If Not Us, Then Who?

The Question, is at the back of our minds,

as we waltz into an era of global struggle. As the music speeds up to a frantic pace, however, we continue to dance, ignoring the warning signs just to enjoy our evening of overindulgence on this planet, a little bit more.

 We know our overconsumption, thirst for fossil fuels, deforestation, and the toxic effects of our resource lust will be a real pain to clean up in the morning, but we hold out, collectively thinking, “someone really should do something about the state of our Earth.”

Sadly, not everyone has been invited to the party. Peoples all over the world who live closely to the land, who depend on a healthy environment for their livelihoods, and who suffer through the damaging consequences of natural exploitation have been fighting to survive through the night.

As the victims of environmental injustice often live in remote environments, filmmakers play a critical role in amplifying their voices. Paul Redman, of Handcrafted Films, has been traveling throughout Central America, Peru, Brazil, and Indonesia to unify defiance against ecological abuses as part of the “If Not Us, Then Who?” campaign. Redman and his team work with indigenous communities to listen to their stories, help them document their troubles, and use the rapidly-produced yet emotive, beautiful, and effective short films to build support towards a solution.

“The aim of the project is to promote indigenous people as the most viable solution to the long term protection of forests.” Redman writes FFC. “We are also developing various events in partnership with international and national NGOs and have so far launched in New York, Lima and Indonesia.”

One “If Not Us, Then Who?” story is about the murder of an indigenous Peruvian activist named Edwin Chota, who fought against illegal logging in his Asheninka community:

 

 

“I filmed the widows of the four murdered Ashanenka leaders at the end of last year and we promoted the film in partnership wth Global Witness & Rainforest Foundation US in Lima,” Redman writes.

 

After showing the photos and film at the Lima Itinerant Film Festival in November of 2014, and bringing in Ashanenka leaders, the Peruvian government finally listened.

“The villagers of Saweto have since been granted land title to over 80,000 hectares of their traditional forests, which is a real success story for everyone involved.” Redman writes. “But we are still working to ensure more land titles are granted to other Ashanenka communities and we are exploring ways to do that later this year.”

Since screening the film in Peru, Redman left the materials with local NGOs and he and his team moved on to Indonesia to fight monoculture eucalyptus plantations:

The campaign is fully funded by the Ford Foundation and the Climate & Land Use Alliance (CLUA), and is aiming to bring these voices to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We have further promotional events in Germany and Paris later this year to build awareness before the UNFCCC meeting in Paris,” Redman writes.

Now that the music sounds a bit slurred, and we realize that our waltz cannot last forever, what can we do? To help right these injustices,

  1. Don’t buy products that use tropical hardwoods, as many logging operations forge the documents to export their wood as though it came from legal concessions – with up to 80% of wood being fraudulently claimed as legal, according to Greenpeace Brazil
  2. Don’t buy products that use palm oil, as palm oil plantations contribute to the deforestation of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the forests of many other peoples
  3. Sign petitions to protect indigenous people and rainforests here, at Takepart.com http://www.takepart.com/feature/2015/02/06/sustainable-furniture-killing-indigenous-people

 

And thank Paul Redman and his team, for answering the question “If Not Us, Then Who?” with resounding action!

 

 

Wildscreen Exchange: Free Media for Environmental Non-Profits

Wildscreen is launching a new endeavor, called the Wildscreen Exchange, to put the powerful tools of visual communications into the hands of the conservationists working to protect the planet. Filmmakers for Conservation got an inside look at how the Wildscreen Exchange will work, talking with Wildscreen Exchange Manager Lucie Muir:

FFC: As Sir David explains, the Wildscreen Exchange is a media database to empower conservation organizations to win hearts and minds in the war against climate change, poaching, wildlife trafficking, natural resource exploitation – and hopefully ourselves as well. How did Wildscreen begin this initiative?

Lucie Muir, Wildscreen Exchange Manager:
Wildscreen Exchange is a natural evolution for Wildscreen. For over 32 years, we have been gathering together and celebrating the world’s very best natural history filmmakers and photographers through our Festivals. Then we created Arkive, taking this amazing content online and making it freely available to all to explore our amazing natural world. Arkive is now our biggest public outreach initiative and attracts over 1 million unique users a month, which is amazing.

However as a conservation organisation, we felt there was more we could do for conservation and we wanted try and amplify the impact that our unique access to the world’s best species imagery can have on saving our natural world. Working together, the Wildscreen board and team came up with the concept of Exchange, positioning Wildscreen as an honest broker between our media donors and the conservation community. We then worked closely with a range of conservation organisations from around the world to establish the need. We then approached and consulted with a wide-range of content providers including broadcasters, production companies, picture libraries, independent filmmakers and photographers, passionate amateurs as well as our huge network of scientists and conservationists to determine if the concept worked for them. The whole community has been extremely supportive and generous. People are in the industry because they love our natural world and they want everyone to be as inspired by it as they are. With Exchange, we have the opportunity to massively amplify the impact that their imagery can have by putting it in the hands of the people working on the very frontline, the world’s conservation organisations.

FFC: So, environmental advocacy groups, conservation non-profits, and energy NGOs can use whatever photos and footage to promote their work? What are the requirements use the media? What’s to stop for-profit companies from using this footage in commercials?

