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Wildscreen Launches International Storytelling Internship Scheme
17th August 2022
Bristol-based conservation charity, Wildscreen, is set to launch its latest
flagship initiative, the inaugural Wildscreen Storytelling Internship Scheme.
The scheme, which has the backing of WWF-UK, will provide paid internship opportunities for six UK- based and six internationally-based 18-25 year olds, wanting to pursue careers in natural world
storytelling and content creation within the TV and Conservation sectors.
From Autumn 2022, 12 internationally renowned wildlife TV production companies and Conservation NGOs will open their doors to aspiring storytellers and content creators, providing paid, practical experience across a variety of roles spanning camera operating to editing, from story development to scriptwriting. As well as being provided with the opportunity to gain valuable ‘hands-on’ professional skills and experience, the cohort will also benefit from one-to-one mentoring within the host organisations and one-year's membership to the Wildscreen Network, the world’s biggest professional community for the wildlife film and TV genre, to help launch their careers in the natural world storytelling industries.
The scheme aims to tackle systemic barriers to entry into the wildlife TV and Conservation sectors, which disproportionately impact groups which are already underrepresented including ethnically diverse individuals, in-country talent, LGBTQIA+ individuals, those living with disability, womxn, individuals who identify as neurodiverse, and individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds. The international internships will be predominantly located within the global south.
Lucie Muir, Wildscreen’s CEO said: “We are so grateful to the host production companies and NGOs for supporting this ambitious global storytelling internship scheme and to WWF-UK for being so supportive in the development of this latest and important Wildscreen initiative. Together, we hope to understand and address barriers to young people from underrepresented backgrounds seeking careers in natural world storytelling within the TV industry and conservation NGOs globally.
To grow and diversify audiences watching wildlife content and engaging with conservation organisations campaigns, it’s critical we address the lack of representation in those creating the content. We hope this scheme will demonstrate the huge benefits of democratising who tells nature’s stories”.
Planta Alta based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Big Wave Productions, based in Brighton, UK, will be the first production companies to host interns as part of the scheme, with an additional 10 internships launching over the coming months. Applications to the internships with Planta Alta and Big Wave Production open on 17th of August via the Wildscreen website.
Jackson Wild Announces Finalists for 2022 Media Awards and Special Jury Recognitions From Jackson Wild
8th August 2022
Jackson Wild has announced the films selected as finalists for the 2022 Jackson Wild Media Awards. Considered the highest bar of achievement in natural history filmmaking, the Jackson Wild Media Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in nature, science, and conservation storytelling.
This year’s competition saw over 600 film entries from 26 different countries, competing for 24 content, craft, program and special jury awards, as well as the Grand Teton Award, recognizing the overall best film in competition. Finalists were selected by more than 150 international judges with expertise in natural history filmmaking.
“This year’s judges have selected an outstanding slate of finalists, consisting of a multitude of perspectives and experiences from around the globe. Personal, innovative, and purpose-driven global stories inspire a deep connection to the species and places that surround us. Equally important, they amplify the urgency of our need to restore and protect our planet while the opportunity still exists,” said Executive Director of Jackson Wild, Lisa Samford.
First introduced in 2021, Jackson Wild's Special Jury Recognitions celebrate projects that push the frontiers of storytelling about nature, science, and conservation with categories that include impact campaigns, innovation in green production, and engaging platforms such as podcasts, games, and social media.
A distinguished panel of final jurors will determine the winners in the coming weeks. Winners will be announced and recognized at the Grand Teton Awards Gala during the Jackson Wild Summit at Vila Vita Pannonia in Burgenland, Austria on September 29th, 2022. For more information, visit www.jacksonwild.org.
Awarded to the film that most effectively relates conservation issues and/or solutions and the individuals, groups or projects dedicated to the protection of a species, ecosystem, resource or any other aspect of the natural world.
Today (21st June 2022) sees the launch of our new Editorial Engagement Tool, which is designed to help writers, commissioners, developers, producers and editorial teams put the planet into their storytelling.
Is your programme
Imagine creating content that sets the cultural agenda in a rapidly evolving entertainment landscape. Content that helps you connect with and grow new audiences.
albert's free sustainable production online tools help you plan to make a difference.
Wildscreen and Save Our Seas Foundation Join Forces
Wildscreen is excited to announce Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) as a Principal Sponsor of the 2022 Wildscreen Festival. The 40th birthday edition of the festival will take place between 10-14 October 2022 and marks a new hybrid format for the world’s leading natural world storytelling event.
SOSF, which supports conservation projects on threatened marine life globally, is the first marine focused NGO to be a Principal Sponsor of the festival. SOSF will lead discussions about marine conservation by creating and producing headliner sessions from their global network of scientists and communicators. They will also present the Panda Awards new Impact category, created to recognise the production that best delivers tangible impacts for nature such as behaviour change and policy change.
Lucie Muir, CEO of Wildscreen said, "Both Wildscreen and the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) are passionate advocates for conservation and the power of stories in communicating the need for conservation and climate action. Partnering with SOSF is a natural association and we are really looking forward to collaborating with them as part of this year's festival. So often the oceans and marine life are underrepresented in the natural world conversation, and this is a brilliant way to put these conversations centre stage."
SOSF will also partner with Wildscreen to create the Wildscreen Festival Roadshow – a community initiative that will see the very best films from the festival tour across the UK to engage the public with conservation issues and the most exciting independent natural world storytellers from around the world. SOSF will also be the driving force behind the festival’s international hub in Cape Town, South Africa, bringing together its wildlife storytelling community to connect with the live event in Bristol and support in-person networking.
Dr James Lea, CEO of SOSF said, “Stories reach us on an emotional level, and can inspire change in ways that facts and statistics seldom can. Wildscreen festival, with its roots in film and conservation, is an ideal partner for the Save Our Seas Foundation for engaging audiences with meaningful storytelling that can have an impact on conservation. For example, their new ‘Impact’ category in the Panda Awards is testament to this, and we are delighted to be supporting it.”
Submit your film to the 9th Annual New York WILD Film Festival
Festival Dates: March 2 - 5, 2023
We invite filmmakers from around the world to submit their work to the
9th annual New York WILD Film Festival hosted at The Explorers Club,
March 2 - March 5, 2023. Submissions are accepted via FilmFreeway.
Earlybird deadline: July 6
Regular deadline: August 1 Late Deadline: August 29
Extended Deadline: September 26
Eligible films for the 2023 competition festival must be documentaries with a focus on the subjects of exploration, adventure, wildlife, conservation and/or the environment. New York WILD celebrates the filmmakers who, through the power of their images and storytelling, promote awareness, educate and inspire interest in exploring and protecting the natural world around us.
Student Film Cash Prize
For the 9th Annual Festival in 2023, there will be a cash prize for the Best Student Film Award, made possible by Fujifilm!
Second The Elephants of Selenkay trailer released ahead of Nairobi screening – Feisal Malik
Feisal Malik of Visual Africa Films invites you to take a look at their second trailer for "The Elephants of Selenkay"… A screening of the documentary set to happen at the Alliance Francaise Nairobi on the 12th of July.
This is an amazing story about how Elephants returned to an area after over 20 years. Poaching, human-wildlife conflict and hunting drove them away. Through efforts by the Maasai Community in restoring the ecosystem and creating a conservancy, the Elephants returned.
They now have over 300 Elephants resident in the conservancy. The documentary comes along with a coffee table book with Augmented Reality. There is also a conservation angle towards this production, as proceeds from the sale of the documentary and the book will go towards the "Adopt an Acre" project being run by Selenkay Conservancy, whereby they require US$35 per acre annually to keep open spaces for Elephants and have them migrate between the conservancy and Amboseli National Park.
Celebrate World Manta Day with Blue Planet cameraman, Doug Allan from Manta Trust
28 July 2022
Join multi award winning wildlife cameraman Doug Allan and the Manta Trust for an evening of Manta Ray conservation at The Royal Geographical Society, London.
