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Talking to people from around the world of wildlife film-making.

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Susan Scott - 2017 Rhino film calendar still available - STROOP
By Jason Peters
1 January
2017

Between finishing filming and editing what promises to be the definitive film on the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, the award winning STROOP filmmakers, Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott announced their 2017 STROOP calendar in December last year and they still have stock available.

We sat down with STROOP's director to find out more about the calendar and of course when the film will be released!

The calendar looks great with images from the crisis throughout but thankfully none of them are graphic, and it looks like each month is themed. Why did you feel you had to go to this effort to put a calendar out there?

Yes, good question! Well, our film is publicly funded. And because of that, both Bonné and I feel all the time that the public needs to be part of the film's progress every step of the way. Which is why we have such a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we connect with those that the film belongs to... the public. Obviously when we're filming a bust or an arrest with the rangers in Kruger or we're with the state prosecutors in court, we can't live tweet about that! The absolute last thing we want to do is jeopardize a case or an arrest. But the calendars seemed like a great way to give back to the public... our partner on the printing, Burblepix really came to the party and they lowered the price dramatically so that we could get it out there for a really good price of R199 within South Africa or $19 on international orders… oh and two or more orders are couriered for free on all South African orders. You can't beat that price and the quality is exceptional!

Indeed, some spectacular images, are they all from the film?

Every image is from the filming of STROOP. And while we have filmed some absolutely heartbreaking scenes, I think the biggest thing that has surprised me while filming STROOP for the past two years has been the human element. Wow, we have some amazing people out there doing incredible things. And to be able to document that and show that in a positive way has been a priviledge. And I think we both felt that we had to put out a calendar where its owner through the year is reminded of the terrible plight of our rhinos, but not through graphic images of death, blood and horrendous pain but through seeing the work being done on the ground. The vets are saving so many lives doing groundbreaking treatments and surgeries and that has to be seen, let alone what the rangers, state prosecutors, investigating officers, pilots, rhino owners, activists and so many others are doing. So this is a calendar of hope.

When is the film going to be done and why is it taking so long!?

We are hoping for release mid-2017 and I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been feeling this huge pressure not only from everyone expecting so much from STROOP but of course we feel the pressure to get the film done because of the ongoing death of rhinos. We feel that, we really do... But, there actually have been quite a few documentary films and countless in-depth news reports about the crisis and they largely go unnoticed. Why is that? And a large majority of those working on the ground have told us that it is because a majority of them bounce in for a few days and aren't able to grapple the huge dynamics of the issue. We certainly didn't understand that and we thought we'd film for a few months and be able to document the crisis. Heck no! We had no idea what we were getting into and if we're battling to figure out the issue and get to the bottom of all the backstories, how can we expect the public who owns this film to understand these complexities if we don't unpack it wholly for them. As Bonné always says, "we have one chance to get this right, only one chance and everyone is expecting so much from this film... we have to get it right for the rhinos."

So, a huge aspect of that is the cost. Obviously the longer it has taken us the more it has cost us. As you know, we have sold our houses, moved in with our mothers (!) and poured our investments into STROOP... we could not ask the public to believe in us if we didn't do so first. So an ongoing funding option for us has been pre-ordering digital downloads of the film which is a great idea because instead of buying the film after it is made, one buys the film BEFORE it is made, thereby helping the filmmakers make the film. And while that has been great, we really felt the calendars were a great way to give back and actually some members of the public gave us the idea by asking for some of the images from our social media posts from the field to be put in to a book or a calendar.

To order your 2017 STROOP Calendar: www.sdbfilms.com/stroop-film

Read more here!

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Chris Palmer

Chris Palmer - Author of Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King
By Jason Peters
31 March
2015

An interview with member Chris Palmer, author of Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom and a new book, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King.


What inspired you to write this second book, following on from your controversial first book Shooting in the Wild?