LM: The Exchange will be targeted at international, national and local non-profit, non-governmental organisations, whose missions are centred on conservation of the natural world. Not-for-profit conservation and environmental organisations will be required to register and become members of the Wildscreen Exchange and agree to the user terms before they can use the content. Wildscreen Exchange content can only be used for non-commercial purposes, which is clearly stipulated within the user agreement. We have worked closely with the film and photo industries as well as other stakeholders in order to create industry-aligned standard user and donor agreements. After meeting Wildscreen’s safeguards and agreeing to the Wildscreen Exchange user agreement, approved organisations will pay Wildscreen a small membership fee in order to use the platform. Membership fees will be tailored according to an organisation’s annual income, making it affordable to all yet sustainable for Wildscreen to run.

Within Exchange there will be two tiers of content – free and premium (paid-for) content. We want to try and source as much free content as possible as conservation organisations have very limited budgets, however we do recognise that sometimes conservation organisations will require the very best imagery and that for many professional filmmakers and photographers, this is their livelihoods and therefore they would need to charge a fee for their content. We have therefore been working with commercial nature picture agencies to establish guidelines and rates for paid-for-content. As with membership, image rates will be tiered dependent upon a conservation organisation’s annual income so as to make it affordable for all and so to not undercut current sales for agencies and professionals.

If at any point a conservation organisation did want to use an image for commercial purposes, Wildscreen would forward the request onto the individual media donor, as we currently do for requests we receive for content in Arkive.

FFC: Are contributors paid, credited, receive tax exemptions? What is the incentive for contributors other than a moral obligation to participate in conservation causes?

LM: As mentioned above, contributors can choose to charge conservation organisations to use their content via the premium content tier. Within Exchange itself, copyright and credit details are displayed next to each image/clip and attached within the metadata as you would find with any commercial library. In addition, as part of the user agreement to which all member conservation organisations adhere to, any image used must credit the contributor.

As with all Wildscreen initiatives, Wildscreen Exchange will also act as a shop window for the content and the contributors who kindly share their images with Exchange. Exchange will be visible and searchable to all and therefore if anyone other than a conservation organisation finds an image or clip and would like to use it they can see the contributor/copyright holder. Arkive is the third highest referrer for one of the world’s leading nature picture agencies and therefore we hope that Wildscreen Exchange will follow suit. We are also planning on working with conservation organisations to commission specific content around particular themes or campaigns and we would look to work with our contributors, via a sort of match-making service, to connect the two groups together. We have in fact in the past few days just commissioned our first campaign film where we have matched a Wildscreen Exchange donor and Wildscreen Film Festival nominee with a conservation organisation in order to make them a film to promote their work. Watch this space!

We are also planning on working with conservation organisations to commission specific content around particular themes or campaigns and we would look to work with our contributors, via a sort of match-making service, to connect the two groups together.

 

FFC: What if a contributor objects to the way their footage/photos are used?

LM: We have worked very closely with the industry to make sure that our user terms are clear and in line with current industry standards. We therefore hope that by agreeing to the terms when becoming a member and each time they use an image from Exchange, that they will honour the agreement and rights of the donor. Wildscreen will also be screening new members and continually monitoring how the content is used. Within the system, we are able to put restrictions on who and where content is used. For example if there was the case where a contributor only wanted certain organisations to be able to use their imagery or organisations within a particular location, that is possible. The user agreement also specifies that if a user wants to use the images for anything outside the scope of the agreement, they must get approval from the library or the original donor.

FFC: How is the database managed? Will it include edited video sequences or will it focus on individual clips, and how will the beneficiaries be able to sort through the database?

LM: We have created the Wildscreen Exchange platform using an industry-wide used software platform. Therefore the system is really functional and user friendly, with good metadata and an easy search. In terms of content we have primarily been focussing on securing and processing photo content, but we have a good amount of footage on its way. The footage will be presented as individual clips. We will be listening, evaluating and monitoring at all stages to make sure users can find what they want easily and that we are providing the content that they need.

FFC: The Wildscreen Exchange inarguably meets a crucial demand to strengthen conservation agencies’ ability to connect with local communities, policy-makers, and broad audiences to promote their missions. While the digital age has facilitated an abundance of natural history content, providing for cameras that record limitlessly and the internet has connected story tellers all over the world with empathetic audiences, many producers report there’s diminishing funding for natural history programming. Now the Exchange might also reduce demand for NGOs and non-profits to contract filmmakers/photographers, as they would have a pool of high-quality content to tell their stories. Did the Exchange take the industry into account, and how will it affect one-off contracts for independent producers? Does Wildscreen have any figures for the non-profit sector’s role in the natural history industry as a consumer?

LM: We have been very considered in make sure that we consult the industry at all stages of development of Exchange. We want to support and promote the industry and make sure, working together that we can do our best for conservation.

From our research we found that in the future there will be a much greater appetite for commissions and video content within the conservation sector.

Through our research with the industry and conservation organisations of all shapes and sizes throughout the development process, we found that it was only really the larger conservation organisations who commission content, let alone purchase it. From our research we found that in the future there will be a much greater appetite for commissions and video content within the conservation sector. Large organisations are commissioning at the moment and there are many successful and well established relationships that Wildscreen of course would in no way want to impact. Wildscreen does and is increasingly getting approached by surprisingly large conservation organisations asking for recommendations on where to source archive footage, filmmakers, photographers and even post production services. We want to be able to connect the two sectors effectively. Small to medium conservation organisations which have much fewer resources and much smaller budgets are more of a focus for us, as they too have an increasing appetite for using imagery more within their communications but quite often do not have the internal resource or expertise in order to commission content or source expertise. We feel that due to the community Wildscreen has established over the past 32 years, we are in good position to help connect the two.