The Manta Trust will hold their first in-person World Manta Day celebration in two years, “An Evening with Doug Allan,” this September 17th at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
With over 100 filming expeditions, 35 years of polar exploration, and many on-screen firsts for documentaries such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and Frozen Planet, “World Manta Day: An Evening with Doug Allan” promises incredible stories of adventure and unique wildlife encounters. Since being introduced to the Maldivian manta ray population by Dr. Guy Stevens, Doug Allan has been a long- time supporter and patron of the Manta Trust and an enthusiastic champion of manta ray conservation.
With doors opening at 18:30, guests will have a chance to meet Doug before the event and buy a signed copy of his new book, Freeze Frame.
The event will run from 19:30 – 21:00 and will also feature talks and videos from CEO and co-founder of the Manta Trust, Dr Guy Stevens, and mobula ray geneticist and Manta Trust Trustee, Dr Emily Humble.
World Manta Day was launched by the Manta Trust in 2020 and is celebrated annually by dozens of organisations and thousands of divers and ocean lovers around the world. Manta rays, like many ocean species, are threatened by the fisheries, unsustainable development and tourism, and the changing climate, which impacts their food sources and habitats. The Manta Trust and its affiliate projects across the globe work to protect manta rays and marine ecosystems through scientific research, policy and legislation change and education and outreach events.
Tickets to the event are on sale now, costing £15, or £10 for children and students with all proceeds going to the Manta Trust’s global research, education, and conservation work.
The Manta Trust is a UK registered charity that coordinates global mobulid research and conservation efforts. Taking a unique approach to conservation, the Manta Trust team is comprised of a diverse group of scientists, educators, conservationists, and media experts, working in collaboration with projects across the globe to drive conservation as a collective.
BBC’s The Green Planet Puts Plants in the Spotlight
BBC TV shows presented by David Attenborough were a staple of my childhood and the default setting when a biology teacher wanted to tame an unruly class (a strategy that nearly always succeeded). As well as bringing calm to the classroom, they provided a mesmerizing window into the wonders of the natural world. In the face of Earth’s perilous ecological situation, the tone of these shows has shifted. Now, as much time as they spend highlighting natural wonders they also spend demonstrating how many of those wonders are being lost.
BBC’s wildlife documentaries have been criticized for presenting a romanticized image of nonhumans existing in vast expanses of “wilderness” devoid of human life. However, as part of the recent change in tone, they have begun to include more everyday stories of wildlife interactions, such as the scene of a mother racoon guiding her two-month-old offspring out of a chimney pot and through Toronto in Planet Earth 2’s “Cities” episode.
The Green Planet is the latest cutting-edge wildlife documentary from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit. The series, which airs on PBS on July 6, focuses on the taxonomic kingdom that is often relegated to the background of popular representations of the natural world—plants. Recent BBC Natural History programs have shown young iguanas running from racer snakes on the Galapagos (Planet Earth 2), previously unseen creatures lurking in the depths of the ocean (Blue Planet 2), and many other dramatic scenes from the animal kingdom. However, The Green Planet overturns the hierarchy of kingdoms at least as old as Aristotle to place plants at the forefront. Over five episodes, viewers enter into the lives of plants in five different worlds: tropical, water, seasonal, desert, and human.
During the show’s opening montage of scenes, I was struck by the dynamic way plants were presented. The time-lapse clips were particularly captivating because, unlike in previous documentaries I’d seen, the camera was mobile—a notable innovation. Over this opening, Attenborough explains that, until now, some secrets of plant worlds have remained largely hidden from TV audiences. But “now we have new groundbreaking technology that enables us to enter their extraordinary world and see their lives from their perspective.” How do The Green Planet’s technological advancements change public accessibility to plant worlds? Do they have the potential to alter the way humans view plants?
Wildstar Films appoints former BBC exec as SVP of development and production
Bristol-based natural history production company Wildstar Films has unveiled additions to its senior leadership, including the appointment of a new SVP of development and production.
Doug Mackay-Hope (pictured) is stepping into the aforementioned role, after previously working as head of development for the BBC Natural History Unit. During eight years with the BBC, Mackay-Hope oversaw hit series like Big Blue Live, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur and Endangered. Before joining the pubcaster he worked for independent companies like Icon Films and Tigress, and has credits on titles like Deadly 60 and River Monsters with Jeremy Wade.
Mackay-Hope’s hiring at Wildstar follows the appointments of Juli Porter as COO and Anwar Mamon as staff executive producer. Porter joined Wildstar from her COO role at Whipser, where she grew the company from a start-up to a group of six companies. Mamon, meanwhile, also hails from the BBC Natural History Unit, where his credits include Life at the Waterhole, Grizzly Bear Cubs & Me and Primal Survivor.
“Wildstar has enjoyed a period of rapid growth over the past year. We’ve expanded our business with clients across streamers and broadcasters, and we are now in production on a wide range of exciting series with high-profile talent attached,” Wildstar Films co-founders Vanessa Berlowitz and Mark Linfield said in a joint statement.
“Doug, Juli and Anwar joining our leadership team will help us build on this success and continue to broaden Wildstar’s slate and clients.”
America the Beautiful review – From the Wild West to the Waterland, this wildlife documentary showcases all North America has to offer
Disney+ is home to the latest documentary series showcasing the world’s most beautiful landscapes and homes to animals that we need to preserve and protect. America the Beautiful is from National Geographic and is created by the award-winning producers of Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, and the Disneynature films. We know we’re going into something that’s going to be informative, inspiring, and emotional.
North America is the most diverse continent on Earth, where you can find all different landscapes, from desert to the arctic. It is home to some amazing sights and creatures and draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. With six episodes to indulge in, this documentary series is one to add to the list.
Narrated by Michael B. Jordan, like other documentary series, the streaming services are trying to use popular, influential voices to help draw in audiences. Previous voices have included Barack Obama, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sir David Attenborough, showing us that it’s not just the scientists that are trying to help and care about the planet. Jordan’s voice is smooth, deep, and calming.
The Big Plastic Count Results: How citizen science exposed a system incapable of tackling the plastic crisis
This report reveals the results of The Big Plastic Count. Almost a quarter of a million participants threw away 6.4 million pieces of packaging waste in just one week, yet only 12% is likely recycled. It provided overwhelming proof that the UK’s waste system cannot cope with the enormous amount of waste generated. Download here!
The results of The Big Plastic Count provide a truly unique snapshot of the scale of the country’s plastic crisis. Over one week in May, nearly a quarter of a million people counted their plastic waste to contribute to this first of its kind citizen science investigation.
The shocking results suggest that the UK’s homes produce 96.6 billion pieces of plastic packaging waste a year, with only 12% being recycled in the UK. The rest is exported to other countries to deal with (17%), buried in landfill (25%) or burnt in incinerators (45%).
The results send a clear and urgent message: recycling is not enough – we are producing far too much plastic packaging waste to deal with – so we must turn off the plastic tap. The only solution to plastic pollution is stopping our reliance on plastic.
The government must set legally binding targets to almost entirely eliminate single-use plastic, starting with a target of a 50% cut in single-use plastic by 2025. It must also ban plastic waste exports, set a moratorium on new incinerators and finally implement a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and new Extended Producer Responsibility requirements.
The biggest ever investigation into household plastic has revealed that UK households throw away almost 100 BILLION pieces of plastic a year & only 12% is recycled in the UK. Our government dumps the rest abroad, buries it in landfill or burns it. Greenpeace campaigner, Maya, uncovers the truth in this video. Watch now and share to expose.
A look into the wider world:
Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 15-18 October 2022
The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival (INFF) will take place for the 21st time from 15-18.10.2022.
