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David Attenborough receives the United Nations most distinguished Environment Award
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today (21st of April) that Sir David Attenborough is the recipient of the Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to research, documentation, and advocacy for the protection of nature and its restoration.
“If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us,” he said. “It’s now time for our species to stop simply growing, to establish a life on our planet in balance with nature, to start to thrive.”
When Sir David Attenborough was a boy, he spent much of his free time bounding through abandoned quarries in the English countryside, hammer in hand. His prey: fossilized ammonites, spiral-shaped mollusks that lived in the time of the dinosaurs.
To a young Attenborough, the fossils were like buried treasures and he was amazed to be the first to set eyes on them in tens of millions of years.
The natural world would keep him enthralled for the rest of his life.
Today, Attenborough, 95, is arguably the world’s best-known natural history broadcaster. During a career that began with the dawn of television, he has penned and presented some of the most influential documentaries on the state of the planet, including his decade-spanning, nine-part Life series.
With what the New York Times called his “voice-of-God-narration” and an insatiable curiosity, he has spent 70 years revealing the beauty of the natural world – and laying bare the threats it faces. Along the way, he has offered hundreds of millions of viewers a vision for a more sustainable future.
“If the world is, indeed, to be saved, then Attenborough will have had more to do with its salvation than anyone else who ever lived,” wrote environmentalist and author Simon Barnes.
The United Nations has recognized Attenborough’s outsized impact on the global environmental movement, presenting him with the UN Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is the UN’s highest environmental honour and celebrates those who have dedicated their lives to tackling crises like climate change, species loss and pollution.
“You have been an extraordinary inspiration for so many people,” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as she presented Attenborough with the award.
“You spoke for the planet long before anyone else did and you continue to hold our feet to the fire.”.
Sir David Attenborough is awarded with the United Nations Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award by the UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen. In an exclusive interview, they discuss Sir David's life, the importance of restoring nature and how science can appeal to the hearts of people.
The Champions of the Earth award is the United Nation’s highest environmental honour. It recognizes outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment.
BWPA 2023 – CALL for ENTRIES is OPEN!
20th April 2022
The British Wildlife Photography Awards is OPEN for ENTRIES with £15,000+ prize fund!
BWPA 2023 is now open for entries. The competition celebrates the best in UK nature photography, and we want to see what you've got!
The deadline for entries is the 19th June 2022.
To submit to the competition, please first register on the new competition website. All entrants will need to create a new account this year.
July/August '22 -- Request for high resolution files
March '23 -- Winners are announced at the awards ceremony
Book & touring exhibition
The winning images from BWPA 2023 will embark on a journey around the UK in our touring exhibition until March 2024.
They will also be published in our Collection 11 book. This hardback, coffee-table book will be filled with the best of our winners and finalists.
Don't forget to take a look at this year's judging panel who will determine the winners: bwpawards.org/judges
We look forward to seeing your entries!
All the best,
The BWPA Team
2023 NFTS MA in Directing & Producing Science & Natural History ... Application Deadline Extended!
Applications are open for the next intake for the NFTS Directing & Producing Science and Natural History MA in January 2023.
First established in 1971, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) has evolved to become a leading global institution, developing some of Britain and the world’s top creative talent. It is widely acknowledged to be the top school of its kind in the UK and one of the best internationally.
Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA
The NFTS runs the only MA course of its kind in the UK, designed to fast track you into the industry. Run in partnership with BBC Studios, the course aims to give students the skills and expertise needed to direct science and wildlife productions, the know-how to produce and direct entire shows and the ability, confidence and knowledge to generate and pitch ideas and formats to commissioning editors.
The course includes masterclasses from industry experts, including the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, and work experience is available at major wildlife production companies. Our graduates have the opportunity to build a brilliant list of industry contacts and relevant skills for a career as a Producer/Director. More here ...
If you do one thing this Earth Day, watch EATING OUR WAY TO EXTINCTION now FREE to View on Prime Video
22th April 2022
In the run up to Earth Day,Eating Our Way To Extinction, from members
Otto Brockway and Ludovic Brockway, can now streamed for FREE to watch with Prime Video.
Narrated by Kate Winslet, this entertaining and surprising documentary will challenge the way you look at the food industry. What is the true cost of food? Who pays the price? Featuring shocking undercover footage and poignant first-hand accounts from indigenous people, this one-of-a-kind documentary will permanently change your perception of food and its connection to the future of our planet.
If we don’t act now, scientists predict there could be NO EARTH DAY BY 2045.
If you do one thing today, watch Eating Our Way To Extinction on Prime Video to learn how our greed is making the planet extinct and most importantly, what we can do to change our path. #noearthday #eating2extinction
With each passing Earth Day there’s a fresh sense of urgency: another brutal IPCC report, more stark warnings, more people taking to the streets in a battle against fossil fuels. We’ve never had less time to act, but we’ve also never had as many brilliant and insightful voices to galvanise and inspire us. This year, we invited a new generation of thinkers, activists and writers to share their thoughts to a question that feels both familiar and daunting: With so many things going wrong, what can we do?
It's a question taken from A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough’s remarkable memoir-cum-manifesto, which takes the reader through nine decades of life spent looking closely at the earth – and mankind’s footsteps upon it. As these four authors – Claire Ratinon, Sam Lee, Ed Winters and Mya-Rose Craig – respond to Attenborough’s question, it feels as though a torch is being passed between the generations, of ideas, of expertise and, crucially, of hope.
Jackson Wild Media Awards Call for Entry Now Open
7th April 2022
Nature film’s equivalent to the Oscars®, the Jackson Wild Media Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in nature, science, and conservation storytelling.
To make the competition more accessible and better reflect the diversity of filmmakers' experiences, the competition features new categories this year including "Breakthrough Film" recognizing achievement in nature-related filmmaking in the face of adversity or limitations, as well as "Global Voices" highlighting non-Western perspectives.
Any film completed since June 1, 2021, is eligible to enter.
Nominate Films and Individuals
for Special Jury Recognition
First introduced in 2021, Jackson Wild's Special Jury Recognitions are not a competition — but rather a recognition by a jury of peers — celebrating impactful individuals and innovative content pushing the frontiers of storytelling about nature, science and conservation.
It is free to submit nominations, with Special Jury Recognitions curated and showcased to define key conversations at the Summit.
This year's World Wildlife Day Showcase includes films spreading the message that the restoration of key species are pillars of humanity’s social and economic well-being, as well as key elements of the planet’s environmental health and biological diversity. The films are free to view and will be available until May 15.
Apply now to be a Jackson Wild Media Lab Fellow in Austria this September!
The Jackson Wild Media Lab is an immersive science filmmaking workshop that brings scientists and creators together to learn from leaders in the profession and work together to develop effective tools to communicate about science, nature and conservation.
Media Lab fellows will work with instructors and mentors to gain hands-on filmmaking experience with professional equipment, learn the science of science communication, and expand their networks with peers and industry professionals.
This highly competitive program will cover all expenses associated with travel, food and lodging during the workshop and the Jackson Wild Summit.
The 2022 Jackson Wild Media Lab will take place September 20-30, 2022 in Neusiedler See - Seewinkel National park, Burgenland, Austria. Applications are due June 3.
Once You Know review – must-watch essay on climate change that tells us it’s already here
Emmanuel Cappellin’s sobering film seeks out those attempting to think past the point of no ecological return
Most climate-change documentaries sound pre-emptive warnings about the consequences if we fail to take action. But this essential cine-essay by Emmanuel Cappellin – a former cinematographer for Yann-Arthus Bertrand – instead takes as its starting point the idea that all is already lost. That, as Cappellin concluded as a nature-obsessed young researcher, whatever projection you choose, capitalism is destined to deplete its resources and collapse within a few decades.
If that sounds depressing, it is. This mournful piece, with the despairing Cappellin looking for answers, consults a series of Cassandras, in the shape of a number of environmentalists and collapsologists prognosticating about whether, and how, mankind can adapt. In post-crisis Greece, examining the country’s potential as a possible laboratory for degrowth, journalist Richard Heinberg wonders about the future: “Are we better off not knowing?” Actually, Cappellin decides, we are not. Where his documentary breaks ground is the curt pragmatism that takes hold. As Bangladeshi climate scientist Saleemul Huq says, it is now the duty of every individual to locate the “emotional trigger point” of what climate change means in their life, so we can decide precisely how to react.
For nearly 30 years the Festival International Nature Namur has been promoting amateur filmmakers and their films dedicated to nature. A contest restricted to non-professionals allows all filmmakers passionate by wildlife and flora to share their realizations with the still growing audience of the Festival.
The 28th edition of the Festival will be held from Friday 14, 2022 to Sunday 23, 2022 in the heart of Namur city. Its rich programming of animal documentary will offer a selection of amateur films highlighted at every show and during the gala evening devoted to this competition. The selected filmmakers will then enjoy their realizations in optimal conditions: comfortable movie theatres, large screens, the latest audio-visual technologies.
What are the requirements to take part?
This contest is restricted to amateur filmmakers. The submitted films may not last more than five minutes and must be dedicated to nature. You find all the requirements in our regulation.
How to enter these amateur films competition?
You can submit your films until July 31, 2022 and fill in the registration form on our website.
ASK FOR TIPS ABOUT YOUR AMATEUR FILM
Our coaching committee can send you on simple request his opinion about your film project or your completed film.
If you are an amateur filmmaker and appreciate shooting films about nature, you can ask our coaching committee for advice. The committee set up by PointCulture will preview, upon request, the amateur film projects, completed or not, sent to the Festival before Sunday, May 15, 2022 at the latest. During the following month the committee will send advice and tips to the filmmakers to improve their project.
Based on these tips the amateur filmmakers who wish it can send the Festival a new version of their film before the closing date of Sunday, July 31, 2022 at midnight.
Are you younger than 21? Are you passionate about nature? Then be invited to the 28th edition of the Festival from Friday 14th to Sunday 23th October 2022.
Exhibit your nature pictures among other photographers during the Festival!
A contest gives the young people the opportunity to show their nature photographs to the visitors of the Festival. Two winners will be given a Youth Grant. This includes the printing of the pictures, the setting up of the exhibition and its presentation as a scoop in the Nature Village. The making of this exhibit will be coached by well-known photographer Michel d’Oultremont. A rare chance to live and share one’s passion with a professional. Do not hesitate and sign in on our website before 15 May 2022.
Become a member of a movie jury and award a prize of the 2021 Festival!
This year the FINN is calling you, passionate of movie and nature, to become a member of our youth jury. A unique opportunity to view new films, to meet documentary professionals and to share your opinion with the other members. The jury will return its verdict during the gala evening of the prize-giving ceremony. Let your opinion be heard and take part in the jury members selection on our website before 15 May 2022.
DISCOVER OUR FOUR INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS AND APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2022 FESTIVAL
The competitions and the applications for the 28th edition are open on our website.
The International Nature Namur Festival organizes four major international competitions, films and photos, dedicated to nature and the wonder it arouses. The film competitions are divided into three categories: professional films, amateur films and ultra-short films (max. 1 minute). The Namur International Photo Nature Competition invites amateur and professional photographers to provoke emotions with their most beautiful images.
The Festival is also launching applications to photographers to exhibit at the Village Nature, including a Young Photographers Grant for young under the age of 21. Two other applications offer the opportunity for associations to occupy a stand at the Village Nature and for students to be a member of the 2022 youth jury.
Entries are now open for the 50th anniversary Grierson Awards. The 2022 gongs will celebrate excellence across 16 documentary and factual TV genres.