As mentioned we do have plans to commission specific content and will always look to support the industry associated with Wildscreen by making connections and using the amazing pool of talent that exists within the Wildscreen community. We have in fact just raised funds and commissioned our first mini film on behalf of a conservation organisation and are using an independent, Wildscreen 2014-nominated filmmaker from within the Bristol network.

We would of course support one-off contracts for independent producers working with conservation organisations – quite often archive footage is required for such projects and therefore hopefully we can assist these organisations and their producers in locating footage efficiently.

We did try and seek estimates on the non-profit sector’s role in the natural history industry but as the sector is so small, we were unable to get good estimates, particularly within the film industry. We found a lot of filmmakers generously do voluntary work between productions to support conservation organisations. In terms of photography, from our research non-profit conservation organisations only account for a very small percentage of sales, with only a large conservation organisations being regular purchasers of content. Individual filmmakers and photographers in particular, get requests all the time from conservation organisations to use their content but due to time and resource and quite often only able to help a few. If Wildscreen is able to essentially do the leg work in terms of fulfilment, however, the majority of filmmakers and photographers are more than happy to help multiple organisations.

FFC: What’s been the reaction among the larger broadcasters, and have they indicated their interest to participate in the exchange?

LM: The big broadcasters have been and are very supportive of Wildscreen and are a core part of the natural history industry. We have had detailed conversations with a whole spectrum of the film and photographic industries, including large broadcasters. The BBC for example supports the ambition of Exchange and is actively exploring to what it extent it can take part in it. Exchange is not just about independent producers, it’s for a whole spectrum of contributors.

FFC: How has Wildscreen coordinated with the non-profit sector to promote, implement, and exemplify how the Exchange can improve their visual communication strategies? Will their be an educational component to promote audience targeting, distribution and impact?

LM: We have been working with the non-profit conservation sector at all stages of development and will of course continue to do so. We have had a beta trial running since the summer to see how a spectrum of organisations use the platform so we can refine and innovate and will of course be doing this up until launch in May this year and for ever after! We now have good knowledge of where organisations are at in terms of using imagery and how they intend to use it in the future.

Through the Wildscreen Exchange, enews, and wider Wildscreen online and social platforms we will be sharing good case studies, not only helping to promote the conservation organisations and contributors but to share good practice from within and outside the industry to help. We will be commissioning content around particular conservation organisations and issues in order to show how imagery can help tell a conservation story and make campaigns much more effective in terms of awareness and engagement. In the longer term, we have plans to build an online community with practical guides, help and advice and access to expertise in order to support conservation organisations even more – we don’t just want to provide imagery we want to support and empower them to get the best out of it.

And of course everything Exchange will be supported by all our other initiatives, providing a platform for Exchange and conservation commnucations at our festivals and of course via Arkive to make sure the content is being seen by as many people as possible.

FFC: How can producers best participate in the Exchange?

LM: Get in touch with us! Let us know if you want to be involved and how – whether you want to share content, are interested in the commissioning aspect or want to work with conservation organisations. You can also keep up to date with all we are doing via the Wildscreen Exchange enews.

Wildscreen contact: exchange.info@wildscreen.org.uk

 

The Wildscreen Exchange will launch in May of 2015

Featured Filmmaker – Justin Jay

What is your name and where are you based? Justin Jay

Justin Jay, Charleston, South Carolina

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

I have recently finished my first film and it is a conservation awareness film about the drill monkey. It is an educational film for the people of Equatorial Guinea showing them the beauty of their wildlife and the importance of biodiversity. It is told from their perspective and narrated in Spanish by a native Guinean. I would love to make more films like this in the future, films that share a conservation message with the people directly involved with those issues.

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

I started my career as a wildlife biologist in order to try to help understand our impacts on the environment. After realizing that my skill set could be used to help share this issue with others, I decided I would try my best to contribute as much as possible. I have gained inspiration from the scientists and conservationists that I have spent years working with. They sacrifice themselves to do what they feel is right. Many of them are over-worked and underpaid for a job that many times falls on deaf ears. I feel like I owe it to them to help people listen.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

My biggest challenge of filming in the field is being away from my fiancé. We have been together for eight years. I love every minute of being in the field other than that. Technically, the lack of gear and support that I am able to bring into the field hinders my filming. It is pretty much what I can carry on my back so I hope nothing breaks and I can just forget about any special camera shots.

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

Technology has definitely enhanced my photography by simply being more accessible. With the advent of consumer grade digital cameras I was able to purchase all of the necessary gear in order to undertake my photography endeavors. Without this technology I wouldn’t have been able to go out by myself and develop my skills as a filmmaker.

What is your favorite place in nature?

This is a pretty ambiguous question. I will try to answer it the best I can. My favorite place in nature would have to the forests of Bioko Island. If you sit still long enough you can feel every inch of forest come alive around you. Once this happens it is as if the forest welcomes you back to exist as just another organism within creation rather than as a separate entity, as in nature and man. You realize there is only “nature”. It is very existentially refreshing and therefore my favorite place in nature.

