Photo: James Lea
Wildlife Filmmaker & Camera Operator
Over 1000 dives filming sharks and marine life
Seeking Sanctuary [April 2017]
After many months of preparation I'm almost ready to go and shoot my final project, Seeking Sanctuary.
This is a story about two species of shark that inhabit of one of the most remote Atolls in the Indian Ocean, their fight for survival against the relentless pressure from civilisation and the struggle within…
The project has kindly been sponsored by Save Our Seas Foundation who have been dedicated to protecting life in our oceans, especially sharks and rays for over a decade. They support passionate and innovative researchers, conservationists and educators across the globe, by funding their projects and helping them to tell important scientific and environmental stories.
After a tough application process and a big move from my previous base in Seychelles I am ecstatic to finally be enrolling on MA Wilflife Filmmaking at UWE Bristol this September.
Over the last four years I have been intensively developing my skills as a cameraman specialising in sharks. I have spent in excess of 1000 hours underwater all over the world and been involved in numerous marine conservation projects. My work has involved being responsible for planning, shooting and editing 4K shoots on various camera systems including Red with work featured by Lonely Planet, Wanderlust and the BBC.
I am really excited for the journey ahead and hope the course will develop my skills as a visual story teller and excel my skills in all areas which will help prepare me for the challenges of the industry.
A BIT MORE ABOUT ME...
Some of my earliest memories are scrambling about over the cliff tops where I grew up in Wales. My grandfather, a farmer and warden of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park at the time used to say “Be quiet, be calm. You’ll never see anything if you rush like that”. He was right. Words of wisdom and experience. Advice difficult to take as a kid but once he gave me a camera to focus my attention it became much easier.
In 1996, at the the age of 12, I witnessed the effects of the Sea Empress Disaster which destroyed so many seabirds and ocean life when tonnes of oil spilled into the sea around the coast of Pembrokeshire. The smell of the oil is hard to shake, seeing hundreds of dead seabirds washed ashore. My grandmother ran an Oiled Bird Rescue Centre tirelessly devoting days, weeks and months washing, waterproofing and rehabilitating many of the oil damaged birds. Charlie Hamilton James, a young reporter at the time, was a frequent visitor to the Centre too. I like to think this had an influence on us both and instilled a sense of determination to conserve our natural world.
A GNVQ in Art & Design gave me open access to the dark room to develop my own photos. Soon after I went to Falmouth College of Arts where once again I spent many hours discovering the coast and its wildlife. Even when I moved to London I was drawn to the water and for the majority of my time there I lived on a houseboat opposite Kew Gardens. This urban oasis afforded me the opportunity to observe a rich variety of insects and bird life such as; egrets, sandpipers, tufted ducks, Canadian geese, swans and many more.
I enjoyed reading National Geographic Magazine on the commute to work which filled my imagination with unknown environments and wildlife. Eventually with a few rainy-day savings I decided to set off on a back-packing mission around South America, camera in hand, to reconnect my love of wildlife and nature. I became self sufficient, stretching out my money to keep the adventure going which extended an intended 6 months to a year. The trip gave me the tenacity to keep clicking my camera through finger numbing temperatures in the Atacama and resolve a couple of flooded cameras.
From Patagonia to Panama I finally ended up in the Bay Islands of Honduras. Whilst working there as a Dive Master I was able to explore photography in a new environment to me – underwater! I made my first underwater film which I called Liquid Adventures.
Returning to the UK I was accepted as a volunteer at WildScreen 2012. I saw many Natural History celebrities that week including Sir David Attenborough, Jane Goodall and Sir Ranulph Fiennes. But I would have to say my most star-struck moment during the festival was unexpectedly meeting Doug Allan in the hallway on the way to the underwater workshop. A humble guy with plenty of funny stories, full of inspiration and encouragement for the new diving job I was about to start.
A key moment for me was the chance to step-in as a local diver to film a special underwater sequence of passing the Commonwealth Games baton through the Seychelles. To my surprise months later, and thousands of miles, back at home I saw the footage on BBC News. This really made me think about the potential reach filmmaking can have around the world in its various formats and platforms.
My experience at WildScreen and Doug’s words of encouragement still sit on my coffee table and continue to be a source of inspiration.
© Copyright Nick Jones 2017