This year, the Best Cinema Documentary category is back and the two new categories, Best Music and Best Sports Documentary also make a return for the second year.
During the evening two special awards will also be presented: the BBC Grierson Trustees Award and The Talent Manager Grierson Hero of the Year Award. Introduced last year, the Hero of the Year prize will be presented to an individual judged by Grierson Trustees to have made a positive impact within the industry during the previous 12 months. This person may be working in any behind-the-scenes role and be at any level of their career. The category is free to enter and relies on nominations from others in the industry.
Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust said: “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Griersons, it’s the perfect time to reflect on how far the documentary genre has come and the significance that factual filmmaking continues to have in shaping our perspectives on the world around us. Documentaries are more relevant than ever in reflecting, investigating and showing the human face of the momentous and disruptive events taking place at home and abroad “
Discovery Best Natural History or Environmental Documentary
A single documentary, or an episode from a strand or series, which addresses any aspect of natural history or the environment.
(Re)Wild Holland Documentary - Wildest wildlife of the Netherlands - Trailer – from John Akerman
Enjoy some of the most amazing nature moments witnessed by member John Akerman this past year.
He says "When I needed to move to a new house, I decided to switch from the usual urban environment to something more rural. I filmed in nature next to Veluwe national park for one year and made the most I could out of it, waking up early and staying overnight in wild places all over the country to share what is left of the sheer beauty of Dutch nature. By deep listening and staying present in any new path or route life guided me to, I stumbled upon beautiful places and creatures people drive hours to get a glimpse of. I am grateful to share some of these amazing moments I experienced. I hope they will inspire to reconnect with (your) nature as much as I did."
Featured places in this film include the Wadden Islands Texel and Ameland, Veluwe, Utrechtse Heuvelrug, Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, Noord Hollandsch Duinreservaat, Oostduinpark, Nationaal Park Hollandsche Duinen, Oostvaardersplassen, Arkhemheen (polder), Putterdijk, de Bieschbosch.
Animal species seen: Owls and other birds (of prey) , Seals and other mammals, in the beautiful Dutch wadden islands, wetlands, forests and heathlands.
The idea behind this film is to get an up close an personal connection with the animals to reconnect people with their surroundings, become aware of who falls victim of their consumerism and everyday polluting behaviors, but especially animal agriculture and industrial agriculture which needs to feel and understand who their victims are ... but presented in a very indirect, subtle way.
In the full movie the main message comes in at the very end ... so people can digest all the beauty without their minds going into denial. If you'd like to work with John on this project, or distribute the film, please get in touch with him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
On display until 15 May: I Am Capable by Roxy Furman I Am Capable is a film made by women, about women. The idea behind it grew when life was on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic. Roxy had time to sit, learn, unlearn; to see the world from a different perspective. Her eyes opened to the radical injustice occurring around the world. As such, the stories she wanted to tell through film shifted. Through sharing the story of Amira and the other women, Roxy hopes to ignite real change in the viewers.
Past member Adam O'Hare (we were sad to see him go!) has been nominated for a National Diversity Award, for being a Positive LGBTQIA+ Role Model!
Growing up with a Working-Class background in south west Birmingham, with a deep affinity for nature, Adam likes to promote the wildlife in and around the West Midlands – thus achieving a feature on local BBC News and a TV channel in Birmingham.
Over the years he has volunteered for different projects with the Bat Conservation Trust, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the RSPB, Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, The Wildlife Trust and the National Trust, engaging visitors, other volunteers and staff, about the wildlife seen on site.
During the first COVID-19 Lockdown (2020) he became an ambassador for The Rivers Trust and in the October (2020). Adam was invited (and accepted) to become an ambassador to the UK Wild Otter Trust, hand picked by Gillian Burke! (BBC TV Presenter and Voice-Over Artist). December 2020 - April 2021 he helped his local community, by volunteering with the Northfield Food Service, which is formed due to the Government cutting the funding for free children’s school meals.
Sharing his passion for the natural world, Adam co-presented and co-produced The Wild Side on Cambridge TV, showcasing conservation and encouraging people to get out and see wildlife.
For over 12 years he has documented nature. A series of his short videos entitled Wildlife Monthly, were featured by Reader’s Digest Magazine for over a year (2011-2012). Adam's videos often feature a conservation message and always encourages people to get out and see wildlife for themselves!
For two years he made videos at the BBC’s Gardeners’ World Live Show at the NEC, Birmingham – advocating wildlife gardening; interviewing the Editor-in-Chief of Gardeners’ World Magazine, two presenters from the show, and several show garden winners, all about the nature aspect of gardening, how important it is, and what they had done to encourage wildlife in their show gardens.
We are pleased to announce the selections for the 2022 International Wildlife Film Festival.
Each film has a page on our website where screening details, dates, times, and festival sponsors can be found. We are making plans that include screenings at the Roxy, the Roxy Garden, University of Montana's UC Theater, The Wilma, The Rialto Theater in Bozeman, and a week of virtual screenings that will reach far and wide (May 1-7). The program will be finalized and tickets will go on sale in early April.
Seventy-four films make up the 2022 line-up including 45 shorts and 29 features. Massive applause to everyone who submitted their work for consideration. Once again, we had record breaking submissions numbers and it was a difficult task for our preliminary jury to get down to this list of 74!
Wildlife Warriors is an exceptional series about Kenyan wildlife, made by Kenyans! The Stormborn series narrated by Ewan McGregor features the animals of the North. Between these two some of the most popular animals grab starring roles in our 45th festival including elephants, bats, rhinos, otters, wolves, and seal pups.
David Attenborough is the best of the best and this Spring there will be a David'sDouble Feature as well as screenings of The Year Earth Changed narrated by the GOAT of the genre, himself as it tracks nature's profound capacity for resilience during the 2020 'lock down.'
Some of this year's feature films reveal searing realities in key regions of the world right now like Return Sasyk to the Sea which is about Soviet irrigation experiments in Southern Ukraine. The 2021Sundance selection, Son of Monarchs gracefully combines science with social identity and will sweep you into the monarch butterfly forests of Michoacán amidst reflections of the main character's hybrid identity. The Territory delves into the complexities of land and resources in the Brazilian Amazon and the Uru-eu-wau-wau people.
There are nine short films especially curated to reflect the natural world through a variety of dynamic animation techniques - one of those is this brilliant Beaver short.
The festival will include two cinematic tributes to two icons that passed this year, Dr. Richard Leakey and Dr. EO Wilson.
Our explosive opening film is Sara Dosa's Fire of Love - a favorite of the 2022 Sundance line-up. Miranda July narrates this trove of archival footage documenting Katia and Maurice Krafft's love, obsession, and research within the field of volcanology.
IWFF audiences are unmatched and we are thrilled to welcome guest filmmakers, the 2022 LABS Fellows, and a trio of esteemed final judges to meet our IWFF community. Join us for Q&As, field trips, parties, and a 30 year old Wildwalk parade to kick it all off!
Huge congrats to all the filmmaker teams who have contributed their work to make the 45th International Wildlife Film Festival a very special one! We can't wait to see your faces. - Team IWFF
Wild Side – Chelsea Regan hears from leading executives about trends in natural-history content.
The United Nations’ latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report offered a grim outlook for the years to come should the global community fail to address the unchecked warming of the planet. Among the many considerations in the report are the potential effects on wildlife. Almost half of all species have already lost a portion of their populations because of climate change.
Despite the report’s dark forecasts, there is still time for course corrections—with natural-history programming playing no small part in turning up the dial on awareness for the need to turn down the temperature and protect the planet and its diverse inhabitants.
“It’s essential that wildlife filmmaking is used as a hook to make people understand how climate change is impacting the world,” says Jorge Franzini, VP of original content, development and programming at Curiosity. “When you see wildlife, I think people are much more emotionally aware and empathetic to the fact that this is happening—fast.”
Anne Olzmann, managing director at Albatross World Sales, also believes that wildlife and nature programming have a significant role in raising awareness about climate change—but notes that it’s essential to fit the approach to the audience in question. “Typically, public broadcasters attract an older audience,” says Olzmann. “And I would say many of these viewers often need to be ‘picked up’ by showing them the beauty of our planet first and then reaching them via a protect-what-you-love approach. They first want to fall in love with nature and its species and need some kind of feel-good moment before they will become active.”
As for the younger audiences, they’re keener for media that pulls few punches when it comes to worst-case scenarios for the planet, as they’re also prepared to take action to avoid them. “They want the full truth, direct and without any whitewashing,” says Olzmann. “They are also interested in learning about the beauty of our planet, but at the same time eager to learn how to protect and, what’s more important, ready to act on it. Wildlife programs should feel much more inclusive for the younger audience.”
WaterBear Network, a factual VOD service backed by ZDF Studios and Off the Fence, “is more than just a video platform for sustainability; it is the only platform that unites almost all NGOs on the subject of animals and environmental protection worldwide,” says Ralf Rückauer, VP Unscripted at ZDF Studios. “It has already formed a large community after only slightly more than a year after launch, and it’s constantly growing and evolving.”
Sound recordist Chris Watson compresses millennia of Namib desert ambiance
The UK artist, whose career stretches from Cabaret Voltaire through David Attenborough, brings exhibit to Santa Cruz
Chris Watson has recorded the sounds of desolate Icelandic glaciers, the feral life of a Costa Rican rain forest, and the territorial wolves of Northern India.
World-traveled as Watson may be, however, he unfortunately won’t make it to Santa Cruz later this week when his sound art installation “Namib” is exhibited at Indexical (Fri/29 through Sat/30), the experimental music venue in the Tannery Arts Center. But that doesn’t mean he’s been grounded.
Speaking via Zoom in the days leading up to the exhibition, he explains he had other travel already locked in. There’s a workshop on field recording he’s running in Leipzig, Germany, and then he’s off to Berlin, first to present a new work about ocean sound with Theresa Baumgartner and Tony Myatt, and then a concert with Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sam Slater. The latter is a Ukraine benefit, based on Guðnadóttir’s score for the HBO series about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor distaster.
Like those many projects, Watson’s Indexical exhibit engages with his ever-expanding catalog of environmental audio, collected over the course of decades.
“Namib” takes its name from the locale of its origin. The source audio was all captured by Watson amid the expansive Namib desert along Africa’s Atlantic coast. “Namib” was previously shown, in a simpler form, at the Paul Stolper Gallery in London back in 2014. For Indexical, Watson has entirely revised the piece to make the most of the new venue’s state-of-the-art quadrophonic listening technology.
“There are significant differences,” he explains, “because it’s been spatialized for the system. That’s why I was keen to rework it. The one at Paul Stolper was contained within the picture frame. This is a much more spatial piece; it’s rather more expansive.”
Even if Watson’s name is unfamiliar, you’ve likely heard his work before, as his recordings of the natural world are a frequent presence in documentaries, notably David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, the longrunning PBS series Nature, and Seven Worlds One Planet, which featured his work from Antartica. He started out as a musician in the early 1970s as a founding member of the avant-garde band Cabaret Voltaire, with whom he recorded four studio albums.
In this video, Chris takes the audience on a guided walk through the places and techniques used to create the piece.
The ‘Unlocked’ track is composed from field recordings made by Chris during lockdown in May 2020. Beginning with the rediscovery of the sunrise soundtrack over his suburban garden in North-East England, the piece concludes on the basalt sea cliffs which form the natural defences of the 14th century Dunstanburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast.
