This is my all time favourite shot. It would not have been possible without the help of an expert, here, Oxford cuckoo guru Mike Bayliss. The aim was to film a cuckoo laying in a reed warbler's nest, and several times we had come very close. After many hours in the hide I heard this female land heavily in the reeds to the right of the nest - I can still hardly believe it happened.
Working with Inspirational People
I think it’s true to say that I work with inspirational people almost all of the time. With regard to passion for nature conservation people don’t come more inspirational than Iolo Williams. I’ve worked with Iolo for more than 5 years now. From time to time I work with other well known people too. Earlier this year that came about in an unforeseen way. Working with inspirational people is one of the perks of my job. By the way – this post has nothing at all to do with wildlife filming!
Mentoring Young People
Back at the start of the year I was asked to take part in a project in the Swansea area of South Wales. The idea was to help a group of teenagers to make a movie about the young life of Richard Burton. In the summer the film was shown as part of a premier evening. To see those youngsters taking applause on stage for their efforts was a delight to behold, it really was. My part in the project was tiny compared to some of the other people. The main objective was a good outcome for the young people, and in most cases the project achieved that. For myself, I learned a lot too, not just about Richard Burton, but about the lives of teenagers in the 2017! And myself.
There is a link to the premiere event here.
In the movies
Richard Burton was born in Pontrhydyfen, a small mining village up the Afan Valley north of Port Talbot. He then grew up in Taibach, nearer Port Talbot. What a life he had, even as a boy. One day I was out filming wildlife somewhere and my phone went. I might have been in Snowdonia, can’t remember. It was Eirwen Hopkins, leader of the project, asking if I was available to film an interview with Michael Sheen sometime soon, with some of the students in attendance.
Suffice to say, that with an incredible amount of work on the part of Eirwen, (working with inspirational people – she is one) we met Michael on the set of a new, hush hush, Netflix movie. The filming was taking place not too far from Port Talbot in a woodland.
Michael was about to go on set when we arrived, and although under pressure from his PA, who was actually lovely, proceeded to talk and talk. Richard Burton was an inspiration to Michael, both of them being local lads, both of them having influential mentors who helped them in their careers. Beyond that though Mr. Sheen gave the most fantastic motivational life advice interview that I’ve had the privilege to witness, and he just carried on – despite being need on set.
As is often the case I can’t help myself saying something daft in these circumstances, and offered, ‘I’m more use to filming woodpeckers than film stars.’ Which his PA thought was hilarious, saying, ‘Michael the woodpecker’. I’ll never learn.