As environmental filmmaking rides a wave of industry-changing technological advances, Bristol’s biannual Wildscreen Film Festival – which runs from October 19-24 – is keeping pace in its 32nd year, with sessions on everything from filming with drones to a ‘Big Ideas’ talk with Sir David Attenborough. Festival and events manager Charlotte Geeves (pictured) tells realscreen what delegates can expect from this year’s offering.
What’s different about this year’s festival, and what has changed from the 2012 event?
We’ve increased the amount of content that’s available, so there’s fresher content as well as our ‘Inside Story’ strand and workshop. We’ve also increased our film screenings, so not only are we screening our nominated films, we’re also curating a film strand. And amid all of those screenings, we are attaching Q&As, so we’re getting filmmakers to talk and give the audiences a deeper understanding of those films.
We’ve launched a raw talent bursary scheme, too. It’s an opportunity for an individual to come to the festival, and we’ll partner them with a mentor and give them opportunities throughout the week and a mentorship that extends beyond the festival. It’s about time to give opportunities to those individuals who can’t enter the industry through traditional means, and I feel like the festival is a platform for these individuals to get a foot in the door and meet the right people.
Have you noticed any themes in this year’s submissions?
There has been a recurring theme of poaching. We are doing a big session on it, looking at the media and whether it’s a help or a hindrance. Another theme has been animals’ intelligence, emotions and interspecies relationships. We’re going to do a session on this theme and what the future holds, examining the influences on the way we look at nature and the subjects we cover, and whether it’s just technological developments and current affairs, or if there are other factors that may be involved.
Have you noticed any trends in wildlife filmmaking over the past two years? Does the field still occupy the same space in filmmaking?
The industry’s still really, really strong. I think the trend we’re noticing now is that there are more individuals producing content in different formats. It’s not that there’s a move away from the traditional broadcasters and channels – those are still very much in place – but as far as the digital space is concerned, people are producing short-form content and there’s a lot airing. The blue-chip natural history programming and series are still there, but the one-off specials are not holding as high a space as they were in 2012.
Is the industry much different now than it was, say, five years ago?
Yes, absolutely. The industry’s grown tremendously. The amount of production companies we have in Bristol alone have increased and I think they would say that the major traditional broadcasters are not programming as much natural history as they have in the past. There are other broadcasters now who have come into the sphere and are programming more content. There’s as much blue chip natural history being produced, but there’s also a lot of specialist factual programs now which have either a science background or a natural history background.
How has the festival evolved since launching in 1982?
I think the festival has grown in size, and in the amount of content we get from the delegates and the amount of people coming. What I am keen to do is grow the delegates who come into contact with the festival. With the expansion of technology, and how you can talk to anyone in the world at any time, there is still value in meeting face-to-face with people.
- Wildscreen kicks off on Sunday (October 19) and runs until Friday (October 24)
- This feature first appeared in the current September/October 2014 issue of realscreen magazine. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.