“Golden Eagles: Witnesses to a Changing West” Documentary Released
Film Tells the Story of the Challenges the Birds Face and the People Working to Save Them
Wild Excellence Films (WEF) released their documentary entitled “Golden Eagles: Witnesses to a Changing West,” an hour-long film shot in UHD 5K and 6K with RED cinema cameras. It will be broadcast on PBS stations in several states this spring, including New Mexico, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Florida, and will have many more airings throughout the year.
The film tells the story of the stunning golden eagle, a raptor with a seven-foot wingspan and powerful talons that isn’t immune to the challenges of the rapidly changing American West. From climate change to sprawl, invasive species to disease, lead poisoning to energy development, the magnificent birds are under threat from many directions and are a species of serious conservation concern. “Golden Eagles: Witnesses to a Changing West” takes viewers into the field with leading researcher Dr. Charles Preston and his team in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming as they rappel down cliffs into eagle nests to place leg bands on the birds.
“Filming in this wild, underappreciated landscape was a challenge,” said producer and cinematographer David Rohm. “But our footage of golden eagles and the people who dedicate their time to save them makes a strong case for conservation. It’s an honor to be able to tell this story.”
Never-before-seen footage of charismatic eaglets is paired with compelling narration to further the conservation message. Gorgeous aerials of the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem; footage of grizzly bears, sage-grouse, and other animals; and dramatic landscapes show the diversity of this habitat. Narrated by renowned naturalist and author Kenn Kaufman, this beautiful documentary makes the viewer feel like they’re in the field with Dr. Preston for an intimate view of these birds and the science that can help save them.
Viewers will go behind the scenes at wildlife rehabilitation centers where eagles are treated for lead poisoning, and hear stories of Indigenous peoples’ connections to the golden eagle, told by a member of the Crow Nation, Dr. Shane Doyle.
“We were excited to be filming these magnificent birds and to be working with such a great, passionate team,” said cinematographer Melissa Rohm. “One of our focuses was filming the banding of golden eagle nestlings. We captured some unique, never-before-seen moments, and we’re looking forward to sharing the eagles’ story with a wide audience. Many people aren’t familiar with golden eagles, but we hope the film will inspire conservation of this magnificent species.”
Wild Excellence Films worked closely with Wyoming PBS; the Draper Natural History Museum; Kristin Combs of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates; Dr. Shayne Doyle of the Crow Nation; Teton Raptor Center; Jill King from Styling the New West; Susan Ahalt from Ironside Bird Rescue; and naturalist, artist, and author Kenn Kaufman. Funders for the film include the Nancy-Carroll Draper Charitable Foundation; Wyoming Cultural Trust; Wyoming Community Foundation; Community Foundation of Jackson Hole; Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund; Rocky Mountain Power Foundation; and Wyoming Humanities Council.
About Wild Excellence Films
Wild Excellence Films (WEF) specializes in telling compelling natural history stories that promote conservation and science, educating audiences while immersing them in the beauty of the natural world. Their films are factual yet personal, dramatic, and cinematic. They produce their films ethically, taking pride in putting the well-being of their subjects first. Their curiosity and love for animals, plants, and wild places knows no limits, and their films are testaments to that passion. From development to filming, editing to narration and script, Wild Excellence Films is a complete production company. They work with conservation organizations, state and national parks, and public television.
Our soils are going extinct ... We need to stop that happening.
Why Save Soil?
Save Soil is a global movement launched by Sadhguru, to address the soil crisis by bringing together people from around the world to stand up for Soil Health, and supporting leaders of all nations to institute national policies and actions toward increasing the organic content in cultivable Soil.
Save Soil is a Global Movement to initiate a conscious approach to soil and planet. The movement seeks to show governments of all nations that their citizens want a policy to revitalize soil and ecology.
To activate and demonstrate the support of over 3.5 billion citizens, Sadhguru will be riding as a lone motorcyclist, 30,000 kilometers across 26 nations.
The arduous journey will start in London and end in southern India, where the Cauvery Calling project, initiated by Sadhguru, has enabled 125,000 farmers to plant 62 million trees to revive soil and river Cauvery.
Activating citizen participation will ensure that ecological issues become election issues, so that governments create policies and set budgets for ecological solutions, leading to sustained implementation.
Yogi, mystic, visionary, and best-selling author Sadhguru explains how over 5,000 years of industrialized farming has leached nutrients from the world’s soil, and the ecological impact this has had on food production and raising crops. #DailyShow
Disneynature’s Polar Bear Is a Harrowing Journey of Survival In The Age of Climate Change
Director Alastair Fothergill has wanted to make a polar bear movie for Disneynature for years. His passion for wildlife and these majestic creatures resulted in over 20 years of expertise and filming for more than 20 years. He knew there was a story to tell, and it’s only deepened in the dozen years since he first pitched the film to Disneynature.
“I’ve always known that polar bears would deliver—they’re unbelievably beautiful creatures and simply dominant in their habitat,” he says. “And the landscape is amazing; it’s second to none. Plus, polar bear cubs just might be the cutest cubs on the planet, which is perfect for Disneynature.
“We would come to Burbank and pitch our ideas,” he says. “And every year, I’d pitch polar bears. They’re solitary animals—white bears in the middle of an Arctic setting—how do you make a 75-minute movie about polar bears? But I really believed in it.”
Years later, Fothergill’s dream finally came true with Disneynature’s Polar Bear, a new documentary on Disney+ that is reflective of the signature storytelling Disneynature’s films are known for with an entertaining and engaging blend of humor, education, and stunning visuals.
In honor of the film’s majestic and extraordinarily resilient stars, The Koalition spoke to Polar Bears’ Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson about a range of topics including raising awareness, polar bear behaviors, how climate change affects them, and more.
Disneynature’s Polar Bear tells the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. The heart of the story is family—that bond between mothers and cubs. It’s a relationship that lasts between two and a half and three years—in that time the mother will teach her cubs everything they need to know to survive but how does that survival look when the world is rapidly changing around them? How does a species survive when a generation of knowledge no longer applies?
“Disneynature movies [represent] strong engaging characters and stories and we always knew that polar bears would provide that, so initially it was a polar bear story we wanted to tell but we always knew polar bears are at the cutting edge of climate change and it would have been impossible in fact dishonest to make a movie today about polar bears that didn’t refer to. That’s why we actually chose to tell the story through the eyes of a 14/15-year-old polar bear female looking back at her life because over that period where we made the film there’s been a significant change. The environmental message was always going to be there but ultimately, we hope it’s an entertaining and engaging film with environmental messages and under message rather than the front of the film,” said Fothergill.
“But when we first pitched the film, we weren’t expecting it to have an environmental component because we didn’t know at the time how much climate change would affect the Arctic,” Fothergill continues. “We always knew it was happening faster in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world, but we didn’t expect it to be quite as drastic as it is. Polar bears have been forced to adapt—we witnessed it and captured some of those behaviors—it’s extraordinary. But they have a tough road ahead.”
Disneynature’s ‘Polar Bear’ Continues Longstanding Commitment to Conservation of Wildlife
Disneynature’s Polar Bear, premiering exclusively on Disney+ today in celebration of Earth Day, tells the story of a polar bear experiencing motherhood for the first time. “The heart of the story is family—that bond between mothers and cubs,” says producer Roy Conli. “That relationship lasts between two-and-a-half and three years. In that time the mother will teach her cubs everything they need to know to survive.”
Director Alastair Fothergill has been filming polar bears for more than 20 years and knew he wanted to highlight the exquisite animals (and adorable cubs) in a Disneynature film. “When we first pitched the film, we weren’t expecting it to have an environmental component because we didn’t know at the time how much climate change would affect the Arctic,” Fothergill says. “Polar bears have been forced to adapt—we witnessed it and captured some of those behaviors. It’s extraordinary. And we hope this film connects people to the incredible story of these iconic animals and inspires action for their future.”
Today, an estimated 26,000 polar bears remain in the wild, and experts predict that if no action on climate change is taken, we could lose all but a few polar bear populations by the end of this century.
Through Disney Planet Possible, we are committed to creating change for the better—supporting a world where people, plants, and animals all have a thriving place to call home. In coordination with the film’s debut and The Walt Disney Company’s longstanding legacy of protecting wildlife and wild places, the Disney Conservation Fund is investing in solutions to support polar bear conservation with nonprofit organization, Polar Bears International (PBI). Disney’s grant will contribute to researching the potential of a promising aerial radar detection tool that will allow aircraft to identify hidden polar bear dens and protect mothers and cubs; help to reduce possible human-bear conflicts to keep both bears and people safe in the Arctic; and inspire actionable change throughout the world to combat climate change and aid the preservation of polar bears’ habitats.
“Working on behalf of the Arctic’s polar bear community is our priority, and we are beyond excited to continue pushing that important work forward with the support of Disney,” said Krista Wright, Executive Director, Polar Bears International. “There is always more work to do, and we are optimistic of the path ahead as we find new ways to help polar bears thrive today and tomorrow. We hope after viewing Polar Bear, people will be inspired to talk to their friends and family about the film, what they learned, and why polar bear conservation matters.”
To learn more about how to make actionable change, click here.
Changing Planet – Join Dr. M. Sanjayan for an environmental health check of Earth’s vulnerable habitats
From the Arctic to the Amazon, these vulnerable habitats are changing, revealing surprising animal behaviors as species adapt.
Join conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan for the beginning of an ambitious 7-year project, a global environmental health check of six of Earth’s bellwether biomes. From the Arctic to the Amazon, these vulnerable habitats are changing, revealing surprising animal behaviors as species adapt. On his journey he meets the inspiring scientists and communities working to bring about positive change..
Every year, 700 pilot whales are slaughtered on the Faroe Islands despite the protests of animal rights activists.
"In the Faroe Islands, they are close to nature and they don’t lie" Vincent Kelner, Director of A Taste of Whale
Cineuropa talked with the French filmmaker about his documentary and his decision to listen to whale hunters when others are quick to accuse them.
Although Faroese whalers have hunted pilot whales for centuries, their clashes with activists are becoming more common. Now, French director Vincent Kelner is trying to hear both sides and not get distracted by one starry cameo in his documentary A Taste of Whale [+], which just premiered at CPH:DOX.
Cineuropa: What brought you to the Faroe Islands in the first place? The locals seem wary of outsiders coming over to comment on their lives.
Vincent Kelner: At first, I started following the Sea Shepherd crew from France [a non-profit activist organisation for marine conservation]. I came with them, expecting to meet some barbarians. After a while, the team got busy. They couldn’t have me on board all the time. Once I told these people that I wasn’t a Shepherd, just a French filmmaker trying to be as honest as possible, it opened some doors, which was surprising – they trusted me. They were happy I was trying to show both sides. They have been waiting for this film for eight years, but they told me I’ve kept my promise and captured the soul of the Faroe Islands.
French journalist and filmmaker Vincent Kelner serves up a juicy, perfectly cooked dish that is bound to become one of 2022's environmental cinematic hits
Grim images of Faroese people standing in a shallow sea of blood as they slash pilot whales during the traditional killing known as the "Grind" have been a particularly painful sight for animal rights activists, but also for regular people. Arguably, it's one of the strongest visual incentives for vegetarianism, but it’s also a tradition that the islanders are passionate about. French journalist and filmmaker Vincent Kelner's second documentary, A Taste of Whale [+], which has world-premiered in CPH:DOX's F:ACT Award Competition, tackles it in a meaty, thought-provoking and remarkably balanced way.