Around 50 nature films, environmental documentaries and short films will be screened at the internationally renowned film competition. Hot hits as well as works of cooler tones await. The venue is the Metropol Kino – characteristic of Alpine-urban Innsbruck and nestled in a row of historic houses directly beside the river Inn, with the Nordkette mountain range rising majestically behind it.
The INFF 2022 will be royally rounded off with a rollicking nature and environmental programme for both young and old. Locals and guests can experience and explore nature on walks, in exhibitions, workshops, lectures and guest gardens, or on hikes in and around Tyrol's capital. Learn how valuable and beautiful it is to appreciate and protect it, we only live once!
The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 2022 – stands for encounter, exchange and vitality. This will be celebrated sustainably over four days and the team is already in the middle of preparations. The 18-strong selection panel jury has screened more than 250 films submitted from all over the world. Film curator Katja Trippel, who is responsible for the programme, is excited about the diversity.
The Trees & Seas Festival is organized by Plastic Oceans International and Presented By Montes Wines. This annual event celebrates and unites ocean and forest conservation worldwide, September 16-25. We'll be planting over 150,000 trees, educating over 100,000 kids, cleaning over 5,000,000 square meters of land and sea; while offering dozens of film screening, live music, panel discussions and more. There will be hundreds of events around the globe, so come join the movement!
This story is about the long and beautiful River Wye between Wales and England, from source to mouth, through one year, about one of the most changing parts of Britain.
A crime has been committed with a wildlife and human view, we look at the River Wye as it is, has been, and could be!...in other words, how the river could be winning or losing, and that’s due, as usual, to us. Let’s explore the potential, and see if there’s time to repair damage done, and how the future might look if wildlife and people who care are given a chance, to help this river corridor into the future. The two characters we’ll follow all the way downstream, the heron and the mallard duck are well-adapted to land, water and the air and we’ll be with them all the way down to the sea in 2022. And that brings us to another crucial world...
Right around Britain in one year with a seabird's eye view... revealing the most beautiful, wildest beaches with the most exciting wildlife to be found there. Meet puffins, sharks, red squirrels, masses of shore birds, ducks and geese, ospreys, reptiles, rare butterflies, otters, salmon, pine martins, little egrets, seals, and orchids in beautiful sand dunes.
The backbone of our Osprey story is our detailed Timeline, which is organized into four chapters: Concept, Development, Production and Distribution.
The story begins on a Connecticut salt marsh – in 2012 – when director/cinematographer Jacob Steinberg was so inspired by the powerful personalities of a breeding osprey pair that he dedicated himself to telling their story.
Nine years later on October 27, 2021, Season of the Osprey, a Love Nature / WNET Nature / CosmoVision coproduction, premieres on PBS to more than a million viewers and wide acclaim. It is narrated by Paul Giamatti.
Blue Ant’s International version titled Osprey: Sea Raptor is narrated by Sean Bean, and soon racks up impressive sales worldwide.
The Timeline uses a mix of media and editorial formats, ranging from video and PPT pitches, trailers, original podcast interviews with key participants, and much, much more.
You can find more content on our Season of the Osprey platform, which we created as a model outreach effort for producers of independent films.
George Monbiot: ‘On a vegan planet, Britain could feed 200 million people’
The author, Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner answers your questions on farming, fuel and plant-based food
If the UK switched to a plant-based diet – and used regenerative farming to produce food on the arable land we have (not using artificial fertilisers or pesticides) – how much could we be self-sufficient in food, percentage-wise? dad_climate
We currently use 17.5m hectares of farmland in the UK. Fairlie finds that while a diet containing a moderate amount (less than we currently consume) of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m. Not only do humans need no pasture, but we use grains and pulses more efficiently when we eat them ourselves.
This would enable more than 14m hectares of the land now used for farming to be set aside for nature. Alternatively, on a vegan planet, Britain could feed 200 million people.
'Highly recommend this important talk (and the book)
If only every (any) politician would watch this, any food producer, farmer, consumer... in fact - if you eat food...
The corruption, stupidity and shortsightedness of our global food production is staggering and damaging the world beyond belief.
Change must come. Be the change.' Piers Warren
– Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet by George Monbiot
The Sunday Times bestseller
*Longlisted for the Wainwright Prize*
From the bestselling author of Feral, a breathtaking first glimpse of a new future for food and for humanity
Farming is the world's greatest cause of environmental destruction - and the one we are least prepared to talk about. We criticise urban sprawl, but farming sprawls across thirty times as much land. We have ploughed, fenced and grazed great tracts of the planet, felling forests, killing wildlife, and poisoning rivers and oceans to feed ourselves. Yet millions still go hungry.
Now the food system itself is beginning to falter. But, as George Monbiot shows us in this brilliant, bracingly original new book, we can resolve the biggest of our dilemmas and feed the world without devouring the planet.
Regenesis is a breathtaking vision of a new future for food and for humanity. Drawing on astonishing advances in soil ecology, Monbiot reveals how our changing understanding of the world beneath our feet could allow us to grow more food with less farming. He meets the people who are unlocking these methods, from the fruit and vegetable grower revolutionising our understanding of fertility; through breeders of perennial grains, liberating the land from ploughs and poisons; to the scientists pioneering new ways to grow protein and fat. Together, they show how the tiniest life forms could help us make peace with the planet, restore its living systems, and replace the age of extinction with an age of regenesis.
'This book calls for nothing less than a revolution in the future of food' Kate Raworth
'A book offering evidence-based hope is a rare thing in these days of climate and nature emergency - yet that's exactly what George Monbiot has written. Inspiring and compelling, Regenesis sets out a transformative vision of a new food future with the potential to both restore nature and feed the world. Monbiot's blueprint is both wildly ambitious and deeply practical, and might well be our last best hope of stopping the sixth great extinction'
WWF just launched #TooWildMaldives - Season 2, a three-part YouTube series which follows #WWFVoices and Wildlife-film.com members Lauren Arthur and David Eastaugh as they explore the underwater world of the Maldives.
Tune in to watch them go searching for sharks, their relatives and a forgotten ecosystem:
June was a very sad month for Scubazoo as it saw the departure of two long serving staff members
Cara Morrison was with Scubazoo for 15 years, setting up and managing our film library and then moving into a producer role on some of Scubazoo’s productions.
Cara was a valuable member of the team and will be sorely missed but we wish her the very best for her future adventures.
Simon Enderby, CEO of Scubazoo has also departed and relocated to Denmark with his lovely family.
For 26 years, Simon was instrumental to Scubazoo’s direction, development and success. At the beginning, we all started as underwater cameramen working on remote resort based studios filming guests but as the company grew into location management, broadcast filming, and large corporate films we had to adapt to take on different roles and Simon excelled at all these roles. Underwater DOP, location manager, producer, CEO, whatever the role, Simon went above and beyond to ensure the job/project was a huge success. 'Perfectionist’ and ‘Workaholic’ springs to mind when on shoots as he never needed a break!
Best wishes to Simon, Helle, Aidan, Elliott and Casper, may you have lots of great adventures in Denmark
Simon’s departure will certainly leave a huge void however Jason will resume the role of CEO and Scubazoo will continue ‘business as usual’ always striving to be both perfectionists and workaholics and on every project we do!
All Scubazoo business dealings and email correspondence will be covered
by the existing Scubazoo Executives:
IMPACTWILD, the indie recently founded in Bristol by Cherique Pohl, a former director and producer at the BBC’s Natural History Unit (Bears About the House, Expedition Rhino: The Search for the Last Northern White, Our Changing Planet), is about to embark on its first TV documentary,Re:Think Chimps.
Pohl has been given exclusive access to the last four years of footage from the Ozouga Society, a German-run chimpanzee research organisation that has been working in Gabon, Central Africa, for more than 15 years.
Earlier this year, Ozouga’s research made international headlines when it identified that champs use insects to heal wounds. The region of study is home to one of the most unique family of chimps in the world, one that demonstrates its high level of shared DNA with humans (95-98.8%) through a range of clever, caring and highly comical behaviours – all of which will be captured in the film.
