ScreenSkills and Wildscreen Emerging Talent Mentorship Scheme 2021/22
The ScreenSkills and Wildscreen Mentorship Scheme works to make the natural history industry a more diverse and inclusive space by connecting 22 individuals with industry professionals. Supported by ScreenSkills as part of the BFI Future Film Skills programme using funds from the National Lottery, the pilot scheme helped emerging talent to thrive in the natural world storytelling industry; nurturing and empowering individuals passionate about pursuing a career in natural history filmmaking.
Meet our 22 fantastic mentee's below and hear about Sam's experience of participating in the programme.
Sam Kite, North Yorkshire - Participating in the ScreenSkills and Wildscreen Emerging Talent Mentorship Scheme
"Having been set back by COVID, and forced to move back up to York after a very brief residence in Bristol to pursue my dream career in Natural History filmmaking, I wanted to take every opportunity I could to further my career.
I am extremely keen to learn everything I can, create as many connections and contacts as possible and I thought a mentorship scheme would be a perfect way to do this.
I was matched with Charlotte Leesworth, a post production coordinator. I want to learn as much as I can about all aspects of filmmaking and this was a great way to find out more about the post production side of the process. Charlotte like many hadn't had a simple path in, so was incredible in helping me learn more about many possible routes into the industry.
Coming from a scientific background, having studied Zoology and having a passion for story telling, working in Natural History filmmaking seemed a great way to couple the two. I have been fortunate enough to get my first jobs in the industry already, having worked as a camera assistant in Botswana and as a Story Developer on BBC Springwatch. I am currently working as a Story Researcher with Robert E Fuller and have been in this role throughout the mentorship scheme.
My mentor was an incredible help, and each session would cover topics we discussed at the end of the previous meeting. This would give me a chance to prepare material in between the sessions and send them to Charlotte for her to look over before the next session. These topics ranged from interview questions, to CV tips and website/show reel development.
One thing that stuck out for me was when we created a SWOT analysis for me together, an activity to establish my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This gave me confidence in what I have already achieved and what I can achieve with what I already have.
The scheme really has been incredibly valuable and has given me lots of confidence in moving forward with my career. Time management, planning and self reflection are a few skills that I have been able to work on and improve during the scheme. Charlotte helped me to establish where I was already at with these skills and we worked together to improve them.
In our last session I made a plan, that Charlotte and I then went through together. This had a 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month section, with different goals that I want to achieve in these time frames. Charlotte was brilliant in reassuring me that meeting every single target wasn't essential, but having this rough skeleton of a plan was a great way to get started."
You can connect with Sam via his LinkedIn or Talent Manager profile.
Meet the rest of our 2021/22 Cohort
Hi, my name is Alice Whitehouse and I am a filmmaker, photographer and 2021 National Geographic Explorer. I am particularly interested in stories revolving around conservation and climate change. With a growing disconnect between people and the natural world, I believe it is more important than ever to bring these stories to a wider audience.
After working in the humanitarian sector for a few years, I decided to take the leap into natural history filmmaking - something I have wanted to do for years but hadn’t quite figured out how to get my foot in the door. I was so pleased to be accepted onto Wildscreen’s mentee scheme. It is absolutely essential to have schemes likes this available if we are to increase representation in the industry.
Andrea Vale, Bristol
Originally from the U.S., I came to the U.K. to undertake an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford. I am currently an AP at Off the Fence Productions, and previously worked as a Human Story Specialist on the Science and Exploration team at the National Geographic Society. I am currently looking for opportunities to camera assist, and have been developing experience in aerial footage, time lapse, and underwater videography.
I have worked as a freelance writer for several years, which has led to my filmmaking ethos: to approach every project from an underlying foundation of strong storytelling and compelling characters.
I am thrilled to be a Wildscreen Mentee this year! I am eager to build a community of emerging natural history filmmakers to learn from and collaborate with. I believe that if we bring together individuals from different backgrounds, we can combine our unique skills and perspectives to collectively amplify the stories we tell onscreen.
Cornelia Lee, Bristol
I’m Cornelia, currently a Sizzle Editor at Plimsoll Productions. Having recently relocated from Hong Kong to Bristol with the intention of working in Natural History, I feel incredibly privileged to have landed a position on the scheme!
Coming from HK, I never really considered a career in Natural History - quite the contrary, I studied Law at university. Although I've always been a massive fan of the Natural World, one of the biggest driving factors for my change in career was experiencing, first-hand, the impact of climate change on wildlife, communities and landscapes during a photography trip to Namibia.
From my experience, a lot of people from big cities feel a sense of disconnect from nature, quite often due to the lack of exposure to wildlife programs/green space. I therefore hope to be involved in generating immersive wildlife narratives that can be distributed to a wider audience around the globe, inspiring people to rekindle their relationship with nature, and in turn live more sustainable lives.
