Whale, Whale, Whale…What Do We Have Here? Filming at WhaleFest 2011 Day 1

Yesterday we finally got back from an exhausting but amazing weekend filming Planet Whale’s ‘WhaleFest’ in Brighton. Everything went according to plan and exceeded my expectations of what it would be like, definitely a fantastic opportunity and I’m incredibly glad that I was able to go.

Filming the ‘Making of’ documentary at the VIP Party

One of the highlights of the weekend has to be attending the VIP party in the Hilton Brighton Metropole on Friday 4th November. Getting to meet the organisers of the event, Dylan Walker and Ian Rowlands, was a real  privilege and it was really nice to hear about how the concept of ‘WhaleFest’ came about and all the people involved with it.

After a night of stand-up comedy in the pub across the road from the hostel and an interesting nights sleep we arrived at The Hove Centre, the venue for the event and met Stephanie St James, who I had organised the filming with. After being told where we were and were not allowed to film, we decided to recce the area to see where would be the best places to film, including donning lifejackets and having a go on the indoor whale watching boat and wandering through the ‘Blubber Belly’  which I have to say was a lot of fun!

I then divided the crew into two groups: Holly Stott-Penna and Sam Williams in one and myself, Rachel Davies and Codie Stephens in another as this meant that we were able to film as much as possible in a shorter amount of time and hopefully get more done. Throughout the day, Holly and Sam filmed interviews with various organisations and companies whilst we filmed the general views. I had hoped to talk to people myself as it would benefit me a great deal to talk to people in the marine conservation industry both for my career aspirations and for my interest in it however I knew that we needed to get these shots and with three of us, it was easier for us to move the tripod and camera around together.

One of the other highlights of the filming was definitely BBC Producer Mark Brownlow‘s talk about the impact of filming whales and dolphins in the series Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Ocean Giants. After having my aspirations of becoming a wildlife documentary maker reinforced and my passion for cetaceans reignited after watching Ocean Giants, I found his talk really interesting in particular his

Waiting to talk to BBC Producer Mark Brownlow

own anecdotes about the filming itself. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to speak to him afterwards which I would have liked to have done as he is a key figure in the industry I am aiming to get into. However shortly after he attended a signing and we were able to ask him to say “Welcome to WhaleFest” on camera and I’m pleased we were able to get somebody as important for the film.

I thought that we should maybe include voxpops of the members of the public so that we can see what they thought of the weekend and it was decided that we would be better off filming these on the second day towards the end of the event. Along with this, we also felt that it would be better to interview the remaining organisations and companies then too as they would be able to talk more about the success of being there for the weekend as opposed to just the day.

Overall, I feel that the first days filming went well, I was definitely in my element here surrounded by people with such a passion and interest in marine life and the atmosphere was amazing.

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