UPDATES FROM 2021
Filmmakers for Future: Wildlife first emerged at the end of 2019 after hundreds of wildlife filmmakers in Bristol joined a march in support of Fridays for Future. Realising how many of us feel strongly about our role in the climate crisis, a meeting was arranged to discuss how we could all work together to keep up our momentum and explore ways to push for a greener wildlife film industry. Thus FF:W was born.
We began with regular meetings above a pub in Bristol, and the group rapidly grew until we were literally bursting out of the room. We formed smaller collaborative groups to focus on key areas such as Reducing Impact, Internal Learning, and Content – but just as we were beginning to find our feet Coronavirus struck.
After a period of recovery from the shock of the pandemic, we slowly began to reform – this time starting up on Zoom. By the end of 2020 we had our social media up and running; created a website; ran “The Big Discussion” to gather members thoughts about the industry; formed collaborations with other environmental film groups across the globe; and hosted four internal learning sessions for our members.
Now in 2021 we have an incredible 230+ membership with filmmakers from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and the USA, as well as many European countries. Despite its size, FF:W is currently run on an entirely voluntary basis with just a small group of volunteer administrators overseeing its operation.
It’s been a busy year for FF:W – we’ve continued to run internal learning sessions; hosted talks at COP26 and WCSFP (Word Congress of Science & Factual Producers); collaborated with Wildscreen and Albert; and started up the Sustainability Forum which provides regular space for heads of the main Bristol production companies to discuss sustainability across our industry.
It can be tricky to keep up with everything going on – and so we hope that this newsletter will go some way to keeping everyone updated. We want all our members to feel they can get involved in whatever ways they can – and we need everyone’s help to make real change.
Following this newsletter we’d like to invite you to join us online on the 14th December to discuss and share your thoughts on the future of FF:W. Please also make use of our Jam Board where you can put thoughts or ask any questions you’d like anonymously. You can also check out our LinkTree to find all the latest FF:W news and projects.
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MEET THE ADMIN TEAM
Kristina Turner is an Assistant Producer in natural history TV & Co-founder of FF:W. Currently working on an environmental feature film for a new company and across various aspects of FF:W with a focus on the Bristol Production Sustainability Forum.
Eloisa Noble is a Science and Natural History Producer with a background in zoology. Currently working on a Nat Geo landmark for Plimsoll Productions in Bristol, she helps to manage the social media subgroup and pages.
Josh Forwood is a freelance camera and drone operator specialising in wildlife and science based documentaries. Josh created and manages the website and FF:W’s branding, as well as assisting with projects and general admin roles.
Rowan Aitchison is a researcher, camera person and drone operator currently working on a climate feature documentary. He helps run FF:W projects like “The Big Discussion” and “Beyond The Frame”.
Ruth Campbell is a Natural History Producer/ Director who Produced the FF:W COP26 short film series and live event ‘Beyond the Frame: The Future of Wildlife Filmmaking’ earlier this year. Currently working for Wall to Wall/Warner Brothers on a series about the natural history of islands.
Lina Kabbadj is a Researcher with a background in marine conservation and science communication. She currently works on a feature documentary about culture change and supports FF:W across projects focused on impact, systems change and collaboration within and beyond the wildlife TV industry.
Ida-May Jones is an Assistant Producer about to start on a Disney + landmark for Wildstar in Bristol. She helps with general running of FF:W in any capacity she can (like editing together newsletters)!
FF:W AT COP26
Last month FF:W presented ‘The Future of Wildlife Filmmaking – Beyond the Frame’ at COP26. A series of five short-films was followed by a panel discussion, where Steve Backshall chaired an honest and eye-opening discussion about our industry, with Jonny Keeling – BBC Studios; Janet Han Vissering – Nat Geo Wild; Paula Kahumbu – Wildlife Direct Kenya; Ashwika Kapur – Independent Filmmaker ; and Jo Ruxton – Ocean Generation.