Working with the Ozouga Society, IMPACTWILD will initially create a half-hour film for Gabon Culture Television and French-speaking African channels – and then look to sell internationally. The aim is to encourage reappraisal of chimps – which are frequently used as a commodity or for food – leading to more protected populations in the wild. The film will involve an experienced Gabonese scriptwriter.
In addition to the half-hour film, IMPACTWILD will be creating short, shareable clips which also feature local researchers and will be made freely available in French-speaking Africa via WhatsApp and YouTube.
Cherique Pohl comments: “IMPACTWILD was established as a force for good, seeking to end the exploitation of wildlife and wild places through informing and inspiring critical audiences. Having grown up in Africa, I know only too well that local people do not always have access to the same information we do in the West about declining wildlife populations and disappearing habitats. So, the ambition with this project is to use the extraordinary footage from the Ozouga Society to not only create an engaging and entertaining film, but one that also encourages reappraisal and changes behaviour. Most wildlife filmmaking is undertaken sympathetically, and filmmakers work hard to raise issues, but we are dedicated to creating real impact with our work to ensure we effect meaningful change on the ground.”
Why do Disney and Pixar always get animals so wrong?
DEEP DIVE: Two types of characters epitomise Disney like no other: princesses, and animals. But while Disney’s portrayal of female characters has left much to be desired with change only happening relatively recently, the studio giant’s treatment of animals is still sorely lacking, as Nina Copleston so deftly explains.
In recent years, Disney has been scrutinised for its overt - and covert - discrimination. There is undeniably sexism, racism, ableism and a severe lack of queer representation in these films - which, in some part, Disney is making an effort to shake off. Only last week, it was announced that Disney/Pixar will notedit out a same-sex kiss in the latest Buzz Lightyear movie, despite this causing the film to be banned in 14 countries.
One of the main ways Disney/Pixar has told stories is through its animal characters such as Bambi the deer, Dumbo the elephant and Nemo the clownfish. In fact, animals have been involved in Disney storytelling since its very first film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Disney is even given to poking self-aware fun at itself on this point - in 2016’s Moana, the demi-god Maui says to the film’s titular protagonist “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess."
But what are these stories telling us about animals? Is Disney waving the flag for animal liberation - or digging itself a speciesist grave?
There are so many Disney films about animals. Most of them do not seem to be part of the cultural zeitgeist, largely forgotten and swept into the dusty library of Disney’s unsuccessfuls. One such film is Charlie the Lonesome Cougar (1967), which follows a cougar as his natural instincts start to kick in after living with humans for most of his life. The film ends with Charlie returning to the wild - a seemingly pro-animal rights stance which argues that wild animals do not belong under human rules - but the use of four real cougars to play Charlie sparks animal welfare concerns.
Indeed, the use of real animals for Disney films was incredibly common, particularly in the True-Life Adventure series that Walt created - a group of films designed to entertain and educate the audience about the animal kingdom in a nature documentary-style, and still being made today, quite differently, under the name DisneyNature. These films were largely praised; The Vanishing Prairie (1954) won an Academy Award - but in this series, and indeed in other films using real animals such as A Tiger Walks (1964) - animals suffered in order for these pictures to be filmed.
The most disturbing example of this is the film White Wilderness (1958), an addition to the True-Life Adventures series, which was uncovered by CBC Television in 1982 to have staged much of its ‘footage’. A polar bear falling down an Arctic hill was really filmed in a studio in Calgary - the bear having been pushed down the ice by crew members. Horrifyingly, one scene showed huge numbers of lemmings jumping off a cliff to their death. The accompanying narration stated that this mass suicide was not purposeful; the animals were migrating and mistook the Arctic Sea for a lake - something they thought they could cross (but drowned in instead). However, it was revealed that lemmings would never actually follow these migration patterns in the wild and jump to their death in this fashion - and that the whole thing had been set up. Lemmings had been bought and shipped to Alberta, placed on turntables to create frantic movement, and then driven off a cliff and into an expanse of water - with editing software making these numbers look far greater. Murder of animals… for fake footage.
This appears to be a pattern - Disney films often have the glimmer of an animal-centric stance - but have quite a different impact. 101 Dalmations (1961), for example, was quite revolutionary in its clear message that using animal skin for fashion is cruel(lla de Vil). At the time, cheaper pelts were becoming available for people of all classes, and so highlighting the ethics of animal fur by using a puppy - an animal universally adored - was shocking. It is worthy of praise that Disney highlighted this issue, but would it not have been more pertinent, perhaps, to depict the life of a mink or a cow whose skins are engrained elements of the fashion industry, and less obviously ‘adored’? And, despite the anti-cruelty messaging, what happened in reality? The number of dalmatians in puppy mills spiked as people demanded a dalmatian for themselves, wanting a piece of another sentient being for themselves with little regard to the wider picture or the animal’s welfare.
A similar occurrence happened after Finding Nemo (2003) ...
Why all eyes are on SVOD’s embrace of wildlife TV
By Stephen Dunleavy
Natural history has been evolving at pace over recent years, driven by surging demand from streamers. Stephen Dunleavy, CEO of Humble Bee Films – the producer behind Netflix’s latest entrant in the genre, Wild Babies – tells TBI what’s changed and predicts what the future holds.
Traditionally, natural history programming has been closely associated with public broadcasters like the BBC, NHK and ZDF and thematic channels such as Discovery and National Geographic. But in the last two to three years, it has become clear that this remarkably durable genre also has a pivotal role to play in the rapidly-evolving SVOD landscape.
At a corporate level, this is evident in the merger of Warner Bros and Discovery, a recognition that the HBO Max streaming platform is a far more formidable and engaging proposition when it has Discovery’s brand of factual content in the mix.
But it’s also apparent at a commissioning level, where the wildlife genre is experiencing nothing short of a content boom. Disney+, for example, has just greenlit a high end series called Home from the BBC Natural History Unit. And Apple TV+ has also just unveiled another BBC NHU project, Prehistoric Planet, which boasts a musical score by renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
Netflix has also recognised the power of natural history in acquiring and retaining family audiences. At Humble Bee Pictures, we first worked with the global streamer in 2019, on Attenborough’s Life In Colour – a co-production with the BBC.
And right now, Netflix is in the midst of rolling out another of our series Wild Babies. An 8 x 30-minute series, this ambitious production filmed across 16 countries and has Helena Bonham-Carter narrating.
As an independent production company based in Bristol, UK, the fact that we now have a set of well-resourced global customers for our blue-chip shows is commercially exciting. But it has also pushed us in new directions in terms of creativity and innovation.
BBC Studios & KBS extend factual content deal for 23rd year
BBC Studios (BBCS) in the UK and Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) have renewed their long-term partnership with a multi-year content deal giving KBS exclusive access to the first windowing of blue-chip natural history titles in South Korea.
The deal marks the 23rd year of their partnership, with KBS taking rights to shows including Frozen Planet II, Dynasties II, and Planet Earth III. The agreement also includes a first-look at other premium factual, across science, documentary, arts, history and other unscripted content.
Frozen Planet II explores the wilderness of the Arctic and Antarctica and tells the complete story of the entire frozen quarter of our planet that’s locked in ice and blanketed in snow. It is slated to broadcast in 2022.
From Pantagonia’s frozen Andes, to the plains of Zambia, to grasslands in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, Dynasties II provides fresh insights into the secret lives of some of the most charismatic animals on the planet, while Planet Earth III is described by the BBC as its most ambitious natural history project to date.
“We’ve received positive feedback from the Korean viewers on the high-quality content distributed by BBC Studios and we look forward to the release of compelling high-quality dramas, Frozen Planet II and Dynasties II,” said KBS in a statement.
