Back in October, I was lucky enough to get a volunteer place at the WildScreen Film Festival. It’s held in Bristol every 2 years, organised by the Wildscreen charity.
The Wildscreen Festival is internationally acknowledged as the most influential and prestigious event of its kind in the world. Its aim is to celebrate, applaud and encourage excellence, and responsibility, in wildlife and environmental filmmaking – films which increase the global viewing public’s understanding of the natural world, and the need to conserve it.
Along with Peter Moonlight, I was appointed as Event Photographer and spent much of the week documenting the workshops, talks and events. In addition I got to film the opening night, and help out at the digital grading workshop at Films@59 among other things. During my free time, I was able to visit any part of the festival I wished.
It was an utterly amazing week and I wish I could do it again! I met so many amazing people, learnt an incredible amount, and had so much fun. It was a non-stop week since the festival is jam packed full of screenings, workshops and talks during the day, then each evening has it’s own event. On the Wednesday was the main event; the Panda Awards … aka the Oscars of Natural History Filmmaking. This was a surreal (and incredible!) experience for me. I was surrounded by so many amazing people that I look up to from the world of Natural History Filmmaking; from Gordon Buchanan, Steve Backshall, and Justine Evans to the big bosses/producers/directors/commissioners from so many production companies and broadcasting houses from around the world.
Not only did I photograph the initial part of the night, I also got to be the cable basher for the lead camera during the actual ceremony. It was surprisingly difficult to keep a few leads from tripping up winners, and tangling up the cameraman. But I think I did alright, and the view was front row!
After the awards, Emma and I got to speak to the winner of the Golden Panda Award (the top award of the night). The film that won was ‘Green’, and was filmed and directed by an amateur filmmaker named Patrick. He had travelled to Indonesia on a tourist visa and created a documentary about a Orang-utan called ‘Green’. There is no commentary throughout, only music and fantastic visuals. It investigates how the production of palm oil is destroying rainforests, and just how guilty we all are of causing this problem. It is free to download and watch at www.greenthefilm.com; he has absolutely no interest in making money and is only interested in raising awareness about this horrendous situation. Patrick was such an inspiration; he showed us all that a) you don’t have to be a massive corporation to make amazing films and make a difference, b) how important films are in the conservation of our planet, and so importantly, c) how much damage we are all doing to our environment without even realising, and that we have to change the way we live and our consumption, now if we want to keep these wonderful rainforests and the species in them.
It will make you cry, but please watch it: www.greenthefilm.com
The whole experience of the Wildscreen Film Festival was brilliant. I learnt so much, met so many people, and had a fantastic time. Lets hope next time, I will be there as a delegate who’s picking up the best newcomer award 😉