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Icon Films to close after 33 years
Bristol-based true factual specialist created high-profile franchises including River Monsters, Savage Kingdom and Primal Survivor.
River Monsters indie Icon Films is winding down after more than three decades.
The Bristol company’s founders and bosses Laura and Harry Marshall said they have taken the “difficult decision” to shut up shop. Laura said that this is “the right time to exit from our production and employment responsibilities appropriately”, while Harry added: “The industry is changing and knowing when to leave your own party is important.”
The closure will affect 26 roles across full-time and fixed-term staff and involve ending fixed-term contracts and full-time role redundancies. All eligible staff will receive redundancy payments.
Broadcast understands the company is closing from a position of financial health and that all financial responsibilities and creditors owed will be settled.
Since its inception in 1990, Icon Films has produced more than 500 hours of factual programming for British and international broadcasters and platforms including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet, PBS, Arte, NHK and Vice.
Its major natural history franchises include ITV and Animal Planet’s Jeremy Wade-fronted River Monsters - which ran for 10 series - Nat Geo’s Charles Dance-narrated series Savage Kingdom and Nat Geo/Disney+’s Primal Survivor.
Icon has regularly been named in Broadcast’s Best Places to Work in TV, most recently featuring in the 2022 listings. In Broadcast Indie Survey 2022, Icon reported 2021 revenues of £6m, at the height of the pandemic.
The Marshalls (pictured) are not retiring from the business, with Laura Marshall maintaining her role as chair of Wildscreen, as well as exploring other TV projects, while Harry Marshall will continue to write.
“It’s been an extraordinary journey from the basement of a Bristol house to a company of over 100 people. We have launched careers, created international brands, run series and grown talent,” Harry Marshall said in a statement.
“We’ve had some epic parties,” he continued. “People have grown alongside us. Some came and never left. But the industry is changing — and knowing when to leave your own party is important. Our legacy is something we can be proud of. And we wanted to do the exit well and manage the wind-down on our own terms so our team feels valued and respected and are properly compensated and we can step away knowing we have done our best by everyone. We will now plan our next adventures and, like Icon Films, see where it takes us.”
“We’ve been privileged to work with a talented and loyal team with whom we have built Icon FIlms over the years,” offered Laura Marshall. “Knowing that best practice in staff wellbeing, production sustainability, engagement with our local communities and in-country producers has given us huge job satisfaction and defined our brand. Harry and I are grateful for the support that both Andie Clare, director of production, and Lucy Middelboe, commercial director, have given us while we have made this difficult decision, and I know they leave Icon Films to have stellar careers elsewhere.”
No doubt the whole World is waiting for the first 'International Poo Film Festival' – Richard Brock
When will it arrive and get the interest and appreciation it deserves?
Will it include wildlife?
Will it deliver?
Well, here comes "Poodunnit? a Wildlife Detective Story" ... One hour through one year right down the beautiful River Wye between Wales and England, using the heron and the wild duck, the mallard, as our guides.
Mexican film-maker member Karla has interviewed Naude Dreyer, from Ocean Conservation Namibia, on their work to remove plastic and other stuff from around the necks of Cape Fur Seals on the Namibian coast.
Español: Les presento a Naude Dreyer y a su extraordinario equipo de trabajo. Todos los días, Naude, Denzil, Willy y Tony se dedican a perseguir focas enredadas en líneas de pesca, redes y hasta prendas de vestir.
Conoce más de Ocean Conservation Namibia con esta entrevista en Semilla del Cambio.
English: I present to you Naude Dreyer and his extraordinary team. Every day, Naude, Denzil, Willy and Tony are dedicated to chasing seals entangled in fishing lines, nets and even clothing.
Learn more about Ocean Conservation Namibia with this interview in Seed of Change.
The interview is conducted in English with Spanish subtitles:
Attend the "Extinction or Regeneration" Conference in London this coming May!
Extinction or Regeneration
– Transforming food systems for human, animal and planetary health
– 11-12th May 2023 at the QEII Centre, London
Our planet, its people and animals are in crisis. We urgently need a global response to transform our food and farming systems.
On 11 and 12 May 2023, Compassion in World Farming, IPES-Food, BirdLife International and other partners, are hosting a major international conference - bringing together experts from all over the world to help create a roadmap to reform our food system.
Extinction or Regeneration: Transforming food systems for human, animal and planetary health - will address the urgent need for more sustainable methods of food production that can feed future generations, while protecting people, animals and the planet.
Anyone with an interest in the environment, public health, food business, food policy, conservation, finance or animal welfare is urged to attend - to hear from those with expertise - and to take part in discussions and share solutions.
Leading global thinkers and stakeholders from diverse sectors, geographies and cultures will debate and present, including:
• Professor Olivier De Schutter, Co-Chair of IPES-Food and UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
• Professor Raj Patel, Award-Winning Activist and Author
• Dr Vandana Shiva, Activist, Academic and Campaigner
• Professor John Webster, Emeritus Professor, University of Bristol
• Dame Joanna Lumley, Actress and Campaigner
• Professor Corinna Hawkes, Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University London
• Professor Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science, The Ohio State University
"Extinction or Regeneration" is the second event in the conference series, following the "Extinction and Livestock" Conference in 2017.
In 2017, Compassion in World Farming, in partnership with WWF (UK), BirdLife International, the European Environment Bureau, and other partners, launched the original international conference, which examined how livestock production and its use of finite resources were devastating biodiversity and pushing wildlife to the brink of extinction. The seminal event brought together 540 delegates, from over 30 countries.
Ten Years of Veganuary & End of 2023 Campaign Wrap-Up
Veganuary 2023 was our biggest yet! There were simply too many highlights to share from this year's campaign, but we did our best!
Veganuary inspired and supported over 620,000 people to try vegan during our 2022 campaign – with participants from over 220 countries and territories. We have worked with businesses to drive up vegan food provision in shops and restaurants, and have made veganism more visible and accessible through our work with national and international media.
Award-winning Netflix Documentary On the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project Spotlights Transformative Climate, Community and Biodiversity Impacts
Corporate executives and Kenyan conservationists featured in a Netflix mini-documentary gathered at the screening of the award-winning short film "Kasigau" that was held at the Curzon Soho Cinema.
Kasigau recently won Best Human and Nature Short Film at the 2022 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. It's now available on the WeAreNetflix and AfricaonNetflix Youtube channels.
The mini-documentary, produced in a collaboration between Netflix, Freeborne Impact, Wildlife Works and Everland, is about the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, a pioneering, community-based, wildlife-centered forest conservation project that is located in southeastern Kenya. Netflix voluntarily purchases carbon credits from the project to compensate for the impact of its unavoidable emissions.
REDD+, short for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, is a UN-envisioned climate change mitigation mechanism that enables communities and governments to secure performance-based payments from the voluntary carbon markets for emission reductions generated through effective forest protection.
As the first-ever project to issue verified REDD+ credits, Kasigau has avoided more than 20 million tCO2e to date, roughly equivalent to offsetting nearly two decades of London's rail transport emissions.
Using revenues from the sale of its carbon credits, the project protects over 200,000 hectares of dryland forest which is home to wildlife such as African elephants, lions, and Grevy's zebras.
Revenues from carbon credit sales fund social service programs co-created with the community and relieve pressure to participate in extractive activities. These sustained services include school bursaries, access to health care, clean water, food security and improved livelihoods for a community of approximately 120,000 people.
Shola Sanni, Director of Public Policy, SSA-Netflix said, "Netflix is privileged to be one of the partners of the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, providing financial support to the initiative through the purchase of verified carbon credits. By participating in the project, Netflix helps to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the Kasigau Corridor, while supporting sustainable land use practices and the improvement of local communities' livelihoods. This partnership aligns with our efforts to mitigate our carbon footprint and promote sustainable business practices."
Sanni added, "Before now, Africans have had their stories told for them by others. The continent before now had been seen and perceived, narrated and interpreted through the filter of the subjective portrayal of the foreign voices telling the African story. Tropes about an Africa in need of rescuing have abounded. But this mini documentary created by Everland in partnership with Netflix showcases how leading Kenyan experts, yes, African heroes, are taking charge of their own narrative and spearheading the effort to preserve their wild spaces for future generations. It is an authentic Kenyan story of courage in the face of adversity, and Netflix is proud to be a part of its telling."
Jane Okoth, Media and Communications Officer at Wildlife Works said, "Indigenous people and local communities are the traditional guardians of the forest. The success of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project demonstrates that when our voices are heard, forest conservation realizes its potential as the most effective and immediate way to end deforestation."
