Click Click- New Camera

I’ve got a new camera! It’s a Canon 550D and I’m already really really pleased with it. I’ve been looking at getting another camera for a while now but after filming on my handycam at Christmas for my documentary and it coming out grainy, the decision to buy one was a lot easier. I was thinking about buying it secondhand from a friend however in the end that didn’t work out and after doing a bit of research on the prices I decided to just go for it anyway. After all, when I leave university in a few months I’m not going to be able to borrow any equipment from them anymore so it’s really going to benefit me in the long run. It might have cost a bit now but I’d rather spend my money on something I need and that will help me in the long run. It’s not a 5D (that was far too expensive for my budget!) but it will definitely do me for now and I am really happy that I took the plunge and bought it. Now I’m just looking forward to using it and buying lots of little filters and lenses for it.

The quality of the photographs and footage the 550D records is incredible and can be in 1080 HD, which now means that I can film my journalism documentary with it along with other Creative Industries projects as well. I do already have a DSLR camera, a 20D, that I was given for Christmas last year, which is really good for photography but it doesn’t film so this is really going to help with that. Some of the photographs I take I will put in the ‘Photography’ section under ‘My Work’ so you can take a look for yourselves. Hope you like them!


The Cove: Brutal and Unnecessary Murder

For part of my essay research, I watched the 2009 documentary film The Cove which proved to be extremely useful but also extremely compelling as well. It is about the brutal and merciless slaughtering of dolphins in the small Japanese coastal town of Taiji where each year between September and May, local fisherman drive pods of dolphins into a small cove before murdering them. Some of the dolphins are selected by dolphin trainers from around the world and are sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds. The remaining ones are then slaughtered and their meat labelled as being whale which is then sold to unaware people despite containing toxic levels of mercury.

This film has had such a massive impact on me as I am incredibly passionate about the welfare of marine life which has always been an integral part of my life. On the way to Spain for our annual holiday , I used to spend hours on the deck of the ship ‘The Pride of Bilbao’ scanning the waters of the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay for any signs of whales and dolphins and listen intently to the talks the onboard research team used to give. I was also given the opportunity to spend the day alongside the ‘Biscay Dolphin Research Programme’ team with Amanda Hyam, recording any sightings like the large pod of common dolphins. This contributed heavily to my aspirations to work with this mammals in the

Courtesy of Land of Planty

future which is why The Cove has had such an effect on what I want to do in the future.

During the mass slaughter of around 20,000 dolphins per season, fisherman heartlessly kill them apparently without remorse. They separate the mothers from the calfs and let them see as they are murdered. One moment in particular that stands out in my mind is when a single dolphin is clearly trying to get away and is swimming frantically across the nets trapping it. There is a huge laceration down its side which is really visible when it uses the last of its energy to force itself out of the water. It then disappears under the water dead.

To see the japanese fishermen killing these creatures without seeming to care is something I find really difficult to understand, especially when they are calling it “pest control” and act as though it is their right to have the fish in the ocean. It’s not. From the moment they arrived in Taiji, the crew of dolphin activists and filmmakers were followed by the sheriff and officers who clearly didn’t want people to find out about the brutalities.  They also had to sneakily and strategically set up cameras described as rocks and plant hydrophones and cameras under the water to capture the the horror of the cove at night when less people were there to stop them. To me, if they are so protective over the secret of the cove and have to stop the media from getting wind of it then something really needs to be done to ensure that more and more people become aware of it. Yes The Cove seems to have publicised this tragic issue well with protests and petitions now taking place but I think that in order to provoke more action to be taken then there needs to be an ongoing stream of exposure.

This documentary has made me realise that I don’t just want to make documentaries about the wildlife of the world, I want to make programmes that will make people think about issues like this and provoke a response that will help put an end to this unnecessary murder. Please sign this petition to help the dolphins that are suffering without reason

WhaleFest Is Going Global!

