How to work in wildlife film production

Assistant producer Ruth Peacey has the dream job of finding stories and locations for wildlife documentaries.

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Penguins

How did you first get into wildlife film production?

My first paid job in the industry was as a logging assistant for the BBC NHU. I logged rushes (footage) for Life, Yellowstone, Nature's Great Events and South Pacific, before becoming an edit assistant.

What does your job involve?

In the office, I will usually be chasing stories or working on shooting plans or scripts. I help the producer with everything from research to preparing for shoots, as well as directing some of them. Everyone within the NHU works as a team so we all muck in and do whatever is needed.

What skills are necessary to do your job?

I have a degree in zoology, which formally shows I have an interest in wildlife, which helps with such a specialist career. I also have an MSc in science communication. Practically this was directly useful to film-making as the course taught me the skills of the industry and provided lots of opportunities to put them into practice. Experience is key as well; I’d worked on a variety of programmes and shoots with a diversity of wildlife in different locations.

What can people do to get their foot on the career ladder?

Volunteer at, or attend wildlife film festivals. You get a flavour for different aspects of the industry and can hear directly from people already working out there. Check out websites and companies like Wildeye (see below), which can give you an understanding of exactly how you go about getting into the industry. Volunteering in the wildlife sector can also help as it demonstrates a willingness to spend time in the field and an interest and understanding of the subject.

Three film festivals you could volunteer at:

Wildscreen Film Festival - takes place in October in Bristol, UK

International Wildlife Film Festival - takes place in April in Montana, USA

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival - takes place in October in New York, USA

Wildeye is a school of wildlife film-making based in Norfolk, UK which offers courses in filming, photography and sound making.

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