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

The loss of Biodiversity. This can be attributed to many causes but the loss of diversity is driving us to a weaker planet, robbing us of the beauty of life and is going to result in catastrophic consequences for humans.

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues? And if you could give one message to the world’s leaders on climate change, what would it be?

I think the media should be addressing environmental and conservation issues without fear of driving away viewers. I feel like there is a lot of programming that isn’t even given a fair shot to succeed because it might not fit the mold of high-earning shows that put less significance on conservation. Without a strong presence of comprehensive and ethical coverage of these issues it is easy to be entrenched in a paradigm that doesn’t value critical views for fear of being too extreme for moderate audiences.

The message I would give the world’s leaders would be: Listen to your scientists. They are in agreement on this issue. The danger is real and present. Every day that you fail to act brings us one day closer to full collapse.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on our second film about the drills of Bioko Island. This film will follow our efforts of trying to film one of the largest and rarest species of monkeys as we work with scientists and conservationists to help preserve their species.

What advice do you have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

Get out there and do it. There is plenty of consumer gear that can get the job done. No matter how much you read about it or study it, there is no substitute for just going out there and trying your hand at it.

What would you like to remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for making ethical films. I really want to move in the opposite direction from current wildlife programming and hopefully change some minds about what is entertaining. Not that I have achieved any of this, but it is a driving force for me wanting to get into this field.

Links: www.thedrillproject.org

Madelaine Westwood

Madelaine Westwood

Biography:

The Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI), set up by Madelaine Westwood in 2005, uses the power of film and other media in the service of conservation. They have three target audiences: Presidents and Government Ministers, National Television Audiences and Local Communities (including schools, universities, karaoke bars, river boats, wildlife management centres, army & national park rangers). They currently work in 17 of the 23 great apes range states across Africa and SE Asia and approximately 300 million people have seen, through GAFI screenings, donated films made by the BBC, National Geographic and many independent producers. To measure the impact of these films, they do questionnaires at community screenings and then support the local solutions requested. As a result, projects alongside the screenings take place… Things like tree planting, training NGO’s to make their own films in local languages, alternative income revenue support (e.g. bee keeping!) and educational talks.

They have also created, alongside technical partners, the first pedal powered cinema for the field which allows them to take the films to remote communities where there is no power… 2010 saw the first pedal power project in Uganda being so successful, they’ve had many requests from other NGOs and organisations to provide one for their projects too!
GAFI & Madelaine Westwood, utilising films that would not necessarily have otherwise affected change, are making innovative and engaging use of them at grass-roots level to make a difference by inspiring huge numbers of people to take action, find sustainable solutions to their problems and preserve Great Apes along with their environments… An example of films that are truly making a difference!

Contact/Links:

GAFI Website: www.gafi4apes.org
Also: www.nutshellproductions.co.uk/gafi/difference.html
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/GAFIforApes
Twitter: @GAFI4Apes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GAFI4Apes
Blog: http://greatapesfilminitiative.blogspot.com/
The Bike That Helps Save Gorillas – GAFI in Uganda: http://youtu.be/mkFeFJ16CgA
Director of GAFI: Madelaine Westwood
Tel: +44 1491 575 017″ Fax: +44 1491 579 335″ Mobile: +44 7770 577 549
Email: info@gafi4apes.org
For information on volunteering, please contact Madelaine: m.westwood@btinternet.com
By Jason Peters

Paul Redman

 Paul RedmanBiography

As director, lighting cameraman, editor and activist, Paul Redman has been a campaigning filmmaker in the environmental movement for more 10 years, with the Environmental Investigation Agency and, since 2006, also with Handcrafted Films.

His work has involved directing, filming and editing a variety of short films for advocacy on a range of issues including the international illegal trade in tiger parts, the whale and dolphin trade, illegal logging and the ivory trade.

This work has involved extensive travel in hazardous environments as part of a small crew using both open and covert filming techniques.

Paul’s footage has been used in news features and for programming on BBC, Sky, CNN and a number of other major broadcasters; in 2011, he appeared in front of the cameras during the filming of an undercover investigation in Japan for National Geographic’s Hunt for the Whalers documentary.

In February 2012, he directed and edited the 52-second film Amazon Sells Whale Meat, released as a key element of EIA’s campaign to urge internet giant Amazon to stop selling cetacean products via its subsidiary Amazon Japan; the company backed down and withdrew all such products within 24 hours, after the film had been widely shared, embedded and viewed thousands of times. He has also trained activists in media-based campaigning techniques in Indonesia, Papua, India and Tanzania as part of extensive UK Government-funded training programs. Paul’s directing work with Handcrafted Films, which he co-founded, has produced a number of award-winning short films for major development funders (UK DFID, European Forestry Institute) and non-governmental organisations (Amnesty, WSPA).

He has been nominated three times for the Filmmakers For Conservation ‘Filmmaker of the Year’ award.

Contact/Links:

Email: paulredman@hancraftedfilms.net & paulredman@eia-international.org

Websites: www.eia-international.org, http://paulredman.net & www.handcraftedfilms.net

By Jason Peters

 

Mike Pandey

 Mike PandeyBiography:

Mike Pandey is one of India’s foremost wildlife and environmental filmmakers with over 300 national and international awards. Several of his films, such as Shores of Silence, The Last Migration, Broken Wings and The Timeless Traveller, to name a few, have been directly instrumental in bringing about legislative changes to protect species such as whale sharks, elephants, vultures and horse-shoe crabs.