The session was broadcast to a live audience and has now been seen by over 4000 viewers from across the globe. If you missed it and would like to catch up, you can do so here. The panel opened with Jonny Keeling, who will begin his new position as Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit this month, being affectionately renamed by Janet Han Vissering, SVP Program Development and Production at Nat Geo Wild, as Dr Cat – make of this what you will.
Their light-hearted approach was quickly superseded by a genuine and sincere recognition that we, as an industry, must make some radical changes if we are going to take our fair share of responsibility in the biodiversity and climate crisis.
After hearing from Jo about the importance of access to environmental education content here in the UK, Paula took the discussion global and introduced the complex and deepset problem of social justice in an industry dominated by companies and leaders in the Global North, and talked about her journey to try and change this.
Steve Backshall didn’t shy away from the difficult questions, and concluded the session with an opportunity for all speakers to share their vision for the future of our industry.
The COP26 FF:W session was just one conversation, and we are delighted that our participants have continued to connect since the event about some of the issues raised. We understand that there have already been some positive outcomes around distribution rights for educational purposes, and we will continue to stay updated on this and share any learnings with the membership.
Beyond the Frame – FF:W’s COP26 Short Film Project can be accessed here.
As well as the five short films FF:W produced a 90-second graphics piece called “Stand in Solidarity“, where FF:W members read statements representing key issues in our industry. Many of these themes emerged from “The Big Discussion” project. Thank you to all the members who took part in both the film and “The Big Discussion”, we couldn’t have done this without you. If you only have 90- secs to spare today I recommend you spend it watching this.
If you have an idea for future FF:W projects, would like to find out more about volunteering for an existing sub-group, please email the admin team.
FF:W AT THE WORLD CONGRESS OF SCIENCE AND FACTUAL PRODUCERS
In an exciting development, FF:W had a presence at this year’s World Congress of Science and Factual Producers. WCSFP is a network and market event for the unscripted television industry. In attendance were representatives from all the major broadcasters and streamers worldwide. FF:W
chose to take part as it presented a great opportunity to raise awareness and discuss important ideas with some influential individuals and organisations. All this aimed to increase opportunities to accelerate the change we all want to see.
Lis Oakham, one of our co-founders, was invited to speak on a panel called “Going Green”, alongside representatives from PGA Green – an industry sustainability body in the USA, and Albert – the UK’s industry sustainability body. Topics of discussion included carbon footprints, flights, the creation of kit hubs and training internationally, carbon calculators, and Lis also shared the FF:W COP26 short film “Stand in Solidarity“.
A second FF:W-related panel was produced by FF:W member, Eloisa Noble. Called “Tuning into the Climate Crisis”, the panel asked how we can use our content to create real change and measure success beyond audience figures. The line up included Ellen Windemuth – Exec Producer of “My Octopus Teacher” and CEO of The WaterBear Network; Tom McDonald – MD of Factual at BBC Studios Productions; Impact Producer James Fulcher from Project Impact; and Melati Wijsen of the incredible global young changemaker organisation YOUTHOPIA. If you’re a young person in the industry, check out YOUTHTOPIA for its great peer to peer learning resources.
We were also very glad to see FF:W friend, Noel Kok of NEWF, producing and moderating a panel called “African Voices: Telling Their Own Stories & Yours!”, which featured other FF:W collaborators, Paula Kahumbu of Wildlife Direct and Faith Musembi who was a powerful presence on our “Wonderful World” Albert panel earlier this year. Also speaking was Chloe Sarosh of Bristol-based production company Wildstar Films, which has set up a great initiative, Wildstar Academy, which aims to expand the role of female, indigenous and underrepresented voices in wildlife filmmaking.
