Wildlife film making is an art


WONDERS OF NATURE: As the creative director of the BBC Neil Nightingale has to always look for new stories to tell audiences. Photo: Dana Da Silva


BBC creative director Neil Nightingale says that Wildlife film making involves as much story telling and cinematography as any other film making.

Nightingale was speaking at a public lecture on August 26. The lecture was part of the bi-annual Alumni Event hosted by The School of Animal, Plants and Environmental Sciences.

At the lecture he shared his experiences of having worked at the BBC for three decades and how he has had to continuously adapt by looking for new content, behaviours, locations and perspectives.

“Well what we do is really put the pressure on ourselves, by continually pushing ourselves, always striving. And if there was one word that summed it up I think it was surprised. Find surprises.”

His creative team is always scouring the world looking to surprise audiences with new stories and with new ways of experiencing those stories.

“In a world where audiences, including children, have an endless supply of entertainment we have to be as engaging with our natural history storytelling as the options they have.”

This isn’t just limited to television, children now have access to entertainment on their cell phones, tablets, etc. This coupled with urbanisation means that children have less of a chance to engage with nature, said Nightingale.

He added that those factors mean that it is more important now to inspire the next generation with the relevance and wonders of nature.

Nightingale tries to make wildlife documentaries more engaging by showing that animal life can be just as dramatic, with the stakes often being higher than that of fictional drama.

The Hunt, a new series which will be aired this year about predators, shows this. “It’s all about the strategy of hunting. Just like any great human drama, there are great characters, the heart stopping moments. There are unexpected twists in the plot.”

In order to capture such heart stopping moments they often look to new technological advancements.

“Often technology comes to our rescues and enables us to do things that we otherwise hadn’t done,” he said.

It also helps to capture the character of animals, which you can see when you look into their eyes, see their expression and their posture. All of this can now be captured in exquisite detail with newer cameras and technology.