FF:W Stand in Solidarity

Beyond the Frame: FF:W Stand in Solidarity

This 90 second graphic piece is a virtual demonstration of solidarity from wildlife filmmakers across the globe. In The Big Question, FF:W asked the industry about the responsibilities of our films and this 90 second video captures some of the responses. We know there’s a problem, it’s time to act.

Produced and Directed by Ruth Campbell and Rowan Aitchison
Motion Graphics Development and Production – Jump Design

Development Producer – Ida-May Jones
Development Assistant Producer – Mary Melville

Composer – Anthony Aldersley
Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer – Nicholas Allan
Archive Footage – Offspring Films

Series Development Producer – Rowan Aitchison
Series Producer – Ruth Campbell
Series Executive Producer – Jennie Hammond

Beyond The Frame Production Team: Niel Brooks, Tom Richards, Alice Kirk, Deya Ward, Niel Aldridge, Brian Henderson, Emma Tyrrell, Bridget Appleby, Josh Forwood

With thanks to: Offspring Films, Plimsoll Productions

Watch Beyond the Frame Live at COP26

"Beyond the Frame" - FF:W at COP26

Filmmakers for Future: Wildlife are excited to bring you a selection of specially made short films, followed by a discussion panel hosted by Steve Backshall. We’ll be talking about the role wildlife filmmaking has in battling the climate and biodiversity crisis.

The live event has now finished but you can watch the whole thing right now in the video below .If you head to the Beyond the Frame section of our website, the short films are now also available for viewing!

You can ask questions of the FF:W team here as you watch the session https://app.sli.do/event/facspapl and using the code #900831

Our panellists include Jonny Keeling (Head of NHU at the BBC), Janet Vissering – (Vice president of development and production at Nat Geo Wild), Paula Kahumbu – (Chief executive officer of Wildlife Direct), Ashwika Kapur – (Natural History Filmmaker), Jo Ruxton – (Ocean Generation Founder).

Beyond the Frame – This Saturday at COP26

Filmmakers for Future: Wildlife’s short film project, “Beyond the Frame”, will Premier at COP26 on Saturday 6th November at 11.30am GMT.

The five short films will be followed by a panel discussion on ‘The Future of Wildlife Filmmaking’. You can tune in to the event on Saturday 6th November at 11.30am Live by following this link.

The 90 minute session will be made up of two sections:

  • 11.30am – 12 noon Premier of FF:W Short Film Series “Beyond the Frame” and introduction
  • 12 noon – 1pm Panel Discussion

PANEL GUESTS: Jonny Keeling (Head of NHU at the BBC), Janet Vissering – (Vice president of development and production at Nat Geo Wild), Paula Kahumbu – (Chief executive officer of Wildlife Direct), Ashwika Kapur – (Natural History Filmmaker), Jo Ruxton – (Ocean Generation Founder).

The panel guests will be discussing key topics relating to the future of wildlife filmmaking. This will include discussing how we as wildlife filmmakers can play our part in accelerating the transition to environmentally friendly production methods.
They will also be discussing how we can increase support for local filmmakers to tell their own stories, to their own audiences.
Lastly, the discussion will focus on the power of storytelling and how we can use it to help tackle the climate and ecological crisis. What are we currently excluding from the stories we chose to tell that our audiences need to know?

Again, the films and panel will be live from 11:30am this Saturday 6th November at this link. We will be posting closer to the time with access to watch the event live on our website or on YouTube!

FF:W Session at COP26

Don't miss FF:W's official session at COP26

We are pleased to announce the Filmmakers for Future: Wildlife session ‘The Future of Wildlife Filmmaking: Beyond the Frame’ at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 in The Green Zone.

During this event we will be presenting five short films produced exclusively for this occasion. These will be followed by a panel discussion, hosted by Steve Backshall, where wildlife filmmakers discuss with the broadcast channels the enormous issues involved in producing wildlife films in a climate emergency..

The session will take place on Saturday 6th November at 11:30am, and will end at 1pm.

Screenshot 2021-10-15 at 20.48.46-01

Live streaming of the event will be available on the UK COP26 Green Zone Youtube page. We will include a link here directly to the stream as soon as it goes live.

Please note, the in-person event is currently fully booked.
More tickets may become available if covid restrictions lift, or if people cancel, so do keep an eye out on the COP26 Website:
https://greenzonetickets.ukcop26.org/home

The big discussion

The big discussion - Results

What do we want our programmes to achieve? FF:W pol.is survey - explanation and summary of findings

What is the big discussion?