There will be a fuller review of the panels coming soon but if you want to learn more about the WCSFP events in the mean time, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
FF:W AT THE "FESTIVAL OF THE FUTURE CITY"
Run by Bristol Ideas, the fourth Festival of the Future City took place in October this year at the Watershed in Bristol both in person and online. The festival aims to be the largest public debate about the future of cities and brings together people from a diverse range of disciplines discussing a variety themes such as social justice, sustainability, urban and planetary health and culture in cities.
FF:W Co-founder Kristina Turner took part in a live panel discussing the challenges and solutions to making the film and TV industry and exhibitions sustainable. Other speakers on the panel were Andie Clare – Director of Production at Icon Films, and Lucie Muir – CEO of the Wildscreen Network. The session was chaired by Jenny Lacey.
It was great to have the opportunity to discuss our work with a local audience and make connections. One of the positive outcomes included connecting with Professor Charlotte Crofts from UWE who has invited FF:W to speak to her film students in the New Year. The panel is now available to watch online from around 25.00 minutes in.
GO WEST! BRISTOL FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY REPORT
Dr Steve Presence – Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the Department of Creative and Cultural Industries, and Professor Andrew Spicer – Professor of Cultural Production from UWE got in touch with us for an interview. This will be included in the revised report on Bristol’s film and TV industries in the form of a profile piece on FF:W.
The audience for this report is a mix of industry stakeholders, policymakers and academics and will be sent to approximately 190 companies in the region as well as various sector support organisations. It will also be circulated among academic networks and used it in their teaching.
You can read the 2017 original report here and we’ll be sharing the updated version once it’s available in the New Year. Thanks to Steve and Andrew for their ongoing interest and support!
BRISTOL PRODUCTION SUSTAINABILITY FORUM
The wildlife TV business is booming with more platforms than ever needing content. Great for us in theory, but it also means more pressure on the places we film and putting more people, kit and carbon into the air.
Why a forum?
While there are a lot of great efforts going on already within individual companies, we wanted to bring our wildlife community together in one place to see if we could help each other to amplify efforts and speed up the process. We wanted to create a platform for wildlife production companies to share ideas, learn from each other’s successes and failures and see how we might collaborate as a collective – what could we achieve together that would be difficult acting as one company alone?
We also wanted to create the opportunity for knowledge exchange between production companies and FF:W. As a grassroots group we want to be able to share what we’ve learnt so far through our sessions and contacts, but we also need and want to understand from the business side – to understand the current structures, barriers and see where and how we might be able to change aspects of how we currently do things.
Based on our work in FF:W so far, our overarching themes are reducing our carbon footprint, looking at ways to give back to the places we film, and how to make more impactful content. We hope to help link up existing initiatives that everyone would benefit from and help speed up the process to a greener wildlife film industry.
Forum sessions 1 & 2
The first session took place at the end of September with representatives from the following companies: Icon, Silverback, True to Nature, BBC NHU, Terra Mater (Austria), Oak Island Films & Impact Wild. We heard introductions from each company on what they currently do and what they would like to be doing in relation to sustainability and content. While the full notes are for attendees you’re welcome to read the summary from
session 1 here.
The second session took place on the 8th December with representatives from the following companies attending: True to Nature, BBC NHU, Impact Wild, Off the Fence, Wall to Wall, Oak Island Films & Wildscreen Network. We continued with the company introductions and also heard case studies on fundraising for the places we film in (Oak Island Films) and using a green hydrogen generator to power a live outside broadcast (Winterwatch, BBC NHU). A summary of the notes will be shared once completed.
Additional companies we’re in touch with who are interested in joining future sessions include: Offspring, Wildstar, Wild Space, Seadog Productions, Freeborn Media & Humblebee films.
The forum sessions are held every 3 months with the next one due in March, date TBC.
If you work for a wildlife production company that isn’t listed above, please feel free to let them know about it in case someone from management would like to attend. Ideally we’d love to have someone from both production management and editorial involved from each company.
