain where these animals are pretty rare. But what if I told you that in Spain there is a fascinating group of animals which is just as fascinating as the big megafauna I love to film so much!
In this video I team up with Max Smeele, a professional herpetologist and wildlife photographer. Our mission is to find the largest snake in the Iberian peninsula, the montpellier snake (malpolon monspessulanus)!
‘King’s Speech’ producer Gareth Ellis-Unwin takes crowdfunding route for wildlife drama ‘Cheetah’
Gareth Ellis-Unwin’s Bedlam Film Productions is gearing up to shoot wildlife drama Cheetah and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support pre-production.
Ellis-Unwin is the Bafta and Oscar-winning UK producer of The King’s Speech and has partnered with environmental and arts organisation Oustanding.Global on the feature, which is set to begin filming in the Middle East and Balkans this autumn subject to Covid-19 restrictions.
The script has been written by playwright and conservationist Ric Edelman. Inspired by true events, the dramatic thriller follows a poacher turned conservationist who fights to protect the rare Asiatic Cheetah, of which fewer than 50 remain in the deserts of Iran.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has now launched to raise funds for the project, with an initial target of £75,000 ($100,000), which will support location scouting, further development of the script and casting. Fortnightly insight sessions will be held between the filmmakers and supporters, who will be granted access to follow the progress of the film throughout the process.
It’s not inevitable that the Asiatic CHEETAH will become extinct, but it is highly likely unless mammoth action is taken NOW including changing the hearts and minds of the local men who poach the cheetah’s dwindling prey. In 2014 their estimated number stood at around 70.Today it’s believed the surviving number of the Asiatic cheetah has dropped to fewer than 50.
Behind the scenes: Reporting on palm oil expansion in the Brazilian Amazon
Go behind the scenes with Karla Mendes, Mongabay's Contributing Editor in Brazil as she investigates the impact of palm oil expansion in Pará State. Indigenous communities and traditional farmers say the palm oil companies are polluting their water with pesticides. Karla and team go on the ground to track how the industry is changing this Amazonian landscape.
Nature documentaries including David Attenborough's Dynasties come under fire for presenting animals' lives as 'soap operas' and not reality
The Jouberts, from South Africa, are both National Geographic explorers-in-residence
The pair, now in their 60s, have specialised in African photography and filmmaking for around 35 years
They say: '[We have seen] very disturbing and massive declines in wildlife in our lifetimes'
'When we were both born there were 450,000 lions and today, we may have 20,000,' they say
'Death is generally delivered in low-tech mechanics, and sadly that is brutal. Bullets, saws, machetes. Your imagination can fill in the horrors.'
Legendary wildlife filmmakers and photographers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, both National Geographic explorers-in-residence who have specialised in African photography and filmmaking for around 35 years, are telling MailOnline Travel about the chilling reality of the poaching industry.
They continue: 'The addition of some helicopters into South African rhino poaching ventures into the higher-tech but generally poaching is like a steady march of army ants - deadly and never-ending, with techniques that don't evolve much. Cell phones have changed their ability to communicate, so that is another "advancement" of tech for poaching.'
Poaching has been part of humankind's assault on the animal kingdom and the pair reveal that in the 35 or so years they've been filming and photographing it, they've seen a huge decline in numbers.
They say: '[We have seen] very disturbing and massive declines in wildlife in our lifetimes. When we were both born there were 450,000 lions and today, we may have 20,000. Leopards from 700,000 to 50,000 and cheetahs are now below 7,000 from 45,000. Elephants have dipped from three million to 400,000 and in general, we only have five per cent of everything that we had when I was born, [including] forest, pelagic fish, sharks, polar bears…'
Despite the devastating trend, the couple says there is hope thanks to society becoming more environmentally conscious.
'There has been a massive awareness change, increasing the chances of finding, naming and shaming criminals as well,' they add.
Conservation Optimism is built on the belief that empowering everyone to make a difference for nature, while also learning from successes and failures within the conservation sector, is key to securing our planet’s future.
