Week 4 - Dr James Holt - 8th Oct - 12th / by Darren Williams

Lee Dunsford - Marine Biologist and father to be

Lee Dunsford - Marine Biologist and father to be

This blog is starting with a mention of my friend Lee Dunsford, who has affectionately given me the title of 'Blog Twat'. Please excuse the language, i appologise. Despite my new title handed to  me by my close friend Lee, deep down i know he loves these blogs. They comfort him knowing im having a lovely time on the course down here in Bristol, so im not stopping them now. Its also worth mentioning that he and his fiance are expecting their first baby very soon, mother is doing excellent whilst Lee himself has gained a healthy stone and a half of baby weight, apparently this is normal for expecting fathers! Xmas on the way soon too, so we can expect a further stone to be added too, good luck to you both ;).

On to business then and the activities of the weeks passed. Im actually playing catch up right now on these blogs, but im keen to do them week by even if they are a little behind. So let me dig deep into my memories, so long as they havent been wiped by Wildscreen week, of which activities i will divulge in the next blog.

So this week kicked of with a visit from Alistair Rickman from the BBC NHU. Alistair is the health and safety officer for the unit, and the aim of the visit was to highlight the issues encountered when starting any filming project from the very top. So our thoughts were all on the risks at hand when, working with animals, being on location, working with equipment, being abroad etc. We were given the task in class of assessing the risk of a set scenario. A trip of a group of young children walking on foot through Tanzanian bush with no back up support vehicles and well off the beaten track. The 11 day trek would also be heading through known popular elephant territory . So in small groups we set about identifying what the risks may be and what we would do to minimise these risks. We looked into the all the procedural efforts you could employ if there were an incident and basically highlighted everything you might do to safeguard everyone on the production. We were then shockingly revealed that this Expedition took place and unfortunately it didn't pass without incident. Sadly, a member of the BBC crew was killed when a bull elephant made a charge at the group. On this trip, all the appropriate safety measures were made, and all procedures executed perfectly but even when you try everything you can to reduce the risks, you can not control nature and the actions of a wild elephant. Risks will always be taken when filming with wildlife in its natural environment.

Later in the week we have to make our first presentation of our research for a Festival of Nature short film. The brief was to create a beautiful 2-3 minute film about wildlife in around the local area of bristol. So prior to todays presentation pitches we went away and found an interesting local topic for a short film, I chose the Bristol Bath Cycle path which i have dubbed an 'Urban Wildlife Ribbon'. We will have to see how if my project lives up to its title. With our presentations wrapped up by lunch we were due to have yet another guest from the BBC. Continuing with the topic, our guest was Nadege Laici, a BBC researcher at the NHU currently working on 'Seasons'. Having spent the previous week making our best efforts to pull in some research it was great to have a professional, let us know how its done today in the BBC. At this stage in our development as wildlife filmmaker, learning how to effectively research for a film will be a vital skill. 

Up until now we had just been given a overview of the business of wildlife filmmaking, so onward to Wildscreen Festival where the world of Natural History programming would come together in bristol, out of my depth........mmmmm yeah somewhat!