This morning I received a phone call from Stephanie in Brighton regarding the promotion of WhaleFest 2012. It’s going global and our footage is being broadcast around the world! I’m really happy with this news as this work is something I am really proud and I have spent a long time making sure it is as good as it could be.

Interview With Doug Allen

This morning I had an interview with Doug Allen, one of the wildlife cameramen responsible for the stunning footage in the BBC’s Frozen Planet, Blue Planet and Ocean Giants to name just a few of the programmes he’s been involved in. I am an avid viewer of these so to be given the chance to speak to Doug was a huge honour as it is Blue Planet that encouraged me to go into wildlife documentary making. As my essay is about how wildlife filmmaking impacts on nature and how nature impacts on wildlife filmmaking I asked him a number of questions about

Courtesy of Bristol Wildlife Filmmakers

what he though about it.

Doug was incredibly helpful with his responses and gave me a number of thought provoking answers that have made me think of different angles to take with my essay now. I’m really glad and thankful that he allowed me to talk to him about his career and his opinion as not only has it encouraged me further with my own career, it has also made my essay subject matter a lot clearer to me and I am now feeling a lot more confident about what I am going to write about. My only concern now is that I have so many ideas and so much to talk about I’ll go way over the word count!

Diving Down and Out: WhaleFest Promotional Film Is Finally Finished

It’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of time but I have finally finished my film for the promotion of ‘WhaleFest 2011’ and I have to say I am very proud of it. I have never actually edited a promotional video before so to take on something that big for the first time was a challenge but it was definitely worth it as I feel as though I have accomplished a lot.

Once I’d had it checked over by Codie, I burnt it to disk and packaged it all up ready to send to Stephanie St. James a few days ago. I am ecstatic that it’s finished now as it has taken a considerable amount of time to make sure it really shows off the festival but at the same time, in an odd way I’m also going to miss it because it has been a big part of my life for the last couple of months. Having said that, I feel as though I have done the best I can and I think that Dylan and Ian will be pleased with. I have had a little bit of feedback from Dylan and Stephanie who said that they do really like it so overall I think that it has been quite a success.

All the videos have now been sent off apart from Sam’s who has yet to make sure that the music is copyright free. It is a bit annoying as I did ask for them ages ago and did remind them about the importance of the music being royalty free but that hasn’t come across yet. Still, I really am pleased with what I have seen so far as they have really shown off ‘WhaleFest’ within a short space of time. Hopefully, Sam won’ t take too long to get these sorted and I can send the final few off to the organisers because visually they are perfect for it. At the moment, they do have Holly’s which are already on their website ‘WhaleFest 2012’ so take a look at them now as they really are very good.

So ‘WhaleFest 2011’ editing is pretty much done now and I hope the videos really show the festival for how it was when we were there. It’s taken a while and been really quite tough at times but its always been an interesting challenge and I have enjoyed it. I’m sure ‘WhaleFest 2012’ will make just as big a splash as ‘WhaleFest 2011’ and I hope it is as successful as it deserves to be.

Making A Splash In West Wales (Hopefully)

I’ve just had an email from Dylan Walker, one of the organisers of ‘WhaleFest 2011’ and he’s let me know that somebody from Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre is interested in filming some promotional videos for them of the dolphins and wildlife in West Wales. Rachel and myself were asked whether we would be interested in doing some filming for them back when we were filming at ‘WhaleFest’ but as we never heard anything for a while after, I thought that maybe they didn’t want us to and was even about to email them about it to be sure.

I hope that we are able to do this at some point as I have always had a real interest in dolphins since I was a child and I am aspiring to work with them in a filming capacity in the future. To be given the opportunity to film them for real and for a professional project will be incredible and is something I definitely do not want to miss. I’m not sure we will be able to film this in time for the Creative Industries deadline but that certainly does not mean we can’t do it at all, after all we need to go out and find our own work. I will definitely pursue this wonderful chance at something I have always wanted to do and I’m sure it will be an amazing experience.

WhaleFest Is Going Global!