We are calling all filmmakers to send us short films featuring stories of hope from around the globe. Have you been inspired by someone taking action for nature in your community? Have you witnessed some conservation successes? Have you learned from conservation failures? We want to hear from you!
Our third film festival will take place in Autumn 2021 at the Oxford Museum of Natural History (date to be confirmed closer to the time). We will be selecting short films for the following categories:
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Terra Mater Factual Studios looks back on an eventful decade that made its name synonymous with high-end nature and wildlife productions, while also embracing the ever-expanding opportunities offered by the growth of streaming platforms.
The Austrian company’s productions include Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani’s acclaimed “The Ivory Game,” which exposes the dark world of ivory trafficking; Ladkani’s “Sea of Shadows,” about the efforts to save the smallest whale species in the world from extinction; and Myles Connolly and Florian Schulz’s upcoming “The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness.” CEO Walter Koehler, the former head of Austrian broadcaster ORF’s nature and wildlife unit, Universum, established Terra Mater as a subsidiary of Red Bull in 2011.
“When I opened the company 10 years ago, we started with 12 or 13 people; now we have more than 40 employees,” he says. The figure does not include the many freelance personnel that also work on Terra Mater productions. “Was it planned like this? I would say no. I never thought that we would want to have more than 20 people, but it was necessary to grow like this.” In the past 10 years, Terra Mater has produced more than 350 hours of television programming, and some 10 feature films, about one a year, Koehler adds.
With a focus on nature, science and history-related content for TV, multimedia platforms and theatrical release, Terra Mater is built on a broad foundation, he says.
The company has benefited from the growth and expansion of streaming platforms in recent years. “It opened more opportunities,” Koehler points out, stressing that Netflix, in particular, has driven demand for feature documentaries. Terra Mater first partnered with Netflix on “The Ivory Game” in 2016. “Sea of Shadows,” which, like “Ivory Game,” was produced with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, and is streaming on Disney Plus after airing on National Geographic.
Terra Mater Goes Off the Beaten Track With ‘The Bastard King’
As it continues to produce highend films and TV programs that examine the wonders of the natural world, science and history, Terra Mater Factual Studios is also seeking to broaden its audience and educate viewers about the precarious state of life on Earth.
Whether it’s the poaching of endangered African elephants for China’s illicit ivory trade or the planned plunder of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by America’s oil industry oligarchs, the planet’s precious wildlife is facing dangers that threaten its continued existence. Terra Mater has achieved great success with its theatrical and television output over the past decade in showcasing such issues, but the Austrian company is aiming to attract and inspire new viewers with less traditional productions, including an unlikely comedy.
To that end, Terra Mater is turning its focus to impact-driven environmental topics while also creating mainstream appeal for its productions, says Michael Frenschkowski, Terra Mater’s head of features and special projects..
Among the company’s feature film projects in development is a comedy about rhino poaching. “Out of This World,” penned by Andy Briggs, follows a team of wildlife protecters trying to keep rhinos safe from poachers.
With the script nearly finished, the project will soon be packaged and ready for market, with plans to shoot on location in Africa.
“It’s a quite different approach,” Frenschkowski says.
Terra Mater COO Dinah CzezikMüller adds that this comedic approach to a serious subject triggers emotions and makes the message more palatable for audiences, while also creating awareness of wildlife crime. It’s about telling a story in a manner that reaches people in another way, she says.
“Wildlife crime is, at the moment, growing stronger than even drug trafficking and it’s bigger than human trafficking,” notes Terra Mater CEO Walter Koehler.
Similarly, “The Bastard King,” is a hybrid documentary-feature film that tells the story of how a lion cub becomes king of two prides. Terra Mater’s newest production, directed by Owen Prümm and featuring the voice talent of David Oyelowo, combines real footage of lions in the wild shot over a 10-year period.
The film follows the young lion as he unites prides against a greater beast — the humans who are destroying their habitat. It’s not only a film about lions but also a story that explores themes of racism, Koehler says.
