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Wildscreen Festival Tanzania Filmmaker Case Studies: Jigar Ganatra

In the first in a series of Tanzanian filmmaker case studies, we meet Jigar Ganatra, Co-founder and Chair of AFRISOS.

Tanzania: The next generation of wildlife filmmaking talent

Why Tanzania is one of the world’s richest sources of untapped potential when it comes to wildlife filmmaking.

BBC Studios Natural History Unit Announced As Headline Sponsor for Wildscreen Festival 2024

The broadcaster is lending its support to the world’s biggest wildlife film festival.

Meet Lucie – Our CEO!

1. Tell us a bit about your role!

So I am the CEO of Wildscreen. I am in charge of the organisational strategy, operations and I oversee all projects. So everything from the Festival to Outreach to Network.

2. How did you get to where you are today?

I’m a lifer at Wildscreen! It’s actually my graduate job. I did a zoology degree, went on to a conservation masters then I applied for a job at Wildscreen. It was researcher role, which I didn’t actually get but then they called me a few months offering me an admin role. I started and I’ve been here ever since, working across all different projects at Wildscreen, every few years moving into a different role and then I finally transitioned into the role of CEO in 2015.

3. What motivates you?

I want to make a difference. I’ve always thought it to be really important that everybody has a relationship with nature, because it’s probably the purest relationship we could have. It’s really important to me that we as Wildscreen make nature as accessible to everyone. And I think digital stories are a really easy and accessible way to do that. So yeah, using all the community and resources that we have to help other people connect with nature, that’s what motivates me, and hoping that the more people that love and experience nature, the more people feel motivated to help protect it.

4. If you could change one thing about the natural history industry, what would it be?

One thing I really want to change is I want to make who tells nature stories more equitable. I want more people to be able to share their stories about nature in their own voice. I think there needs to be more kind of openness and transparency within the actual TV industry. There needs to be more openness to bring in different voices, and nurturing of those voices.

I also think there needs to be more collaboration. There’s lots of really amazing stories that are being made and shown on TV and platforms. But I think the next bit is the impact, I still feel like that’s something that the industry really needs to work on. Working with conservation organisations or community groups on the ground to make sure that those films do more than entertain people. There needs to educational impact. That’s something that I definitely still feel is lacking.

5. What do you hope for the future of Wildscreen?

I know this is a very classic charity answer here but I think the ultimate goal is that some of the projects that we do, we don’t have to do. Everybody has access to nature, everyone feels like they can tell nature stories, everyone knows what they need to protect nature, that all negative behaviour towards nature is changed. Protecting nature is just innate in everyone. The ultimate goal would be that we didn’t have to exist because everything just happened for itself.

But being more realistic, I want to see us grow, we’ve got really ambitious plans, really impactful plans. So I just want to make sure that we can deliver those, but do it in a really fair, inclusive, and collaborative way.

6. Favourite moment working at Wildscreen?

My favourite personal moment was in 2016, which was the first time I was in charge of the Wildscreen Festival. We had David Attenborough, who’s our patron, open our Panda Awards ceremony. He spoke about Wildscreen’s mission and set out our future plans, ambitions and impact. I wrote the script and he read it out word for word, which was amazing, because obviously, I’ve loved him since I was really little. But to have him say the words about the organisation that you grew up in and are now responsible for was something special.

I guess in general when hosting a festival or event, and somebody tells you about an opportunity they’ve had that we’ve helped them get, that’s a good feeling. Somebody that’s felt like this world isn’t for them. And we’ve helped them make a connection or given them the tools or the confidence to make their dreams come true.

When we’re talking about making the industry more inclusive, making nature more inclusive, and when you can follow someone’s journey over a period of time, I think that’s when it’s really rewarding, because you feel like you can see the impact on someone’s life. It’s a direct personal impact.

Our impact is sometimes difficult to quantify but when we have individuals who we have supported and we can follow their journey and it becomes this lovely like circle of life where they then come back around and support people, become mentors and help new talent out. It feels like a community and I think that’s why it’s so great

7. What’s your favourite story from nature?

I did my Masters on red squirrels in Jersey. For four months I monitored what they were eating during the summer. We thought it was green pinecones. However, in this one particular area, we found it to be chocolate hobnobs. A woman just basically kept putting out chocolate hobnobs for the squirrels and if given the choice a squirrel would go for a hobnob over a green pinecone. Which, to be clear, is very bad for them.

8. Describe working for Wildscreen in three words!

Busy. Collaborative. Fun.

9. If you could turn into any animal for a day, what would you be?

I would probably be a sea otter because I love the ocean. I’d like to be part of a raft just floating about and then be able to explore under the surface to see what it’s like to be part of the community. I also just really like sea otters!

10. What’s a fun fact about you?

I guess that most people don’t know that I’m actually Scottish and have a work accent and a home accent.