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Meet Gina – Our Head of Marketing & Communications

1. Tell us a bit about your role! I’ve just joined the team as Head …

Meet Sam – Our Film Competition & Events Assistant

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Nature’s Storytellers – The Next Generation

If you searched for information about the natural history filmmaking industry, it’s almost inevitable the …

Jack & Yaz: Our 2022 Animal Behaviour WildPitch Winners 1 Year On

The WildPitch competition proved to be one of Wildscreen Festival 2022’s biggest hits, with 9 emerging talents presenting their amazing pitches to a panel of the industry’s top leading professionals in attempts to get their projects funded.

We caught up with Yaz Ellis and Jack Mifflin, winners of our Animal Behaviour category, to see how they are getting on with their prize-winning idea one year on.

Tell us a bit about you!

Hi! We are Yaz and Jack, and we are wildlife filmmakers and cinematographers based in Austria! The films we create have a particular focus on how wildlife is adapting to and challenged by human impact, examples include urban beavers living in Vienna and flower-eating ground squirrels battling habitat destruction.

What was your project about?

Marmots on Toast is about the complicated relationship of feeding wildlife. We follow and immerse ourselves into the lives of a marmot family after they have woken up from hibernation. And await the arrival of humans on the mountain, who frequently feed these marmots with food from backpacks and pockets. This film explores that sometimes when wildlife becomes habituated to feeding we cannot just stop feeding them, but we need to think carefully about exactly what food we give them.

How did the money you won at WildPitch contribute to the project?

Wild Pitch allowed us to fully fund the production of this short film!

What stage are you now at?

Wild Pitch took place in October, when the marmots were already fast asleep in their long hibernation. So we had to wait over six months for the marmots to finally wake up from their winter sleep and become active again. We filmed the marmots in May and June, it was a fantastic shoot – the mountain weather was kind and the marmots were amazing! We had so much fun filming them! Currently we are in post-production and the film will be completed in early 2024.

Any unexpected moments during production?

In Austria we had a very late winter, there was still too much snow that the road we needed to take was still closed just two days before our planned start of filming. We weren’t sure whether we would be able to get up to the marmots with all the snow, and whether we would be filming completely different behaviour to what we planned. However, enough snow was cleared and the road finally opened the day our shoot began!

We were one of the first people of the year to reach the marmots, which meant we were able to film some beautiful shots of marmots in snow and experience their natural behaviour better. A few days later the snow began rapidly melting and more people were able to make their way into the mountains and also reach the marmots, which is when the marmot behaviour changes slightly and the feeding frenzy begins.

What was your favourite moment during filming?

We had a lot of beautiful moments with the marmots in the course of our shoot. Whenever they were active there wasn’t really a dull moment as they are such curious animals. They would check out our cameras, investigate and try to steal your lunch, and if you are silly enough to leave a coat or a layer of clothing on the ground for just a moment, you will probably catch a marmot stuffing the coat into its mouth trying to steal it for its own burrow!

They are such amazing, adorable and hilarious animals and we cannot wait to share this film with you so everyone can fall in love with the marmots for themselves!

Any plans for the future?

We have some very exciting film projects to announce in 2024, continuing to focus on human impact on wildlife.

To stay tuned for updates and announcements you can follow our Instagram here and here.