Wildlife Filmmaking Industry in China ft Jacky Poon #64 with Jack Perks
"Today I’ve got an old friend on, Jacky Poon. We went to college and university together and its been great watching his career go from strength to strength. He lived in Nottingham for a few years before moving back to china in the yuan province. He’s a camera operator, director and drone pilot having worked for then blue chip BBC series such as Seven Worlds One Planet, Disney nature, National Geographic you name it and we talk about the emerging wildlife film industry in china, what its like working on these major series and how he dressed up as a panda to film them and to be blunt if pandas are fucked?"
IVFF are now accepting film submissions for the 2021/2022 International Vegan Film Festival!
Health and Nutrition - Exploring the positive benefits of a vegan diet, what's involved in "going vegan".
Environmental Protection - How meat production harms the planet, and how plant based eating can help to save it.
Animal Advocacy - How eating plants can break the chain of suffering that is endemic in factory farming and the role of animal activists.
Lifestyle - Vegan choices in clothing, travel and highlighting the ways that vegans spread their message through activism, art, community etc.
Public Service Announcement (PSA) - A short message in the public interest disseminating information quickly and efficiently with the objective of raising awareness of, and changing public attitudes and behavior towards, a social issue.
The International Vegan Film Festival Celebrates vegan film, photography, and now vegan cookbooks. The Festival brings together filmmakers, writers, publishers, editors, photographers, the vegan-curious, and – of course – vegans. Featuring film screenings, guest speakers, Q&As, vegan food, and vendors, the Festival offers a wide spectrum of content for the vegan enthusiast. The Festival takes place each year in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There will also be a virtual edition of the Festival in October 2021
As the newest competition of the International Vegan Film Festival, the Vegan Cookbook Contest aims to become the world's leading vegan cookbook contest. Each September we will announce a shortlist of eligible books, selected by a jury of passionate and experienced vegan cooks. The top three winners will be announced at the International Vegan Film Festival. In 2021, the Festival will be Saturday, October 23.
Off The Fence hires Debbie Hinningan to lead natural history
My Octopus Teacher outfit Off The Fence (OTF) has appointed former BBC exec Debbie Hinningan as its head of natural history.
Hinnigan will be based out of OTF’s Bristol office in the UK and will oversee all operations for the natural history production team, which has produced content for companies including National Geographic, Discovery, Love Nature, ZDF and Arte.
She previously worked on flagship children’s shows such as Blue Peter and Going Live! for the BBC before joining its famed Natural History Unit in Bristol, where she worked across its wildlife and adventure programming.
Since then, she has created and worked on both short form and long form programmes for terrestrial and international broadcasters.
Allison Bean, MD at ZDF Enterprises-owned OTF, said: “This fantastic genre is growing and Off The Fence very much looks forward to producing future content, adding Debbie’s huge talent and experience to our production team.”
Hinnigan added: “I am looking forward to building on Off the Fence’s incredible reputation and bringing more unique animal stories to a wider audience. I am excited to bring my passion for good storytelling to Off the Fence’s wildlife content.”
OTF was founded in 1994 and develops, finances, produces and co-produces across genres including science, travel & adventure, lifestyle, history and natural history. It was acquired by ZDFE in 2019.
How David Attenborough Became Nature’s Voice of Reason
There’s little in this world more soothing than turning on a nature documentary and hearing David Attenborough’s calm, steady voice. Even as a disembodied narrator, the 94-year-old presenter has become such a ubiquitous presence that watching any nature doc without him feels strange, as if trying to put on a shoe before realizing it’s on the wrong foot. This month, in fact, Attenborough’s voice anchors two separate productions: Apple TV Plus’ documentary “The Year the Earth Changed” (out April 16) and Netflix’s “Life in Color” (out April 22). In both, he proves why he has become the go-to authority on the natural world as he highlights wonder and warnings with equal urgency.