Mike was born in Kenya. The Nairobi National Park, which was situated at the back of the Pandey household in Kenya, proved a rich source of inspiration for both him and his brother I. C. Pandey. His dalliance with the camera started when he was barely seven when an uncle presented him a Kodak Browning Box camera on his birthday. He still owns that heirloom.

Trained and educated in the UK and US the brothers experiences have been wide and varied from training in Hollywood, USA as interns and to Director of special effects and war scenes in films like Razia Sultan, Betaab, Gazab etc. in India. But the call of the wild was strong and Mike’s passion and care for the natural world pulled him into the vortex of Indian wildlife.

In 1994, he became the first Asian producer / director to win a Wildscreen Panda Award, also known as a Green Oscar, for his film The Last Migration – Wild Elephant Capture in Sarguja.

In 2000, his film Shores of Silence – Whale Sharks in India, won a ‘Green Oscar’ for the second time. The film also led to the ban on the killing of whale sharks on Indian shores. This film has also won a National Award for Best Film in the “Exploration & Adventure” Category, 2005.

On October 2004, he did India proud once again by winning a Panda Award for the Third time for his film Vanishing Giants – a story of his passion and involvement with elephants. This film also led to the ban of cruel and outdated techniques of elephant capture in India.

And in 2009, for the fourth time, an endangered wildlife species has been given protection by the Government of India, thanks one of Mikes’ documentary films.

After persistent efforts following the film, Timeless Traveler – The horseshoe Crab, believed to be the oldest living being on earth (reportedly older than the dinosaurs), horseshoe crabs have been put under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Act. This means that it can be used for research but cannot be killed or poached by anyone including private collectors.

The prestigious United Nations International Award For Outstanding Achievement In Global Conservation, the PRITHVI RATAN or ‘Son of the Earth’ was awarded to Mike at the Vatavaran Film Festival in November 2003, for his outstanding contribution towards generating awareness, which led to the conservation of a global heritage – the Whale Shark. Mike was also presented with the Award for Cinematic Excellence by Western India’s Cinematographers Association in Mumbai, 2005.

His powerful films are living proof of the difference a film can make in bringing about changes locally, nationally and globally.

Riverbank Studios has produced some of India’s most popular programmes like Earth Matters, aired on Doordarshan, Indian national TV for 13 years, so far reaching over 800 million viewers and Khullam Khulla for children and has won scores of awards – both National and International.

In 2004 Mike had a Panda Award nomination for The Filmmaker for Conservation Award – one of the highest awards at the Wildscreen Film Festival – bringing India at par with the worlds top filmmakers and films on natural history, wildlife and environment.

Time Magazine listed him as third place in its’ list of Heroes of the Environment 2009!

To raise global concern for ecological and wildlife conservation, he established Earth Matters Foundation to promote his inspiring films. The Foundation has set up a website to introduce these valuable documentaries to the whole world.

Mikes’ films truly have made a difference with real and tangible results… Species have found themselves better protected and understood… He is a prime example of a filmmaker that has made, and continues to make, a difference!!

Appraisal:

Mike Pandey, one of the country’s most revered natural history documentary makers…” – Guardian, October 3, 2004, www.guardian.co.uk

Mike Pandey, one of India’s most accomplished nature filmmakers” – Outlook Magazine, July 2004

I use Mike’s film wherever I go… he is an iconic film-maker who has shown the world the way” – Nick Gordon, Wildlife Film-Maker

Mike Pandey, twice winner of the Green Oscar for his films on environment, would perhaps balk at the title of a ‘crusader’, but his silent camera has done more for conservation than a thousand words” – Ranjita Biswas, Trans World Features, TWFIndia.com

It takes special individuals to raise the levels of consciousness around them. Mike Pandey is one such person” – Shloka Nath, mid-day.com

Pandey is a one-camera army fighting to preserve India’s wild-life heritage” – Namita Bhandare, Man’s World, April 2003

Nature’s Guardian Angel” – the Sunday Statesman Magazine, July 2003

Contact/Links:

Address: C-18, Chirag Enclave, New Delhi – 110048, India
Phone: +91 11 26410684/26216508 Fax: +91 11 26216508
Websites: www.mikepandey.org & www.riverbankstudios.com
Earth Matters Foundation: www.earthmattersfoundation.org
Email: wildlife@vsnl.com or info@riverbankstudios.com
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/themikepandeychannel
www.youtube.com/user/Riverbankstudioindia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Pandey Mike Pandey: Films For Change – See an interview with Mike in a short film about his film-making life here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_eZdacUkIg&feature=colike
A date with Mike Pandey: http://www.videosurf.com/video/a-date-with-mike-pandeypromo-107258732

Articles:

Mike Pandey in the news: http://www.mikepandey.org/inthenews.htm

Mike Pandey receives Prithvi Ratan Award-Vatavaran 2003: http://www.wildlife-film.com/Wfn/wfn54.htm

Mike Pandey documentary has wildlife species protected: http://www.indiantelevision.com/aac/y2k9/aac833.php

Mike Pandey heads international jury of Brazil Film Festival http://www.mikepandey.org/ar_12.htm

Time Magazine – Heroes of the Environment 2009:http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1924149_1924152_1924199,00.html

Devoted Wildlife Conservation Filmmaker Mike Pandey: http://godsdirectcontact.org.tw/eng/news/200/bp_79.htm

By Jason Peters

Shekar Dattatri

Shekar DattatriBiography:

An avid naturalist since the age of ten, 47-year old Shekar Dattatri is one of India’s leading wildlife filmmakers. An internationally respected and frequently awarded producer/director/cameraman of blue chip natural history films, he consciously turned his back on television at the height of his professional career in 2000, to work with conservation NGOs in India.

