Filmmakers for Conservation is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring filmmakers to use their films and media to conserve the natural world. FFC formed in 1999, when over a hundred conference delegates of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival gathered to discuss the role of conservation in natural history films, and vowed to devote more funding, airtime, focus, leadership and urgency toward using their craft to become a stronger voice for conservation.
Today, FFC stands as a global community of passionate people formally united in the common cause of using the power of film and media to conserve the natural world. FFC offers annual conservation filmmaker awards; piloted the Great Ape Film Initiative with BBC; developed sustainability guidelines and a code of ethics for conservation filmmaking; and offers its members an opportunity to network; to keep abreast of new developments in the field; and to seek out potential sources of funding for conservation films. FFC continues to grow and seek new opportunities to advance its mission. The future holds great promise, as new projects are launched regularly.
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Fifteen years ago a dedicated and passionate group of filmmakers with a concern for the environment and conservation founded FFC. In many ways the organisation was ahead of its time. A decade ago, whilst wildlife and nature productions were prolific, conservation and environment films were few and far between. Times have changed. Avoiding dangerous climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century and, through this lens, other conservation and environment issues are now gaining greater public exposure, particularly through films. FFC is proud that it has been at the forefront of thinking in environmental filmmaking for a decade – these are some of our initiatives.
FFC Conservation Filmmakers Award
When FFC was created there were no conservation film awards. Now it is pleasing that virtually all film festivals have at least one conservation related award. FFC’s award remains unique as it doesn’t focus on the quality or budget of the film. The most important element remains the conservation outcomes resulting from the making and screening of the films. FFC is proud to recognise and celebrate the achievements of those conservation filmmakers.
Television viewers in the developed world are used to watching documentaries on new and fascinating discoveries in nature and often place a high value on the survival of species and eco-systems. Those living in rural areas in developing countries seldom have this opportunity. GAFI was set up to change all this and, with the help of the BBC, Granada and a host of volunteers is managing to take films produced for major global network back to the communities in which they were shot.
The FFC Fund was set up to help first time filmmakers who had already made a conservation film but needed that little extra help to finish off their project. FFC not only offered financial assistance but helped to mentor winners in the post production process. Fund recipients gained greater exposure for their film via FFCs members and the website. The first fund winners’ films focussed on environmental issues in South America and Indonesia.
Using the wealth of FFC members’ talents, FFC helped up and coming filmmakers to hone their pitches for their own project films. FFC professionals created a pool of people that worked with individual filmmakers on their treatments and scripts.
Every year FFC has quietly been helping students at all levels around the world to write their theses and essays. Through the years we have had a steady trickle of members who have been researching the connections between wildlife documentaries and conservation. This has allowed us to create a small library of research, which continues to grow, in the area of the effectiveness of conservation films.
FFC Code of Ethics
From the outset one of the goals of FFC was to foster an ethical relationship between the filmmaker/videographer and the natural world. The “FFC Guiding Principles” are guidelines that each FFC member implicitly endorses. FFC members recognise that the welfare of an animal is more important than the sequence; that they have a responsibility to ensure that nothing they do could reasonably be considered cruel; and that they should not have a detrimental effect on the ecological integrity of the ecosystem they are working in. FFC members aim to portray authentic and accurate, natural behaviour in their work.
In 2008 FFC worked with the American University in Washington DC to develop the Code of Best Practice in Sustainable Filmmaking. While there were already ‘green’ filmmaking guides available, few, maybe none, were developed through detailed research or submitted to peer review. Thanks to support from The Ford Foundation and WWF UK, authors Larry Engel and Andrew Buchanan, both FFC members, were able to research and write the Code and put it through the review process. The principles in the Code are the basis on which checklists and carbon trackers were developed to help filmmakers reduce their carbon emissions and their damage to the environment.
Jeremy Roberts, Missoula, Montana, USA
Jeremy is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and teacher who produces multi-media story-telling campaigns to promote awareness of conservation issues across the American West. As the Owner and Producer of Conservation Media, Jeremy has worked with the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and many other clients.
Adam Spencer, Patagonia, Chile
Adam is a photographer, filmmaker, and strategic content producer passionate about human rights and environmental issues. He has traveled as a volunteer throughout South and Central America producing media for non-profit organizations to illustrate their missions to supporters and beneficiaries. Through his involvement with Filmmakers for Conservation, Adam hopes to help up-and-coming filmmakers take their projects to the next level, and to serve as a bridge between filmmakers and conservationists to lionize their tireless work.
Joanna Benn, Brussels, Belgium
Joanna is a professional communicator passionate about educating businesses, NGOs, journalists, and politicians about climate issues. She has worked for the World Wildlife Fund, United Nations Environment Program, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the European Climate Foundation creating info-graphics and presentations to forward public knowledge about climate change, marine issues, and species conservation
Former Board Members
Maya Drake, Charlottesville, VA, USA, Maya is an Emmy Award-winning Producer with a variety of experience in natural history programming and educational media. She has worked for National Geographic as a photo editor and producer, produced films for the Discovery Channel, specializing in producing digital content to accompany high school text books.
Piers Warren, Principal of WILDEYE International School of Wildlife Film-making, Author of Conservation Filmmaking, Filmmakers for Conservation co-Founder
Caroline Underwood, Filmmakers for Conservation founding member, former President
Acclaim & Collaborators
“Through FFC the film and television industry can speak with one voice to help ensure that we, as caretakers of this most beautiful and unique planet, will be able to pass on the Earth to future generations in the knowledge that it is in safe hands.”
– Sir Michael Gambon
“Granada Wild and Granada International are thrilled to be part of this Great Ape Film Initiative bold initiative. If our programmes about the great apes can be shown in the countries where they were filmed – and if this builds support for conservation locally, where it matters most – then our filmmaking will have been especially worthwhile. It’s good for films to entertain and inform – but even better if they can actively help to protect precious places and species.”
– Brian Leith, Producer, BBC’s “Human Planet,” 2011 JHWFF Best People and Nature Award Winner, “Elsa: The Lionness that Changed the World,” 2011 JHWFF Conservation Hero Award Winner
“Wildlife filmmakers know very well the alarming disappearance and destruction of habitat around the world that is causing what biologists refer to as the 6th major extinction period.”
– Dr. David Suzuki – geneticist, broadcaster and author
“Already there are many dedicated and sympathetic filmmakers who give generously of their time and expertise but now, thanks to Filmmakers for Conservation, there is an organisation that can marshal the energies and talents of the film industry to actively support the conservation of the natural world.”
– Will Travers – Born Free Foundation
“Je peux que vous remercier de votre don de films faite à la television nationale du congo et je vous dit que ses films sont beaucoup suivis par les auditeurs congolais et ses films ont été projecter lors du sommet des chefs d’Etats . Je peux que vous remercier encore et nous attendons d’autres films de ce genres sur les grands singes .Je vous souhaite bonne santé et bon travail”
Congo Government Focal Point, GRASP Dr Ankara