Kelner takes great care to present both sides of the argument before he actually shows us the Grind one hour into the film, but he already foreshadows it with the design of the opening credits. The first shot is a close-up of one of the principal protagonists, schoolteacher Jens, with drops of blood on his glasses. Then we see him cutting up whale meat in front of his house. “I feel much closer to nature than if I buy chicken in the supermarket,” he says, setting up the issue as a contrast between the industrial rearing of animals and hunting.
Lamya, the lead activist from the Sea Shepherd organisation, whose members were the heroes of the 2019 National Geographic documentary Sea of Shadows [+], on the connection between overfishing and organised crime, says that these are just two different ways of murdering animals. Sea Shepherd boats have arrived to spend the summer off the Faroe Islands and to try to stop the Grind, bringing along Pamela Anderson for a heated press conference.
Kelner patiently builds the story through interviews with the Faroese, where fisherman Tórik is especially outspoken, as well as with the activists, but it is local environmentalist Rúni who provides the most reasonable points. He makes it clear that this is essentially an emotional issue framed as an ethical one.
On March 22, American University’s Center For Environmental Filmmaking presented a student showcase of outstanding videos created with different divisions of the National Park Service including the Office of Science Access and Engagement, the Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance, and Harpers Ferry Center for Interpretive Design.
Thanks to paid fellowships provided by NPS, students have outstanding opportunities to work in the field with scientists, park managers, NPS communicators, and others. From Tlingit cultural practices with Glacier Bay National Park, to wildlife and conservation stories in the greater D.C. area, to historically significant scientific research in Everglades, Indiana Dunes, and Tule Springs, to landscape-scale Biosphere regions, these videos reveal the extraordinary values and resources of the National Park System.
The event was a resounding success! Maggie Burnette Stogner hosted an evening full of incredible panelists from NPS including Chuck Dunkerly, Sarah Gulick, Cliff McCreedy, Tim Watkins, Ann Gallagher, and Mary Beth Moss, along with CEF alums and current students Robert Boyd, Grace Eggleston, Jenna Sittler, Beth Ebisch, Nick Tucker, Patrick Kirby, and Isabella Silva. Opening remarks were made by AU School of Communication Dean Sam Fulwood, and the new director of the National Park Service Charles Sams.
If you missed the showcase - or if you want to relive it:
Cairngorms Connect is Britain’s biggest habitat restoration initiative, delivering benefits for nature and people over 600 sq km. SBP say that they are delighted to have supported Cairngorms Connect over recent years and their latest film demonstrates how a wilder, healthier, more resilient landscape can play a significant role in addressing climate breakdown.
Bonham Carter voices Humble Bee, Netflix series – Wild Babies
Bristol indie, Humble Bee Films has been commissioned by Netflix to make new blue chip natural history series on the lives of wild baby animals with Helena Bonham Carter on board to narrate.
Wild Babies (8 x 30’) follows the complex and varied stories of seventeen wild animal families including baby Lions, Wild Dogs, Sea Otters, Orangutan, Elephants, Grizzly Bear, Bottlenose Dolphins and Emperor Penguins. From Antarctica to Alaska, and from Sri Lanka to Namibia across a total of sixteen countries, ‘Wild Babies’ follows their character-driven adventures from birth, through the developmental milestones that shape their future, to the pivotal moments where they come of age.
“‘Wild Babies’ will resonate with a broad family audience, with heart-warming stories that will feel relatable to viewers around the world” said Humble Bee Film’s Executive Producer Charlotte Crosse. “Delivering an ambitious wildlife series during a global pandemic certainly presented new challenges for our team, but what we hadn’t anticipated were the creative opportunities and innovative approaches that also emerged.”
Executive Producers of ’Wild Babies’ are Stephen Dunleavy & Charlotte Crosse and Showrunner is Beth Brooks.
Every living creature starts life as a baby. From the moment of birth, the adventure of life begins. Some enjoy a blissful babyhood full of playtime with siblings and the carefree fun that comes with learning skills for adulthood. Others have a brutal awakening as they are launched into a game of survival from day one, and have to learn to get by on their own… or not. Born Wild reveals the secret lives of baby animals as we venture into their world for a glimpse of events and interactions we rarely get to see.
This year the BBC celebrates a century at the forefront of British broadcasting and media. Beginning with radio and then inaugurating the “world’s first regular high-definition public TV service” in 1936, the BBC has been a pioneer from its beginnings to today.
As the original British public service broadcaster, the BBC has strived to adhere to the core principles stated by its first director general, John Reith, to “inform, educate, entertain”, while also making (and breaking) its own rules. In celebration of this, we at the BFI have been considering those televisual turning points from the BBC that have helped to shape social attitudes, remake genres and transform television itself. In short, those programmes that were truly ‘gamechanging’.
So what constitutes a gamechanger?
These are the shows that revolutionised the broadcasting landscape by defining and developing entire genres; here is the creative talent that broke ground to represent diverse communities across the UK in new and meaningful ways; these are the programmes whose impact changed social attitudes by challenging the status quo; and the technological landmarks that shaped how we watch television today.
We considered TV that had a transformative impact, like the BBC’s natural history programming, which has enhanced our understanding of our world ... Read more ...
7. Zoo Quest (1954 to 1963)
A BBC team accompany experts from London Zoo as they travel in search of live specimens for the zoo.
How it changed TV
London Zoo’s suggestion of getting a BBC crew to record their trip in search of (initially) snakes inadvertently started a whole new genre of television. Equally importantly, the series introduced David Attenborough as a wildlife reporter. Up until that time, wild animals featured on television were brought into the studio from captivity – the idea of filming exotic species on location was considered impractical by the BBC because of the bulky nature of the 35mm cameras. Attenborough and his team asked their paymasters to let them use lightweight 16mm cameras, and despite misgivings that they produced inferior pictures, they eventually agreed.
The films they brought back proved hugely popular with the audience, neatly combining fascination with education. Over the ensuing years the team travelled to relatively lesser-seen locations such as Madagascar, New Guinea, Guiana and Borneo. By 1963, attitudes towards collecting animals for zoos had changed (there was a movement to only collect creatures in danger of extinction or with threatened habitats) and the series ended. But the genre it started continued to flourish, with subsequent David Attenborough-fronted BBC ventures – such as Life on Earth and The Blue Planet – globally acknowledged as the leaders in their field. – Dick Fiddy
Study finds more 'losers' than 'winners' among plants in the age of humans
A new analysis spanning more than 86,000 plant species from John Kress, botany curator emeritus at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and Gary Krupnick, head of the museum's plant conservation unit, finds that on this human-dominated planet, many more species of plants are poised to "lose" rather than "win." The study was published today, March 10, in the journal Plants, People, Planet.
From changing Earth's climate to destroying, degrading and altering ecosystems on a massive, human choices now largely dictate the environmental conditions across much of the globe and, as a result, which species of plants and animals can survive and persist and which will go extinct. Species lucky enough to be directly or indirectly aided by human activities are likely to survive and can be thought of as "winners," while those that are pushed to ecological irrelevance or extinction by those same activities are the ultimate "losers" in evolutionary terms.
Kress encountered this concept of evolutionary winners and losers in the age of humans (known to some researchers as the Anthropocene), in the writings of John McNeill and wanted to see if it might be possible to tally the plant species that were winning and losing now and in the future.
"I actually started this project from a place of optimism," Kress said. "I had just planted all these trees around my house in Vermont and thought to myself that maybe there are actually more winners than losers, and we are just focused on everything that's disappearing."
In the summer of 2019, Kress brought Krupnick into the fold to help compile and analyze the mountains of data required to put every plant species for which there was enough information into the categories of winners and losers. The researchers split the winners and losers into species that are and are not useful to humans.
In addition to these four categories, Kress and Krupnick created four others: Species that appeared likely to win or lose in the future were deemed tentative winners or potential losers, and species that do not seem to be winning or losing at present were considered currently neutral. A fourth and final category included 571 species that have already gone extinct.
Whilst the above is very likely true the Brock Initiative looks at both the positives and negatives it their Wildlife Winners & Losers Film Series ...
If you didn't read the above article, the conclusion (spoiler!) was this:
"It still looks green outside my window, and that can create the illusion that plants are doing well," Kress said. "But this study suggests we're on course for a big loss of plant diversity, and we better wake up."
On his Wildlife Winners & Losers film series, Richard Brock says, “Some years ago when I was in the renowned BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol I was getting more and more angry that some programmes were basically “lying”. I even said that to David Attenborough, perhaps not a great career move. But there was a definite reluctance to show much at all about what was really happening to the planet. In fact, any “gloom and doom” was rejected by the commissioners – in their apparent wisdom. Indeed, the series Blue Planet (One) was shown in full on BBC1 but the truth, in the last episode, was hidden away on BBC2. In the USA, where that last episode “Deep Trouble” was not shown at all, a potential donor to charity said he’d seen the series, as shown, with no problems visible in the oceans. Now, years later, David tells it as it really is – plastics and all. What a difference the truth makes.
Richard explains, “My series “Wildlife Winners and Losers” looks carefully with well-documented evidence at these changes – past, present and particularly the future.
Using previously unseen footage from the recent past we bring the story right up to date and try to look forward as to the winners and the losers we might expect – and why. As far as I know, no one has done this so deliberately around the world with so many species and places. And you can help too…
With films across over eighty subjects, we find many examples of winners, or, at least those trying not to be losers!”
My Wildlife Winners and Losers series shows that films can be made – with basic footage filmed on any device – to help get the word out about conservation.
“There is still time to save the planet. My Wildlife Winners and Losers series is my contribution.
Now it’s your turn. Watch these free films. Choose from these 80+ films of different lengths to inspire you to take action.
They’re free to watch and share with as many people as possible. Use the Series to give you ammunition to help save the planet.”
So, it's true, we had better "wake up" ... It's URGENT now ... Are you going to help!?
The last film in the series is Crisis in Corfu Seals included? – One of the world's rarest seals, the monk seal, needs peace and quiet and somewhere safe to rear its pups. In the Mediterranean there are few sanctuaries left, where this is possible. On the beautiful Greek island of Corfu, wild places still exist, but changes threaten from a development company in New York. Can this paradise and its endangered seals survive in a classic conservation challenge, as Covid-19 wrecks the tourist trade in the Med?
Donations to charity will be welcomed. If you would like to contribute – say £10 – to Richard’s preferred charity local charity, the Avon Wildlife Trust, based close to where he lives, near Bristol, or to a charity of your choice, please do so. These days many charities need income to help continue projects around the world.
'Prehistoric Planet' Teaser Video Shows Sir David Attenborough's Dinosaur Documentary Series from Jon Favreau
Let's take a walk with the dinosaurs.
Apple TV+ has released the first look at Sir Richard Attenborough's hotly-anticipated dinosaur documentary series, Prehistoric Planet. (Imagine the above monologue in Attenborough's dulcet tones for just a sec. Okay, read on.) Releasing an episode daily from May 23 through to May 27, the show will "transport viewers over 66 million years in the past to discover our world and the dinosaurs that roamed it," promises the official synopsis.
The teaser looks like a real prehistoric party, with blockbuster effects and glorious visuals. The real draw, of course, is Attenborough's narration: no doubt many across the nation are gonna fall asleep with this one on in the background, as many of us have been known to with Attenborough's wider documentary oeuvre. It looks to be doing away with some of the unscientific mythologies perpetuated about the giant lizards by movies like Jurassic Park, showcasing dinos with feathers, and a long-necked herbivore with some interesting breathing nodules on its throat.