Go behind the scenes with series producers of Eden: Untamed Planet as they share some of the unique challenges they confronted while bringing to the screen some of Earth’s few remaining untouched lands.
“Eden: Untamed Planet” allows its viewers to travel to the far corners of the world and see Earth’s few remaining untouched lands, all flourishing with rich biodiversity.
Life in Earth’s secret spots exists as nature truly intended. Go behind the scenes with series producers who reflect on their travels and challenges to share these unique and breathtaking environments. Narrated by BAFTA Award-winning actress Helena Bonham Carter, “Eden: Untamed Planet” is available on BBC AMERICA and AMC +
"I wonder if this is the first time all episodes of a #BBC natural history series have been produced by women? Maybe. @RED_Cinema asked us about it…" @hannahjhoare
Episode 2 – Namib: Skeleton Coast and Beyond
The Namib Desert is one of the oldest and most diverse deserts on the Earth. “It’s a vast place, stretching a thousand miles along the whole of Namibia’s Atlantic coastline, so nothing is ever round the corner,” explains Eden Producer Hannah Hoare. “Travel is slow going and the terrain is tough. To make our shoots possible we worked with a team of people, led by our location manager Paul Brehem, who knew every nook of the Namib. It doesn’t really feel like Earth. Driving through such spectacular landscapes gave me the sense I’d traveled to another planet. When humans finally set foot on Mars, I’m pretty sure it’ll be like the Namib. That otherworldliness was a key element to capture for this episode and the RED HELIUM was the perfect tool for the job. Exceptional depth of color and dynamic range brought that Martian-like color palette to the screen and really did the breathtaking landscapes justice.”
The new documentary feature Polar Bear is no ordinary natural history film. Narrated by two-time Academy Award® nominee Catherine Keener, and helmed by Silverback Films’ Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson, the directing team behind Disneynature’s Penguins, Polar Bear takes Disney+ viewers to the icy tundra of the Arctic to witness a polar bear mom undertake an extraordinary journey.
The film is a stunning view of the struggle for survival captured on RED predominantly at 8K and presented in 2.4:1, a widescreen ratio usually reserved for the cinema. Ten years of planning went into the three-year shoot. Footage was gathered from teams on water, air, land and ice using long lens, gyro-stabilized Cineflex, drones and timelapse photography. In summer the teams trekked on foot and in winter, shoots traversed the tundra using snow scooters.
These roving shoots were the most challenging given the remote locations in Svalbard and harsh conditions that limited the number of people able to be accommodated at base camp.
For the winter/spring 2021 shoots, Fothergill and Wilson relied on highly experienced wildlife cinematographers Rolf Steinmann (A Perfect Planet) and James Ewen (Seven Worlds, One Planet ), who worked with expert guides to locate and film their quarry and bring the footage back home.
“Being in the Arctic in late winter is such a challenging place to work that you can only have essential people on the ground,” notes Ewen. “There’s no space in camp for someone to download rushes. We had a storyboard, a very specific set of goals and a clear idea of the type of bear we were looking for and would be in constant comms with the production team back in the UK.”
One goal was to convey the staggering beauty and epic vistas of the Arctic landscape, which meant an easy acquisition choice for the production team. “Almost everything in natural history today is shot on RED,” says Ewen. “It is the workhorse camera. Where RED wins out is it delivers both resolution and high-frame rates. On top of that, the cameras are tried and tested in this environment. The workflows are proven, and it produces extremely good images.
“The producers wanted a cinematic feel for Polar Bear,” he elaborates. “Very few natural history shows are shot 2.4:1, but for this story, and the scope of the arctic landscape, 2.4.1 was perfect. That was interesting for me as a cinematographer as you have to frame differently than you would for 16.9, to make different choices about composition. You can afford to make the aesthetic choice to place a bear in a far corner of the frame looking over the immense landscape. This has a subtle but powerful effect on the audience.”
Ewen, a British wildlife cameraman based in Norway, worked on two blocks. The first was a summer shoot at the end of 2019 to film wildlife like arctic fox, reindeer and thousands of sea birds. Then, in March 2021, the time when the daylight is just returning at the end of winter, during which they tracked and filmed the bears.
Team Downey, Glen Zipper team for Discovery+ wildlife series “The Bond”
Discovery+ has announced the details of a new wildlife documentary series, The Bond, produced by Robert Downey Jr.’s Team Downey prodco along with documentarian Glen Zipper and Sean Stuart.
The four-part series, which promises an intimate look at the unique bond between animals and humans, will premiere on the streaming service on July 14.
The globe-spanning production tells the moving and often surprising stories of people from all walks of life who have developed deep connections with animals. These bonds have changed the lives of both human and animal, and each episode illustrates how much each has to offer the other.
The Bond is directed by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce, and is produced for Discovery+ by Team Downey, Glen Zipper and Sean Stuart. Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey and Emily Barclay Ford serve as executive producers for Team Downey, with Zipper and Stuart also executive producing. Kevin Lincoln is coexecutive producer. Howard Swartz serves as executive producer for Discovery Channel.
The Bond tells the remarkable, moving, and surprising stories of fascinating characters from all walks of life who have formed deep bonds with creatures from across the animal kingdom. These bonds change the lives of both human and animal, and each episode will illustrate just how much we have to offer each other.
Wilderland is the UK’s first touring wildlife film festival. Sharing with audiences the very best natural history films by world class filmmakers across the globe.
Selected from over a hundred entries, Wilderland is now back for its third year touring the 2022 Official Selection showcase.
These groundbreaking independent films will offer audiences unparalleled insight into some of the world’s most incredible stories from our natural world. A must-see for lovers of wildlife, film, travel, conservation and adventure.
Hosted by wildlife television presenter, filmmaker, and field biologist Dan O’Neill
Planet Earth cameraman films wildlife documentary shot entirely in a pub garden
Doug Allan said the pub garden in Shropshire was ‘teeming with nature’.
One of Planet Earth’s cameramen has filmed a wildlife documentary shot entirely in a British pub garden.
Doug Allan has worked on David Attenborough’s popular BBC One documentary series and is an Emmy and BAFTA award-winning filmmaker and wildlife photographer.
And now he has swapped oceans and polar expanses for a traditionally British environment – the pub garden.
The wildlife documentary was made with the backing of gin brand Warner’s Gin. It was shot at the Castle Hotel in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, and is thought to be the first in the world filmed entirely in the grounds of a pub.
It has been launched to highlight how nature “can thrive amongst us in the most unexpected places”.
Pubgoers included in the film vary from bees, newts, birds and butterflies to wildflowers and other plants that exist alongside humans.
“My career as a nature filmmaker has taken me to the Antarctic and the Pacific Ocean but never a pub garden in England,” Mr Allan said.
“But a garden like the one we filmed in was just as teeming with nature and wildlife as any habitat I’ve shot in.
“The whole time we were here at this pub filming we were never short of nature to capture on camera, even when the garden was busy with people.
Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Collaborates with the National Geographic Society to Launch Africa Refocused
The new program will address the critical need for stories of Africa to be told by Africans.
Dive certifications are one example of the kind of professional development and capacity building opportunities provided to NEWF Fellows. Photo Courtesy of Nature, Environment, and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF).
Stories of Africa’s wildlife and natural history have long captivated the world. Yet, these stories—which have inspired people around the world to preserve the continent’s expansive landscapes and spectacular species—are rarely told from the perspectives of Africans. National Geographic Explorers and filmmakers Noel Kok and Pragna Parsotam-Kok created an initiative—Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF)—which empowers Africa’s next generation of storytellers who promote conservation through film. To amplify their impact, NEWF collaborated with the National Geographic Society to develop Africa Refocused, a program dedicated to continuing NEWF’s capacity building initiatives for emerging storytellers by providing them with the tools and skills they need to succeed within the industry.