The quality of wildlife programming is in decline. In 2010 (when I wrote my first book, Shooting in the Wild) only a handful of shows committed the offenses of animal abuse, audience deception and disinterest in (or harm to) conservation. Today in 2015 there are dozens of these productions exploiting nature in the pursuit of profits. Something has to be done about it. My new book, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King, is an effort to raise awareness of the problem. As we enter the sixth major extinction event in the earth’s history, broadcasters like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, and National Geographic should be leading the way in calling attention to humanity’s impact on the planet, not exacerbating the problem. Confessions is an indictment of the networks and a call for them to produce better programming.

Chris Palmer - 'Confessions' Book Launch
by Berna Elibuyuk on flickr!

Chris Palmer - 'Confessions' Book Launch
by Berna Elibuyuk on flickr!

This book is much more personal than the first, more autobiographical, why is that?

I wrote a more personal book in order to appeal to a broader, more diverse audience. The book is full of interesting stories that non-filmmakers can relate to.

Read the full interview here!

Snake

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Tom Mustill - Director of The Bat Man of Mexico
By Jason Peters
13 June
2014

An interview with member, Tom Mustill, the director of The Bat Man of Mexico, a Natural World Special, first showing on BBC Two at 9pm on Friday the 13th of June 2014.


What's the story of your latest film?

It's about a man called Rodrigo Medellin, who is a Mexican conservationist. His great passion is bats, and the film charts the end of his twenty year effort to pull a species called the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat back from extinction, and follows his journey alongside the bats on their migration, which takes them 1500 miles across Mexico from giant underground volcanoes to desert islands. What's rather special about the film is that it is a pretty audacious success story - Rodrigo and his team have brought the bats back from a very precarious level, and now their populations are thriving.

Read the full interview here!

Snake

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Steven Ballantyne on his life and work in Asia.

Steven Ballantyne, Asia based fixer, researcher, line producer, location scout /manager and founder of Expedition & Production Management (EPM) Asia Ltd talks to Wildlife-film.com about his life in Asia, his passion for logistics and why he is happy to help production companies for FREE with content development.

Steven, you are originally from the UK, when did you move to Asia and what prompted the move?

I moved to Hong Kong 5 years ago, there were a number of factors that lead to this decision but primarily it came down to life style. I love Asia and have spent over ten years exploring, working and experiencing as much as Asia as possible – from the Jungles of Papua New Guinea to the Deserts of China and Mongolia to the foot hills of Tibet and India – My personal adventures and remote location production logistics work have and continue to take me across this amazing continent, so moving to Asia was always on the cards.

Read the full interview here!

Get a Free Fact sheet from EPM Asia - Protecting camera kit from humidity.

Contact Steven Ballantyne - steven@expeditionmanagement.com - +852 6992 2571 or visit his website: www.epmasialtd.com

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Raymond Besant, on his career and experiences.
By Maggie Gowan, Director of BWPA
January
2013

Raymond Besant won the BWPA film award in 2012 for his work capturing wildlife off the coast of his native Orkney.
www.bwpawards.org/page/2012_winner_wildlife_in_HD_video

How did you get interested in wildlife and film?

I grew up in the Orkney Islands and have always been interested in wildlife. I started recording the things I was seeing and bought my first camera from Boots when I was eight years old! Everything was hopelessly far away and out of focus but I had great fun trying. I studied Biology at University but went freelance as a photographer in Aberdeen straight after graduating. I had fairly basic kit but worked hard and was later offered a post at a big regional newspaper where I covered national stories and sporting events.

During this time I started filming wildlife in my own time with my ultimate goal to become a wildlife cameraman. I love both disciplines and they share common themes e.g. I compose the pictures as I would stills but with film you are always thinking about the next shot as essentially no matter how short your film is you are telling a story.

Making short films like those for the BWPA Wildlife in HD award where it is limited to 90 seconds is a great way to learn to be more succinct. This can be difficult, but you have to be ruthless!

Winning this award is a fantastic way to raise your profile. I have always just tried to focus on my own career and work hard but in reality there are an awful lot of people out there trying to get into wildlife film making. So awards like this help in terms of exposing your work to a massive audience and getting your name out there.

Read the full interview here!