Armed with a Canon XL-1, the determination to make a difference, and a nuanced understanding of India’s conservation problems, he embarked on a series of hard-hitting films that were edited on a PC at home. Some of these films, such as ‘Mindless Mining – The Tragedy of Kudremukh’ and ‘The Ridleys Last Stand’ bolstered the efforts of conservation advocacy groups and helped bring about change. ‘Mindless Mining’, in particular, played a pivotal role in bringing to an end a government run iron ore mining operation in the heart of a rainforest ecosystem in south India’s Western Ghats mountain range.

His other significant conservation films in the last decade include ‘SOS – Save our Sholas’, about the vital need to protect the ‘shola’ forests of south India’s Western Ghats, and ‘The Truth about Tigers’, a revelatory 40 minute pro bono film that illustrates the problems and solutions in conserving India’s dwindling tiger population. Thanks to contributions from well-wishers, he has been able translate his films into several Indian languages and distribute thousands of DVDs of his films free of cost to educational institutions, NGOs and conservationists across the country. While continuing to make conservation films, he now also mentors aspiring wildlife and conservation filmmakers in India, besides giving dozens of talks on nature and conservation to varied audiences.

In 2004 he received a Rolex Award for Enterprise for his work, becoming the first conservation filmmaker to win this coveted recognition. In 2008, he received the Edberg Award from the Rolf Edberg Foundation in Sweden. The award’s citation reads: “The Edberg Foundation has decided to award its annual Edberg Award to filmmaker Shekar Dattatri, for his important work with conservation and environmental awareness in India. The Edberg Foundation notices how a world-class filmmaker has decided to forego international fame and well funded film projects for broadcasters worldwide, to pursue national, regional and local projects in India. In due time his efforts will reach a wider audience outside India, but its immediate effect on local conservation initiatives creates an example which the Edberg Foundation wants to acknowledge and praise as a model for other regions of the world. With his camera, his deep knowledge of Indian wildlife, and his great enthusiasm and belief in local action to solve environmental issues, Shekar Dattatri has set an example for the world to follow.”

Contact/Links:

http://rolexawards.com/en/the-laureates/shekardattatri-home.jsp
Website: www.shekardattatri.com
Email: shekar.dattatri@gmail.com
Telephone: +91 44 244 15744

By Jason Peters

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David AttenboroughBiography:

David Attenborough is Britain’s best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited.

Sir David joined the BBC in 1952, as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing.

He has established himself as the world’s leading natural history programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), Life in the Freezer (1993), The Private Life of Plants (1995), The Life of Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002), Life in the Undergrowth (2005) and Life in Cold Blood (2008).

Alongside the “Life” series, David narrated every episode of Wildlife on One, a BBC One wildlife series which ran for nearly more than 250 episodes between 1977 and 2005. At its peak, it drew a weekly audience of eight to ten million, and the 1987 episode “Meerkats United” was voted the best wildlife documentary of all time by BBC viewers. He has also narrated over 50 episodes of Natural World, BBC Two’s flagship wildlife series. (Its forerunner, The World About Us, was created by Attenborough in 1969, as a vehicle for colour television.) In 1997, he narrated the BBC Wildlife Specials, each focussing on a charismatic species, and screened to mark the Natural History Unit’s 40th anniversary.

As a writer and narrator, he has continued to collaborate with the BBC Natural History Unit into the new millennium. He narrated The Blue Planet (2001), the Unit’s first comprehensive series on marine life. The same team reunited for Planet Earth (2006), the biggest nature documentary ever made for television, and the first BBC wildlife series to be shot in high definition. In 2009, Attenborough wrote and narrated Life, a ten-part series focussing on extraordinary animal behaviour, and narrated Nature’s Great Events, which showed how seasonal changes trigger major natural spectacles.

By the turn of the millennium, Attenborough’s authored documentaries were adopting a more overtly environmentalist stance. In State of the Planet (2000), he used the latest scientific evidence and interviews with leading scientists and conservationists to assess the impact of man’s activities on the natural world. He later turned to the issues of global warming (The Truth about Climate Change, 2006) and human population growth (How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?, 2009). He also contributed a programme which highlighted the plight of endangered species to the BBC’s Saving Planet Earth project in 2007, the 50th anniversary of the Natural History Unit.

Attenborough continues to work into his ninth decade, and is currently involved in a number of projects: He wrote and presented Frozen Planet, a major series for BBC One which examines the impact of a warming climate on the people and wildlife of the polar regions. He has also recently completed two projects for BBC Two. Madagascar (which first aired weekly between the 9th to 23rd February 2011) a three-part series giving an overview of Madagascar’s unique wildlife. The accompanying documentary Attenborough and the Giant Egg (which aired on the 2nd of March 2011) features the elephant bird egg which Attenborough discovered on his first filming expedition to the island in the 1960s.