“How do you change the story? You change the storyteller,” said Kok. “NEWF endeavors to do exactly that by equipping African storytellers with industry-related skills and connections, while also building their confidence, and fostering creativity so they can add their unique perspective to the narrative. And now, by collaborating with the National Geographic Society to create Africa Refocused, we hope to expand our community reaching storytellers from across the continent.” .
Each year, at least 25 NEWF Fellows are selected to participate in professional development workshops—called NEWF Labs—where industry experts provide specialized training in the storytellers’ areas of interest and expertise such as dive certification, cinematography, music composition, science communication, editing and post-production.
In addition to helping Fellows build their skills, NEWF recognizes the importance of creating a community for storytellers, conservationists, and scientists to help each other grow. They offer mentorship and networking opportunities including the NEWF Fellows Summit and annual NEWF Congress, their signature event in South Africa where storytellers convene, connect, and collaborate. Additionally, they host NEWF Community Cinemas showcasing the Fellows’ films at schools and in local communities to create awareness of the challenges the natural world faces and identify calls to action to develop African solutions to these issues. With support from Africa Refocused, NEWF plans to build upon these opportunities and expand their reach to become Pan-African through storytelling hubs in each region of the continent.
“Science speaks to the brain, but storytelling goes to the heart,” said Kaitlin Yarnall, the Society’s Chief Storytelling Officer. “When African storytellers bring their perspective, talent, and authenticity to the stories they create about the need to preserve their continent’s natural habitats and wildlife, there is no limit to the impact they can achieve.”
Indie distributor Vision Films has acquired the rights to Honk, a new documentary directed and produced by actress Cheryl Allison through her Wow Films prodco.
The film tells the story of Allison’s unusual friendship with an abandoned goose, which made national news during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goose, named Honk, became an Instagram phenomenon (with some 77,000 followers on the platform), and also serves as an ambassador for abandoned domestic ducks and geese. Allison previously chronicled her relationship with the goose in the children’s book Honk: A True Story, written with Marty Van Kleeck.
Vision acquired the rights to Honk following its screening at the Dances With Films Festival in Hollywood earlier this month, and will release the documentary on major streaming and cable platforms in November.
Proceeds from the film will benefit Honk’s adoptive home, the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center outside of Dallas.
C4, Love Nature & Maramedia share wildlife content demands
UK broadcaster Channel 4, Love Nature and Scottish prodco Maramedia have shared their wildlife and natural history programming plans and demands in a keynote panel at Sunnyside of the Doc in La Rochelle, France, this morning (22nd June).
The talk, moderated remotely by Wildscreen CEO Laura Marshall, saw Alison Barrat, SVP of production and development for Love Nature, reveal that “the most important thing” in a wildlife show for the Blue Ant-owned brand is “storytelling.”
“The natural world provides us with literally life and death stories every day – it just doesn’t get any more dramatic than wildlife, so capturing that and conveying it to the audience in a wonderful narrative story is what I’m always looking for.”
Barrat, was joined on the panel by Channel 4 commissioning editor Jonah Weston, who shared that the broadcaster is looking to create more UK-based projects that provide inspiration to the viewers.
“I think it’s quite easy to get into a cycle of doom and gloom watching things from around the world,” said Weston. “So we’re trying to do some stuff where people in their own small way might be able to do something literally in their back yard or down the road and feel they’re making small contribution. If we could provide a bit of inspiration, that would be great.”
Puneeth Rajkumar’s last film, Gandhada Gudi gets a release date
Actor Puneeth Rajkumar’s last film Gandhada Gudi has gotten its release date. The docu-drama, directed by Amoghavarsha, will be hitting the screens on October 28.
An official announcement of the release date was shared by Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar via her Twitter handle, “Appu’s last film where he explores Karnataka’s forests as himself as a tribute to the land that showered immense love on him.” She adds, “The audience will get a true blue Appu in an unscripted way.”
Filmmaker Amoghvarsha also took to his social media account, where he mentioned that “it has been the most humbling and yet grandest of experiences with Appu.” He adds, “The film features Puneeth as himself and is shot across the length and breadth of Karnataka. It is said that the film will highlight the jungles, beaches, and the natural beauty of the state.
Interestingly, on October 27, two days before his death, Puneeth tweeted about Gandhada Gudi being his dream project. The film is shot outdoors and will feature Puneeth’s voice, which his fans are calling a fitting tribute to the actor.
Ruben Khachatryan has made it his mission to save the captive bears of Armenia from a lifetime of neglect and misery.
Across Armenia, bears are being kept in captivity under terrible conditions – locked up in tiny, filthy cages, often subsisting on food scraps and rancid water. It is a sad legacy of Armenia’s Soviet-era past when it was fashionable to keep exotic animals in private zoos as a status symbol or to attract visitors to a place of business.
Ruben Khachatryan runs the Great Bear Rescue, a mercy mission to rehabilitate these captive bears in a sanctuary in the mountains of Armenia. Here, the bears can live out their lives with proper diets, medical attention and freedom.
“You feel responsible for those animals,” says Ruben. “I feel like they need ambassadors to … fight for them.”
Ruben and his team have rescued 30 bears in just five years, but now they face some of their most challenging missions yet as they enter a tougher phase of this project.
In this film, we see the various strategies that are deployed as the Great Bear Rescue team battles against bear owners who refuse to relinquish their animals.
National Geographic Documentary Films and Picturehouse Release Trailer for Two-Time Sundance Award-Winner ‘THE TERRITORY’
From Director Alex Pritz and Oscar-Nominated Producers Darren Aronofsky and Sigrid Dyekjær, Documentary About Amazonian Indigenous Environmental Activism Will Release In Theaters Aug. 19
Today, June 22nd, National Geographic Documentary Films and Picturehouse released the official trailer and key art for THE TERRITORY, the award-winning feature documentary debut from director Alex Pritz. Produced by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, Oscar®-nominated and Emmy award-winning Sigrid Dyekjær (“The Cave”), Will N. Miller, Gabriel Uchida, Lizzie Gillett, and Pritz, executive produced by activist Txai Suruí, edited by Carlos Rojas Felice, with an original score by Katya Mihailova and sound design by Peter Albrechtsen and Rune Klausen, and sound editing by Tim Nielsen at Skywalker Ranch. The film is a co-production with the Indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau community.
THE TERRITORY provides an immersive look at the tireless fight of the Amazon’s Indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by farmers and illegal settlers. With awe-inspiring cinematography showcasing the titular landscape and richly textured sound design, the film takes audiences deep into the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau community and provides unprecedented access to the farmers and settlers illegally burning and clearing the protected Indigenous land.
Partially shot by the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people, the film relies on vérité footage captured over three years as the community risks their lives to set up their own news media team in the hopes of exposing the truth.
The film will be released in theaters in select cities on Friday, Aug. 19, including New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Seattle and Austin, with a continued nationwide rollout to follow. THE TERRITORY premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition and won the Special Jury Award for Documentary Craft as well as the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award, followed by many other awards, including the True/False True Life Fund Recipient 2022, CPH:DOX Special Jury Mention, the Movies That Matter Activist Documentary Award, the Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Documentary, the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival Audience Award, the Provincetown International Film Festival John Schlesinger Documentary Award, the International Wildlife Film Festival Best Sustainable Planet Category Award and Best of Festival Award, the DocsBarcelona Amnesty International of Catalonia Award, and the MountainFilm Minds Moving Mountains Award.
Alongside the film’s theatrical release, a multiyear impact campaign will launch in support of Indigenous land defenders across the Amazon. The campaign will focus on amplifying the voices of Indigenous media creators, strengthening legal protections for Indigenous territories, and advancing international legislation and resourcing to combat illegal deforestation. The impact campaign is led by Documist, alongside Think-Film Impact Production and a broad network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.