The natural history event series is executive produced by Jon Favreau, Mike Gunton, and BBC Studios' Natural History Unit, Planet Earth. Prehistoric Planet will debut globally on Apple TV+ during a five-night event — Monday, May 23 through Friday, May 27 — with a new episode each day. Catch the teaser and a short video below.
Experience the wondrous story of life on Earth… 66 million years ago. Prehistoric Planet arrives May 23 on Apple TV+
Experience the world of dinosaurs like never before in this epic docuseries from Executive Producer Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. With David Attenborough and accompanied by a breathtaking score by Hans Zimmer, Prehistoric Planet is a five-night documentary event coming to Apple TV+ May 23rd.
Filmmaking story tellers of the natural world are invited to take advantage of this unique opportunity to pitch their planned project to a board of commissioners, producers and distributors at the PITCHINGSESSION of the International Wildlife Film Festival GREEN SCREEN 2022.
The Pitching Session itself is open to the public and follows international rules:
The presentation of your project may take up to seven minutes. After that the attending experts and decision makers are invited to evaluate the project and, if applicable, to express their interest.
This year GREEN SCREEN is again planned as an in-person-event in Eckernförde.
Due to possible Covid restrictions and climate-relevant constraints of long-distance travel, there will be an additional possibility of virtual presentation of pitches and online participation of experts as well.
To participate, the following must be submitted
An Exposé, describing the project should be described, including approximate shooting time, locations and the people involved. (not more than two pages)
A short CV
An approximate budget idea
If available, a trailer or other footage or visuals
The sooner we know who plans to pitch, the better, even if not all documents are ready.
A pre-selection panel will select 8 to 10 participants for the pitching session from the submitted projects by 1st August 2022. Two of the pitches will be reserved for French participants in the context of this year’s focus on France.
Some of the projects that have been presented in recent years are now in production! Participation is in any case an enriching experience!
As the promotion of emerging talent in naturefilm has always been a concern of GREEN SCREEN, submissions by newcomers and ambitious young filmmakers are encouraged. Please feel free to spread the word!
See you at GREEN SCREEN in Eckernförde September 7th - 11th 2022!
Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough review
David Attenborough joins palaeontologist Robert DePalma at the Tanis site in North Dakota as he unearths the story of the dinosaurs’ death in this thrilling documentary
In July 2013, palaeontologist Robert DePalma began excavating a patch of dirt in the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota. Though he had initially been pessimistic about the site, he soon noticed something strange: small spherical droplets of rock called ejecta. These are a common signature from interstellar bodies hitting planets, and they were scattered throughout a layer of soil from an ancient flood triggered by the asteroid impact, perfectly preserving its contents, Pompeii-style.
As DePalma dug further, he discovered a trove of pristine fossils that he suspected were from the late Cretaceous period – the last time non-avian dinosaurs roamed free before the catastrophic Chicxulub asteroid wiped them out. There are scant fossil records from that fateful day, which makes the site, named Tanis, one of the most significant palaeontological finds of all time.
DePalma kept his discovery secret before announcing the site’s existence in 2019, after which a BBC documentary team joined him at Tanis for three years. Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough follows DePalma and his team of dinosaur-hunters as they unearth, fossil by fossil, the story of the dinosaurs’ deaths. David Attenborough is on hand to check the exhumed specimens over with fossil experts, and to explain what they tell us about the creatures’ final moments, armed with a healthy dose of dinosaur CGI.
Though Attenborough is his usual stellar presenting self, the show deviates from a typical BBC nature documentary. Sharing equal screen time with the (animated) animals are the arguably more interesting palaeontologists. At one point, DePalma strikes upon a patch of fossilised triceratops skin. “This is the closest thing to touching a living, breathing dinosaur,” one of his colleagues says, his excitement palpable.
The rhythm of the show is closer to a true crime whodunnit, with Attenborough poring over the Tanis fossils in darkly lit labs.
Master Wildlife Filmmaking Podcast episode 40: Jayaprakash Bojan
National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Turned Wildlife Filmmaker
From Nature Photographer to Wildlife Filmmaker, Jayaprakash has taken the leap and now spends the majority of his time filming wildlife in Singapore for NGOs.
“Growing up in the heart of western ghats(India), you wake up everyday to the harmony of birds chirping along with the sounds of wind against the leaves and the mellow melody of the babbling brooks and feel a pure sense of serenity.
Nature shares its bounty unconditionally and in abundance. This realisation humbles me to have deep regard for mother nature.
I felt a sense of responsibility and a deeper sense of relation that prompted my dedication towards conservation.
Having realised early that words fail me has paved a perfect medium in Photography that has enabled to share my story to the world around me.” - Jayaprakash Bojan
The Covid crisis has taught us we can’t go back to how things were before.
So how can we fight back against the climate emergency? How can we reverse the destruction of nature? How can we heal the UK’s wellbeing crisis? How can we protect our communities from increased flooding? How can we bring wildlife back to our degraded rivers, lakes and ponds? Wetlands Can!
Yet we’ve lost so many, with 90% destroyed in England alone. Worldwide, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, and much of what remains is in poor quality. They need your help.
Wetlands occur where water meets land. They include marshes, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, deltas, floodplains and wet woodlands.
Store carbon – Wetlands such as peatlands and saltmarshes store more carbon, more quickly, than all the world’s forests combined.
Reduce flooding – Wetlands are like natural sponges. They store excess rainwater, slow the flow of water downriver and provide a buffer from the sea.
Improve wellbeing – Feeling part of nature is hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Research shows that 65% of people find being near water has a positive impact on their mental health.
Restore biodiversity – Nature is in freefall. Wetlands help to clean our water and bring a whole range of wildlife back to our degraded rivers, lakes and ponds.
Join our movement
"We all stand to benefit from more wetlands in our lives and together we can make this happen."
Kate Humble, WWT President
Pledge your support ... Join WWT’s urgent pledge to create 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands around the UK by adding your details here.
With your support, we will campaign for change and urge the UK government to prioritise and invest in more wetlands. Each name we collect will build momentum and help us solve today’s pressing climate, nature and wellbeing crises.
One World, Infinite Wonder: Netflix’s New Climate Change and Sustainability Collection
For Earth Month, Netflix released a new collection of nearly 200 films, specials, series, and sorts about the environment and climate change to bring attention to the state of our planet.
Don’t Look Up is the second most-watched English language film of all time. Don’t Look Up follows two astronomers trying to get humans to care about the massive comet that will destroy planet Earth, which is a metaphor for climate change.
Now, Netflix created an entire community for users to immerse themselves in topics of climate emergencies. The One World, Infinite Wonder, Netflix’s Earth Month collection, features 170 films, specials, series, and shorts that address environmental issues and climate change.
Dr. Emma Stewart, Netflix’s Chief Sustainability Office, wrote in a blog post, “This Earth Month, let us entertain you with stories about our planet and its heroes — with everything from cooking shows to dramas, stand-up comedy specials to family titles, to nature documentaries and climate fiction.”
The collection includes series, films, and specials like Our Planet, Animal, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, and the new five-part series Our Great National Parks narrated by President Barack Obama.
Off the Fence, Curiosity close 80-title deal across multiple genres
The Amsterdam-based distribution arm of Off the Fence (OTF) has announced a deal with global factual entertainment brand Curiosity for a 190-hour package of content across the natural history, travel, true-crime and history genres.
The deal will see OTF deliver 80 across-genre titles to Curiosity’s flagship streaming service, Curiosity Stream, including both series and feature documentaries.
Highlights of the deal include Terra Mater Factual Studios’ Earth: The Nature of Our Planet (3 x 60 min., pictured), which explores the beauty, complexity and challenges of our world over three episodes: “Air,” “Land” and “Water.”
Also in the package is My Greek Odyssey, with the first four series totaling 41 hours worth of content. Produced by The Rusty Cage, the series brings viewers aboard superyacht Mia Zoi for a voyage around the Greek islands, with detours into the region’s history, culture, cuisine and peoples.
In this episode, the All Around Project Crew heads back into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana, to continue filming for their upcoming documentary, and are filming on a gimbal system to create more dynamic motion in their shots.
We are using the Hydra Arm by Tilta to help us get smooth shots on the DJI Ronin RS2 and Blackmagic Pocket 6k Cinema Camera. We head all over the park, capturing dynamic footage, and even traveled several hours up north to Nxai Pan National Park to film lions at a waterhole there..
This is Part Three of several videos in a behind the scenes of filming wildlife in Africa series I am putting together from my trip to Africa. Wildlife filmmaking is such an incredibly rewarding and yet also highly frustrating job at times - however I wouldn't change it for the world. The production I am working on is for the All Around Project - link: allaroundproject.com and I can't share any details about the project, as I am under an NDA. But keep an eye out on their website for more details in the future.
The Hauraki Gulf – one of the most bio-diverse harbours in the entire world, but over-fishing and too much run off and sediment is strangling the mauri out of this unique harbour and threatening future generation’s enjoyment of it.
It is in collapse.
The council has released damning report after damning report for over twenty years. Seachange has been working away for over six years. Legasea, Revive our Gulf, Sustainable Coastlines, Greenpeace and others have all been banging away. With no result.
Finally the government has released their Revitalising the Gulf report. It is a much-needed step forward but people still need to know what the issues are, what possible solutions there are and how wide reaching will this new Ministry of Fisheries action really be.
It is widely recognised that this is a hugely complex problem with local government, central government, farmers, developers, recreational fisher people, the commercial fishing industry and twenty-four iwi, all with different agendas. But all their agendas will be rendered null and void if the gulf collapses.
There is no room for further green fatigue.
Now is the time for action.
Please come on board.
Member The Sound Room scored ths series and says "Fantastic and super topical 7 part documentary series we had pleasure of scoring recently - expertly sound designed and mixed by Mike Bloemendal. Directed by Simon Mark-Brown, Produced by Angela Hovey for Republic. Streaming NOW."
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park was the first marine park established in New Zealand. It reaches from Te Arai to Waihi in the North Island, an area of more than 1.2 million hectares which includes more than 50 islands. It is a unique, bio-diverse and a much-loved body of water,but it is in a state of ecological collapse.
Seasick - Saving the Hauraki Gulf is a seven-part series initiated by the release of many bleak reports on the state of the gulf. The alarming decrease in crayfish, paua, scallops, fish stocks – most sealife. How has it come to this? Who are the culprits and what can be done?
Over 18 months we have interviewed more than 70 people – all with strong, well-informed points of view.
We investigate the history of fishing, commercial and recreational, fisheries management in general, the Quota Management System and look at marine reserves. Most agree with more marine protection but there is conflict over what that should look like.
It seems apparent that not enough has been done fast enough. Time is running out to save the Hauraki Gulf. There are stories of hope – we just hope they will be in time.
How a BBC veteran, Green MP and exams expert developed a brand new qualification
Mary Colwell, a 25-year veteran of the BBC natural history unit, has long been worried that the nation’s historic skills in recording natural history have slowly been disappearing among “increasingly disconnected” younger generations.
Her solution? A new GCSE, specifically on nature.
“It’s very hard for someone not in education to get into the system,” the television producer told Schools Week. But it was an idea she “wouldn’t let go of”.
She first thought of the new exam 11 years ago and in 2017 launched a petition that received 10,000 signatures. But the Department for Education, then led by education secretary Justine Greening, shot down the idea, saying it “was covered in the current national curriculum”.
It’s rare for new GCSEs to be approved, in recent years at least. In the previous parliament – until December 2019 – there was a ban on approving new GCSEs following widespread reforms.
