HOW DO I GET INTO WILDLIFE FILM-MAKING?
Probably the most frequently asked question over time… and a good one! The straight answer is there is no one route into the wildlife film-making industry. My own route was unorthodox. I first appeared on TV when I was 10 years old, in a period drama about a boy on Dartmoor who finds and raises a fox. This came about because of my already established passion for animals and my late father, John King, who was then a director with the BBC in Bristol. We went on to work together ( and apart ) for the next 25 years, making a number of series and stand alone programmes. In that time I developed as a cameraman and producer, whilst continuing on-screen appearances.
So how does this help with regards to advice? I’m not sure, but what is certain is that throughout that time, I have been true to my first passion – The Natural World and all that it represents. A genuine interest and knowledge of the subjects one hopes to work with is the single most important tool for the job. A zoology degree can open doors but is not essential ( I left school at 17 to make my first film as a cameraman ! ). Media Studies too can help develop a knowledge of the fundaments of film making, and get you meeting the right people. The ready availability of video cameras and home video editing facilities really has made a tremendous difference to the access everyone has to develop these skills. Creating a show-reel, to display your ability as a cameraperson, presenter, producer or any other discipline can speak volumes to a potential employer.
But above all – passion. Genuine, full-blooded passion for the subject will open more doors than almost any other credential. Marry that with perseverance and you’re on your way. Good luck!
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED?
I have collated a lot of equipment over the years, all of it suited to different tasks.
My main camera is an Arriflex HSR2, a Super-16mm film camera which can run up to 150fps ( slow motion ). I deploy a number of lenses, including 150 – 600 mm zoom, a 10 – 150 zoom and a number of fixed and specialist lenses.
In addition I use a Sony PD150 camera. This uses DVCAM tapes and is the camera used to film me in the field most to the time.
On some shoots I use higher specification video cameras, be they Digi-Beta, High Definition or even high spec. DVCAM, depending on the production’s remit.
Obviously there are a lot of peripherals without which you can’t get going. Tripods with fluid heads, hides, camouflage, an assortment of lights, jibs, the list goes on. Add to that all the stuff you require for more specialised shoots such as underwater, extreme cold, extreme hot and soon the gear store starts to bulge! And that’s before you start taking any still photographs.
Find out more about Simon here