“Life in Color” focuses mostly on the specifics of wildlife versus its place in the world at large. Making occasional appearances onscreen to marvel at a primary-colored macaw or two, Attenborough narrates the series with gentle ease, guiding the viewers through three episodes of stunning footage captured by cameras specifically constructed for this production to pick up as much detail as possible. “Life in Color” is for all those who tune in to nature documentary in the hopes of being dazzled by the majesty on display. It’s as vibrant as its animal subjects, making it easy to identify with the unmistakable note of awe in Attenborough’s voice as he explains exactly what we’re looking at.
“The Year the Earth Changed,” by contrast, is much more explicit about the human race’s role in the natural world. Directed by Tom Beard, the film takes a unique look back at the past year under pandemic lockdown by showing all the ways in which the natural world thrived once human activity suddenly slowed down. Checking in on various locations a month, two months, six months, a year into human quarantine, the 48-minute documentary makes a compelling case for how much damage humans cause on a daily basis, and how much we could help revive the endangered planet by simply adjusting our behavior to coexist more peacefully alongside the animal kingdom.
"Why David Attenborough's wishing humans away doesn't help" by Vicky Allan
OFTEN, it seems to me, that David Attenborough, who appeared for a while to be the one voice we needed to galvanise us into action for the planet, has now tipped over to being the last we need if we’re actually going to do anything about the mess we’re in.
In his latest documentary, The Year Earth Changed, which covers the effect of the last year of lockdown on our world, he reportedly says: “Human beings, even with the best will in the world, cannot but restrict the natural world. That’s what we’re doing. We’re pushing it aside. Even the most considerate of us. That’s almost inevitable to some degree but let us realise that we are intruders, that we are latecomers and that the natural world, by-and-large, would do much better if we weren’t there at all.”
This, of course, is just one quote from the film, but it's a telling one. It reminds me of how, as an 18-year-old, when I read James Lovelock’s Gaia, I felt a kind of sigh of “Ah well, the planet will get rid of us eventually, let’s carry on as usual”. I look back with regret at the way that fuelled apathy rather than action in my twenties.
I wish I hadn’t let the idea that the Earth would do better if we weren’t here enter my head. With it I lost an opportunity to make a difference, however small. Indeed every time we let a death wish for humanity prevent action today, the room for manoeuvre in the future narrows. I say this because I believe that almost as damaging as the minority-narrative that we are not responsible for global warming and can carry on burning fossil fuels, is the one that says: “Pah, the sooner the planet purges us, the better.” Right now, in the run up to COP26, what we need are voices that tell us that the world could be, if not better with us, fine with quite a few of us around – and how.
Greta Thunberg: Meeting David Attenborough was 'indescribable'
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg says meeting with fellow campaigner Sir David Attenborough was "indescribable."
He features in the 18-year-old's new BBC documentary on climate change, A Year to Change the World.
Speaking to Greg James on the Radio 1 Breakfast show, Greta said Sir David was the kind of person everyone looked up to.
"Whatever he says you agree with it basically. I have so much respect for him," she said.
"He's done so much in his life, he has so many stories to share."
The documentary shows how the Swedish teen became a household name after skipping school for her one-person climate strikes.
MWF 30: Janet Han Vissering - SVP, Development & Production of Nat Geo Wild
Janet discusses her, not so straight forward, journey into the wildlife filmmaking industry and offers some great insight into Nat Geo Wild's program selection process.
As senior vice president of development and production for Nat Geo WILD, Janet Han Vissering is responsible for over 200 hours of programming commissioned each year for broadcast in 166 countries, 330 million homes and 34 languages worldwide.
In her role, Janet oversees the premium natural history and animal-focused slates for all of National Geographic’s global networks and SVOD platforms, which includes National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD and Disney+.
She closely manages WILD’s development team, working with the world’s leading independent producers, distributors, creative agencies and strategic broadcast partners to create the network’s signature series, specials and events. She also provides daily oversight of production to ensure creative continuity and that all network programming objectives are being met — from project conception through delivery.