The importance of Sir David Attenborough’s contribution to wildlife film making is beyond doubt as his huge catalogue of programmes have been seen by millions of people worldwide and stirred up massive interest in the natural world. His contribution to conservation film is widely regarded as one of the best due to his authoritative presence and well-respected command of the issues pertaining to important environmental concerns… His long-time commitment to wildlife film and commentary on environmental issues have proven him to be a filmmaker that truly has made a very significant difference!

Other Achievements:

From 1983, Attenborough worked on two environmentally themed musicals with the WWF and writers Peter Rose and Anne Conlon. Yanomamo was the first, about the Amazon rainforest, and the second, Ocean World, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 1991.

They were both narrated by Attenborough on their national tour, and recorded on to audio cassette. Ocean World was also filmed for Channel 4 and later released.
In 1982, he received the Panda Award for Outstanding Achievement at Wildscreen.

He serves on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine; is Wildscreen Patron; a Trustee of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1985.

Contact/Links:

http://www.davidattenborough.co.uk/
http://www.wildfilmhistory.org/person/85/85.html?personid=85
http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/oct/31/david-attenborough-feature-readersquestions
By Jason Peters

Featured Filmmaker: Sabyasachi Patra

SabyasachiWhat is your name and where are you based?

Sabyasachi Patra. Based in India.

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

I am a conservationist at heart and wildlife filmmaker to help realise my dreams of preserving India’s fast vanishing wilderness and wildlife. I am creating Wildlife films to document the conservation challenges, raise awareness among the masses as well as the influential segments of the society and catalyse action.

I am primarily using the small form factor of the DLSR cameras – Canon EOS 1D Mark IV – and plan to use Canon’s new Cine camera C300 when it is available.

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

I have been a wildlife photographer for more than 19 years. At an impressionable age, love for nature and photography was imprinted in my minds due to my father Dr. Kirtan Chandra Patra, who was a professor of zoology. Later I became inspired by the legendary biologist George B Schaller.

I have been fascinated by the beauty, aura and the intelligence of the tiger and have been photographing tigers in various sanctuaries and protected areas. However, I could see that our pristine wilderness areas are vanishing at a rapid rate often due to ill planned large infrastructural projects like dams, canals, mines, roads, power projects in wetlands etc. And to add to the misery, the nexus between real estate mafia, politicians and corrupt officials is gobbling up land to cater to the needs and greeds of an exploding population thereby ensuring that our wilderness areas are cut-off from each other and the migratory corridors are lost. Amidst this unprecedented assault on India’s wilderness areas, the few conservation efforts have been reduced into tiger-centric projects and the attention on other lesser known but equally important species is lost. So I have decided to write a monthly newsletter which is electronically distributed to about 10000 people to raise awareness. I have also founded an online Conservation and Wildlife Photography forum (www.indiawilds.com/forums ) for bringing together like minded people. I am started creating wildlife films to tap the power of films as a medium in influencing people and helping in preserving our bio-diversity.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

Permissions to shoot and film is either restricted and difficult to get in many places or is prohibitively costly. Carrying all my filming and sound recording equipment in difficult terrain and ready to setup in a moment’s notice is another challenge.

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

The march of technology is a great boon. When I was using my still photography camera Canon EOS 1V HS to shoot 10fps, I was always cautious not to burn up all my slide rolls in a few minutes. If the tiger moves onto the shade in a clump of bamboo, the light level falls and being on elephant back, one was forced to remove the ISO 50 Velvia roll and use a ISO 200 roll. These days one can safely use much higher ISOs. In an exceptional case earlier this year, I filmed two gaurs (Bos gaurus) jostling with each other before dawn using ISO 12800 at f2.8 with my Canon EOS 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens and Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera.

Today Full HD capability is packed into a small box. Wildlife filming and photography was never this good as we have it today. Wish I had this kind of technology available to me a decade back.

What is your favourite place in nature?

There are many favourite places where I had some memorable experiences. In Corbett National Park, my ego of knowing tiger behaviour got crushed and since then I don’t call myself an expert. I visit Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve every year and have many fond memories like tiger catching a pangolin, tiger mating etc. And there are many places in the Western Ghats especially the sholas.

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

We are rapidly losing vast stretches of wilderness areas. Together with the explosive population growth, ill planned large infrastructural projects like dams, mines, canals, power projects etc our wilderness areas are losing contiguity and are cut-off from each other along with attendant problems. There is the evidence of human hand through pollution everywhere, even in once pristine locations. Apart from the losing the feel and character of the wilderness areas, there is a high likelihood of losing some species of flora and fauna even before they could be discovered.

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues? And if you could give one message to the world’s leaders on climate change, what would it be?

The media is primarily trying to be sensationalise the story in their effort to grab eyeballs. There is a mad rush to be the first to report a story. The media needs to be educated that it is not important to create a “breaking news” as far as wildlife stories are concerned. Rather, it is important to write the correct facts which needs more research and interviews with experts.

One Planet, One Goal!

If we continue with our present profligate ways of living, then this planet is insufficient for us. Climate change is a reality and is too important to be held hostage to economic compulsions and/or ambitions of a few nations. The world leaders need to display statesmanship and work hand-in-hand with smaller countries.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am documenting the bio-diversity rich western ghats along with its endangered and endemic species. The film on Lion-tailed Macaques is completed. I have nearly completed documenting the endangered species Grizzled Giant Squirrels and it would soon go into the post-production stage.

