The film is based on the idea of showing how wildlife can thrive in the most unlikely corners of the UK, specifically industrial areas. I grew up in North Yorkshire only a stones throw from Teesside, one of the UK's largest industrial complexes. Teesside is unique in its volume of "waste-ground" and abandoned areas between the large factories, the closure of steel & chemical works is a loss to local people but a gain for the areas wildlife.
Spread across a large and interconnected coastal habitat the area holds large numbers of Foxes, Roe deer, Grey & Common seals along with vast numbers of waders & wildfowl. Crucially these creatures are left undisturbed, protected from the public by the uninviting and imposing scale of the waste areas they inhabit. They are able to simultaneously live life in the shadow of our industrial landscape yet far from human disturbance.
This juxtaposition between wildlife and landscape has always intrigued me and driven me to film in the area as much as possible, aiming to capture the unique stories and the creatures that live there. With such an unusual backdrop on offer this industrial landscape allows me to be really creative with the shots I try to capture, compressing that distance between creature and chimney in a way that is seldom possible elsewhere in the UK.
This film includes clips that I have shot over a long timescale, from the days when I just started out filming in 2016 up until present. In a way the film and the area captures my progression in filmmaking from the beginning until present, Teesside has been an ever-present habitat throughout the last 2 years and it felt natural to create a homage to this wonderful area, one that has nurtured me and helped me so much over the last few years.
Teesside is home to a Grey seal population that disappeared at the turn of the last century due to land reclamation and has now only recently returned. The success of returning seals is only one of many boosts to local wildlife in recent years however, the opening of the RSPB's centre at Saltholme, the arrival of breeding Avocets and the presence of Otters in the River Tees are all indicators of positive change on Teesside. In the face of urban sprawl and the squeezing of wild habitats across the country I hope Teesside can show that there is room for wildlife all around us if we learn to love it as the local people have done here. I'm incredibly grateful to the organisations working to make Teesside a wild place and allowing people to indulge in the hidden gems of this landscape, without their hard work I would never have had the filming opportunities and encounters I have experienced making this film.
I filmed "Industrial Evolution" solo, it has been an amalgamation of many days spent lying on a cold muddy marshes and beaches waiting for those fleeting moments when an animal allows you a glimpse into their life. On a freezing winters day the motivation to get out an film is never left wanting when Teesside is on my mind, I don't think it is an area I'll ever grown tired of and I certainly won't stop filming there after this film!
I used a Panasonic GH5 during filming. Combining this small camera body with a Sigma 150-600 has provided me with a very lightweight and mobile setup that is capable of producing beautiful 4K images at an affordable price. Due to the lightweight nature of this kit I was able to shoot in relatively inaccessible locations perched on the tide line of marshes or in the swash of breaking waves on the beach, knowing I could up sticks quickly and react to wildlife sightings at the drop of a hat.
The proliferation of cheap 4K cameras has certainly helped people like myself to get into wildlife filmmaking and develop the skills required to operate high end cameras.
I feel very lucky to be entering the wildlife filmmaking at the time I am, and I'm eternally grateful for all the opportunities I have been given by people in the industry.
Maybe one day we'll get to see Teesside in a landmark wildlife series, but until then I'll keep crawling around the undergrowth of this magical place in search of encounters with wonderful wildlife.
WILDLIFE IN HD VIDEO WINNER: “Industrial Evolution”, Teesside, Sam Oakes
Winner of the Wildlife in HD category 2018 from BWPAwards
Industrial areas might not spring immediately to mind when searching for a wild encounter, but while Teesside
in the north-east of England is best known for towering factories and vast steelworks, something stirs in the
shadows. Nature is creeping back and finding a foothold between the smoking chimneys and bustling ports.
Waders forage through healthy mudflats, grey seals have returned to their daily roost, and foxes and raptors
stalk prey between iconic landmarks and relics of the industrial revolution that in the past claimed so much
of this estuarine habitat for man.
See our feature on all 2018 winners here: wildlife-film.com/features/BWPA-2018-Winners-Announced.html
Highlights of all the Winning and Commended films of 2018:
BWPA Highlights from 2018 from BWPAwards
BWPA Compilation 2018 from BWPAwards.
Highly commended entries:
No Room At The Top by Danny Bean
A Woodland Tale by Russell Savory and Robin Lowry
The Uninvited Guests by Caroline Tout
Water Rails Golden Moments by Dean Bricknell
Starlings – Be Part Of The Conversation by Steven Fairbrother
The Offspringers by Dora Nightingale
Morning of the Moorland Matadors by Danny Bean
Endangered by Caroline Tout
Moorhens by Owen Carter
See all HD Video Commended Entries here: www.bwpawards.org/videowinners2018
View all the winning Images, including the video winner and a selection of highly commended entries here: www.bwpawards.org
First prize: £5,000
Category winners will receive prizes with a value of around £1,000. The prize fund includes: Canon EOS M5 Cameras with 15-45mm lens.
Wildlife in HD Video category winner will receive a Canon XA-11 Professional Camcorder
The Young winner (under 12) will receive: £300
The Young winner (12 -18) will receive: £500
The Exhibition Tour
Over 100 images including the winning and commended entries launches at the Mall Galleries, London, commencing Tuesday 6th November and is open until 1pm Sunday 11th November. A full list of exhibiting galleries is at the end of this press release or alternatively please visit the website for more information about the venues: www.bwpawards.org/c/galleries/exhibitions
The British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 9 showcases the very best entries from the British Wildlife Photography Awards in 2018. This stunning coffee table book is a celebration of British wildlife as captured on camera by today’s best amateur and professional photographers.
Naturalist, Author and Wildlife TV Producer Stephen Moss comments;
“Once again, this collection of images from the British Wildlife Photography Awards leaves us in awe of the skill, patience and artistry of the photographers whose work is showcased here. The extraordinary range of subjects, species and habitats, and the imaginative way they are portrayed, leaves us in no doubt that we in Britain are fortunate to be home to some of the most talented photographers in the world.
But stunning though this book is, it is not simply a collection of beautiful images, preserved like museum specimens for us to enjoy. It is also a snapshot of Britain’s diverse and beautiful wildlife, at a time when these wild creatures – and the places where they live – are under threat as never before.”
Published by Ammonite Press • 5th November 2018 • RRP £25.00
The book is available here: www.bwpawards.org/competition/book
Exhibition Tour. (Check with the venues for their opening times)
The Mall Galleries, London – 6th November 2018 to 11th November 2018
Astley Hall, Chorley – 24th November 2018 to 31st December 2018
Luton Stockwood Discovery Centre – 21st January 2019 to 24th March 2019
Nunnington Hall, Yorkshire – 11th May 2018 to 7th July 2019
Nature in Art, Gloucester – 6th November 2018 to 6th January 2019
St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery – 19th January 2019 to 17th March 2019
Canterbury Museums & Galleries – 10th November 2018 to 17th February 2019
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust – 11th May 2018 to 10th September 2019
Canon, WWF, RSPB Wildlife Explorers,The Wildlife Trusts, Shetland Nature, Countryside Jobs Service, Buglife, Paramo, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Outdoor Photography Magazine.
Ammonite Press, Kristal Digital Imaging Centre, Wildlife-film.com
British Wildlife Photography Awards