THE TERRITORY was made by Documist, Associação Jupaú do Povo Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, Real Lava, three-time Oscar-winning Passion Pictures and Protozoa Pictures, in association with TIME Studios and XTR with backing from Luminate and Doc Society.
National Geographic Documentary Films previously released the Academy Award, BAFTA and seven-time Emmy Award-winning film “Free Solo” and the Academy Award-nominated film “The Cave.” In 2021, they released “Becoming Cousteau,” “Fauci,” “The First Wave,” “The Rescue” and “Torn.” Other critically acclaimed films under the banner include Ron Howard’s “Rebuilding Paradise”; Sundance Audience Award winners “Science Fair” and “Sea of Shadows”; Emmy winners “LA 92” and “Jane,” both of which were included in the top 15 documentaries considered for an Academy Award in 2017; and Dupont Award winner “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of Isis.”
BBC Studios boasts record year, with production sales up 56 percent
BBC Studios’ financial results for the year 2021/22 see the commercial arm of the British pubcaster touting a 30% jump in overall sales and a 56% jump in production sales, with 2,400 hours of content produced and a quarter of all new commissions coming from third parties.
The sales jumps led to a healthy 50% boost in profits year-on year as well, at £226 million (US$268 million), marking the first time the business has racked up profits above £200 million.
BBC Studios also secured strong content sales for the year, at more than £400 million. The outfit highlighted keen interest in such brands as Doctor Who and Top Gear and non-fiction landmark programming such as The Universe and The Green Planet, as well as scripted programming from indie partners.
According to the results, part of the BBC’s overall annual report, investment in content was also up 67% year-on-year.
Barack Obama Lands First Emmy Nomination, For Narrating ‘Our Great National Parks’
Former President Barack Obama boasts a Grammy Award. Now he has a chance to couple it with an Emmy.
The 44th president earned a nomination this morning as Outstanding Narrator for his work on the Netflix documentary series Our Great National Parks. It’s the first Primetime Emmy nomination of his career; he did score a 2016 News and Documentary Emmy nomination for David Attenborough Meets President Obama. Obama also won two Grammy Awards in the 2000s.
Our Great National Parks, produced by Higher Ground, the former president and first lady Michelle Obama’s production company, “shines the spotlight on some of the planet’s most spectacular national parks.” Freeborne Media and Wild Space Productions also produce the series. Five episodes aired in the show’s first season, taking viewers to locations as near and far as the Monterey Bay National Marine Aquarium in California, Tsavo, Kenya and Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia.
In the Outstanding Narrator category, Obama will go up against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, narrator of Black Patriots: Heroes of the Civil War; previous Emmy winner David Attenborough, narrator of The Mating Game: In Plain Sight; W. Kamau Bell, narrator of We Need to Talk About Cosby; and Lupita Nyong’o, who lent her voice to Serengeti II.
Jamie is best known for epic wildlife gimbal cinematography from all types of vehicles such as helicopters, ATVs, snowmobiles, boats and his DIY cine-buggy.
"I am a wildlife documentary cameraman, DoP and producer. Over the past 22 years I have worked on many landmark series and films for Netflix, Disneynature and the BBC.
I have won multiple BAFTAs and EMMYs for cinematography. I specialise in tracking vehicle work – using gimbals mounted on vehicles to film behaviour and create sequences with style and movement.
I am currently the Series Director of Photography on a major new 8-part Netflix series being made by Silverback Films.
I recently worked on Our Planet, which is now showing on Netflix. I was one of the principle camera operators and worked on 18 sequences across the series.
Before that I was principle camera operator on The Hunt (BBC, 2015) and worked on all episodes, contributing to 20 sequences across the series.
I try to give my camerawork a distinctive style and cinematic feel, to engage the audience and give them a real sense of the animal and its environment.
For me these rigs are not about camera gimmicks, but immersing the viewer in the animal’s world… to create sequences which are engaging and cinematic.
I enjoy the challenge of filming behaviour with gyrostabilised systems. You need a great understanding, not only of the animal, but of the capabilities of the camera platform.
You have to be able to coordinate both vehicle and/or crane movement, whilst reading and predicting what the animal is about to do and operating a long lens via remote control.
I develop and adapt rigs for each sequence to meet the particular challenges of the environment and species.
I work closely with Producers to deliver on the editorial brief and try to create styles which are engaging and cinematic.
I love the challenge of pioneering new camera rigs, developing filming techniques and pushing myself to find new ways to tell engaging stories.
I have experience of filming in all environments. Sub-zero conditions in the Arctic, Antarctic, Russia, Europe, New Foundland, Northern Canada and North America. At high altitude on Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Andes. On the savannahs of East Africa and North America, to the forests of Europe, India, South America, West Africa, Central Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. In the deserts of South America, Israel and Southern Africa, to the coastal waters of the Arctic, Antarctic, UK, North America, Caribbean, Central and South America and the open ocean in the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Southern Ocean."
Locarno launches brand-new Green Film Fund, WWF-backed award
The Swiss gathering has announced the creation of a new prize, the Pardo Verde, and commits to providing financial support for films tackling environmental issues
The Locarno Film Festival, unspooling this year from 3-13 August, is going green and has announced two important, environmentally orientated initiatives. The first is the creation of a new award, called the Pardo Verde and backed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The accolade will be bestowed upon the film in competition that best reflects an ecological issue and offers “audiences new and challenging interpretations that inspire change”. It will consist of a bright-green version of Locarno’s traditional Golden Leopard award statuette.
The second commitment is the launch of a new Green Film Fund aimed at providing financial support for films that tackle environmental issues. The fund will operate similarly to the festival’s The Films After Tomorrow programme, which kicked off in 2020 during the pandemic and turned Locarno into an actual financial backer of independent film projects. The festival disclosed that it plans to use “thematic film funds” increasingly in the coming years to strengthen its position “as a catalyst for change and rethink the future of cinema”. More details about this new fund are set to be finalised and revealed at a later stage. For the time being, we know that the total value of the pot will be six figures and that the fund may back up to three projects a year.
Over the last decade, the Swiss gathering has been particularly sensitive to ecological issues and the ongoing climate crisis, and it has been a climate-neutral event since 2010.
“We are beginning a new chapter in the history of the Locarno Film Festival, an event that has always been alert to the urgent issues of the day. Sustainability is a core need on which contemporary society must concentrate its efforts. At this moment in time, we need to rethink our approach and find new tools to tackle the challenges of the future. A cultural event like Locarno can act to generate, foster and disseminate a new perspective by incentivising films and filmmakers that respect the ecosystem and tell new stories capable of raising public awareness,” stated Locarno managing director Raphaël Brunschwig.
ZDF Studios unveils five premium nature docs from Doclights/NDR Naturfilm
ZDF Studios will be shopping five new 50-minute nature documentaries courtesy of its affiliate, wildlife factual specialist Doclights.
First up is Bee Wild!, an exploration of the pre-domestication life of the European honey bee. Directed and shot by award-winning nature filmmaker Jan Haft, the doc details the benefits that could derive from allowing bees to once again flourish in the wild, as they did for nearly a millennium prior to the 1970s. Haft’s prodco Nautilusfilm produced the film for Doclights and NDR Naturfilm, in association with NDR, Arte, Terra Mater and ZDF Studios.
Wild Netherlands, meanwhile, documents the methods by which the Dutch have kept their country — half of which lies below sea level — from being flooded by the North Sea, and profiles the rich array of wildlife that this preserved land supports, including seals and spoonbills, red and fallow deer, beavers and otters. The doc is produced by Denalifilm for Doclights/NDR Naturfilm in association with WDR, ORF, NDR and ZDF Studios.
Pantanal – Brazil’s Natural Miracle (pictured) spotlights the world’s largest tropical wetlands, which lie in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul and extends into areas of Bolivia and Paraguay. Though the Pantanal provides an invaluable sanctuary for many threatened species, it too remains vulnerable to the depredations of human activity. Doclights and NDR Naturfilm produced the doc, in association with NDR, WDR and ORF.