I’ve just had a message from Stephanie St James about WhaleFest telling me that the promotion of WhaleFest 2011 is being taken around the world and that our videos are going to be shown globally! I’m really excited about this as I when I initially asked about filming WhaleFest, in no way did I expect it to end up this big. Now there’s quite a bit more pressure on the editing but I wanted the videos to be the best that they could possibly be anyway, this just pushes us a bit more to do so.

I’m almost at the end of the editing process now so I’ll send them across to Stephanie, Dylan and Ian as soon as I can so they can be used to show just how good WhaleFest truly was.  Let’s just hope, WhaleFest becomes a huge worldwide success and our videos show other people just how much fun it really was!

Creating a Fluke Print: Editing WhaleFest 2011 Footage

I’ve been considering how I am going to organise the editing of our footage from ‘WhaleFest’ and so far it’s been quite difficult to come to a decision about who’s doing what. Before we actually went and filmed in Brighton, Jordan Declaire had approached me and asked whether she would be able to edit as it is something she is interested in and possibly wants to do editing as a career. Initially I thought that this was a good idea because I am well aware that she is a competent editor who knows what she is doing so the final edit would be of a good standard. She also has Final Cut Pro on her Macbook which would mean she would be able to edit at home therefore it would also be time effective.

However, myself and the rest of the filming crew were discussing it on the way home and we thought that it would maybe be better if those who were present at the actual event and filming edited it together so that they could encapsulate the overall atmosphere. As well as this, we also thought as we were there we would also be able to accurately reflect the days events and obtain the tone of the film the organisers implied that they wanted as we had spoken to them face to face. I understand that in the industry, editors are employed to edit the footage together and that although the producer and director get to overlook it, it is primarily their job to sort it out. However, as this is a project that I managed to organise myself and was a really good experience to help me to further my career prospects I would like to have more of a say in the editing and have more of an active role within it.

Another issue is that there are 4 of us all interested in the editing process which I think could possibly end up being fairly overcrowded with people not really knowing what they are supposed to be doing. As a result, I am going to organise a meeting so we can sort out who’s doing what and whether we all need to be present for it. I am hoping to have a dominant say in the process as I am the producer but at the same time I am also looking forward to listening to other peoples ideas and combining them together to hopefully make a fantastic film to reflect a wonderful weekend!

Having a Whale of a Time! Filming WhaleFest 2011: Day 2

After the success of the first day of filming, I was really looking forward to the second day as I would hopefully be interacting more with the many cetacean based companies and organisations. Once we’d arrived and set up the cameras and sound equipment, we divided back into the two filming groups and I directed them as to what we would each be filming. Holly and Sam would be completing the interviews they had lined up and the voxpops from the members of the public whilst myself, Rachel and Codie would be getting people to say

Myself and Rachel investigating an inflatable pilot whale

“Welcome to WhaleFest” on camera and other voxpops, general view shots and any other interviews.

Everything went to plan and we managed to get two interviews almost immediately with ‘Earthrace‘ and the ‘Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre‘ and were even given two more projects as a result of this. One is filming promotional footage of the dolphins and wildlife in Cardigan Bay in West Wales which I am hoping we are able to do as I had planned on contacting them originally about doing that for my major project and it would also be  great experience and example of filming with marine life. The other is an all expenses paid trip to London with ‘Earthrace’ to film a protest outside the Australian Embassy in association with the ‘Bob Irwin Wildlife Fund‘, to protect sea turtles and dugongs which again would be a fantastic opportunity as marine conservation is something I feel very strongly about.

After we’d got the interviews sorted, a couple more GVs and more “Welcome to WhaleFest” clips , Rachel offered to look after the camera and tripod for a bit whilst myself and Codie went around the exhibitions and stalls so that I could talk to people in the industry. This was incredibly helpful as I was able to obtain a lot more information about all the different conservation projects and companies and get their contact details which I can hopefully use in the future. We were also able to get an interview with the two organisers of the event, Dylan

Dylan Walker and Ian Rowlands "Welcome to WhaleFest!"