“What do we want our programmes to achieve?” was an online survey hosted by Filmmakers for Future: Wildlife (FF:W) between the 14th of October and 21st of December 2020. The purpose of this interactive poll was to better understand the views of wildlife filmmakers on our role in communicating the climate and biodiversity crises. We believe this to be the largest survey on this topic. We hope this insight into how production staff and crew are feeling about their work will help to inform discussions within production companies and broadcasters.

The poll maintained anonymity for participants, so we do not know who took part, or their role in the industry. We expect that the majority of participants were directed to the poll by FF:W. They are therefore likely to share the group’s view that urgent action is needed to address climate change and biodiversity loss along with increased coverage of these themes in our programmes. 

252 people voted on 131 submitted statements. A total of 9,139 votes were cast, agreeing, disagreeing or passing to each statement. Not every participant voted on all the statements. This means the percentages shown are from a subset of participants who cast a vote on that particular statement. 

Engagement: 252 people, 131 statements, 9,139 votes
Key Insights

Below are the statements that achieved the most consensus between participants. We have split them by relevance to editorial or production decisions. For each statement we have put its (popularity %) and [the statements pol.is raw data reference number].

Editorial: 

  • Natural history programmes have a duty to report on the true current state of the natural world. (90% agree)[61]
  • It is our responsibility to communicate the need to act with extreme urgency to halt the climate and biodiversity crises. (87% agree)[2]
  • We should no longer portray humans as separate from nature. (89% agree)[18]
  • We should show human wildlife conflicts in our programs but more importantly the socioeconomic reasons behind them. (88% agree)[33]
  • Our programs should help audiences assess the value of different solutions to our environmental crises. (92% agree)[38]
  • Programmes encouraging carbon reduction through individual action are not enough as they don’t hold Governments and Industry to account. (89% agree)[52]
  • We have to work out how to reach new audiences who don’t believe in global biodiversity loss & the climate crisis. (92% agree)[83]
  • The audience already understands the urgency of climate change – we don’t need to keep including it in our programs. (89% disagree)[50]
  • Wildlife films are doing enough for conservation already. (91% disagree)[71]

Production management: 

  • We should give more thought to the way we structure our programmes to reduce the amount of travel needed. (90% agree)[62]
  • We should work with local fixers to create ‘kit hubs’ around the world. Where bulky kit can be checked in or out on arrival and departure. (89% agree)[125]
  • Camera op bursaries should be made available in popular countries which we film in. (85% agree) [124]
  • The industry needs to be more collaborative rather than working in secrecy to protect their story/program/content to reduce their footprints. (80% agree)[120]
  • If our programs are made net zero by offsetting our emissions through trusted projects we do not need to take further action to reduce our emissions. (79% disagree)[22]

Some statements submitted have outlined future challenges while others provide ideas for solutions. Below we look at these statements and suggest actions that may help, many of which have intersectional benefits. As before, the percentages shown are from the subset of participants who cast a vote on that particular statement. 

  • Just 13% said that their company was providing clear editorial guidelines on communicating environmental issues.
    Suggested action
    : Companies should provide staff with clear and detailed guidelines on what is and is not allowed, when talking about the environmental crises on each platform we work with. It may help to consider giving examples of the upper and lower limits of what might be included, both in picture and narration.
    For example: could a programme name a bank that invests in deforestation (upper limit) or should a crew clean beaches of plastic pollution before filming, thereby misleading the public about our impact on the natural world (lower limit). [16]

  • Only 26% say they know where to learn about best practices for communicating the climate and ecological crises.
    Suggested action: As these themes become more central in our programmes we need to refresh our methods of communicating them. Companies could offer staff up to date science communication training or host a series of guest lectures on the psychology of climate communication. [44]

  • When measuring a programme’s success, 77% agreed we should look at the positive changes it achieves, not just at viewing figures.
    Suggested action: By changing our metric of success we could give more opportunities to make bolder programmes, with a positive impact. [25]

  • As the natural world we are documenting is destroyed, filmmakers have a key role in communicating the solutions, but for years we have only been showing audiences the fringes of the crisis. Now, with so little time left, 81% agree we need to shift from passively educating to actively aiming to change our audience’s behaviour with our programmes.
    Suggested action: To achieve this, 86% agree we need to bring in experience from psychologists, advertisers, campaign managers and impact producers. [1 + 4]