The Pantanal is also the main attraction in Lydia and the Giants – Into the Wild Pantanal, which follows German behavioral biologist Lydia Möcklinghoff as she ventures into the wetlands to study giant anteaters in their natural habitat, while meeting a variety of the region’s other fauna along the way. Doclights/NDR Naturfilm produces, in association with NDR, Arte and RBB.
Finally, Coming Home – Back to the Wild accompanies some of Europe’s rarest animals — lynxes, minks, pond turtles and ground squirrels — as they are reintroduced to the homelands they were formerly driven out of. The doc shows how these creatures re-adapt to their old skittering grounds while detailing what it will take to keep these fragile ecosystems protected and intact so as to ensure these species’ continuation. Doclights/NDR Naturfilm are once again the producers of record, in association with NDR, Arte, MDR and SWR.
We all need to eat, but the way we do it today is the main cause of biodiversity loss – the treasured variety of life on Earth. It is also a major contributor to the climate crisis – responsible for around one-third of all global greenhouse emissions.
The facts are pretty shocking, and the warning signs are clear. We’re seeing more extreme temperatures and erratic rainfall, increasing water scarcity, collapsed fish stocks, exhausted and eroded soils, and alarming declines in insects like bees that pollinate life-sustaining crops. There’s no doubt that our current food systems are eating our planet.
The good news is that there are huge opportunities to feed the world in a way that works with nature, not against it. If we do things differently, we can stop forests turning into fields, keep rivers flowing, restore soil fertility, reverse the loss of life on Earth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – all the while ensuring there’s enough healthy and nutritious food for every person, now and in the future.
WaterBear slates animal-cruelty doc Slay for Fashion Month premiere
Eco-activist content platform WaterBear Network has slated the premiere of Slay, a new feature doc that aims to raise awareness of the environmental damage wrought by the global fashion industry, for September 8, to coincide with Fashion Month.
Directed by Rebecca Cappelli, who also co-produces along with Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy), Slay foregrounds investigative footage shot over three years to make its case that the fashion industry is responsible for the deaths of 2.5 billion animals every year. The doc also includes interviews with experts and activists who seek to show that the industry also contributes to a host of other urgent contemporary problems, including deforestation, water contamination and the exploitation of low-wage workers.
“The fashion industry is not addressing animal suffering in their supply chain,” Cappelli said in a release. “We have an urgent moral obligation to respond to the suffering of hundreds of millions of individuals in the fashion industry, as animal rights and sustainability are intimately linked. We want Slay to open people’s eyes to the dark underbelly of some of the most common and sought-after skins in fashion.”
“WaterBear Network provides a global hub for converting storytelling into action,” added WaterBear founder and CEO Ellen Windemuth. “Our platform and streaming service helps activists, brands, consumers, and NGOs to deliver on their sustainability initiatives. It’s vital to have powerful documentaries like Slay on our platform to engage consumers and drive change in the fashion industry.”
98% of people fail this quiz. A lesson In cognitive dissonance.
There’s a phenomenon in psychology that affects all of us. It explains things like why Q-Anon supporters are so stubborn, but also things like why we collectively keep letting factory farms cause so much suffering.
Have you heard of cognitive dissonance? Well, even if you haven't, it will be something that you have definitely witnessed in others and even had to grapple with yourself. In today's video we explore what cognitive dissonance is and one of the biggest aspects of our lives where it is most noticeable. In fact, this aspect of it is so large, that it affects 99% of people every single day.
Is Climate Change Really Real? A Don't Look Up Special.
Many people are still asking, 'Is climate change really real?'
Don't Look Up is a 2021 American apocalyptic comedy film written, produced, and directed by Adam McKay, and starring an ensemble cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and a host of other a list actors; it draws a stark comparison to the climate change and climate crisis that faces humanity today.
This video from @Just Stop Oil shows just how true to life the film 'Don't Look Up' is when comparing it to the climate change.
Avian Flu Outbreak 2022, Overfishing Effects on Climate Change & more | Month In a Minute
It’s time for the July edition of Sentient Media’s The month in a Minute, narrated by Jasmine C. Leyva.
The French government tried to prohibit plant-based products from using names like "steak" and "sausage", but just weeks later the country’s high court suspended the attempted ban, deeming it ‘unjustified’
The French government did however confirm charcuterie’s link to colon cancer.
Meanwhile the Turkish government banned vegan cheese. Not just the name, the actual product.
Dutch farmers protested their government’s policy to reduce livestock emissions, leading to clashes with the police. A group of them then blocked the businesses of plant-based food company Shouten and demanded that they change text on their website that listed the negative impacts of animal agriculture.
A report from Open Cages revealed that a million UK chickens die needlessly each week to keep prices low.
Meanwhile, avian flu spread from poultry farms continued to devastate wild bird populations.
A lawsuit was filed against dairy company Organic Valley for their claim that their milk is ‘humane’, alleging that the separation of newborn calves from their mothers could never be considered as such.
A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization looking at the state of world fisheries concluded that Overfishing Urgently Needs Reeling in to Cope With Climate Change.
A new report from the Boston Consulting Group claimed plant-based meat is by far the best climate investment, delivering the biggest emissions cuts of all sectors.
And as we learned that world meat production rose 5% in 2021, the Pope urged young people to eat less meat.
Short or long, documentary or story, thought-provoking, factual, shocking, fascinating, or just simply beautiful: films that will be shown to the public at Innsbruck’s Metropol cinema this autumn at INFF!
The established international Nature Film Competition on the subject of nature, environment and sustainability features high quality projects from throughout the world and celebrates its 21st edition in 2022.
As an environmental film festival in the middle of the Alps, INFF pays special attention to networking and values in the sense of the European Green Deal. INFF is a European platform for the exchange of filmmakers, production companies and broadcasters from all over the world.
Feel free to join INFF personally 15-18 October 2022
From Pre to Post production we can cover the whole production line, with a wide range of in-house equipment, knowledge and skills.
Working in live TV broadcast for over 10 years, I followed my dream and started up my own production company 2 years ago. To turn my Natural history filmmaking and photography passion into a job that I love. Now working with a range of clients creating wildlife content.
Some of our regular clients include Nature parks & Eco wildlife tourism companies which we create documentaries and promotional content for. As well as creating and hosting live awards shows for the international Nature Photographer of the year (NPOTY) contest and editor and filmmaker for online virtual Nature Photography festivals.
Certificate in Wildlife-film Natural history course and a university degree in film & TV production. With work experience working on shows like the BBC natural history unit's "Natural World" series.
Working with a whole range of in-house kits from large format 4K cameras (and higher 8k). With specialist grip and kits, associated with natural history filmmaking. Including high-speed cameras for slow-motion, sliders, motion control time-lapses, cranes, aerial drones, gimbal stabilised rigs, camera traps & macro scopes to name a few. (Please see website for the whole in-house kit list)
We can provide services for all of the production, for example, audio, broadcast engineering & repairs, data management, pre-production & planning, post-production, presenting, writing, narrating, lighting and still photography among others.
With BSP (Benjamin Smail Productions) you are in safe & trusted hands for all aspects of production, to create beautiful natural history documentaries. We don't just offer a wildlife camera operator and video, we offer a solution in creative Natural history storytelling. Of course completely bespoke to the client.
Please contact me for more information I love to hear about new exciting projects!
Newyonder – A global streaming service, film studios and certified B Corp dedicated to leaving our planet wilder through storytelling optimism and change.
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Watch Newyonder Originals in 4K UHD on compatible devices, at any time, and help drive real tangible change from your own sofa – with a % of the revenue going towards regenerative and sustainable impact projects.
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Membership fees help to keep the site going too ... Your support is much-needed! Hoping to relaunch the site this year ... Updated for the new decade ... Will be looking for help from all over the world!!
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