About Wildlife Works
Wildlife Works is a community-centered wildlife conservation company that implements market-based initiatives to protect the planet's threatened wilderness and endangered wildlife. The company was founded on the premise that if we want wildlife in our world, it must work for local communities who share their environment. Wildlife Works' conservation projects drive direct financing to forest communities to fund their self-determined economic development and prevent millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere annually.
Everland represents the world's largest portfolio of high-impact forest conservation (REDD+) projects in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Everland brings forest communities and corporations together in a common cause to protect some of the world's most important and vulnerable forests.
Three Recommended Books from the Eating Our Way to Extinction Team:
A stunningly designed accompaniment to the filmEating Our Way To Extinction, this book contains all of the most pertinent information covered in the film, from the most critical environmental statistics to exclusive interviews with key personnel, alongside beautiful on-shoot photography.
This book is a must-have for anyone who truly wants to understand the critical role the animal agriculture industry plays as a leading cause of climate change and ecological devastation.
This book also shows clearly and scientifically how a plant-based diet can effectively offset the worst effects of climate change in a time frame that can buy us time to develop technological solutions.
Introducing plant-based cuisine across multi-cultures, this beautifully photographed cookbook is brought to you by the makers of the acclaimed environmental documentary film Eating Our Way To Extinction, as a tool to help us all shift towards a more planet-saving sustainable food system.
Where other classics seek to define cuisines, this one refines them and teaches us that food is not just about our palettes, but how what we eat is interconnected with the earth's ecosystems.
Featuring vegan recipes from the major food regions of the world, this book takes us on a culinary journey, and in so doing we undertake the greatest journey of all – developing a new understanding of eating.
We’ve never met a kid who doesn’t want to save the world. These plant-based recipes will help them to do just that.
Every single meal is designed to be highly nutritious for a growing child, as well as delicious, and they’ve been tested far and wide with even the fussiest children.
The dishes are easy to make, so whether you will prepare the food for your kids or invite them for their first foray into the kitchen with you, this book will be treasured for years to come.
From the makers of the acclaimed environmental documentary film Eating Our Way To Extinction, this book was created with parents of kids in mind, as a tool to help us all shift towards a more planet-saving sustainable food system.
For the whole of human history, we have lived alongside birds. We have hunted and domesticated them for food; venerated them in our mythologies, religion and rituals; exploited them for their natural resources; and been inspired by them for our music, art and poetry.
In Ten Birds that Changed the World4, naturalist and author Stephen Moss tells the gripping story of this long and eventful relationship through ten key species from all seven of the world's continents.
From Odin's faithful raven companions to Darwin's finches, and from the wild turkey of the Americas to the emperor penguin as potent symbol of the climate crisis, this is a fascinating, eye-opening and endlessly engaging work of natural history.
You don't have to be an animal rights activist to take an interest in how we treat other creatures.
All of us, with few exceptions, use animals in some way: for food, research, recreation and companionship.
In Britain we eat around a billion chickens every year, while 60% of all mammals on Earth, by biomass, are now livestock. In 2020, approximately 2.88 million scientific procedures involving living animals were carried out in Great Britain.
Because all this happens in our name, as consumers and citizens we have a duty to understand, to care and to exert some influence over how animals are used. But because such use is ingrained in our daily lives and largely happens behind closed doors, we are barely aware of it. The animals deserve better. Understanding the inconsistencies in our attitudes, in the law and in what is deemed acceptable practice is an important first step.
This timely and incisive book makes compelling reading for anyone who has an interest in animals, whether wild or domestic, free-living or captive, people intrigued about how their food is produced, and those keen to make informed and intelligent decisions.
'This is a brilliant book and I recommend that you buy it and read it.' -- Mark Avery, author and environmental campaigner
'This fascinating and engaging book challenges us all to make better lives for animals.' -- Chris Packham, broadcaster and author of Back to Nature
Alick Simmons is a veterinarian and a naturalist. After a 35-year public service career controlling epidemic diseases of livestock, in 2015 he began conservation volunteering. As well as practical tasks such as surveying waders and catching cranes, he advises a number of conservation organisations on animal welfare and ethics.
This book offers an absorbing look at why and how humans can so wholeheartedly devote ourselves to certain animals and then allow others to suffer needlessly, especially those slaughtered for our consumption.
Social psychologist Melanie Joy explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals. She coins the term "carnism" to describe the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others.
In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, Joy investigates factory farming, exposing how cruelly the animals are treated, the hazards that meatpacking workers face, and the environmental impact of raising 10 billion animals for food each year.
Controversial and challenging, this book will change the way you think about food forever.
"An absorbing examination of why humans feel affection and compassion for certain animals but are callous to the suffering of others." -- Publishers Weekly
"I think Gandhi would have loved Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. For this is a book that can change the way you think and change the way you live. It will lead you from denial to awareness, from passivity to action, and from resignation to hope." -- John Robbins, author ofDiet for a New America andThe Food Revolution
"Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows is groundbreaking. Melanie Joy brilliantly explains why people resist information that would help themmake more healthful food choices--and how they can overcome this."-- Michael Greger, MD, New York Times bestselling author ofHow Not to Die and founder of nutritionfacts.org
Why are we as humans so attracted to water and to colorful reefs? Indeed, why are reefs so dazzling? How did cleaning station symbiosis evolve? How come there are so many extraordinary defense mechanisms among reef animals? Do the denizens of reefs have consciousness? How did warning coloration evolve? In what ways do fundamental mathematical rules manifest in coral reefs? For answers to these questions and many more, take a dive into Reflections Underwater.
Coral reefs are one of the world's great natural wonders: endlessly surprising and mesmerizing kaleidoscopic fractals of color and life. But they are also under serious threat from the effects of climate change and development. Reflections Underwater is a unique, illuminating book that explores a stunning variety of topics and concepts relating to coral reefs.
Adopting a holistic, multidisciplinary perspective that weaves together scientific and humanistic ideas, including psychology, evolution, zoology, philosophy, mathematics, art, physics, and more, this book offers a compelling angle on these remarkable and fragile habitats. Meticulously researched and elegantly argued, it is illustrated throughout with exquisite photographs gleaned from the author's many marine adventures.
'This is a book that you should read if you want to be amazed anew at the richness of the coral reef, to discover new ways to think of it, to see it as you probably have never seen it before...this book’s ability to describe the science underlying the reef in a humanistic way is refreshing and intriguing.'
-- Prof. David Fortus (PhD), Weizmann Institute of Science
'Whether you are an expert in some field of marine science, a well-traveled and experienced diver who knows a lot about this environment, or a “newbie” interested in the underwater world, I am sure this book introduced you to some new and fascinating ideas and phenomena.'
-- Tom Shlesinger (PhD), Marine Ecologist, Florida Institute of Technology
For more than a quarter of a century, Oded Degany has been an avid diver and underwater photographer, documenting his encounters with the creatures that make up coral reefs. His has a multi-disciplinary background which includes a BA in physics, an MA in biological thought, an MBA, and a partial doctorate in anthropology and religious studies.
The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital’s mission is to inform and inspire our community through the power of film to incite change and take action so that we can preserve our planet for generations to come.
8K African wildlife cinematography showreel in 60fps HFR. Wild animals filmed in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa: Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango, Khwai, Savuti, Chobe, Hwange, Zambezi and Kruger National Park.
Shot on Red V-Raptor, Red Komodo, Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K, DJI Mavic Air 2s, and GoPro Hero 10. Telephoto cinematography done using a Canon 200-400mm f4.0 lens mounted on a custom 4x4 vehicle rig and Sachtler fluid head.
Cinematography by Robert Hofmeyr. Produced by Pro Art Inc & Moving Pictures Africa. Assisted by Andrew Caldwell, Charl & Sabine Stols. Guided by Keeme Magasele & Charles Matengu.
All animals in this showreel are wild and free-roaming in their natural habitat. Every effort was made to minimise disturbance of the wildlife.
Cast (in order of appearance):
African Elephant, African Fish Eagle, Great White Pelican, Nile Crocodile, Common hippopotamus, African buffalo, Lion, Impala, Lesser bushbaby, Leopard, White-backed Vulture, Lilac-breasted Roller African Jacana, Tawny Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, African Openbill, Martial Eagle, Black-crowned Night Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Stork, Cheetah, African Wild Dog & Chacma Baboon.
In this series, Andy and Rob head on safari to Botswana.
They plan to camp in Savuti and Linyanti in the Chobe National Park and film the incredible wildlife in the area: lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, and many interesting birds.
"In this series we travel from South Africa to Botswana where we set up camp in Savuti in the Chobe National Park. It is late in the dry season (October/November 2022) so temperatures are high, but the wildlife sightings are incredible.
We are also testing out a new door for Rob's Toyota Land Cruiser, that we have modified for filming work."
Filmed and edited by Robert Hofmeyr and Andrew Caldwell.