Please note: while FF:W is a grassroots group open to everyone, the Sustainability Forum is aimed at higher level staff within production companies with the aim of connecting these decision makers/those most likely to be able to make changes and answer company level queries. We also feed in what we learn through FF:W activities with the aim of this being a collective exchange of knowledge and ideas.
For any questions or if you think you might like to be involved with the development/running of the forum as it evolves please feel free to get in touch with me.
While FF:W started in the streets and pubs of Bristol, lockdown meant a move online for
most of our activities. We are now starting to gather in person again and would encourage members based outside of Bristol to organise their own local covid safe gatherings (let us know if you need any help!).
Festive Drinks at Millennium Square – Friday 10th December
Film screening of The Magnitude of All Things – TBC in Bristol in late January/February.
Based on interest expressed at our last meeting on the Downs, we aim to organise more informal meetings both online and in person. Please let us know if you would like to facilitate any session or have particular requests by writing to email@example.com
FF:W COLLABORATION WITH PROJECT IMPACT
FF:W has started a very exciting collaboration with Project Impact to help the industry explore the relatively new field of impact production. Earlier in the year we sent out a survey to FF:W members to gauge what you most want to learn about impact. From this data Dr Claire Hoffman at Project Impact has put together a fantastic series of five workshops with guest speakers and plenty of time for group discussions.
These workshops will cover questions like what is impact, what is it like working with impact producers, exploring how we can blend impact with entertainment, how impact can be created locally at the grassroots and how we can make the funding work. We aim to make them as friendly and accessible as possible, there is no prior knowledge of impact production required to get involved.
We are hoping to hold these workshops in early 2022 with the first session ‘What is Impact?’ being held the last week of January. We will announce a date and time on the main FF:W Whatsapp group along with how you can register for these sessions. They will all be free to attend and recorded for anyone interested who cannot make it.
HAVE YOU HAD YOUR SAY?
In October, we launched the latest FF:W members’ survey. We currently have 236 members from all over the world. At last count, a fifth of members had responded. Thank you! But we want to make sure FF:W works to represent everyone. So have your say by filling in the survey, which takes just two minutes: HAVE YOUR SAY HERE!
The survey results show the exciting international reach of FF:W. While we are primarily based in Bristol, England, we’re keen for our members to connect with others where they live. Want to create a hub in Mexico, France, Kenya? Get in touch with admin team and let’s discuss what that might look like.
The survey has also revealed that most are happy with our communications taking place via WhatsApp, so we will be continuing with that as our main method for the foreseeable. However some people mentioned they found it difficult to speak in the WhatsApp / wanted somewhere that they could raise things anonymously. In response to this we have created a Jam Board where you can put questions, thoughts or ideas, and we will take time to discuss them at our next meeting. So please do take an opportunity to pop your thoughts up!
FF:W 2002 'Help! I don't have time to save the planet!'
On Tuesday 14th December we will be holding an online meeting for all our FF:W members between 18:30 – 19:30 GMT. In the meeting we will have brief updates followed by a creative ideas session to get YOUR thoughts on what FF:W should be doing in 2022. Depending on numbers we will have breakout rooms to allow more people’s voices to be heard.
A link to the zoom session will be shared in the main members WhatsApp group on Tuesday.
THE FUTURE OF FF:W
We’re incredibly proud of what FF:W has achieved in just three years and we very much plan to keep the momentum going into the new year. As aforementioned, we are run entirely on a volunteer basis with members putting in time as and when they can – which sometimes means things can go a bit quiet when our real (paid) jobs get manic! We welcome anyone to get involved – and understand this may only be for brief periods of time between shoots.
Going forwards we will be continuing to run the Production Sustainability Forum, set up talks and workshops, and provide a space for members to connect and discuss practical ways to make our industry more sustainable. We welcome new thoughts or ideas of how to make change, and hope that we can help to create an industry which not only keeps the climate and biodiversity crisis in public mind, but does it in a sustainable way too.
– The FF:W Admin Team –