But Colwell is not afraid to put in the hard yards (she walked 500 miles across the UK and Ireland to raise awareness of the decline of curlews, a large European wading bird).
Plans backed by Green MP and exams boss
The pivotal moment came in 2018 when Green Party MP Caroline Lucas offered her support, before sharing the vision with Tim Oates, the director of assessment research and development at Cambridge Assessment, which owns exam board OCR.
The three-strong team helped to write a model specification for a potential exam, running a consultation during the pandemic.
Nadhim Zahawi, the education sercretary, said it would offer young people “a chance to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding” of the Earth, its environment and “how we can come together to conserve it”.
Colwell hopes “first and foremost”, it will help connect young people back to the natural world.
The Grierson DocLab is back for its 10th year and has named the 13 aspiring young filmmakers elected for its factual television training scheme.
Jane Callaghan, Managing Director of The Grierson Trust said: “Our principal objective with DocLab is to effect change from the bottom up by opening doors and bringing young people into the industry who wouldn’t normally have access or a way in. This work is supporting and supported by the independent production sector in developing our off-screen talent of the future. Together, we’re ensuring the future of the industry, increasing the diversity of our teams whether in class, race, geography or gender.”
Of the 2022 cohort, 77% come from outside of London, 62% are female and 38% male, 46% have an ethnic background other than white British, 38% are living with a disability.
Rebecca Cudmore (25, Manchester): graduated in Wildlife Conservation with Zoo Biology before completing a Wildlife Documentary Production MA, during which she “learned the basis of documentary work and found my eyes opened to the media industry where wildlife sciences can be applied, and I knew I had found my place in the world.”
A new, voluntary standard for studio facilities that has been created by and for the industry. albert and Arup launch voluntary global environmental standard for studio facilities.
The Studio Sustainability Standard is a voluntary standard for studio facilities that has been created by and for the industry.
By taking part, studios will be able to focus and pinpoint key areas within their facility, where they can make improvements to reduce their environmental impact over 6 key areas: Climate, Circularity, Nature, People, Management and Data.
Participating studios will receive a bespoke performance report as well as a grade which will allow them to benchmark their own progress as well as compare themselves to other studio facilities across the globe.
The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 review – a crack team goes on a wild cetacean chase
Joy in nature and scientific geekery fuel this documentary quest for an elusive whale, whose unique song was first detected 30 years ago.
The world’s loneliest whale was discovered in 1989 when his mating call was picked up by US Navy underwater surveillance designed to detect Russian submarines. The frequency of the whale’s singing, at 52Hz, was much higher than other large whales. Was this guy the first of his kind, or the last? Could other whales understand him, or was the 52 a lonesome wanderer, crossing the ocean looking for love, singing into the darkness? The story went viral in 2004 after an article in the New York Times, inspiring hashtags – #TheSaddestThingEver! – and back tattoos.
Now comes this documentary, directed by Joshua Zeman and executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s much easier to find than the whale, frequently sighted onboard a yacht with a supermodel). Zeman charters a boat called Truth and assembles a crack team of oceanographers to solve the mystery of the 52. Spotting the whale will be harder than looking for a needle in a haystack, warns one of the experts – and this is a film raised a fair few notches by the wonder of geekery, the absolute joy of seeing scientists living and breathing their work.
The Loneliest Whale will be available on AppleTV from 4th April: apple.co/3Lh91A8
A day with Kenya’s Nat-Geo explorer Clement Karagu
It’s a chilly and dreary morning, with heavy rain just abating at the gates of the Nairobi National Park. Murphy’s Law came in strong this morning. It’s only 7am but it seems like everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
“Don’t worry, as soon as we get into the park, all that will melt away,” Clement Kiragu says, in high spirits. I relax a little, and as soon as we begin the game drive, it turns out that he is right. We came to the park because that is where he is most in his element, and it is beautifully therapeutic, as if there is an unwritten sign saying, “You have now entered a worry-free zone,” that you instinctively understand.
It helps that it’s also the only place on earth where you can do that – get off the city tarmac and into the tranquility of the Savannah in one motion because the park is right next to the city, unlike anywhere else.
Kiragu is one of the best photographers in the world and the wild is the home of the magic that he produces. He is a Canon ambassador, and has now joined an extraordinary group of exceptional individuals who are out in the world illuminating and protecting our world through science, exploration, education and storytelling – The National Geographic Explorer community. The community has included greats such as Jane Goodall, Jacques Cousteau and Kenya’s Paula Kahumbu.
“Are you always up that early?” I ask him, as we were to catch the sunrise at the park at 6am. Turns out that yes, he is. Documenting wildlife is no walk in the park. If you are in the same camp with him, he will always be the first to leave and the last to arrive.
The Legacy of Disney's True-Life Adventures Series
"Strange as fantasy yet straight from the realm of fact" - well, almost.
Being founded on a cartoon mouse doesn’t destine a film studio to focus on animals, but Disney has always been happy to turn to the natural world for subject matter. Mickey Mouse was succeeded by more realistically animated critters in the Silly Symphonies series and in films like Bambi and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. These days, as majority owner of National Geographic, Disney broadcasts plenty of documentary material beyond what it produces under its Disneynature label. They have healthy competition in that field from the likes of Discovery, Apple+, and the BBC. All these modern efforts are part of a tradition largely established by Walt Disney himself through his own nature films: the True-Life Adventures series.
The documentary film as a genre predates Walt, of course, and such early pioneers as Robert Flaherty touched on natural subjects in their work. But what the True-Life series did was to popularize the idea of nonfiction movies devoted entirely to the animal kingdom that could serve as entertainment and education in equal measure. Across seven two-reel shorts and seven films released over twelve years, the series brought eight Oscars to the studio. It helped inspire a generation to take an interest in animals and won praise from naturalists – as well as a few sharp rebukes, deserved and undeserved in turns.
At the beginning, however, making a film of any length about animals was an act of desperation. The 1940s were grim years for Walt Disney Productions and for Walt personally. World War II, a string of expensive underperformers at the box office, and the bad feelings caused by an animators’ strike all put severe limits on what the studio could produce. Many a passion project of Walt’s foundered from the lack of manpower and resources. The package features that kept the lights on didn’t excite Walt the way Snow White or Fantasia had. He needed something new to get his hands into, and the studio needed to diversify if it were to survive.
The industrial and educational material Disney produced for the war effort was briefly considered as a viable peacetime option, but Walt wanted to stick to entertainment (his biographer Bob Thomas reported that he ended a meeting on an industrial short with an order to return the money to clients who would no longer be getting a film). The studio slowly eased into live-action filmmaking but ramping up production in that area faced comparable limits as animation. Seemingly on a whim, Walt hired the husband/wife team of Alfred and Elma Milotte to head north to Alaska in 1947. The Milottes had experience shooting footage for travelogues, and Walt thought a film might be gleaned from what he called “our last frontier.”
The filming expedition went on for over a year. Reams of 16mm footage came back to Burbank from Alaska, for classification by subject. No one, even Walt himself, knew at first what he was going to do with all that material. The Milottes had been directed to observe seasonal customs of the native inhabitants, but it didn’t take Walt’s fancy. What did take his fancy was a sequence shot off the Pribilof Islands of fur seals. Walt assigned director James Algar and producer Ben Sharpsteen to make something of the footage, with the order to avoid any shots of human beings. The life cycle of the seals would dictate the story. Along with the concept, Walt provided the title. “It’s about seals on an island, so why don’t we call it Seal Island?"
As the inaugural effort in the True-Life Adventures series (a series announced before Walt had any follow-up subjects in mind), “Seal Island” established the template that its successors, and so many popular nature documentaries since, closely followed: a narrator and a full musical score provide a solid framework to guide viewers through wildlife footage. Flourishes unique to the True-Life series include the magic animated paintbrush that begins each film with illustration before transitioning into reality. Winston Hibler takes a jovial and slightly detached approach to deliver the narration, largely written by Algar and which tends toward the cheerful. A careful study of the editing suggests a good deal of effort went into splicing bits and pieces to fit the narration rather than the other way around, and human customs and attitudes are often relied on as illustrative aides. But nothing described in the story is implausible, and most of it corresponds to the real behavior of fur seals.
Walt was charmed by the results, but he had a hard time charming anyone else. Big brother and business partner Roy Disney worried about the costs; $100,000 wasn’t exorbitant, but they were still in lean times. Distributor RKO saw no prospects for selling a half-hour short on seals. When faced with such reluctance in the past, Walt had gone straight to the audience; he did so with “Seal Island,” arranging for it to accompany a feature film at a Los Angeles theater in December 1948. This qualified the film for an Academy Award nomination for best two-reel documentary, which it won. The day after the ceremony, Walt took the Oscar to Roy and told him: “take this over to RKO and bang them over the head with it.” I doubt Roy followed through in the literal sense, but RKO did give “Seal Island” a wide release, and the True-Life series launched in earnest.
Dr. Sylvia Earle Celebrates
New Hope Spot Champions of the Sargasso Sea
What is now the Sargasso Sea Commission began in 2009 as an initiative to protect the iconic North Atlantic high seas ecosystem. This was a challenge, as the only way the Sargasso Sea could be protected was to push complex international agreements for ocean conservation, often not designed with high seas systems in mind, to their limits.
The Sargasso Sea was first named a Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2011, and is now recognized with the Commission as its Champion. The Hope Spot Champion’s next step is to conduct an Ecosystem Diagnostic Analysis utilizing two major grants to inform the development of a long-term conservation strategy – the first of its kind.
TV, film and commercials production have made great strides in sustainability. The challenge now is to get even greener, both on set and on screen. Pippa Considine reports
The TV industry is on track to radically cut emissions on productions. At the same time, there’s now a watchful eye on editorial, keeping narratives real for the audience, helping with sustainable choices.
Major UK and international broadcasters and services have pledged to get to net zero by 2030. Netflix is on track to get there before the end of this year. With physical production making up around half of broadcaster emissions, this means that producers must go green. At COP 26, with the Climate Content Pledge, 12 UK broadcasters and streamers committed to engage and inform audiences on climate change.
The good news is that lockdown saw the carbon footprint of productions in the UK halve, as clocked by the annual report from TV’s environmental support organisation, BAFTA’s albert. In 2020, the average reduction in tons of CO2 emissions per hour of TV produced dropped to 4.4 tonnes, down from 9.2 in 2019. While the number of productions measuring their environmental footprint via albert surged by over 600, to around 2000.
The next steps
As we emerge from the pandemic into a production boom, we need to stick with remote technologies and address power sources and reduce fuel used to get people and kit to and fro. Best case scenario, staying green can save money as well as proving credentials. Although the initial additional workload, alongside health and safety requirements, diversity, wellbeing and so on might seem like another cliff-face, it’s one that has to be scaled.
In carbon reduction speak, it’s not just the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scopes 1 and 2, but GGP Scope 3 emissions that now need to come down. With Scopes 1 and 2, broadcasters have been focusing on reducing impacts in their own back yard, but Scope 3 means addressing impacts right down the length of the supply chain, putting pressure on productions and their own suppliers to walk the environmental walk.
Measuring impacts is widely acknowledged as the starting point to reducing impacts. Albert’s carbon calculator, originally developed by the BBC and gifted to albert in 2011, has been critical for the TV industry. Next step is for all productions to be albert certified. “We’re there to hold the industry to account on science-based targets,” says Katy Tallon, albert industry sustainability manager, “the certification is a good thing to strive for on the route to net zero.” In 2020, while certified production numbers were up to nearly 500, this was just one quarter of the number of shows using the calculator.