Walker and Ian Rowlands which I am really happy about because they were such an integral part of ‘WhaleFest’. However I had to sort out other things at the same time which meant that I wasn’t there to listen to or film the interview which was a disappointment because having organised and arranged the filming, I would have liked to have been there myself. I suppose that’s what comes with being the producer though, so much to sort out!

Despite this, I did like the filming we got with Dylan and Ian shouting “Welcome to WhaleFest” in the main hall next to the huge inflatable whale with the zoom out to reveal the rest of the room as I feel that not only does in show the organisers and their passion for the event, it also encapsulates the sheer size and amazing atmosphere of it all as well. We also spoke to Stephanie St James, who informed us that she would like some of the sponsors included in the footage and Dylan and Ian also suggested we included some of the whale watching operators too as that’s what ‘Planet Whale‘ is about which meant that we divided back up and went off to film that. Rachel, Codie and I managed to  interview a few whale watching operators, ‘Discover The World‘ and ‘Gentle Giants‘, who were very helpful and Holly and Sam succeeded in obtaining more voxpops and interviews with the sponsors. This will be useful when it comes to editing everything together as we now have a lot of material to use and hopefully show everybody involved as well as all it’s success.

I am very pleased I was given the opportunity to be able to film at ‘WhaleFest’ and be a part of such an incredible event and meeting of cetacean enthusiasts. As I have always wanted to work with marine life both through volunteer work and from a filming perspective, this experience has been a real asset to my interests and it is something that I would definitely like to attend again. My passion has been enforced through meeting so many like minded people and I am now very tempted to go on one (or more!) of the whale watching and research trips I have learnt about.

Although there were occasionally a couple of issues regarding who was filming what, I feel that overall everything went well and the crew all worked very well together to get the most out of everything.  Meeting Derek Spicer of Pico Productions was also a big help as he was also filming at the event and it was decided that he would film parts of the talks and presentations. This meant that we were able to spend time filming more of the event rather than have to rush through it which was better. When it comes to editing all our footage together, I am positive that together we can do the event justice and encapsulate the amazing atmosphere of it all.  I am proud to have been the producer for ‘WhaleFest’ and to have been given the chance to meet such passionate people and I definitely had a whale of a time!

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.

Looking forward to sea-ing you! Preparing to film ‘WhaleFest 2011’

So, Friday is the day when hopefully all my hard work of being the producer and organising  will pay off when myself and my crew set off to Brighton to begin filming the promotional footage for Planet Whale’s ‘WhaleFest’. After having the meeting last Wednesday it immediately became clear what I still needed to sort but now the release forms are complete, risk assessment and health and safety completed and sent off, accommodation and equipment booked and the travel all arranged. It’s taken a while and has been relatively difficult to sort out but I’m hoping that everything will pay off when we get there!

There are now 5 of us in the crew; myself, Rachel Davies, Holly Stott-Penna, Sam Williams and Codie Stephens and we each have our own strengths and ambitions to try new things so that will hopefully be reflected in the final edit. Having Codie driving us there and helping us to achieve the optimum sound is incredibly helpful as I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to carry two tripods, two Z1 cameras, a flip camera and all all luggage on the train and transporting it from the hostel to the venue!

I am really looking forward to going to Brighton to ‘WhaleFest’ as my aim is to become a marine wildlife documentary maker so to be able to mix with and meet people with a collective passion for the conservation of cetaceans is going to be an amazing experience. Whales and dolphins have always been a big interest of mine especially having undertaken a day of work experience with the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme a while ago. I am especially looking forward to hopefully meeting the organisers of the event as it is such a fantastic idea to create such an event and to watch the presentation by BBC Producer Mark Brownlow who produced Ocean Giants as it was this programme that enforced my aspirations.

I have to say that I am enjoying my role as the producer of the promotional footage for ‘WhaleFest’ and I wasn’t expecting to as much as I am. Once everything gets underway and we begin filming I think my enjoyment will decrease a little but getting the responsibility of filming for something I am really interested in is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to Stephanie St James and Dylan Walker and Ian Rowlands for allowing me to be there.