Previously, she was senior vice president of strategic development and co-finance for seven years. As part of her development role, Janet has been responsible for creating key programs such as Savage Kingdom, The Incredible Dr. Pol, Cesar 911, Animal Fight Night, Wild Brazil and Destination Wild among other highly rated shows.
VMI Bristol celebrates six years since it was set up and in that time, Gary, Jon and the rest of the Bristol team have established it into a mainstream camera rental supplier for natural history and commercials/documentary productions in the South West.
Our mission remains the same as it was in 2015, which is to service the exacting needs of Bristol’s world class content creation community. After launching in a city centre location, we quickly moved into our own building and expanded to take on more staff. The ensuing success of VMI has meant that even the enforced industry shutdown of 2020 did not result in either VMI London, nor VMI Bristol shedding any staff.
VMI Bristol includes a dedicated camera test room and lens projection and includes an equipment fleet tailor-made for the Bristol market.
Importantly, as we’ve grown alongside the surge in demand for blue chip documentaries fueled by international streaming platforms like Netflix and Apple TV+, we’ve not lost touch with the region’s creative community.
When clients come to VMI Bristol, I feel proud that we are able to become part of the team helping to make the best quality production for screen and I know that our team really enjoy getting to know clients and being involved in the whole process, from order to fulfilment.
Gary Davis, April 2021
– Branch Manager, VMI Bristol
Today, Love Nature reaches about 300 million households in over 135 countries. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., where its commissioning team is based, the Blue Ant Media-owned nature and wildlife channel has support and sales offices at the Blue Ant headquarters in Toronto, as well as in Los Angeles, London and Singapore, for a truly global reach. “We’ve had tremendous growth over the past three years in particular,” says Carlyn Staudt, head of Love Nature, which launched back in 2006 as Oasis HD. “We started out as a pay-TV linear channel in Canada. We moved to a global SVOD service about five years ago, and then most recently, we’re now a multiplatform wildlife and nature brand.”
The company takes a territory-by-territory strategy approach, according to Staudt, “which means we look for the opportunity very bespoke to the territory, and we’re flexible and agile and creative in our dealmaking. I believe that that has contributed a lot to our rapid expansion. We’re looking to reach the lover of wildlife and nature on whatever type of platform they’re on.”
“In some countries, we’re a pay-TV linear channel—like in the Netherlands, we’re on VodafoneZiggo and KPN and we’re well-distributed as a pay-TV linear channel,” Staudt elaborates. “In other territories, we’re a branded block, say on a terrestrial in the territory like TVP Kultura in Brazil or a regional SVOD like Youku in China. And yet in other territories, we’re leaning into the emerging FAST and AVOD market expansion, which is happening quite aggressively in the U.S., but it’s also happening in other territories.”
Over the last 12 months, Love Nature has rolled out in the FAST and AVOD space in a strategic way, says Staudt, launching on such platforms as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, ZooMoo, Samsung TV Plus and Tubi. “We’ll probably be announcing a slew of other platforms that we’re signing up in the next couple of months,”
Attenborough, orcas, elephants and more: Realscreen’s Earth Day round-up
To mark Earth Day (April 22), Realscreen presents a lineup of some of the unscripted and documentary programming scheduled to roll out across linear and streaming.
The below titles represent just a handful of programs airing today (April 22) as well as upcoming programming, all focused on themes including sustainability, climate change, wildlife and activism.
Previously reported programming includes the PBS and BBC feature documentary Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World, produced by the BBC Studios Science Unit and B-Reel Films, premiering on the American pubcaster at 8 p.m. ET/PT; and the Apple TV+ film The Year Earth Changed, produced by Offspring Films and narrated by David Attenborough, which premiered April 16.
Last month, Discovery+ unveiled its April slate of multi-platform programming, including a number of original documentaries, in commemoration of Earth Day. At 8 p.m. ET/PT tonight, the non-fiction streamer will present a two-hour preview of the previously announced five-part Perfect Planet series.