Behind-the-scenes shot on a GoPro Hero 10. For the telephoto wildlife shots we used a Canon 200-400mm f4 lens on a Red V-Raptor camera. Moving shots were done using a Red Komodo 6K with a Sigma 18-35 f1.8 or Canon 100mm f2.8. Aerials filmed using a Mavic Air 2s.
Wild Isles - Behind the scenes secrets and wildlife stories from the new series, presented by Sir David Attenborough
Filmed over the course of three years, Wild Isles will investigate how our woodland, grassland, freshwater and ocean habitats support wildlife of all kinds
Britain and Ireland have some of the most diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes on Earth. In this major new landmark series, Sir David Attenborough will celebrate the wonders of the islands that we call home, revealing the surprising and dramatic habitats that exist right on our doorstep. It’s our home, as you’ve never seen it before.
Filmed over the course of three years, this new five-part series will investigate how our woodland, grassland, freshwater and ocean habitats support wildlife of all kinds. Using the very latest technology, each episode will capture dramatic and new behaviour across the British Isles, from battling butterflies to mighty killer whales on the hunt.
Nature in our islands will prove just as spectacular as anywhere else on the planet, but it is increasingly fragile. With intricately connected species relying on habitats, and one another, for survival, we ask what can be done to protect them and the delicate ecosystems that remain, and to make our wild isles even wilder for future generations.
Interview with Alastair Fothergill (Series Producer)
Why did you decide to focus on the British Isles for this series?
Ever since I worked on the original Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet series, I have always wanted to cover the British Isles and our natural history with a similarly ambitious and epic approach. I knew that nobody had ever had the opportunity before to really do justice to the spectacular scenery and rich and varied wildlife found at home. I also have a personal passion for our natural history.
What would you hope that the audience will take away from watching the series?
I hope the audience will be genuinely surprised by the richness of our natural history. At the same time, I hope they will recognise how fragile and precious it is.
Why are Britain and Ireland globally important for nature?
There are a number of reasons. Firstly, we have among the most varied geology on the planet. Our temperatures range from subtropical in the far south to arctic conditions on the top of the Cairngorms in Scotland. Our coastline is over 22,000 miles long and we benefit from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. Our position on the globe is perfect for summer visitors from the south and winter visitors from the north. All these factors combine to create one of the richest natural histories in Europe. We have more ancient oak trees than the whole of Europe put together*, most of the world’s chalk streams flow in southern England and we are globally important for the sea birds.
'David Attenborough's Made Things WORSE' Animal Rebellion Slam Broadcaster In Feisty Debate ... Headline chosen by TalkTV
Animal Rebellion spokesman Joel Scott-Halkes says David Attenborough has made things worse for climate change in his years as a legendary broadcaster and has not 'been helpful at all' in promoting the climate crisis.
Animal Rebellion sat down with Archie Manners to discuss their methods; whether spilling good milk in Harrods, spray painting buildings and disrupting the rail and road network for working people helps in anyway to bring the public with them and further their cause.
Joel tells Archie that David Attenborough has 'anaesthetised' the country into thinking 'everything is fine' with the planet for 50 years before finally saying that lots of species are dying and that he hasn't helped at all with the campaign to prevent climate change.
Joel also discusses the impact the meat industry is having on planet earth while Archie challenges him that the pressure group need to keep the public on their side to have any chance of getting their point across.
In a clash over their methods Joel admits that he does condemn Extinction Rebellion, a related group to Animal Rebellion, disrupting the tube in what he calls a 'working class' area and says it would have been better if it was aimed at 'middle class people'.
Beach House Pictures launches natural history unit
Blue Ant Media–owned Beach House Pictures (BHP), one of Asia’s largest indies, is launching a new natural history and wildlife content unit, and has appointed zoologist-turned-wildlife filmmaker Claire Clements as head of wild.
The new division will concentrate on increasing BHP’s slate of natural history specials and series, focused primarily on Asian Pacific animals. The unit will also tap into BHP’s capability for and successful track record of financing development and coproductions.
Born in Australia and raised in Asia, Clements (pictured) is a former zoologist with a masters from New Zealand’s University of Otago in natural history filmmaking. She has directed multiple series for Beach House Pictures, including Uptown Otters (Love Nature), Wild City River World (Channel NewsAsia) and Wild City Forest Life (Netflix), narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
She will begin her new role at BHP immediately, reporting jointly to creative director Donovan Chan and managing director Jocelyn Little.
Imagine if there were a way to connect with music at its fullest capacity and creative potential – not the way most people hear music today, but a version that pulls you into a song to reveal what was lost with traditional recordings. Dolby Atmos does just that. Whether it’s a complex harmony of instruments placed around a listener, the unleashing of a legendary guitar solo, a massive bass drop that washes over you, or the subtle breath a singer takes, Dolby Atmos gives music more space and the freedom to unleash every detail and emotion as the artist intended.
Ocean Grandmother ... Another beautiful, inspiring 'Sea of Hope' film from SeaLegacy
A young indigenous person from the shores of Panama's Guna Yala Comarca takes us on a journey into the heart of their community, their Ocean Grandmother.
Explore the hope for a brighter future that thrives throughout Guna Yala to save the surrounding seas that all life depends on.
In the episode, Diwi Valiente, a dedicated indigenous climate activist, finds themself at personal crossroads of ocean conservation and a changing climate. Their people are becoming the first documented case of an indigenous community that is being forced to relocate due to climate change.
Diwi invites our co-founder Cristina Mittermeier and SeaLegacy 1 crew into their village, as they tell us of their future vision for their island-dwelling people. A deeply connected person to the ocean and nature, Diwi shares about their community's culture and wisdom, reflecting on how valuing their people's traditions and customs could help solve some of the challenges that they and their people are currently facing. But there is still hope to save their community.
Join The Tide and our community of action-takers for our planet, wildlife, and people at: sealegacy.org
Become a part of the global ocean movement with Cristina and Paul Nicklen, as together we help support the voices of our coastal communities and rewrite their narrative to a brighter future.
‘Our Big Blue Backyard’ prodco NHNZ Worldwide recruits Remedy TV development exec
New Zealand-based specialist factual firm NHNZ Worldwide has hired development producer Daysun Perkins into the new role of SVP of development, based in Los Angeles.
Based in Los Angeles, Perkins will help the company to expand upon its documentary and natural history programming roots as it seeks to push into new genres for international markets.
Perkins has 25 years of experience across network and production company development and joins NHNZ Worldwide from Remedy Television, where he served as SVP of programming and development.
NHNZ Worldwide is a factual specialist documentary production company with offices in Dunedin and Auckland, New Zealand, and staff based in the US, the UK and China. Its most recent productions include the third season of Our Big Blue Backyard for Love Nature and TVNZ along with the company’s first children’s animation series, Panda & Kiwi. The PBS climate crisis series Dynamic Planet (working title) is also currently in production along with another series of Orangutan Jungle School for Love Nature.
NHNZ was founded 46 years ago as the Natural History Unit of Television New Zealand and was owned by Fox International Channels from 1997 to 2012. CEO Julie Christie took sole ownership of the company from Blue Ant Media this year after acquiring a majority stake in 2021.
“Daysun brings both network and production experience to our company at a vital time in our growth plan as we build on our documentary and natural history programming heritage, and expand into other genres for our clients all over the world,” said Christie.
Wildlife presenter and filmmaker Gordon Buchanan awarded DSc by Queen Mary
Gordon Buchanan, the prominent and respected filmmaker and presenter has been awarded the Doctor of Science (DSc) from Queen Mary University of London.
The honorary degree was conferred in recognition of Gordon’s commitment to conservation and the protection of biodiversity and was presented at a special Queen Mary event, A Night of Science and Engineering. At the same event, Dr Ibilola Amao received the Fellowship of Queen Mary.
Over the last 30 years, Gordon’s incredible filmmaking has captured the reality of threatened biodiversity in the UK and elsewhere in the world, making him a leading figure in conservation biology.
Gordon’s animal documentaries include the highly successful December 2022 BBC Two programme “Snow Dogs: Into the Wild” which saw Gordon realise a childhood dream to drive a team of dogs in the Yukon wilderness, following a trail used over a 100 years ago by the Scottish Klondike gold-rush explorers.
Gordon is also known for the BBC Two series “The Snow Wolf Family & Me”, which showed a wolf pack raising their cubs over a year – pioneering long-term observation in animal documentaries. His BBC films of big cats and “Big Cat Diary” have paved the way to recording large cats in their natural environment, offering viewers unique insights into the cats’ habitat.
