Behind the life of a Wildlife Filmmaker

Part of what I'd like to do with this blog is give you a bit of an inside angle on what its life being a freelance wildlife filmmaker. All you ever really get to see is the few minutes of telly we produce, and the odd highly edited "making of" film here and there. But what is it really like? 

Our jobs don't just start and stop when the cameras are turning. 99% of our lives happen off camera and i thought it might be interesting to hear about some of that.

So, whats going on in my life right now? Well I finished filming Big Blue UK a couple of weeks back and I've had a week or two not thinking about telly at all. Just setting up this new website and running my gallery at home here in Deal. But now its time to get back to work. The only problem is, I haven't got any! This is a usual situation for me and many other film makers, cameramen and presenter out there. The work is intimmitent and you get times when the diary is totally empty, sometime for weeks on end. The supposed "best job in the world" turns into no job at all and its pretty scary when you have a mortgage to pay etc etc. In this respect its no different to anyone out there that is self employed. You live job to job. So, how do I go about getting the next job, because right now i need one?

The answer is ideas. Almost everything I present is the result of an idea that I've come up with. So where do I get my ideas from? Well, that can vary hugely. I've spent almost 20 years in this job and in that time you meet a lot of people and film a lot of stories. Sometimes those people drop you a line and let you know what they've been up to and it clearly a good new story. Other times its just a question of sitting down and having a good think about species and whats not been done before with them. That is a hard one because most things have been done before!

The arrival of twitter has been really interesting for me in this respect because of the huge volume of content that wildlife enthusiasts are generating on it.  One local chap @ramsgatebirds started posting shots of Kingfishers living along the coast locally. I realised Springwatch had never covered coastal Kingfishers and I managed to turn it into an idea about a coastal winter walk, the highlight being kingfishers. A new idea that wouldn't have happened with out twitter. 

So this week its ideas time for me. I met the chairman of the Kent Mammal Group at the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory fair last week and she had some interesting thoughts about using thermal imaging cameras to identify bats without disturbing them. Could make a nice One Show film that  so I stuck that one in, lets see what happens. It's time for Autumnwatch very soon too and I know people really enjoy the more lyrical films I do for "The Watches", so I'm playing around with an idea I've had for a long time about how its the "edges" in life that are the most interesting places to watch wildlife. It's been one of those more philosophical ideas that just needs the right time and place to work. Those sorts of more "arty" ideas are harder for a commissioner to say yes to as they don't know what they'll get. But I've done plenty of these over the years now so fingers crossed i can get that away. If not I'll being looking to an atmospheric piece about one of many many landscapes I'd love to film but not had the chance, The North Kent Marshes may come into play here.

Anyway, it's ideas week for me, ideas so that i can get a job and pay the bills like everyone else. I do have a bigger series idea brewing too, one that I may need your help with on social media. I'll let you know about that very soon and if you do want to help make sure you leave your twitter handle in the comment box below, i'll make sure you get tweeted directly.

Thanks for stopping by.

RTJ