Ellen DeGeneres' Earth Day Doc Endangered Shows How to Save Animals on the Brink of Extinction
Discovery+'s new documentary Endangered, narrated and executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, follows conservationists working with seven endangered species, including giraffes, sharks, and gorillas.
Just in time for Earth Day, Endangered is here to explore how humans can help protect the world's most at-risk animals.
The documentary, which premieres on discovery+ on Earth Day (April 22), is narrated and executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres. The film follows conservationists worldwide as they fight to save seven different endangered species from the brink of extinction. Along with supporting Endangered, DeGeneres is contributing to the conservationists' work through The Ellen Fund.
One of the species in Endangered's spotlight is the giraffe. In the documentary, viewers will see Dr. Julian Fennessy, the director and co-founder of Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), working with his team to protect the Earth's dwindling giraffe populations.
"GCF is dedicated to securing a future for all giraffe populations in the wild. There are only about 117,000 giraffes remaining in all of Africa — that is one giraffe for every 4 African elephants, so it is time to act now before it is too late," Dr. Fennessy tells PEOPLE of the "silent extinction" he is working to stop.
To help save these towering creatures, GCF uses a multifaceted approach to conservation, Dr. Fennessy explains.
Today (21/5/21) is Endangered Species Day and we want to shine a light on the passionate people dedicating their lives to saving them. One person truly can make a difference to the fate of the world's wildlife. One person who has proven this is Carl Jones.
Meet the maverick
Carl is Durrell's Chief Scientist. He has been working to save endangered wildlife on the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues for over 40 years, and is responsible for bringing at least nine species back from the brink of extinction. Not only has he saved five bird species, but he is also responsible for 19% of all avoided bird extinctions globally. Watch this inspirational short film about Carl – The Birdman. Watch now
Carl has directly saved more endangered species from extinction than anyone else. In addition to the birds he has saved, he has also rescued three reptile species, helped to restore nine degraded offshore islands, and led the recovery of the Rodrigues fruit bat from just six to over 10,000. In 2016, Carl was deservedly awarded the Indianapolis Prize – the Nobel Prize of conservation. Hear Carl's story in his own words. Watch now
Education has the power to improve the health of our planet and drive widespread change for nature. The Carl Jones Scholarship enables the brightest conservationists to achieve their full potential and make a difference to the fate of the world's rarest wildlife. We need more Carls in the world. Together, we can empower the next generation of conservation leaders. Support now.
New book Hidden shows why animal photojournalism really matters right now
This emerging genre focuses on humankind’s relationship with nature – and these images are not for the faint-hearted
“Animal Photojournalism is extremely urgent and relevant to the issues of today,” says Jo-Anne McArthur, an award-winning Canadian photographer, journalist and campaigner.
She has coined the term Animal Photojournalism (APJ) for an emerging genre of photography that focuses on people’s relationship with nature and highlights the suffering of billions of animals on the planet from human activities, including factory farms, breeding facilities and animal experimentation.
The abuse of nature isn’t just bad for animals; it’s impacting all of our lives, from climate change to the global pandemic (said to have come from bats or pangolins in China’s wildlife markets). McArthur is also the author of Hidden: Animals In The Anthropocene and the founder of We Animals Media.
We sat down with her to discuss animal photojournalism, and why it is so important.
How do you define Animal Photojournalism?
I call it an emerging genre, coming out of a number of different kinds of photography. Wildlife photography became a lot more about conservation photography, but conservation photography still excludes a number of animals, namely domestic animal and the billions of animals in labs and factory farms.
Because these animals are sentient and relevant, Animal Photojournalism likes to include all of them. That’s why we call them the ‘hidden’ animals, - they’re hidden from the public conscience, hidden from the media. We’re trying to bring those animals and stories forward.
It's also a mix of a bit of conflict photography and street photography.
"When I travel I love exploring galleries and exhibits. For obvious reasons I haven’t done that these last 14 months, and was so pleasantly surprised with our recent collaboration with f³ - freiraum für fotografie, who created a 360° virtual photography tour for HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene. Taking the tour felt like I was immersed in a trendy exhibition in Berlin."
