Wow! One week already down and what a week it has been on my wildlife filmmaking MA course! We've had a busy week, met lots of important people, but best of all had a chance to get stuck in on using cameras!
From the very start we knew that we weren't in for an easy ride - at our induction a week before we were set a task to "Pitch Your Partner" which basically meant delving into the deepest darkest corners of Facebook and becoming a true Facebook Stalker! In actual fact it was a great task - we had to create a pitch and talk for five minutes about another person on the course... The intimidating part was that we had two visitors... coming from the BBC. But overall (with a few technical glitches and a lost voice on my part) the pitches went well, we really got to know each other and what everyone has done to deserve a place on this course. And apparently the people from the BBC (who are going to be reporting back about us) were impressed so we left that day feeling pretty pleased with ourselves!
Our next port of call was attending a talk at the BBC studios in Bristol by four major documentary producers; George Pagliero, Sacha Mirzoeff, Dick Colthurst and Aysha Rafaele. The talk was about creating a story and the important process which documentary makers must go through in order to make their subject come to life. Although not directly related to creating Wildlife Films it was a very interesting talk and I learnt a lot about coming up with new ideas, handling delicate situations, how to get a good interview and how to get a new twist on an old story.
On Thursday, after an introduction to our Story Telling module we headed off again to the BBC Studios for a very exciting talk from two top producers at the BBC: Julian Hectare and Tim Scoones. Julian's work is mostly radio based, and he also produces and edits all the short wildlife films for The One Show. One thing he said that really stuck with be was "Be surprised by joy" and that even in the hardest of stories to tell it is fundamental to find an element of joy. Tim Scoones is the producer of the very well known show Springwatch and also worked on big daring shows such as Planet Earth Live. He spoke a lot on multi-platform viewing such as allowing viewers to access content online, through social media and link up with wildlife organisations. I asked him about some of the issues on Planet Earth Live and he responded with the sound advice that you must "Dare to fail"... Which is now the only way of creating exciting and new television.
On Thursday evening we went to a screening of "The Last Ocean" which is a very important film about saving the Ross Ocean (you can read more about it on my Wildlife blog). After the screening was a Q&A session with Martha Holmes, Doug Allan, the producer of the film Peter Young and two top Oceanic scientists. It was certainly a real eye opener and as someone interested in creating conservation based films a good opportunity to see how they are done.
And then on Friday we were finally given the opportunity to put our hands on a camera! Due to the different levels of camera knowledge we started from the very beginning (me being pretty clueless about everything was very pleased with this). We were working with a Sony FS700 which is a great little camera that carries a lot of good extras (slow motion capture being one of my favourites). We spent the day learning about the five fundamental principals of using a camera (Focus, Exposure, Shutter, Sensitivity and White Balance), and got really stuck in to knowing how to get the camera set up and ready to get some great images. At the end of the day we got to play with the Quick and Slow feature and Slow Motion in which some of my classmates managed to get some great shots of water hitting a leaf at 1 frame per second (really really slowly for those non-camera techs like me).
Overall it has been a fantastic start and I cannot wait for what is to come next week! Some of the highlights include a screening of last years students final films and a visit from James Honeyborne who was the series producer of the fantastic series Africa which aired in January this year. Check out this blog next week to find out how it has all gone!!