Colin Bailey, Principal and President of Queen Mary says: “Gordon has engaged with scientists to help them highlight the beauty and fragility of the UK’s and global ecosystems. As a filmmaker, his programmes truly connect with audiences all over the world. Importantly, his passion for conservation and the protection of biodiversity shines out in all he does. It’s this commitment that makes him a very worthy recipient of the honorary DSc from Queen Mary.”
Gordon Buchanan says: “I am thrilled to receive this honorary DSc, and thank the University. My wildlife programmes capture the natural world’s wonders and perils, and in revealing hidden animal worlds to audiences, I hope to create a better understanding about why conservation and biodiversity need to be protected.”
Wyoming’s Wild Horses Debate Draws Attention Of English Wildlife Filmmakers
Red deer and white-tailed eagles in the United Kingdom have much in common with Wyoming’s wild mustangs insofar as they all illicit strong public reactions, say a group of English wildlife documentary filmmakers.
“We’re attracted to complex topics with complex debates,” Ted Simpson told Cowboy State Daily in a Thursday Zoom interview.
Along with Finbar O’Sullivan, Simpson founded Scout Studio based in Cornwall, southwestern England. The two said they were driven by their passion for the outdoors and wildlife to leave careers in commercial video production and start making documentaries.
They say they strive to get all sides of debates over iconic creatures and complex land management topics.
The filmmakers were widely praised for their 2020 film “The Cull: Scotland’s Deer Dilemma.” They’re finishing “The Eagle with the Sunlit Eye,” a documentary about the controversy surrounding the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to Scotland.
And thanks in part to Cowboy State Daily’s coverage of the issue, they’re now looking at Wyoming’s wild mustangs to be the subject of their next documentary. Simpson and O’Sullivan are in the early researching stage for that project and haven’t yet come up with a title.
They would like to see it happen, though, including perhaps traveling to Wyoming and other parts of the West to get the full picture of how the mustangs have inspired some people, vexed others and sparked a long and heated debate over how to best manage them.
Tayte Simpson, the Executive Producer of Mentorn and Channel 5’s Dinosaur with Stephen Fry, explains how the virtual studio event show came about.
How did you come up with the idea for this series?
The idea for the series came out of a discussion with Channel 5 about dinosaurs and how technology could be used to find a fresh approach to the subject. We wanted to cover the story from the dawn of the dinosaurs through to their extinction, to reflect the latest research and to challenge some of the preconceptions and stereotypes. However, our main aim was to be able to immerse Stephen Fry in the world of the dinosaurs, to walk in their habitats, to interact with them and observe their behaviour. We started looking into different virtual studio technologies and began working with Dock 10, who created a virtual Tokyo for the Olympics. The possibilities of the technology then fed into the development, and we refined the idea, so each programme focusses on an iconic dinosaur from the different eras.
How does this series differ from other documentaries in the prehistoric genre?
The main difference is the level of immersion for the presenter and the technology used to bring the dinosaurs to life and create the environments. Other programmes that involve a presenter interacting with dinosaurs tend to rely on plate shots where the CGI is added in post after filming, which can be expensive and take a long time. We used the ‘Unreal Engine’ software which works with virtual camera technology, so all the CGI environments and dinosaurs are generated in real time in the studio, which provides a lot more flexibility.
Fife wildlife filmmaker Libby Penman hopes filmmaking can help save the world’s endangered animals
Michael Alexander speaks to Kirkcaldy-raised filmmaker, extreme sports enthusiast and nature fanatic Libby Penman who’ll be sharing stories about filming and exploring the climate crisis in a home-town Royal Scottish Geographical Society talk.
From her teenage years filming extreme sports at Kirkcaldy skate park, to a recent appearance on BBC Two’s Winterwatch, Libby Penman has been on the journey of a lifetime pursuing her goal of becoming a wildlife filmmaker.
But the climate crisis means that wildlife has rarely been in so much trouble as it is now.
Impact of climate change
Three years ago, the devastating wildfires in Australia, which have been linked to climate change, caused the death of a billion animals.
Ten thousand years ago, 1% of the Earth’s mammal mass was human with 99% of the world comprising wild animals.
Today, it is the opposite with just 1% of the world’s mammal population comprising wildlife and 99% of it being human.
Two Jackson Wild fellows on what we can learn from the birds.
The Jackson Wild Media Lab offers a fellowship each year to media creators to hone their skills in furthering science and conservation communication. The nine-day fellowship is highly competitive—2022’s 16 participants were chosen from a pool of 350 applicants, including Brazilian native Laura Pennafort and Tennessean Johnny Holder. Jackson Wild pairs scientists with filmmakers who dive right into conceiving and executing a project within a short time frame (four days). In addition to a crash course in production using professional grade tools and equipment, media fellows are exposed to input and advice from seasoned filmmakers and other experts.
Pennafort began her academic studies in biology, eventually doubling up to study filmmaking. She completed her education in England, where she has lived for five years. Increasingly focused on wildlife documentaries, Pennafort finds in them a perfect merging of her passions for science and nature.
I have a deep impression now of a whole world I’ve been neglecting.
Holder’s life experience includes eight years in Army Special Operations, an earth science and geography undergraduate degree, and “by serendipity,” enrollment in Montana State University’s Natural History Filmmaking program. Holder’s thesis film for Montana State, “Sonora,” won the 2022 special jury award for Diversity and Inclusion in the Jackson Wild Media Awards (it was also an overall finalist). During his time as a media fellow, Holder and his colleagues made “Sound of the Lake” focused on bird life in Europe’s second-largest reed bed.
Nautilus caught up with Pennafort and Holder to talk about their films, their passions, and their experience with Jackson Wild.
You are originally from Brazil, and now live in England. Do these locations influence your filmmaking?
I’ve been in England for five years. I moved here because things were getting uncertain in Brazil and I didn’t know if I could finish my education there. I studied biology and then combined it with filmmaking. Wildlife documentaries combine these passions for me, and England is a great place to pursue this work. Blue-chip documentaries are often produced here. These films show nature as mostly untouched, animals doing beautiful things. It’s a bit of a fantasy, but it serves a real purpose, to engage the viewer.
At the same time, I am committed to sharing the amazing biodiversity of Brazil with the rest of the world. People don’t realize what’s there and how threatened it is—the situation calls for a more straightforward call to action.
During the Jackson Wild summit 2022, four young talented teams made films about the scientific work that is being done here in the Nationalpark Neusiedler See - Seewinkel. This is one of them: The bird ringer by Media Lab Fellows Jane M. Yang, Laura Pennafort, Luyanda Shabalala, and Jordan Chapman.
2023 Media Lab
September 19-29, 2023
– Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Jackson Wild Media Lab is an immersive, cross-disciplinary science filmmaking workshop that brings scientists and media creators together to learn from leaders in the profession and work together to develop effective tools to communicate about science, nature and conservation with diverse audiences across the world’s evolving media platforms. For nine days, Media Lab fellows will work side-by-side with instructors and industry-leading mentors to gain intensive hands-on film making experience, learn the science of science communication, get a crash course using professional-grade tools and equipment and expand professional networks with peers and industry professionals.
This highly competitive program will accept fellows covering all expenses associated with travel, food and lodging during the workshop and the Jackson Wild Summit.
The Jackson Wild Media Lab is a collaboration between Day’s Edge Productions and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, a proud sponsor of the Jackson Wild Summit.
Eyes of the Orangutan Premiere Screening at the Royal Geographical Society an huge success!
What a fantastic way to kick off the new year! Last week, we hosted our first live event of 2023: the UK premiere screening of the Eyes of the Orangutan documentary.
This important film sheds light on the realities of the wildlife trafficking industry by highlighting real-life stories. Thanks to your support, this inaugural screening event was an incredible success. Read About The Event: eyesoftheorangutan.com
A Big Night, A Big Impact
The premiere UK live Eyes of the Orangutan screening drew a crowd of almost 500 supporters for an immersive evening that included not just the film but a Q&A, a reception, and more. Thanks to your support, all items in the silent auction sold, with proceeds going directly to our orangutan-saving work. We also had over 200 new sign-ups for our wildlife pledge to take a stand against the illegal trade!
Aaron Gekoski is an internationally acclaimed photojournalist who has spent more than a decade documenting human-animal conflict. Over recent years he’s turned his lens on the Wildlife Tourism industry; a mission that’s taken him to dozens of countries.
But it was a trip to Vietnam that changed everything. At an amusement park in Ho Chi Minh, he spent time with a large male orangutan. Kept in a 4x5m enclosure, the orangutan had little more than two boulders for stimulation, no trees to climb, no place to escape the glare of visitors.
Orangutans are star attractions at Wildlife Tourism attractions. Sharing 97% of our DNA, they are sentient and intelligent animals. When kept in captivity, at places that cannot cater to their complex physical and emotional needs, they often suffer from stress and depression. The scene stayed with Gekoski: If we can do this to one of our closest living relatives, what hope is there for any other animal?