For the project HIDDEN– Animals in the Anthropocene, 40 photographers have joined forces, including some of the world’s best-known wildlife photographers, such as Daniel Beltrá, Aaron Gekoski and Britta Jaschinski. 5€ (free on Mondays) and about 15 minutes. Go on Tour >>
Introducing Ralph, the new spokes-bunny of the global campaign to ban animal testing for cosmetics. #SaveRalph is a powerful stop-motion animation short film produced by Humane Society International, featuring an all-star multinational cast including Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Rodrigo Santoro, Tricia Helfer and more. hsi.global/SaveRalph
Save Ralph is a powerful stop-motion animation short film featuring Oscar winner Taika Waititi as the voice of Ralph, who is being interviewed for a documentary as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a lab.
HSI’s #SaveRalph? campaign tackles the cruelty of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals in laboratories around the world.
While Ralph is animated, the miseries he endures in the short film are far from made up. As Spencer Susser, the director of Save Ralph, says, “It's so important that Ralph feels real because he represents countless real animals who suffer every day.”
Susser, known for his film Hesher, is among a slate of powerhouse celebrities and influencers who collaborated with Humane Society International on the making of Save Ralph. In addition to Waititi as Ralph and Gervais as the interviewer, the film has Zac Efron as Bobby, Olivia Munn as Marshmallow, Pom Klementieff as Cinnamon and Tricia Helfer as Cottonballs.
Producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent (Isle of Dogs, The Grand Budapest Hotel) on the production.
Sign the #BeCrueltyFree pledge for a global end to animal testing for cosmetics: hsi.global/SaveRalph
‘They killed my best friend for supper!’ Gunda, the farmyard film that could put you off eating meat for ever
A sow, two cows and a one-legged chicken are the stars of Victor Kossakovsky’s unique documentary, which Hollywood’s most famous vegan, Joaquin Phoenix, has helped to get the audience it deserves
When Victor Kossakovsky was four, his parents sent him from St Petersburg to stay with his uncle’s family in the countryside. “It was a cold winter,” he says, brrr-ing over Zoom. “Minus 30 degrees.”
Warmth came from the boy’s friendship with a one-month-old piglet named Vasya. They were inseparable – until she became cutlets for New Year’s Eve supper.
“When they ate her, for me, it was a total disaster,” says Kossakovsky. “You killed my best friend!” he screamed at his relatives. And so, he jokes, he became the Soviet Union’s first vegetarian.
Half a century later, Kossakovsky went vegan, as he began production on Gunda, a documentary shot in Norway, Wales and England starring a sow, who gives her name to the title, a couple of ageing cows, and a one-legged chicken.
Gunda is no ordinary wildlife documentary. There is no narration or soundtrack. Instead, in glorious monochrome, we watch the animals simply exist: they feed, snuffle, snuggle, care for their young, and scamper in fields. It turns out that no digital trickery or anthropomorphic narrative is needed for us to fall in love with them.
Cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using beautiful black and white cinematography and the farm's ambient soundtrack, master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do. In doing so GUNDA takes us into the mystery of animal consciousness, and the role humanity plays in it.
Dive into the frontlines of ocean conservation with Sea Shepherd and explore the inner workings of our operations around Africa and how we are working with local governments to shut down poaching in African waters and saving the lives of millions of marine animals.
Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife, and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction.
Learn more here: seashepherdglobal.org
Gijs van Amelsvoort – a film & TV composer based in The Netherlands, with a BIG love for nature, Wildlife & Natural History films, interesting stories, traveling, hiking, and good vegan food.
His music has been a score & underscore for numerous TV programmes, varying from BBC docu-series such as Gordon Buchanan's Cheetah Family & Me, Grizzly Bear Cubs & Me, to Earth's Great Rivers and Planet Earth UK, all the way to short films and popular TV shows.
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