Wildlife Cameraman Blog

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Watching Wild Life

Watching Wild Life

‘Watching Wild Life’. It’s a small point, perhaps, but you don’t see those words written quite like that any more. You’re more likely to see ‘watching wildlife.’ Wildlife cameraman, the job title, is a label, but equally, Wild Life Cameraman could be too. Is there a difference? I think there is.

A lot of what wildlife cameramen film is not actually wild at all. But ask any wildlife cameraman what they would prefer to film and it would be wild life, for sure. I’m on about the type of filming where you conceal yourself for hours, maybe days, on end. It’s the type of filming where the subject is shy, rarely seen by anyone unless they’re either very lucky or have made a huge effort. I’m not for one moment criticising the filming of subject matter that is relatively tame, because almost all wildlife filming comes with huge challenges. I’m just saying that wildlife filming as a career, becoming a wildlife cameraman, attracts a certain sort of person, there’s something feral about it. There’s some sort of connection with wild creatures deep in your spirit. Sadly, I don’t think there is so much of this filming to be had any more, unless you go out and do it for the hell of it. Sometimes it can be hell, I suppose, but it’s what we do.

watching wild life by David Stephen
Watching wild life by David Stephen

It was the title of the book above that made me ponder about wildlife versus wild life. The book was written by David Stephen, a Scottish naturalist. The link tells a little about David’s many achievements over the years.

To me this isn’t just any old book. This is the book that I picked up in Chepstow Bookshop when I was 12 or 13 years old. The shop owner must have wondered whether I would ever buy it. Every Friday, after school, I’d go in, procrastinating about spending my hard earned lawn mowing money on a small paperback. I knew that I’d get it eventually. What a little gem this book is. It’s written by someone who had been out there watching badgers, foxes, otters and whole range of wild life. I found it to be absolutely inspirational, and it’s the book that had me walking across the fields in the dark looking for badgers and goodness knows what else.

 

Working with Inspirational People

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

Working with Inspirational People
Graham Horder and Michael Sheen on location

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.

Life Advice

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.

The Spirit of the Kite

The Spirit of the Kite

‘The Spirit of the Kite’ is the first novel in a series called, ‘The Life and Times of Tudor Morgan’.

The Spirit of the Kite - cover
Cover of ‘The Spirit of the Kite’

Tudor Morgan is a wildlife cameraman that I created from  my wildlife filming experiences over the years.  The idea started out as a screenplay for a film.  To be honest, I lost faith in that ambition: it’s difficult enough to get a simple documentary series commissioned let alone a feature film. One day, should the series become popular, that might change.

Thinking about it, the story idea was always going to make a better book or series of books.  The re-write started earlier this year. Because the plot was well formed it was easier than it might have been.

‘The Spirit of the Kite’ came from a belief. It is not necessarily my belief. The belief is to do with the spirits of living creatures and how our own spirits are inextricably linked with those of wild creatures. This was the seed for a number of other ideas which I took and juggled around until I had a semblance of a good story.

The first novel is approximately 91000 words and will be published later this year.

Egg Collecting

Wildlife conservation is at the heart and soul of what I believe in. One of the aims with this series of books is to integrate ideas about wildlife conservation. In the book above, ‘The Spirit of the Kite’, the key issue is the collection of the eggs of rare birds. This activity has been going on for years, and people still do it. Egg collecting is a totally selfish act on the part of the collector, and rare birds are put in even greater peril by egg collectors.

Being a wildlife cameraman for real is rather more like this link. But if you want a bit of murder mystery in your life, strange goings on in the countryside and a good laugh you might find ‘The Life and Times of Tudor Morgan’ to be up your street.

If you ever suspect an egg collecting incident you should report it using the information on this link. Egg collecting and how to report it.

 

Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels

Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels.  For several years the Welsh Government has threatened to drive a new motorway through the Gwent Levels.  It’s the sort of thing that governments do.  Perhaps they think that they will leave a… Continue Reading

Being a wildlife cameraman doesn’t make me sick

Being a wildlife cameraman doesn’t make me sick Being a wildlife cameraman doesn’t make me sick. It’s official.  At least, so far it hasn’t made me sick. I’m not talking about medical sickness caused by gastroenteritis or other afflictions.  I’m talking about sickness caused by motion.  It is an interesting subject and you can read… Continue Reading