After Vietnam, Gekoski brings is his colleagues and friends – director Chris Scarffe, cinematographer Will Foster-Grundy and editor Damian Antochewicz – and a four-year investigation into the orangutan tourism industry begins.
In Thailand, they see orangutans forced into grotesque boxing shows, and others kept in dirty cages at the top of a shopping mall. And in Indonesia, they document orangutans on display at lavish breakfast buffets, and crowded by groups of tourists at National Parks.
Shocking revelations from poachers reveal how the orangutans ended up at these attractions. Stolen from their natural habitats – their mothers killed in the process – they are then smuggled across international borders. Once at their final destination, they are then trained to perform using cruel techniques or locked in cages for the rest of their lives.
On their journey, the team witnesses untold pain and suffering. Thankfully, there are groups working to mitigate this crisis. At Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, they meet local heroes who rescue and rehabilitate rescued orangutans, ready for release back into the wild.
RSPB President and GP Dr Amir Khan explains why nature boosts our mood, and how we can all make the most of it.
RSPB President Dr Amir Khan explains how getting outdoors - even on a chilly winter's day - can lift our mood.
Dr Amir also discusses Nature Prescriptions, created by the RSPB to benefit the health of people and nature, with the RSPB's Jamie Wyver.
Robert Irwin says still uses his dad’s old surf boards as he opens up on ‘shared connection’
Robert Irwin, Son of the iconic Crocodile Hunter has revealed the passion that he shared with his late father, Steve.
19-year-old wildlife preservation warrior following in his father's footsteps has opened up to news outlet Adelaide Now about their mutual love of the ocean.
"So now I feel very lucky I get to follow in those footsteps. I still use some of his old surf boards. "I get out there every morning into the water. I am definitely most at home when I'm next to the ocean."
Robert and his father also shared a passion for photography, which the young Irwin uses as a way of continuing his father's legacy. Robert describes it as his "own individual way to push a conservation message and continue a mission that [his] dad originally started".
Loud Minds, Universal filming landmark extinction show
Loud Minds, the indie established by Tim Haines (Walking with Dinosaurs, Primeval, The Loch), and Universal Television Alternative Studio, a division of Universal Studio Group, today announced the start of filming on eight-parter Surviving Earth.
Surviving Earth visits eight mass extinction moments throughout the Earth’s history to see what the planet’s past can tell us about its future.
Surviving Earth is a co-production between Loud Minds and Universal Television Alternative Studio and will blend location filming at 12 destinations around the world – starting now with New Caledonia in the South Pacific – with state-of-the-art CGI to tell the dramatic stories of extraordinary creatures trying to survive against all odds.
TAward-winning VFX studio Milk will be creating all the spectacular digital environments, landscapes and creatures that will bring the series to life.
From the ‘Great Dying’ 252 million years ago, when the world overheated and 95 per cent of life died out, to a mammoth flood just 12,000 years ago, which plunged the planet back into an ice age, every episode will immerse viewers in a specific moment in the Earth’s history and recreate the drama of a unique mass extinction event. Each episode is set in a very different world with a different set of characters and a different ‘deus ex machina’.
Viewers will follow the fate of bizarre creatures and witness worlds where continents shift and seas boil. The lesson from these stories is that Earth isn’t a benign paradise. Instead, life has had to be extraordinarily adaptable to survive and thrive over the millennia.
Tim Haines, showrunner and creative director, Loud Minds comments: “Surviving Earth is on course to be one of the most ambitious, high-concept series ever created by a UK indie. It has been years in development, travels to incredible locations – such as New Caledonia, home to our first shoot – and brings together some of the most talented filmmakers and leading digital technicians to ensure that what ends up on screen really blows your mind. More than that, however, it has a deep focus on storyline and script that we believe will elevate the whole viewing experience into something altogether more cinematic and memorable.”
Sunny Side of the Doc is launching
its 2023 Call for Projects!
Looking for partners and financing for your next documentary? Submit your project to Sunny Side of the Doc’s pitching sessions and join one of the most impactful markets for documentary and digital storytelling (La Rochelle, France, June 19-22, 2023).
WHY PITCH AT SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC?
Sunny Side of the Doc is the international market dedicated to supporting the international financing of documentary projects and the circulation of completed programs. Every June, the 4-day event brings together 2,200+ participants (decision makers, producers, filmmakers, sales agents, foundations and funders) from 60+ countries.
With 300+ top-level international decision makers in attendance, representing leading broadcasters, streamers, foundations, sales agents and other funders looking for impactful stories, pitching at Sunny Side is a unique opportunity. Please check the complete list of attending decision makers in 2022.
Key benefits also include: accessing a qualified and diverse professional audience, mentoring from industry experts, sealing financial deals, finding potential partners, meeting with peers for potential co-production discussions, and much more.
Our pitching sessions will be held on-site and online as well in order to accommodate participants who may not be able to travel to France. Wherever you are, you’ll have the same chance to pitch, so make sure to submit your project!
WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR?
Side of the Doc 2023 will offer 7 pitching sessions, including our 5 specialist factual categories. A growing number of documentaries mix different genres, and not everyone agrees on where certain sub-genres belong (is archeology science or history – or both?). If in doubt in which category to enter your project, do reach out to us.
#SSD23 Pitching Sessions
Science: we welcome all types of science projects, from blue-chip and hard
science to popular science
Arts and Culture
Nature & Conservation: natural history, environment, climate related stories
Global Issues: current affairs, investigation, social issues, human interest
Focus of the Year
Sunny Side 2023 will focus on viewers. Who watches what, where and why? Documentary is currently enjoying a Golden Age. Streamers have certainly impacted the documentary space, by boosting the exposure and popularity of the genre and pushing for new forms of storytelling. At the same time, with a profusion of content and entertainment options, the audience is ever more fragmented.
What does it take to address and reach an audience, particularly a younger and more diverse audience? We wish to provide the industry with two key elements in order to adapt to a rapidly changing environment: including new talents who can bring their own fresh perspective and engaging audiences beyond the screen life of documentaries.
To that effect, Sunny Side of the Doc will hold two specific pitching sessions this year:
New Voices: we are looking for first and second time filmmakers/content creators holding projects with international potential. We welcome emerging filmmakers, new issues inspiring stories and hidden gems, etc.
Impact campaigns: documentary is a powerful tool for change. Is the topic of your film highly social, political, environmental or does it offer a new vision that you want to share in order to raise awareness and trigger social change? This new pitching session is looking for such kind of activism.
Your film project is in the development, production or even finished phase and you are developing an impact campaign. How to finance it, with whom and for what result?
The impact campaign pitching session will select 6 impact campaign projects that will be pitched to an audience of impact specialists and funders. This session is specifically set up to develop and finance impact campaigns and not the production of the films. The requested budget and provisional financing plan should only relate to the impact campaign.
Dame Julie Christie becomes sole owner of Kiwi factual producer NHNZ Worldwide
New Zealand producer Dame Julie Christie has become the sole owner of factual prodco NHNZ Worldwide by buying Blue Ant Media’s 40% stake.
In 2021, Christie purchased a majority stake in Natural History New Zealand and renamed the company NHNZ Worldwide.
Now, as the outright owner, she plans to expand the business into formats, sports, adventure and lifestyle programming.
“It’s such an exciting time,” said Christie. “I was excited to invest in a great factual storytelling company and build a team who can bring the skills learned over many years in reality television to other genres.”
Christie is the creator of hit gameshow format The Chair, which has been sold into 40 countries, plus reality competition Treasure Island, broadcast on free-to-air Kiwi channel TVNZ for 17 seasons.
She was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 for services to television and governance.
NHNZ was founded 46 years ago under the name Natural History Unit of Television New Zealand. It was sold to Fox International Channels in 1997, former Fox executive David Haslingden in 2012, then Canada’s Blue Ant Media in 2019.
BBC Studios launches Nordic+ streamer as BBC Brit & BBC Earth merged
BBC Studios (BBCS) is shuttering its BBC Brit and BBC Earth channels in the Nordics, replacing the duo with a new on demand service and a single linear network.
New channel brand BBC Nordic and accompanying streamer BBC Nordic+ will become available to Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic viewers from 17 April..
BBC Brit and BBC Earth were launched in the region in 2015 but will now be replaced by BBC Nordic, which will offer factual and fact ent shows from the two channels such as QI, The Graham Norton Show and Life Below Zero..
New additions to the line-up will include The Great British Bake Off and the third season of natural history epic Serengeti, as well as shows from the Louis Theroux Interviews… franchise and The Great Pottery Throwdown.