On March 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST the premiere of Wildlife In Our Backyard, an award-winning short film created in collaboration with the fStop Foundation happened!
It is often said that people must learn to tolerate wildlife, but what happens if people learn to thrive with them instead? What would that mean for the people of Florida? What would that mean for our native wildlife? These questions are particularly important in understanding the endangered Florida panther. Human development encroaches on panther habitat and with each new development comes new roads, which are deadly to panthers. In this film, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation highlight why it is so important that we share the landscape with wildlife.
Advertising-supported on demand and streaming video is growing fast - is it the new nirvana for Broadcasters?
With AVOD growing rapidly as a key, non-subscription revenue model, how are broadcasters taking advantage?
Dave Castell, GM EMEA, Inventory & Partnerships, The Trade Desk, Katie Coteman, VP, Advertising & Partnerships, Discovery, Dan Fahy, SVP Streaming, UK, Paramount, Tom Harris, Connections Manager UK & Ireland, AB Inbev, and chair Gideon Spanier, UK Editor-in-Chief, Campaign, discuss the rapidly growing world of AVoD and what this means for broadcasters at an RTS event at the Cavendish Conference Centre on Tuesday 15 March.
Dynasties II: David Attenborough’s new series to show hyenas aren’t ‘cackling scavengers’ from Disney films
New David Attenborough series ‘Dynasties II’ will challenge the ‘bad press’ given by hyenas by films like Disney’s ‘The Lion King’
Stop cackling – Sir David Attenborough wants to redeem the reputation of the hyena in his latest BBC natural history series.
Dynasties II follows the struggle to survive and establish the genetic line of “unsung heroes” of the animal kingdom, such as the hyena and puma.
Narrated by Sir David, the BBC One series reprises the format which won eight million viewers in 2018.
One episode follows the dramatic story of a group of spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena, living on the vast grasslands of Zambia’s Liuwa Plain.
When their Queen dies during a severe drought, a power struggle ensues between rival females to lead the clan.
The producers say they hope to reverse the negative reputation of hyenas, portrayed as treacherous scavengers in Disney’s 1994 version of The Lion King.
Series Producer Simon Blakeney said: “For many years hyena, in a similar way to sharks, have had a bad press in everything from wildlife films to children’s stories.”
“However, there is so much more to their lives than the stereotype of cackling scavengers.”
“What we hope we have shown in Dynasties is not only their sophisticated social lives, but also the softer side of their characters – whether that is the care of their vulnerable cubs, the support shown between individuals, and even their love of a refreshing splash in a pool!”
VMI Awarded Ealing Business Pioneers To Promote Sustainable Lighting Training
VMI have been awarded an Ealing Business Pioneers grant to help fund running in-person courses to spread awareness of the benefits and advantages of the latest LED lighting technology. These reduce energy use and benefit sustainability goals.
With this award VMI is launching a series of three-hour in-person workshops for busy producers starting in May to be based at West London College’s Studio at the Ealing Green Campus, the home of the original BBC Ealing Studios.
Andy Casagrande IV - Emmy Winning Filmmaker, Shark Specialist & Family Man – MWF Podcast Ep. 39
Andy Casagrande IV knows a thing or two about sharks as he spends most of his time underwater with them. Andy's not afraid to give away great advice and inspire a new generation of filmmakers!
Andy Brandy Casagrande IV aka (ABC) is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, field producer & television presenter specializing in adventure & blue-chip wildlife documentaries worldwide.
From King Cobras & Killer Whales to Great Whites Sharks & Polar Bears, Andy's innovative cinematography & unorthodox camera techniques are helping revolutionize the way the world sees & perceives wildlife.
From super-slow motion & thermal-infrared to night-vision & remote-controlled spy-cams, Andy shoots with the most advanced camera technologies on the planet and continues to push the boundaries of wildlife filmmaking to shed new light & perspective into the hidden lives of the planet's most feared & misunderstood predators.
With more than 100 wildlife films credits to his name Andy has shot & produced films for the world's top television networks including National Geographic, BBC, Discovery, ABC, NBC, CBS & Animal Planet, etc. Andy's life-long mission is to inspire people to care about our planet & its vanishing wildlife.
Andy bleeds on camera while recording this interview. Let's hope that doesn't happen when he's diving with sharks!
If you want to get the BTS on the podcast guests, extra podcast content, CatchUp Conversations and more check out the Patreon page to get more info: patreon.com/MWFP
Barack Obama hosts series for Netflix that explores national parks
David Attenborough, who? Barack turns TV host for Netflix's new nature documentary series exploring national parks and wildlife around the world - the latest project from the Obamas' lucrative multi-year production deal
Former President Barack Obama has turned his attention from global politics to the great outdoors as he steps into a new role as a nature documentary host for a Netflix series exploring the world's national parks — and all of the wildlife that live within them.
Our Great National Parks is described as an 'epic' five-part series, which will be narrated by Obama, 60, and will 'invite viewers to celebrate and discover the power of our planet’s greatest national parks and wild spaces.'
Premiering April 13, the show — which will include Kenya's Tsavo National Park, the rainforests of Indonesia's Gunung Leuser National Park, and the landscape of Chilean Patagonia — comes from Higher Ground Productions, which the Obamas launched as part of a lucrative multi-year deal with Netflix in 2018.
Spanning five continents, the series brims with wonder, humor and optimism as each episode tells the story of a national park through the lives of its wildest residents — both big and exceptionally small — and explores our changing relationship with wilderness,' reads the series synopsis.
Curiosity's Jorge Franzini on the Strengths of Natural-History Content
Natural history and wildlife has long been a pivotal genre under the umbrella of factual content. Over the last couple of years, it has continued to prove more than capable of connecting to audiences around the world—taking them on trips beyond their living rooms, introducing them to new ideas about conservation and combating climate change and giving them an up-close view of creatures big and small with whom we share the planet.
Jorge Franzini, VP of original content, development and programming at Curiosity, talks to TV Real Weekly about the present popularity of natural-history content with viewers, connecting them to wildlife stories and how titles with animals at their center can raise awareness about the challenges facing our world.
TV REAL: What is the current international demand for natural-history and wildlife programming?
FRANZINI: It’s as strong as ever, particularly as we’ve all been confined to our living rooms and homes. The idea of a little bit of escapism and seeing the natural world around us—I don’t want to speak for others, but for me, it was a huge deal. It’s really reflected in the way that projects are being made right now, what commissioning editors are looking for. For Curiosity in particular, natural-history content that we’ve done in the last 18 to 24 months has done extremely well. It’s always been one of our major tentpoles, but it’s really fantastic to see the amount of viewership, particularly in our last few releases.
TV REAL: What is the key to connecting viewers to wildlife stories?
FRANZINI: When you’re talking about wildlife, the blue-chip element is still very critical—being able to see these majestic giants up close. Or even the opposite of that: seeing the little guys that you really never pay attention to take up your entire screen. That’s always a great hook to bring people in. One of the things I’ve been seeing, particularly in the past few years, is this mixing of genres. This is something that, for Curiosity, performs quite well. We look at wildlife shows as not just wildlife shows. They can be science shows. They can be history shows. They can be travel and adventure shows. Those hooks also bring in different audience members that perhaps weren’t so enticed right off the bat about wildlife programming, but coming into it, they’re completely blown away by those visuals. One great example of that for us is Evolve.
Evolve is a six-part series that we did with Patrick Aryee across four continents. It’s got really high-quality, top blue-chip filmmaking in terms of the natural-history sequences. But we’re also on this journey with Patrick to look at the way that we as humans are implementing what the natural world has mastered throughout its evolution—and how we can take that into new and emerging technologies to radically change the way we live in our world for the better. When you start doing those sorts of things, when you start putting boots on the ground and seeing the human element in it, viewers are really starting to resonate with that.
The other thing that I would say is that conservation when it comes to wildlife filmmaking is as important today as it ever was. What we’re starting to see a shift away from is the doom and gloom. We know that there are issues. The viewers know that there are problems. If all we do is beat people over the head about them and just talk about how horrible the state of things is and not present any sort of solutions-based ideas, most people will tune out. That is a huge detriment to the filmmakers and the stories that we’re trying to tell. We are seeing less doom and gloom, more solutions-based programming. Not to put a happy smile on it, but: Here are the people who are really working their butts off to make a change in the world when it comes to conservation. I think that’s something that we’ll continue to see. There’s certainly enough noise around us with all of the negative things that it’s really uplifting and inspiring to put a different spin on it. Filmmakers are really clever in that they’re doing that more and more nowadays.
Rebellion review – thoughtful documentary telling the real story behind Extinction Rebellion
How an unlikely bunch of grassroots activists changed the face of climate-change protest in Britain forever
This balanced, thoughtful documentary tells the story of Extinction Rebellion from the inside. It’s directed by first-timers Maia Kenworthy and Elena Sánchez Bellot, who capture the anything-is-possible euphoria of the first wave of protests in April 2019 – activists feeling on the right side of history, no longer powerless and alone with their anxieties about climate change.
One of the activists is Farhana Yamin, an environmental lawyer who superglued herself to Shell’s headquarters in London. A seriously impressive no-nonsense woman, she has spent more than three decades trying to make a difference from the inside, attending nearly every major climate summit since 1991. Frustrated by the blah blah blah and inaction (and the lobbying funded by the fossil fuel industry), she joins the protesters. Her husband beams with pride as the police arrive. Her son taps into his phone: “Mum is being arrested outside Shell” (presumably on the family’s WhatsApp group).
The film-makers chronicle the inner tensions at XR with fairness and sensitivity – this is a documentary that you feel you can trust. One of XR’s co-founders Roger Hallam, an organic farmer, becomes a splintering figure. His laser focus and stubbornness, so vital in starting a movement from scratch, begins to look self-righteous and blinkered. When XR members oppose flying drones close to Heathrow, he says it’s his job to be unpopular. It’s painful watching footage of angry rush-hour commuters confronting XR protesters glued to a train in east London. Social media reactions flash up on screen: “Middle class telling working class what to do.”
Channel 4 has commissioned Kids in the Wild (w/t) from Love Productions and Motion Content Group.
The show will take place this summer will transport a group of children “back to an idyllic old-fashioned summer and the carefree abandon of Swallows and Amazons, away from their parents for the first time.”
Under the supervision of trained professionals, a diverse group of 20 nine to eleven-year olds from across Britain will spend part of their summer living in nature, without parental rules.
The series will be filmed in a rural area of Britain at the start of the 2022 school summer holidays. The group of up to 20 children will spend a fortnight living in a specially created wilderness camp.
They will have to learn to cook and eat in a camp setting and sleep in a communal bunk house as well as encountering the social challenges of the group as they learn to live with other children they have not met before. “How will this lockdown generation react to nature and will it change the way they think and feel about the world they will inherit?”
On camera the children will be supported by adult camp counsellors who will educate them in how to enjoy living in the wild. Additionally, there will be trained chaperones who will ensure the children are safe at all times. Their parents will also be on site, able to watch their progress from remote cameras. Halfway through the shoot the children will be able to take a break and spend at least one night with their parents.
Sara Ramsden, Executive Producer at Love Productions, said: “New and mounting evidence suggests that experiencing adventurous play is effective in reducing childhood anxiety. As this series will break kids away from their screens, we hope it will shed light on the ongoing debate about the influence of phones and social media on children.”