Snake

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Job Jealousy: Elizabeth White - Filmmaker BBC Natural History Unit
By Into The Wild (Jenny Collins - Online Journalism Intern)
November
2012

Into The Wild loves to speak to people with inspiring and envy-inducing jobs linked to wildlife or travel. As a filmmaker for the BBC Natural History Unit, Elizabeth White certainly fits the bill. Having worked on the incredible Frozen Planet, we thought it would be nice to speak to her and ask her all about it...

When did you first become interested in animals and photography?

I have always been interested in animals - I was an avid rock-pooler as a kid and loved summers holidays for it!  I did a lot of art growing up and studied art at A-level. I remember having a 'happy snap' camera in my teens, but my first proper camera was a 21st birthday present. I signed up to a City & Guilds course at the same time and never looked back - I really love the way a picture can tell a story, capture a moment or bring back memories in an instant.

How did this lead you to the BBC?

I studied zoology at Bristol University and joined the SCUBA diving club where I first learned to dive. Friends in the club new people who worked for the BBC Natural History Unit...

Read the full interview here!

Snake

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Job Jealousy: Doug Allan - Cameraman on Human Planet, Blue Planet, Frozen Planet
By Into The Wild (Maria Sowter - Online Journalism Intern)
October
2012

Cameraman Doug Allan has provided some of the most remarkable wildlife and natural history footage to have appeared on our screens, including many of the unforgettable sequences seen in hugely popular series' such as The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet, and Frozen Planet. We ask Doug about his amazing career, from his favourite wildlife encounter to what it takes to be a cameraman. A truly fascinating interview well worth a read...  

You graduated with honours in marine biology. How did you end up becoming a cameraman?

My first passion was diving, which I started at school. That led to a marine biology degree, but on graduating in 1973 I decided I didn’t want to be in what I termed ‘science at the sharp end’ so I cut loose and simply looked for excuses to dive. Two years later I read an article in a fdive mag written by someone who’d just been a scientific diver in the Antarctic. I applied to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and in 1976 was heading south to one of their research bases on a year’s contract as Diver. Best move I ever made. The job involved some stills photography, over the course of several more winters with them I took up movie, sold some to the BBC for s series on birds, realised that full time wildlife filming encapsulated so much of what turned me on so slipped away from BAS and onto the open seas of being a freelance cameraman.

Read the full interview here!

Sophie Vartan on her exit from NHU Africa, plus ventures old and new!
By Jason Peters
July
2012

Sophie Vartan has founded several successful initiatives, including NHU Africa, the Wildlife Film Academy & Wild Talk Africa. She executive produced over 150 hours of wildlife programming before leaving the NHU Africa family at the start of this year, citing a wish to take some time out and then move on to pastures new... This has actually meant re-launching her old production company, DewClaw Productions, but with a fresh outlook and a new take on a film school...

How did you feel about leaving NHU Africa and the other initiatives (Wildlife Film Academy & Wild Talk Africa) given that they were essentially your babies?

It was exactly the right time for me to leave NHU Africa. I had been the CEO of NHU Africa since its inception in 2007 and I believe it is never good to stagnate in the same job for too long. Of course it is wonderful to see your ideas become fully-fledged and sustainable in their own right as it means you have done something right. I guess similar to when your children grow up and leave home... if they are independent and don’t need you anymore, then you have been a successful parent! The teams at NHU Africa, Wild Talk Africa and Wildlife Film Academy had been with me for a very long time, most of them back in the DewClaw days, so I know they were more than capable to carry on with the good work. I have a lot of new ideas that I would like to see through which would have never worked under the NHU Africa banner so I was excited to move on to pursue those. Change is often a very good thing!

Read the full interview here!

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Since the late 1990s Wildlife-film.com has been the leading source of information for the wildlife filmmaking industry worldwide. For over twelve years the site has been Google's number one ranking site for 'wildlife film' and related searches. Our site is viewed in over 175 countries. Our newsletter, Wildlife Film News, is read every month by thousands of people involved in wildlife filmmaking - from broadcasters and producers, to cameramen - we encourage readers to submit their news. We also serve as an online resource for industry professionals and services. Find producers, editors, presenters and more in our Freelancer section, and find out about festivals, training and conservation in Organisations. We encourage amateur and professional freelancers to join our network and welcome all wildlife-film related organisations to join our team.

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