  • Where broadcasters are committed to impartiality, 84% think this is holding back programmes from addressing some of the biggest threats to the climate.
    Suggested action: 82% say we should be working with NGOs so they are primed to say what we cannot in our programmes. [49+53]

  • 82% of participants think our programmes have suffered from a lack of diverse views in their production and development.
    Suggested action: At every opportunity we should be including people who live near the wildlife we film. This has to go beyond local guides and drivers, to include hiring local camera assistants, camera people and producer/directors. 86% feel that international production teams are a key part of reducing our carbon footprint. Over time we will benefit from programmes with new perspectives and smaller carbon footprints as we globalize and decarbonise our filmmaking system. [9 + 64] 
  • Companies need to be mindful of the effect that production decisions may have on their staff, with 60% saying they feel eco-anxiety from working on projects they don’t believe in, and that this is getting worse.
    Suggested action: Ensure that all staff have someone to talk to about their concerns, apart from their editorial lead. Keep the environmental messaging of a project transparent while hiring, as this may be a major consideration for someone choosing what to work on. [106]

  • Offsetting programme emissions is not enough. 79% agree we need to take further action to reduce emissions. Offsetting is the cheapest and easiest way to clear a production’s carbon conscience, but many offsetting projects sequester carbon too slowly to fully mitigate emissions, so companies need to start taking bolder action as well.
    Suggested action: A good start would be to set a science-based carbon budget that productions would have to stay within. 53% are in support of carbon budgets that shrink by 10% each year. There are many great solutions to mitigate emissions but without a nudge, productions are unlikely to take these steps at the rate they need to be adopted. The sooner we start, the more gradual the transition can be. [22+23]

What's next?

In this report, we have focused only on the societal value of programmes without looking at the commercial value which, of course, plays a large part in all decisions made. However, we hope these insights will help catalyse discussions in your production company and with your colleagues. You can also learn more about how to talk to your colleagues about these ideas by reading about the different opinion groups in the pol.is raw data (which you can download as a PDF here). If you are hoping to implement any of the suggestions above, we would be delighted to help you in any way we can.

We encourage everyone to join this ongoing discussion by commenting below, or heading over to our forum where there are already a number of conversations taking place inspired by these results.

The actions we decide to take in this decade will determine the stability of many decades to come. As an industry let’s be part of the solution, as so many believe we can be. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this report, we would love to hear from you! If you have any feedback or would like to discuss any of the above please email us at: rowan@ffwildlife.org

A touch of green in Winter

Winterwatch took a big step towards a green future in live TV this week, with their live broadcast on 26th January running entirely on hydrogen and battery power.

Working off-grid is common in our industry and usually relies on fuel hungry diesel generators. This year the Winterwatch team has taken the initiative to step away from fossil fuel energy in a bid to reduce the climate impact of their productions.

Winterwatch 2021 presenters left to right: Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Iolo Williams, Gillian Burke – Photographer: Jo Charlesworth

In what is believed to be a first for outdoor TV broadcast, the whole production at the OB hub and the live presenter locations was run on hydrogen and battery power!

Hydrogen fuel cells work by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen across an electrochemical cell (similar to a battery) to produce electricity with 0 emissions.

Hydrogen power is fast becoming a key component in the growing fight for green energy, but it hasn’t been without it’s setbacks. One of the primary arguments against hydrogen generated electricity is that it requires energy to produce the hydrogen in the first place and often this energy can come from fossil fuels such as coal.

However, it is becoming more and more common for the production of hydrogen to be generated using the excess power produced by solar farms, wind farms and other green energy sources. The other key consideration to make here is that currently, the only viable alternative to hydrogen is diesel. Not only is diesel itself a horrific atmospheric pollutant, but it requires far more energy to source than hydrogen does to produce (being drilled, refined, and transported half way around the world).

Ultimately, using hydrogen now is paving the way for a future where all energy is from renewable sources and the Winterwatch team has done a fantastic job at demonstrating the viability of this technology in todays broadcasting infrastructure!

You can read more about the hydrogen powered Winterwatch broadcast on the BBC blog here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, suggestions for ways to make production even greener, and tips for those who would like to follow in the footsteps of Winterwatch, so please either comment below or sign up and head on over to our forum for a more in-depth discussion.

Wildscreen 2020

WILDSCREEN 2020

Wildscreen is the largest natural history film festival in the world. This year, due to it being held online, it was also one of the most accessible. Held every two years, this was its first as a virtual event and the Festival team did a brilliant job. They managed the few inevitable technical hitches and delivered a multitude of masterclasses, screenings, live Q&As and unmissable high profile speakers, including Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg discussing our current planetary crisis.

