Natural History

Wildstar shines a light on the queens of the jungle

A bonobo in the Congo jungle

“None of us could believe it hadn’t been done before,” recalled Chloe Sarosh, discussing Wildstar Films’ natural history series about female-led societies. As the series producer and writer of Queens, she was there from the start.

Five years, 12 countries and more than 1,700 days in the field later, seven engrossing episodes have come to National Geographic and Disney+.

Justine Evans on nature’s power to nurture

A woman films rhinos at sunset

Wildlife film-maker Justine Evans recently had a friend visit her home near the Forest of Dean. As night fell, Evans took them mountain biking through the forest trails, which she regularly does with her wolfdog for no other reason than “it’s quite fun doing it in the dark”.

While they were out night riding, Evans recalls her friend turning to her and saying, “Oh, it’s not all that spooky, is it?”

Filming the Impossible: The Art of Science and Natural History | RTS Futures Careers Fair 2024

Could you make the next Life on Our Planet, The Surgeon’s Cut or A Year on Planet Earth?

Peter Leonard, Head of Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA course at the National Film and Television School, tells all about the exciting and ever-changing world of filming science and natural history programmes at the RTS Futures Careers Fair 2024.

Peter is former Head of Development at BBC Science and has worked on films covering all manner of science from mental health to astronomy and what makes us laugh.

Working Lives: Natural History film-maker

What does the job involve?

It runs all the way from the first spark of an idea, through to developing that idea, bringing in funding, to shooting the programme. I spend more time overseeing projects now, but I still get out of the office – I spent six weeks in Africa filming two shark shows for Discovery and National Geographic at the end of last year, which was a lot of fun.

What was your route into natural history filming?

Greening wildlife TV

The irony of natural history enjoying a TV golden age while the wildlife it features enters a dark age was not lost on the panel at an RTS event on sustainable film-­making in early December.

Natural history is “making huge amounts of money while its subject matter goes extinct” was the succinct summary of Tom Mustill, a producer/director and owner of Gripping Films, which makes campaigning, low-­carbon films about the environment.

Sir David Attenborough to present new series on UK wildlife for BBC One

The BBC said that it “aims to do for the wildlife of Britain and Ireland what the Planet series has done for the wildlife of the world.”

The Open University, the RSPB and WWF co-produced the series over three years, while Silverback Films used cutting-edge technology to capture the natural drama. From battling butterflies to killer whales, the series reveals a previously unseen wild side of the British Isles.

Inside Bristol’s indie powerhouse Plimsoll Productions

Hostile Planet (Credit: National Geographic)

By his own admission, Plimsoll Productions founder Grant Mansfield is an obsessive jogger. When we speak over Zoom at 9:00am, he has just returned from a run – one of four that he tries to fit in each week. “It has certainly helped keep me sane during the past eight months of this process,” he explains, referring to the recent sale of Plimsoll to ITV. 

Apple TV+ announces Prehistoric Planet with Sir David Attenborough

Credit: Apple TV+

The five-part series will be narrated by Attenborough and will use state of the art technology combined with rigorous scientific research to transport viewers back in time. 

The documentary will look back 66 million years to the ancient world and reveal the different habitats of Earth and the dinosaurs that populated them.

An original score has been composed by Hans Zimmer, and the stories will be told against the landscapes of the Cretaceous times, spanning coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests.