Raymond Besant won the BWPA film award in 2012 for his work capturing wildlife off the coast of his native Orkney.
How did you get interested in wildlife and film?
I grew up in the Orkney Islands and have always been interested in wildlife. I started recording the things I was seeing and bought my first camera from Boots when I was eight years old! Everything was hopelessly far away and out of focus but I had great fun trying. I studied Biology at University but went freelance as a photographer in Aberdeen straight after graduating. I had fairly basic kit but worked hard and was later offered a post at a big regional newspaper where I covered national stories and sporting events.
During this time I started filming wildlife in my own time with my ultimate goal to become a wildlife cameraman. I love both disciplines and they share common themes e.g. I compose the pictures as I would stills but with film you are always thinking about the next shot as essentially no matter how short your film is you are telling a story.
Making short films like those for the BWPA Wildlife in HD award where it is limited to 90 seconds is a great way to learn to be more succinct. This can be difficult, but you have to be ruthless!
Winning this award is a fantastic way to raise your profile. I have always just tried to focus on my own career and work hard but in reality there are an awful lot of people out there trying to get into wildlife film making. So awards like this help in terms of exposing your work to a massive audience and getting your name out there.
What tips would you suggest to budding wildlife film makers?
You have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. A well known Scottish wildlife cameraman said “It's a difficult profession to break into...but not impossible" and that was the encouragement I needed.
Trying for 5 or 6 years before getting a break isn't unusual and my experience is similar to this. My advice is to get any camera you can and go and make a short film. It doesn't need to be complicated.
My winning BWPA film last year was made on very basic kit, a Canon DSLR and a tripod and filmed over the course of a morning. I tried to convey the atmosphere and dramatic nature of the landscape and the Fulmars that make it their home.
Good light helped of course but try to vary up your shots, do wide, medium and close ups if possible. That way you will have much more to play with in the edit. It's going to be hard work to cut something together if you have 20 medium shots of a dragonfly or frog!
Also don't neglect audio, try and use an external microphone if you can rather than the cameras internal mic. If you have beautiful images covered in wind noise it will really detract and possibly ruin the images.
Try to have fun! I think we get bogged down in pixels, codecs and formats, just do the best you can with the equipment you have to hand.
Why is Britain such a good place to shoot wildlife films?
It's tempting to cast envious glances to exotic locations but in my experience there is one thing that will vastly improve your films and that is time.
If you have time to get to know a certain location or animal then you can return again and again, learning about the wildlife that lives there and so making planning and filming trips easier.
There isn't anywhere in the UK that is far from wildlife of one sort or another. Where I live in Aberdeenshire I have access to sea cliffs, an estuary, nearby mountains as well as city wildlife in Aberdeen and so whether you live in rural or urban areas you will have fantastic wildlife nearby. The weather will invariably be changeable and that will only add to the atmosphere of your films.
If you'd like to enter the 2013 competition, visit: www.bwpawards.org