BBC Nordic+ will allow viewers to stream shows from the linear channel on demand, with programming curated around topics such as arts and culture, travel, history, documentaries and music. Docuseries Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World is among shows set to be available from April.
“A rollercoaster ride”: behind the scenes of Docsville’s “Rainbow Warrior”
Throughout his long career in doc filmmaking, producer Lawrence Elman has always looked for something unexpected in a new project that can grab his attention, and it was the unique narrative approach of Rainbow Warrior, a new feature documentary that was recently taken to market by Fremantle, that convinced him to board the production.
When filmmaker Edward McGurn presented his pitch about a documentary covering the 1985 sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior by French intelligence agents off the coast of New Zealand, Elman and Docsville Studios were immediately interested. McGurn wanted to structure the film like a thriller, but not like an action-packed James Bond story, Elman says — rather, it was to be more in the vein of The Pink Panther and its bumbling “hero,” Inspector Clouseau.
“There’s a ridiculous nature to what the French spies did in New Zealand — one, by underestimating the country they were perpetrating their mission in; and, two, by the way that they went about it,” Elman says in an interview with Realscreen. “I hadn’t seen anything like it before. For me, the energy of the film is such that you’re on a rollercoaster ride, which doesn’t stop until you go ‘Oh, s—t, this is really serious.'”
McGurn says that his background in narrative script development informed his approach to the documentary, which recounts the story almost entirely through the participants’ testimony.
“Everybody who’s in the movie has a direct tie to the story, and I think that’s what makes this movie feel a bit more narrative, as we’re jumping across different people’s points of view as we weave this story together,” McGurn says. “It’s not a story that really stops and says, ‘Let’s talk about big concepts in an abstract way.'”
Moby's Punk Rock Vegan Movie Streaming For Free on the Slamdance Festival Website
MOBY's "Punk Rock Vegan Movie," a new documentary written and directed by MOBY is available to stream for free now via the SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL website.
The film, representing noted vegan MOBY's directorial debut, premiered on opening night of the 2023 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JANUARY 20th in PARK CITY, UT. Described as "a passionate and stylistically idiosyncratic look at the ongoing relationship between the worlds of punk rock and animal rights," it includes interviews with punk icons like IAN MACKAYE, BAD BRAINS' HR, DAVE NAVARRO, AMY LEE, ROB ZOMBIE and CAPTAIN SENSIBLE, among many others.
MOBY tells the story of how punk rock became such a "fertile and surprising" breeding ground for vegan activism. It’s also a call to action, unapologetically reminding people that in a deeply broken world it’s incumbent upon each of us to stand up and fight intelligently, passionately,\ and loudly against injustice.
Noted MOBY, “’Punk Rock Vegan Movie’ was created to shine a light on the surprising and inspiring history of punk rock and animal rights, but also to remind people of the importance and desperate urgency of adopting the uncompromising ethics and actions of the original punk rock activists. After it makes its world premiere at SLAMDANCE, it's yours. It's my goal to give the movie away, as I can't in good conscience try to profit from what is essentially a labor of love and activism."
We’re on the highway to climate hell with a methane-emitting meat burger in one hand and our foot on the fossil fuel gas pedal. In 2022, global warming became increasingly dangerously close to spiraling out of control.
As we bear witness to the impacts of animal farming on the climate, we demand that politicians stop ignoring the cow in the room.
The Plant Based Treaty offers hope and a plan for addressing the much-needed changes to our food system at the local and global levels.
Please join us and campaign for a Plant Based Treaty in your city.
You can work on a school campaign, establish a community garden, lobby government, build alliances, or help create bottom up pressure by collecting endorsement.
Vegan Friendly is a non profit organisation that works to promote and improve vegan lifestyle in the UK and worldwide. The organisation was founded in 2012 and has since launched a large number of groundbreaking projects. We operate on two main levels: The first one is making veganism more accessible. This is done by encouraging businesses to add vegan options, labelling vegan products and restaurants with the association's logo and arranging huge events for thousands of people every year. The second level is raising awareness of veganism through unique and impactful projects.
The BBC has cited “challenging times financially” as the reason behind its decision to take the popular nature show off air.
In an announcement that has shocked fans of the show, the BBC has announced that it will be cancelling its Autumnwatch show. However, Springwatch and Winterwatch will continue, with more money invested into them..
A statement from the BBC said “These are challenging times financially. We need to make difficult decisions and focus our resources on content that has the highest impact.”
“Sadly, this means that Autumnwatch will not be continuing. Instead, we are investing more money into Springwatch and Winterwatch, as they are most popular with audiences.”
“We are incredibly proud of the Watches and would like to thank the presenters and production team who will continue on Springwatch when it returns in May for three weeks, and Winterwatch when it returns next year for one week, reduced from two weeks.”
“The announcement comes less than a week after the latest Winterwatch series finished airing from Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk and Edinburgh in Scotland, and Chris Packham announced that he was taking a career hiatus.
A petition to "Save AutumnWatch" was started on change.org/p/save-autumnwatch stating "Thousands of UK TV licence payers enjoy the 'Watches', Springwatch, Autumwatch and Winterwatch. It's what we pay our licence fee for. It is an example of what the BBC does best." The petition had over 150,000 signatures last look.
Opinion: Why the world needs African wildlife filmmakers – Paula Kahumbu
I am an African living in Nairobi, Kenya, who makes films about my continent’s wildlife. But as a species, wildlife filmmakers from Africa are rarer than mountain gorillas. This needs to change.
We can literally count Africa’s prominent Black wildlife film makers on one hand – Kenya’s Faith Musembi, Manu Akatsa, and Jahawi Bertolli, and the Congo Republic’s Vianet Djeguet. To understand why there are so few, we need to remember our recent history.
When the colonial powers invaded Africa, they seized control of the continent’s wildlife along with its other natural resources. Colonial settlers saw African wildlife as “big game” and the continent’s first protected natural areas were game reserves, “pristine” natural areas created by expelling local communities for the benefit of white hunters.
After almost all African countries achieved independence in the latter half of the 20th century, descendants of colonialists remained in charge, in alliance with Western-based international conservation organizations. Game reserves were renamed national parks and, gradually, big game hunting gave way to wildlife tourism, where animals were “shot” with cameras instead of guns. But African wildlife was still there for White people’s enjoyment. Benefits from wildlife, and access to protected areas for local people were very limited. The idea that these locals could have an interest in preserving wildlife for its own sake was rarely considered. This may have unwittingly caused the prevailing perception that Africans aren’t interested in wildlife.
Africans like me who tried to get involved in wildlife conservation were made to feel out of place. Fellow Africans told me it was backward for a modern educated African to go to the bush and asked if I thought I was White – since of course, wildlife conservation was a romantic career choice for a foreigner. My applications to join White-led field research projects were rejected. When I was first interviewed by a British film crew, my interview was cut at the editing stage and replaced by one with a blue-eyed British conservationist. It was my PhD project, but they said his English was better. (Anyone who knows me will attest that I speak perfect English!)
Africa was the setting for some of the most iconic – and profitable – films about wildlife, which played a huge role in the growth of the wildlife conservation movement in the West. But these films, with their White-faced presenters, were made by Western-owned production companies for Western audiences. Most Africans never even got to see them. It was little wonder that there is the idea that Africans aren’t interested in wildlife because we created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It took me years to convince leading wildlife film production companies to waive their prohibitively expensive licensing fees so these films could be shown on free-to-air TV in Kenya. They were hugely popular. But in their feedback, viewers asked: Why are all the protagonists in these films White? Where are our people?
That’s when I decided it was not enough to make Western-made wildlife films available to African audiences; what Africa needed was to see themselves and their view points in the films. We urgently needed wildlife films made by Africans, about Africans and for Africans.
In an effort to reinforce the importance of supporting the creative and informative works of BIPOC creators, the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF) has established the DCEFF Vantage Grant to provide pitch training and funding to emerging BIPOC filmmakers. This $12,500 grant will be awarded to a qualifying filmmaker to assist with a short film or first feature in any stage of production that addresses a timely environmental issue.
The Vantage Grant responds to the need for representation in reflective works that are created by members of the very communities most impacted by environmental issues. DCEFF recognizes that racial inequities should be considered when addressing environmental issues such as climate change, food security, sustainability, etc. These issues impact underserved communities at a disproportionate scale, yet many films that highlight these topics are created by filmmakers who do not identify with communities most impacted.
The Vantage Grant has become an extension of DCEFF’s commitment to expanding the storytelling pipeline, amplifying the voices and supporting the works of BIPOC creators.
An open call for applications will be launched on December 12th, 2022 for eligible filmmakers or producers to submit their proposals. Finalists will receive extensive pitch training from Judith Helfand, co-creator of Chicken & Egg Pictures, filmmaker (A Healthy Baby Girl, Blue Vinyl, Cooked: Survival by Zip Code) and professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism. Judith Helfand will emcee the live pitch program on March 26, 2023.