Madonna Benjamin, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor, said: “Kids in the Wild will celebrate childhood by giving the children the opportunity to experience a summer of fun, adventure and new discoveries. It will explore how this generation has been deprived of so much freedom and provide a chance for social cohesion they’ve missed out on. We hope that audiences will gain a privileged insight into just how adaptable and resourceful our children can be.”
Martin Oxley, Executive Producer at Motion Content Group, said: “At the heart of Kids in The Wild is a fascinating and timely exploration of the impact modern life is having on children today, granting them freedom in an idyllic setting to see if they can be set free from the anxieties and pressures that worry parents so much.”
Kids in the Wild (w/t) is a 6×60” made by Love Productions for Channel 4. The Channel 4 Commissioning Editors are Anna Miralis and Madonna Benjamin. It is executive produced for Love Production by Sara Ramsden. The Series Producer is Sue Medhurst.
Kenya, Five Others Win Netflix & UNESCO African folktales Film Competition
Kenyan filmmaker, Voline Ogutu, and five other Africans emerged winners of the Netflix and UNESCO Sub-Saharan Africa’s short film competition.
Other winners that emerged from the competition include Gcobisa Yako (South Africa), Loukman Ali (Uganda), Mohamed Echkouna (Mauritania), Korede Azeez (Nigeria) Walter Mzengi (Tanzania).
Each winner will receive $25,000 plus a production budget of $75,000 to create short films through a local production company and under the guidance of Netflix-appointed supervising producer and industry mentors from across the continent.
“Congratulations to the six winners! The fact that their films will be shown to a global audience is part of our commitment to promote cultural diversity around the world,”Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO said.
African wildlife features heavily in African folk storytelling and so we look forward to what these film-makers produce!
WarnerMedia-Discovery merger officially closes
The long-awaited mega-merger between Discovery and AT&T closed on Friday April 8th, combining the WarnerMedia business with Discovery, Inc.
The product of the merger is the standalone media and entertainment company Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. The company’s portfolio will include assets such as Discovery Channel and Discovery+, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN and CNN+, HBO and HBO Max, HGTV, the Food Network, Investigation Discovery, TLC, TNT, TBS, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, New Line Cinema, Science Channel, Turner Classic Movies and more, bringing them all under the same umbrella.
Warner Bros. Discovery will begin trading on the Nasdaq with the beginning of trading on April 11, under the ticker symbol WBD.
“Today’s announcement marks an exciting milestone not just for Warner Bros. Discovery but for our shareholders, our distributors, our advertisers, our creative partners and, most importantly, consumers globally,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a news release.
“We are confident that we can bring more choice to consumers around the globe while fostering creativity and creating value for shareholders. I can’t wait for both teams to come together to make Warner Bros. Discovery the best place for impactful storytelling.”
AT&T CEO John Stankey added: “With the close of this transaction, we expect to invest at record levels in our growth areas of 5G and fiber, where we have strong momentum, while we work to become America’s best broadband company. At the same time, we’ll sharpen our focus on returns to shareholders.”
The agreement’s closing, which was structured as a Reverse Morris Trust transaction, brings in $40.4 billion in cash to AT&T, along with WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt. AT&T shareholders received 0.241917 shares of WBD for each share of AT&T common stock they held at the closing of the deal. As a result, AT&T shareholders received 1.7 billion WBD shares, representing 71% of WBD shares on a fully diluted basis. Discovery’s existing shareholders own the rest of the company.
Scubazoo Collaborates with SAYS, Malaysia's Number One Social News Site
"Scubazoo is proud to have worked with SAYS (Malaysia's #1 social news site) on producing this documentary that highlights the issue of depleting seafood in Malaysia due to illegal fishing every year."
Do you know how many baby sharks and rays are killed and sold in our fish markets daily?
This is mainly due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, which usually consists of wrongful activities such as overfishing, bycatching, and fish bombing conducted by not only local fishermen, but also foreign fishing boats.
Malaysia loses about 900,000 tonnes of seafood to illegal fishing every year, which costs us around RM3 billion to RM6 billion. Our fish stocks have been continuously depleting by 70% to 95% since the 1950s.
MILKED The Documentary Is Finally Here, And The Dairy Industry Might Not Like It
In an effort to increase transparency around food production, MILKED takes a deep dive into the dairy sector
Highly anticipated documentary MILKED has finally arrived, and can be watched now via Plant Based News.
Years in the making, the feature-length film dives deep into the darkest corners of the dairy industry, in an attempt to uproot the picture-perfect narrative carefully constructed by animal agriculture’s largest organizations.
In MILKED, activist Chris Huriwai travels Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand), speaking to experts in medicine, ecology, politics, and business in search of answers.
“We originally planned to investigate the environmental and health impacts of all animal agriculture in Aotearoa. But once we got further into researching, it was obvious that dairy was the story to tell,” MILKED director and producer Amy Taylor said.
And that story isn’t as idyllic as it’s often made out to be. Alongside disturbing animal welfare violations, the dairy industry is to blame for excessive water and land use, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, the film explains.
That’s part of the reason why the team behind MILKED launched a petition alongside the film’s release. The petition urges for a global reduction in dairy herds – by at least 25 percent – over the next three years.
There are four variations of the petition: one each for the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, and New Zealand. Those interested can sign the petition(s) here.
For over three decades, Compassion in World Farming, alongside its supporters and patrons, has been campaigning to have animals legally recognised as sentient beings.
First by campaigning for the introduction of animal sentience in EU law, and recently focusing our attention on making sure animals in the UK have the same legal recognition following Brexit.
As we celebrate this historic victory, let's look back over the hard work and dedication that got us here.
1988: Compassion in World Farming starts campaigning on animal sentience
It was back in 1998 that Compassion in World Farming began campaigning to get the European Union to recognise animals are sentient beings.
Our former CEO and current Ambassador Emeritus Joyce D’Silva reflects on how the campaign started in her 2020 guest blog. She notes that in 1998 the EU treaty didn’t mention sentience, instead only referring to animals as “goods” and “products” like sacks of potatoes.
1988-1991: Compassion led a coalition of organisations across the European Union to gather signatures for animals to be recognised as sentient beings, able to feel pain, joy, and suffering.
1991: One million signatures to the EU
In 1991, we handed in over one million signatures to the European Commission calling for animals to be recognised as sentient beings. This was the first-ever EU petition to reach one million signatures!
1992: A declaration that recognised animals can feel was annexed to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.
1994: The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, and later, a majority of the full European Parliament, endorsed our petition.
1996: Dame Joanna Lumley delivers petition to 10 Downing Street
In 1996, our patron Dame Joanna Lumley delivered a petition to the British Prime Minister. This helped to secure the status of animals as sentient beings at the Intergovernmental Conference on Reform of the Treaty. The UK was also instrumental in convincing other Member States to act during the discussions on EU treaty reform.
Cow is a movie that has one purpose and one specific target audience. It exists to persuade vegetarians to go vegan. If you care enough about cows to go see a ninety-minute-long movie about them, you’re probably at least a vegetarian already. If you’re already a vegan, then it’s because on some level you already know everything this film has to show you and likely won’t gain much additional insight from it.
Dairy farming is horrible, you knew that, but probably not the details. Just like the fashion and textile industries, industrial fishing or sex work. Most people consider it a necessary evil that they prefer not to think too hard about. It’s one thing to know something and another to confront it. I didn’t know all cows had horns. I assumed female dairy cows were bred not to grow them, but no, they all grow them, except they’re cauterized off while the calf is young.
"How Autism Connects Me With Animals" Emily Moran Barwick AKA Bite Size Vegan
She says: "It's with some trepidation that I am finally speaking about how my Autism has helped me connect with non-human animals. I fear that I cannot possibly do this topic justice, but I wanted to try—best I can.
In today's video and article, I share about my experiences growing up Autistic. How my difficulties with communication strengthened my empathy for and understanding of non-human animals' sentience. How I knew how it felt to never be truly understood. How it broke my heart thinking of what non-human animals were experiencing at the hands of humans; that, no matter how desperately and clearly they communicated their terror and pain, they were ignored and discounted.
This is a deeply personal topic, and was very challenging to put into words. While this video and article aren't everything I wanted them to be, I hope at the very least that sharing how I see the world differently may help others begin to think differently."
Growing up Autistic, I believe my difficulties with communication strengthened my empathy for animals. It broke my heart that no matter how desperately and clearly they communicated their terror and pain, they were ignored and discounted.
In partnership with Sinergia Animal, We Animals Media have just concluded one of their largest investigations, exposing the cruelty at Thai fish farms and markets.
We now have hundreds more photos and video clips available that lay bare the reality of farming fish for food.
Despite the enormous suffering fish endure, it can be difficult to encourage empathy with them. Off-land, unblinking, scaled and finned, it seems to require extra imagination for people to make a connection.
Thailand is a major consumer and exporter of fish, killing hundreds of millions each year. Our investigation documents fish tossed alive into buckets filled with ice; fish suffocated in open air or in plastic bags; diseased fish; and fish often gutted and descaled alive. This happens at small fish farms and at some of the largest markets and wholesalers in the country.
These visuals are free for all animal advocates to use so that less imagination is needed. Sinergia Animal is using these visuals for their advocacy, campaigning for these producers to change their practices.
Microplastics found in human blood, avian flu cases surge in the U.S. & more in Month in a Minute
The time is here again! At the end of each month, we’ll recap the top stories in just one minute.
In March, bird flu raged on, claiming the lives of thousands of innocent animals. Plus, the UN adopted a historic resolution on animal welfare, researchers found shark DNA in pet food... and so much more.
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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Fiona Tande – A multi-talented Kenya-based wildlife film-maker.
Assistant camera operator, Drone pilot (FPV), Presenter/Narrator, Assistant, Runner, Researcher, Underwater assistant camera operator, wildlife conservationist, field director, production manager, stills photographer.
Pridelands Wildlife Film Fest, (PWFF), is the first of its kind film festival in East, West, North and Central Africa, dedicated to wildlife and conservation factual storytelling with African storytellers at the heart of the narrative. The annual event will be a convening of industry stakeholders from Africa and the world over, where opportunities to learn from each other, network and collaborate are fostered to produce groundbreaking series/films while promoting local engagement, inclusion and diversity in natural history filmmaking.
Pridelands Films is a Kenyan based wildlife film agent, as well as a platform to represent and champion for the inclusion and participation of local talent in natural history filmmaking. We believe the more African storytellers are engaged, the more inspired audiences at the grassroot levels will be and the more impactful wildlife and conservation films will be.
Both organisations were Founded and are run by the multi-talented Fiona Tande ... Assistant camera operator, Drone pilot (FPV), Presenter/Narrator, Assistant, Runner, Researcher, Underwater assistant camera operator, wildlife conservationist, field director, production manager, stills photographer.
Christian Heschl is a multi-award-winning film & TV composer and musician located near Vienna. His diverse repertoire ranges from live-recorded epic full orchestral scores to pure production music or small intimate ensembles.
To date, he has composed music for numerous projects featured on international networks. These include National Geographic, DiscoveryChannel, PBS, AmazonPrime, SonyUK, NBC/SyFy, SWR, ARD, WDR, ARTE, ORF, and many more.
He is best known for scoring the highly acclaimed NBC/SyFy documentary “Todd McFarlane - Like Hell I Won’t”. It tells the captivating story of comic artist legend Todd McFarlane”, the creator of ”Spider-Man”, “Venom” and “Spawn”.
He also scored the PBS/TerraMater Film-epos “The Hippo King” directed by EMMY nominated director/cinematographer Will Steenkamp (BBC Planet Earth II, Hostile Planet, Primates).
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