Here’s a round-up of some of the great environmental messages that came out of the sessions I was able to catch at this year’s festival. 

The audience wants to know, “What can I do?”

A clear message was present -there is a need for urgency in relation to the climate and biodiversity crises and our audience is asking “What can I do?”. Something independent films have the editorial control to address, but often harder to do within the current constraints of the television industry. Most seemed to agree on the need to present positive examples and success stories to inspire and motivate. Can we make more of this kind of content? I hear some of the commissioning sessions sounded hopeful, and I’m keen to catch up on them.

Sir David’s advice – “Above all don’t waste”. 

The conversation between Sir David Attenborough and activist Greta Thunberg raised some important issues including Sir David’s key piece of advice -don’t waste. As the natural history TV business booms, so does our environmental impact. We can find ourselves filming the same animals in the same places, sometimes even with the same crew and kit. One of FF:W’s aims is to help Bristol wildlife TV companies come together to collaborate on ways in which we might be able to reduce waste and duplication.

Our average carbon footprint is 61 tCo2e for one hour of television screened, which is equivalent to powering over 14 homes for a year. At the top end of the scale for wildlife TV, the largest footprint recorded (since 2012) for a big international series came in at over 400 tCo2e for one hour. Most of that was travel. That’s the equivalent of powering over 90 homes for a year. For one landmark wildlife series, we’re nearing the same footprint as the big budget feature films, at over 2,400 tCo2e. (Source: We are albert) 

Sir David and Greta discussed how the right content has huge value and the ability to be part of the solution, but we also need to look at how we make our programmes. We make our living out of wildlife and wild places and yet international wildlife docs are the highest emitting genre of television. Covid’s broken the seal and showed us there are other ways of doing things. We hope to build a collaboration of companies here in Bristol to help work out where we can save on travel, energy and resources.

There were many other insightful takeaways from Sir David and Greta, of course.   Wildscreen has now made their conversation available to the public. You can watch it here.

Everything’s Changed

Director Tom Musthill hosted an excellent panel discussion with DOP/Producer John Aitchison, Series Producer Verity White, Head of BBC Studios Science unit Andrew Cohen & PD Ashwika Kapur.  

“Everything has changed since Wildscreen 2018. A global pandemic has left economies in meltdown while global climate change has caused wildfires on every continent. Trump has left the Paris Agreement and China’s committed to Net Zero. Greta, ExtinctionRebellion and Black Lives Matter have all dominated the news….So what should our roles be in this rapidly changing world?”

This was an honest and open discussion about the challenges and the opportunities which this new world presents for natural history content production. We as an industry have always justified our travel to deliver important stories from the natural world which can of course have huge value in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.  But there is a growing discomfort felt by many in the industry that we give a false impression of the state of the natural world, and also by the nature of our business, mainly through multiple flights, how we’re also contributing to the problem. Offsetting is one thing, but the results needed will not be achieved quickly enough by this method alone. More discussions are needed about what can and can’t be justified and how we might streamline our processes and reduce our emissions in the first place. 

The discussion received a lot of positive feedback from the audience both in the live chat and on social media. Jason Peters, Wildife film news via twitter: “This was an important discussion. We’re thrilled that so many filmmakers are onboard with telling the truth about the true state of the natural world.

There were so many other great sessions on offer, I wasn’t able to attend all of them but here are a few key message from those I did:

An interesting session on Impact Campaigns asked “How can we make films that bring about real change? How can we use films to support it? And what’s the point of having an impact campaign if it doesn’t result in tangible change?” A conversation between Dave Allen, Joanna Natagesara, Franny Armstrong and Natalie Cash.  At FF:W we’re learning about the new role of Impact Producing and how it might be incorporated within the wildlife TV industry, not just for independent films.

Sky’s CEO Jeremy Darroch in Conversation with Steve Backshall: “Businesses need to think how they can replenish as well as take”  -SKY setting a great example of what broadcasters can do which I’m sure we could learn from here in Bristol.

James Cameron: Deep-Sea Explorer and Filmmaker, in conversation with Orla Doherty from BBC Studios: “We’ve been takers for too long, we need to be caretakers”

Perhaps one of the most striking things this year was the fact that the newly created “Sustainable Panda Award” for 2020 wasn’t allocated at the closing ceremony. 