The DCEFF Vantage Grant will be the culminating award given to a winning pitch determined by an industry panel of environmental leaders and subject experts.
The DCEFF Vantage Grant is made possible through the support of Prince Charitable Trusts.
Plimsoll Productions has hired formats and distribution executive Andrea Jackson as Creative Director of Factual Entertainment.
She will report directly to CEO Grant Mansfield and will be joining the Plimsoll executive leadership group.
In her new role, Jackson will develop, package and serve as executive producer across formats and factual content. She has a long history with the company, transitioning from her role at Magnify Media, the independent distribution house she founded, led and sold to Plimsoll in 2020.
Establishing Magnify Media in 2015, Jackson collaborated with rights owners and built a carefully curated catalogue of content across all unscripted and scripted genres and formats to license to networks and streamers including Netflix, Disney+, discovery+, SVT, TV2 Denmark, SBS Broadcasting, Nippon, BBC, France Television, TVNZ, Foxtel and more.
Through the acquisition deal with Plimsoll, Magnify Media continued to operate under Jackson as an independent business boasting titles such as Malika: The Lion Queen (FOX) ...
Study suggests watching nature documentaries on TV is good for the planet
A new paper in Annals of Botany indicates that watching nature documentaries makes people more interested in plants, potentially provoking an involvement in botany and ecology.
Some 40% of plant species are under threat of extinction. Plants that are not directly useful to humans are particularly vulnerable. People often do not recognize how important many plants are due to a cognitive bias sometimes called "plant blindness" or "plant awareness disparity." While humans are generally concerned with endangered animals, threats to plants are harder to recognize and address. In the United States, for example, plants receive less than 4% of federal funding for endangered species, despite comprising 57% of the endangered species list.
Researchers here noted that in the past, several natural history productions, including "Planet Earth II," "Blue Planet II," "Seven Worlds," and "One Planet" made viewers much more aware of the animals on the shows. While scientists cannot draw a clear link between such TV shows and conservation efforts, nature documentaries provide a direct way to reach mass audiences and engage them.
Here, the researchers investigated whether nature documentaries can promote plant awareness, which may ultimately increase audience engagement with plant conservation programs. They focused on "Green Planet," a 2022 BBC documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The show, watched by nearly 5 million people in the United Kingdom, featured a diversity of plant species, highlighting vegetation from tropical rainforests, aquatic environments, seasonal lands, deserts, and urban spaces. The program also addressed environmental concerns directly, examining the dangers of invasive monocultures and deforestation.
The researchers measured whether "Green Planet" drove interest in the plants by exploring people's online behavior around the time of the broadcast. First, they noted the species that appeared on the show and the time each one appeared on-screen. Then they extracted Google Trends and Wikipedia page hits for those same species before and after the episodes of the documentary aired.
The researchers here found a substantial effect of "Green Planet" on viewers' awareness and interest in the portrayed plant species. Some 28.1% of search terms representing plants mentioned in the BBC documentary had peak popularity in the UK, measured using Google Trends, the week after the broadcast of the relevant episode. Wikipedia data showed this as well. Almost a third (31.3%) of the Wikipedia pages related to plants mentioned in "Green Planet" showed increased visits the week after the broadcast. The investigators also note that people were more likely to do online searches for plants that enjoyed more screen time on "Green Planet."
"I think that increasing public awareness of plants is essential and fascinating," said the paper's lead author, Joanna Kacprzyk. "In this study, we show that nature documentaries can increase plant awareness among the audience. Our results also suggest that the viewers found certain plant species particularly captivating. These plants could be used for promoting plant conservation efforts and counteracting the alarming loss of plant biodiversity."
Love Nature, Sky Nature greenlight wildlife combat docuseries “Gladiators”
Love Nature and Sky have greenlit a wildlife commission from award-winning UK prodco Talesmith that will showcase some of the fiercest rivalries in the animal kingdom.
Gladiators (4 x 60 min.) takes viewers around the world — including the Pacific Northwest, the African savannah and Australia — to witness a series of wildlife showdowns. The 4K footage of the battles is enhanced by the use of super–slow motion, stabilized drone photography and VFX-animated freeze frames to capture crucial, rarely seen details of animal combat strategy.
The bouts will be followed by a close analysis of the underlying contextual factors that led to victory or defeat — including breakdowns of the use of weapons versus intelligence, and the roles that allies can play in a conflict — to demonstrate how these one-on-one combats are conditioned by the respective ecosystems in which they take place.
As part of the expanded content partnership between Love Nature and Sky, the series will premiere on Love Nature’s linear and streaming platforms in 2024 across its 130+ territories, as well as on Sky Nature in the UK, Germany and Italy. Love Nature parent Blue Ant International will handle pre-sales and licensing outside of the commissioning territories.
Gladiators is produced for Love Nature and Sky Nature by Talesmith. Alex Hemingway is showrunner. Executive producers are Martin Williams and Ruth Roberts, for Talesmith; James Manfull, for Love Nature; and Tom Barry, for Sky Nature.
What better time is there than Veganuary for Moby to launch a film joining the dots between the world of punk rock and the world of animal liberation? He has decided the time has come to “shine a light on the surprising and inspiring history of punk rock and animal rights, but also to remind people of the importance and desperate urgency of adopting the uncompromising ethics and actions of the original punk rock activists”.
What is particularly exciting about this form of proselytising is that the film will be available to stream FOR FREE after its premiere at Slamdance festival on 20th January . The award-winning music artist, activist and now film-maker said: “After it makes its world premiere at Slamdance, it’s yours. It’s my goal to give the movie away, as I can’t in good conscience try to profit from what is essentially a labour of love and activism.”. Good on him! It will be streaming free on Slamdance after the premiere and then on Youtube after 30th January.
Interspersed with cartoon chapter credits and brief skits from Moby himself – often involving Bagel the talking dog – the overall approach is entertaining. The subject matter is deadly serious but Moby realises that you need to engage people to change the way they think. It is not littered with footage of animals being slaughtered but there are some heartbreaking images of the conditions that farmed animals are kept in. However, there are also positive images of humans communing with traditionally farmed animals on sanctuaries.
For those who don’t know the back story, there are introductions to Punk Rock – which arguably nails it better than far more detailed attempts – and to Straight Edge. The hypocrisy of attitudes to animals you pet and animals you eat are explored. Alongside folks from bands, activists whose journey began in the punk and hardcore scene, testify to its importance. As several interviewees mention, rejecting animals in your diet is in keeping with the punk attitude of rejecting the mainstream and questioning authority. And there is humour and warmth in these interviews. Examples of the efforts involved in trying to eat while on tour now seem ridiculous in hindsight, but will ring true for many – eg. taking sandwiches with you and even cooking up a meal by the side of the road.
Watch Maa Ka Doodh
Uncovering A Nation’s Dairy Disaster
In a country where cows are considered sacred, how has their flesh become a lucrative Indian export?
Dr Harsha, the doctor turned documentarian, quits his day job to embark on an investigative journey to expose the link between the nation’s massive dairy consumption and its meat exports.
“I was stunned to learn India was one of the largest exporters of beef in the world. The perception I had growing up was that the vast majority of Indians were against beef, but this perception was contradicting the truth. I set out to discover how this came to be.”
- Dr Harsha Atmakuri
The award-winning feature-length documentary explores the untold stories behind the success of India’s White Revolution – The World’s Largest Dairy Production and Development Campaign, along with the ethical, cultural, environmental, religious, economic and political influences the consumption of dairy in India has created for millennia.
Please share the film with your friends and family. Let us raise awareness and empower each other in making informed choices. No permission required for private screenings. Just use the hashtag #MaaKaDoodh when posting on social media.
The Lies, Myths & Misinformation Of Animal Agriculture - PBN's Full Earthling Ed Interview
Watch this full episode of the PBN Podcast with Earthling Ed and learn about "Vegan Propaganda" and the lies the meat industry tells you ...
"I am so excited to be joined today by none other than Ed Winters (aka Earthling Ed). Ed is a vegan educator who’s content boasts over 200 million views, he has also hosted numerous viral speeches, debates, and videos engaging in dialogue with non-vegans and skeptics. Ed has delivered speeches at numerous schools, universities, and major companies including Google, he has engaging audiences all around the world.
As an activist, vegan educator and more recently a published author, he is a firm advocate for animal rights and the vegan lifestyle. Ed’s advocacy centres around compassion, empathy, and open communication. In 2016, he founded a grassroots animal rights organisation called Surge. Two years later he launched Unity Diner - a non-profit vegan restaurant in London, all the proceeds from which go directly to helping animals. The culmination of that work is his longtime passion project Surge Sanctuary, which houses rescued animals on a vast 18 acre property.