The research and preliminary filming on Asiatic elephants is over and it would get into production stage.

What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

I have been getting lot of requests from people to assist me, as they think wildlife filming is a glamorous career. If you want to be a wildlife filmmaker, then you need to be patient and be prepared for the long haul.

Do not lose sleep that you don’t have the latest and the greatest film camera. Find out the subject which interests you the most and then go and tell your story. After all filmmaking is another story telling medium. Of course, you have to get your basics right. Do your research, so that filming time is shorter.

What would you like to remembered for?

In Conservation, no victory is permanent. Nevertheless, I want to be remembered as someone who was always willing to walk the lonely path, trying to motivate others on his way to harness the collective power of “WE” to save our last tracts of wilderness areas and wildlife.

Links:

Preview of “A Call in the Rainforest” – http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/inspiration-for-the-film-a-call-in-the-rainforest/ 
IndiaWilds Forums: www.indiawilds.com/forums
Blog: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/ 
Equipment Reviews: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/category/equipment/

Featured Filmmaker: Tim Neary

tim-nearyWhat is your name and where are you based?

 

My name is Tim Neary and I work from Randburg which is close to Johannesburg in South Africa

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

Mostly I make short films on our natural history and that includes fauna and flora, but tend to avoid the “Big 5”

I am a naturalist conservationist and talk radio broadcaster and since 1995 have been involved in video. I am a storyteller through various mediums for conservation and the environment and try where possible to bring in indigenous beliefs, myths and legends. I also promote conservation projects and organisations / people whom I believe are often overlooked. I collect “situational video material” and make it available for reuse. Shooting second camera and when working as a fixer has also allowed me to meet some interesting and incredible people

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

I am most likely most inspired Sir David Attenborough and the way in which wildlife is depicted through observation rather than the more modern reality style. I grew up in a small village on the coast in South Africa and have been interested in the natural world since birth. This is not about money or any form of prestige but about sharing an inquisitive passion.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

Every new experience I think has its unique set of challenges due to the non-invasive manner of work I enjoy but the smaller the creature and the more creatures that share a system, such as a Sociable Weavers Nest, the greater the challenge. Some of the vetinary procedures have neem challenging to force yourself to be distant from the subject and proceedings.

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

Technology has often been a hindrance from the fact of always needing the latest specification to be “acceptable” to the broadcasters, but there is no getting away from the fact that the new cameras are incredible in their clarity and there are now great small toys like the “Go-pro” for fun shots. Also the new edit programs have made it easier for folk like me who are self-sufficient.

What is your favourite place in nature?

Favourite place in nature is so varied, The Northern Cape and Kalahari with the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, The Eastern Cape and the Karoo and then the West Coast of South Africa, often the desolate places are the most rewarding in my work.

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

The lack of attention and exposure for pollution of our water and sea. The sea hides its damage as we are fooled by it going through the motions every day of tidal changes giving an apparent view of “normality”. In South Africa the right political noise is made about our river systems, but this fails dismally as we do not protect the source and whole river system but tend to have “dog and pony show” days cleaning up a few hundred meters of a river and believing we have changed. As a country we are filthy and do not apply enough education to protecting our environments from pollution delivered daily by the man in the street.

We cannot too get away from the fact that South Africa has a horrible record for cleansing the farmlands of all wildlife unless it brings in money. Effectively if it has teeth and claws, eats of digs it is declared vermin and Gin Traps are still a legal way in so called “problem animal control. The lack of understanding of the holistic interconnectivity between man and planet is a huge concern.

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues? And if you could give one message to the world’s leaders on climate change, what would it be?

I believe that the media only report “the bad” and then as a “one shot wonder” and never follow a story again and so we don’t have a follow-up accountability. The media has an incredible opportunity, and I believe obligation to educate the public and inform government and this opportunity is missed. Again I speak for South Africa, but in general we have conservation and the environment reporting in obscure pages nobody reads. World leaders realise that this is one planet and thus your borders have no worth or meaning within the natural world and thus work in isolation at the peril of the planet.

World leaders see climate change as an opportunity to create a tax revenue stream and in doing this there is no encouragement to change as we simply add the cost to the consumer. A simple comment to the world leaders would be to view the total earth as a farm or reserve and look at how a well managed organic styled farm works and apply the same principle to man. It is no good reporting as to how many planets we need to survive, be it in the USA or a corner of Africa, simply we are not going to colonise other planets and grow produce, so how do we make this one work in a sustainable manner.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have written a number of stories around Tswalu Kalahari and presently doing the background work on them and then fun with the seed funding slog. Indigenous trees of the Kalahari, The Aardwolf, Aardvark, Cheetah, Sociable Weavers Nest and The Burrowers which is about the different creatures who enter and share the underground burrows. Combined these will keep me occupied for some 2 years.

What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

If you want to make a small fortune, enter conservation with a large fortune. This is not about making money or prestige but about sharing a passion and hopefully encouraging young folk into this fascinating world…your learning will never end and your wealth of knowledge gained and opportunities cannot be bought or learned in an academic facility….in short “Go for it”!

What would you like to remembered for?

Not a question I really think about but it would be nice for the family if I was to be remembered for my honesty and integrity in my story telling and that hopefully it challenged a few people to relook and enjoy the natural world.