“The award recognises the production that best uses sustainable practices to reduce the environmental damage across the entirety of a production. Each production entered into the awards will need to outline the measures taken..”  We don’t know the backstory to this but it gives a clear message and encouragement for us all to do better. 

What other sessions did you catch and what did you find most interesting, surprising or encouraging this year? We’ve started up a new thread on our FF:W forum and would love to hear your thoughts, or you can add your comments below.

For those with a pass almost all of the content is now available to view on the website and the networking platform is also staying open until 20th of November.

Congratulations to all the award winners and to the festival team for pulling off the first ever virtual Wildscreen.

Kristina Turner, 
Assistant Producer
FF:W Co-founder

ALL THAT GLITTERS AIN’T GOLD

A short opinion piece from one of our members:

ALL THAT GLITTERS AIN'T GOLD

When the news broke that no production entered into Wildscreen 2020 had won the new sustainable GREEN PANDA I was enthralled, dismayed, disheartened and optimistic. 

Enthralled because it was a bold and brave move for an awards ceremony – with all the trappings of glitz and glamour one would expect from something dubbed the Green Oscars – to say to productions in a public forum you aren’t doing enough. And perhaps productions aren’t. Counting up your air miles and writing a report of contrition will not save Planet Earth, will not safeguard the very wildlife we need to save to film. 

I was dismayed because, for this decision to be reached, it suggests industry systems that quantify sustainability – like Albert the Carbon Calculator – must, presumably, have been considered flawed by the panel. Surely someone out there took the time to explain they’d used Albert when they submitted their films and, if they had, shouldn’t an industry standard have been enough to warrant the award? 

The disheartening bit was I couldn’t help but think celebrating the conservation films made on next to no budget would have been appropriate. Films that have grand designs to change the world, to tell conservation stories. Films which by their very virtue of being shoe-string, minute for minute in terms of screen time, have the smallest of carbon footprints. Films that had reported efforts to minimise those footprints further when they submitted to the festival. 

So, to those of you who made green films on a tight but sustainable budget; well done. Be optimistic. For just now yours are the greenest films of all. Well done to Wildscreen for shaming the big boys; I hope they listened – just don’t forget the little folk doing their very best to blaze a pioneering trail and make a difference.

Matt Brierley
Producer
FF:W Content subgroup member.

Introducing FFWildlife.org

Introducing FFWildlife.org

After several months of collaboration and cooperation on a growing WhatsApp group, we are very happy to announce the launch of our official website, www.ffwildlife.org
This website will act as a hub for our announcements, growing resources, and our community.

In addition to our WhatsApp group which we recommend to still use as your primary source for notifications and updates, this website provides FF:W members with a forum to engage with each other and discuss ideas, as well as news and resources to everyone, whether they are a member or just an interested party.

It's FREE to join

It takes less than a minute to join our forum and WhatsApp group, click here to register

Wildscreen 2020

Wildscreen 2020

Wildscreen, the worlds biggest wildlife filmmaking festival, is just one week away, but this year it’s going to be a little different.

Unlike the normal week long hive of activity filling the watershed and various other Bristol venues, this year due to Covid19, Wildscreen Festival will be held online.

This year the festival will be hosted at a new website, https://wildscreenfest.uscreen.io/

Whilst many will be missing the opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues, others will be embracing the new and significantly cheaper ticket price to reflect the lower overheads. This year Full Industry Passes and Concession passes are £125 and £50 respectively.

A pass will give you full access to the week of content including online masterclasses, sessions, headliners, screenings, award ceremonies, Q&A sessions and more!

What’s more, the content will be available for pass holders to access on-demand until mid-December!

The panda award nominees have been announced and there’s a lot to get stuck into this year! From the refreshingly beautiful and personal underwater insight of, ‘My Octopus Teacher‘, to the environmental bombshell that is, ‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet‘.

The last year has brought some of the most stunning and also hard hitting wildlife films to date, and the discussions that come out of Wildscreen will be a valuable resource for FFW both in content creation and industry improvement.

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With over 57 speakers giving seminars, Q&A sessions and master classes this year, there’s a lot to keep busy with, most notably Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, and Dr. Jane Goodall. In addition to these environmental and wildlife rockstars there’s also Johan Rockström, a Swedish professor and leading climate scientist. 

Whether you attend Wildscreen 2020 or not, make sure you come back here afterwards as we’ll be holding discussions and talks reflecting on the keynotes, films and more.