Most recently, Ed has published his first bookThis is Vegan Propaganda (And Other Lies the Meat Industry Tells You), which presents an indisputable case for veganism. This is a book that is as much for non-vegans as it is for those who already lead a vegan lifestyle, empowering them to talk more confidently about veganism with the non-vegans in their life. The book explores the effects of animal farming across the globe and how they are rooted in a number of factors that have created our current system.
I am delighted to welcome Ed and find out more about the inspiration behind the book and everything else that he has been up to with his advocacy work recently."
The PBN Podcast is hosted and produced by Robbie Lockie, Edited by Phil Marriott.
Get a copy of Ed's book This Is Vegan Propaganda: (And Other Lies the Meat Industry Tells You), the empowering and groundbreaking book on veganism that everyone, vegan and sceptic alike, needs to read. Now available in paperback.
“Ed has used his vast knowledge regarding meat & dairy production to create a must read book for everyone, vegan and non-vegan alike. His arguments are compelling and grounded in facts and logic. This is Vegan Propaganda (And Other Lies the Meat Industry Tells You) presents an indisputable case for veganism and shows us that there is a far better way of feeding the planet. An eye-opening book of our time."
Bite Size Vegan Replying to Earthling Ed 6 Years Late
Are We Making a Difference? Earthling Ed & a Message to Activists
"This is a message to everyone trying to make a difference for the animals, the planet, and our society. To every activist out there fighting this fight every day and wondering if they’re making an impact. It’s a message I believe we all—myself very much included—need to hear." Emily Moran Barwick AKA Bite Size Vegan
"I stumbled upon a 6-year-old comment from Earthling Ed that completely blew my mind. This video is more than a (very belated) response to Ed—it's a message to every activist out there fighting this fight every day and wondering if they're making an impact. It's a message to everyone trying to make a difference for the animals, the planet, and our society. It's a message I believe we all—myself very much included—need to hear." – I hear you Emily!! JP
Can Veganism Solve World Hunger? An Honest Answer ...
The fourth video that Emily Moran Barwick did for BiteSizeVegan covered whether veganism could solve World hunger, national debt, and colon health—all in under 4 minutes!
Here, she revists the claim that veganism is the answer to World hunger.
Can veganism solve world hunger? As good as this claim looks for veganism, such a sweeping statement has to be backed up with facts. So let's take a hard, honest look at what it really takes to solve world hunger.
Kate Nash Stars In New Vegan Film ‘Coffee Wars’, All Profits To Be Donated
The new 'Coffee Wars' movie zeroes in on the life of a vegan entrepreneur named Jo
Coffee Wars, a new feature film starring British singer-turned-actor Kate Nash, will soon be available to watch on Amazon Prime.
The film follows Nash’s character, Jo, as she attempts to run a successful vegan coffee shop. All the while, she is hampered by her team of loveable but unreliable staff. In a bid to win some money to keep the shop open, the group enter the World Barista Championships. The lingering question is: will they beat their dairy-fuelled opponents?
While being an entertaining watch, the comedy also aims to shine a light on the need to embrace dairy-free living. This, while also underscoring the importance of ethical consumption and women empowerment in the professional world.
What the cast say
Nash, a passionate vegan and feminist activist, said in a statement: “Coffee Wars brings pressing issues to a global audience in a laugh-out-loud comedic way.
“It invites viewers to challenge their beliefs about what it means to be an ethical consumer and the overall environmental impacts of their purchases.
Fellow cast members, including Toby Sebastian, who play’s Nash’s nemisis Rudy, agree. The notion of delivering critical messaging through lighthearted entertainment seems to be a driving force behind the entire production.
“I think a lot of the hardest issues in the world, the biggest problems such as the issues of global warming and it’s dire effects, are often tackled, sometimes best, through comedy,” Sebastian told Plant Based News.
Watch the film from March 21, 2023 on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and iTunes.
EPA eyes CAFO pollution, FDA eases animal testing mandate & more – THE MONTH IN A MINUTE: JANUARY 2023 from SENTIENT MEDIA
The first Month in a Minute for 2023! Narrated by Jasmine C. Leyva.
As Veganuary continues to grow in popularity, researchers say restaurants are removing meat dishes from their menu.
In the U.S., the FDA no longer requires all drugs to be tested on animals before human trials, a law originally passed in 1938.
Utah’s great salt lake is set to dry up in five years, scientists have warned, thanks to unsustainable water use to grow hay and alfalfa to feed livestock.
There were calls to end macaque experimentation at Harvard Medical School as it was revealed that researchers sewed shut the eyes of infant monkeys.
In a historic turnaround, the EPA commits to studying factory farm pollution and whether stronger pollution rules are needed; a first in fifteen years.
Footage from spy cams revealed the grim reality of slaughterhouse gas chambers, showing pigs squeal and thrash violently around in the cage, disproving industry claims that asphyxiation of pigs improves animal welfare and reduces suffering.
A new report detailed how factory farming drives up the use of toxic agricultural pesticides for animal feed which not only destroys native biodiversity but also threatens wild plants and animals via the heavy use of herbicides and insecticides.
Meanwhile global pollinator losses are causing 500,000 early deaths a year due to the resulting 3% to 5% loss of fruit, vegetable and nut production.
A global cohort of researchers have warned that bird flu outbreaks are fuelling the chance of a human spillover, while an outbreak at a Spanish mink farm triggered pandemic fears.
Trainee researcher, logger and runner looking to work in documentary TV and film.
She says: "I am keen to work on projects that champion animal rights, highlight the effects of climate change and observe nature. By virtue of my Anthropology degree, I also have a keen interest not only in societies and cultures but in learning about individuals and the lives that they lead. I want to dedicate my career to meaningful and educational storytelling which explores important subjects.
At this stage, I am looking for any junior role, although I am particularly interested in researcher roles."
Lilou Lemaire – a French Film Director/Camera Operator/Cinematographer living in Paris.
Lilou began her career as a fashion and portrait photographer in the 2000s, collaborating with communication agencies for advertising campaigns as well as French and international magazines. Capturing the gaze of many personalities from culture, ecology, fashion, and luxury, she has developed personal work which she exhibits. From her experience as a photographer, Lilou has retained a taste for natural light, the art of framing, and a permanent quest for aesthetics.
As a director/camera operator she likes to spotlight complex, never-before-filmed subjects, men and women of the shadows, in unrecognised or difficult to access places. Alone or in a team, she always takes the time to approach her subjects with strong ethics and respect. Her thoroughness and seriousness have allowed her to gain confidence in France with the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of the Interior, where security and confidentiality constraints are imposed. With the ability to work successfully in all terrains, often in extreme conditions, naturally, you can imagine that Lilou is at ease working/filming in the forest as she is in complex military environments.
Working in these sensitive environments has also made her become not only aware of questions of ecology but also of diversity and the fight against discrimination.
Lilou has recently directed a documentary on the cooks of the French army "Cuisiniers sous les Drapeaux: Mission Covid”, a film on the Covid crisis in the heart of a hospital; and a film on the women soldiers of Operation Barkhane at the end of 2020.
During the height of the Covid pandemic of 2021 and 2022, Lilou worked as a director with the DOP Gavin Thurston and an international team, filming in 4K Dolby Cinema (Dolby Vision HDR & Dolby Atmos) producing the first wildlife documentary series about Saudi Arabia. The objective of which was to highlight the areas biodiversity and the efforts being made to protect it. See: liloulemaire.com/wildlife-saudi-arabia
Raphael Fimm – a German film composer, orchestrator and arranger based in Vienna, Austria.
His dozens of film credits include over 10 feature-length films, such as 2021’s “The Fire Cats”, the 2019 South African romantic comedy “Zulu Wedding”, and 2017’s “The Sunrise Storyteller”.
Raphael is recognized for innovative and highly sophisticated orchestral writing and arranging, memorable, singable themes and motivic long-form writing for cinema, and for his extensive experience working with live ensembles, including full-sized orchestras. Combining a thoroughly modern ear with a deep knowledge of classical orchestral music, Raphael has won numerous film scoring awards, including Best Score at the Hollywood Art and Movie Awards in 2021, for the German cycling documentary “Tour du Togo”.
Starting with classical piano training in early childhood, Raphael’s musical education experience includes an internship with well-known German film composer Gert Wilden, Jr., and an assistantship with Golden-Globe-nominated composer Alex Heffes (Mandela) at the Synchron Recording Stage in Vienna during the recording of Heffes’s score for “The Arctic”.
Raphael also holds a degree in media composition from Triagon Academy in Cologne, and a professional certificate in composing and orchestrating for film and television from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
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