Eleanor Hamilton, Wales
In my work as a wildlife camera operator my aim is to bring informative stories about the natural world to a wider audience. I have a great interest in animal behaviour and enjoy exploring ways in which technology can reveal new aspects of the natural world. I’ve worked as a camera operator and assistant on a variety of productions, including the BBC’s Springwatch series. The British Isles are home to some incredible wildlife that’s often overlooked, which I love to celebrate in my work.
Having followed Wildscreen’s work for many years I’m grateful to have been selected for this programme. Effective and impactful environmental communication has never been more important, and increasing the diversity of storytellers is the first step towards achieving this. I’m looking forward to developing my skills behind the camera and connecting with others in the industry, helping me work towards a career as a wildlife camerawoman.
Eleanor Higgs, Manchester
After I completed my undergraduate degree in Zoology, I knew I wanted to get into the television industry. This led me to studying for my master’s in Wildlife Documentary Production and taking part in the Network at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
Having now worked on shows such as The Secret Life of the Zoo and Springwatch I know that a career in natural history television is something I want to pursue. I am very fortunate to have been selected onto the programme and have a mentor that guides me in the right direction when it comes to which companies to approach, how to present myself and other advice to progress my career. I am passionate about sharing the wonder of the natural world with a wider audience so we can teach people about the important conservation issues that accompany these incredible animals.
Ellie Hilton, Cardiff
Hi! I'm Ellie and I've been fortunate enough to be selected as one of this year's mentees with Wildscreen. My background is in Film Production, and I've been working in HETV drama Production offices for the last few years. As a queer, disabled woman, I got into this industry to tell the stories that matter, to be a voice for the underrepresented, and to create works of art that project an authentic voice. I have an inherent love of all things Natural and Wild, and a fascination with ecology and biology. The shift to Natural History production feels inevitable. Now is the time to start spreading the stories and voices of those that can and are working to combat climate change. My goal is to be a part of that movement, and to put my experience to use in the Editorial Department through research and storytelling.
George Cawdron, Bristol
I am a marine biology graduate with experience working in multiple aspects of production, including researching and drone operating, looking to progress into researcher roles within natural history productions. Throughout my degree, I learnt how diverse and extraordinary our nature is. However, I also began to understand the magnitude of global issues that are threatening the health and diversity of our ecosystems. Television and film production is a powerful tool for raising awareness and instigating change. Using bold and unique stories showcasing just how incredible the wildlife that inhabits our planet is, I hope to inspire people to protect and love wildlife as much as I do.
Jake Lee-Savage, Suffolk
Hi, my name is Jake and I’m passionate about building connections with the natural world through audio. I’m a sound recordist, story teller, musician and podcaster and want to keep pushing the boundaries of immersive sound so people can make deep connections with nature and then act to protect it. I want my work to really mobilise the listener and turn them into advocates for a better world.
I also think it’s essential that the world of wildlife audio opens up to a more diverse range of voices – we have to build on everyone’s life experiences and reflect the nature that people actually experience in their lives. Lastly, I’m grateful to Wildscreen for giving me this opportunity; I lack the professional networks to help build a career in wildlife audio so this is a great chance for me to connect with experts who can offer advice on my work.
Josh Raper, Bristol
I’m Josh, a Bristol based natural history and expedition focused storyteller. I’ve been lucky enough to work on expeditions around the world, as well as on some smaller U.K based online productions. I moved to Bristol back in 2020 so I could expand my career into the world of natural history TV production. Having seen the major environmental decline around the world, I want to become part of the solution by showcasing why we should protect it in order to inspire change. I know my expedition fieldwork, camera and operations skillset can be put to good use. I’m incredibly grateful for being selected onto the Wildscreen mentorship scheme, as the pandemic put the brakes on my ambitions to join the industry, but the resources provided by Wildscreen are providing me with the confidence in applications once more.
Kamara Venner, Bristol
My name is Kamara, I am a young, black filmmaker from Bristol with a desire to connect people, especially people of colour, to Nature. The natural world deserves protection, regardless of the benefits it provides humanity and, I believe that storytelling is how we can do that. I want to create an immersive experience of wildlife so people can feel connected to a world that we have been severed from, to remind people of its beauty and fascination, for everyone to want to protect it as much as me. Having the opportunity to take part in the program is exciting; I have had many ideas floating about, but with the guidance of my mentor, they are coming to fruition. The animated podcast, Jungle of Snow is on its way!
I am looking forward to learning from people doing what I've dreamed of achieving, collaborating on natural history stories, having my voice heard. As a young black woman, I am often in spaces that lack diversity and inclusion; this is the same for the wildlife film industry. Everyone should see themselves in the dreams they hold and feel like there is a space for them. I want to explore my creativity; through wildlife storytelling in an environment where I am valued and represented.
Libby Penman, Glasgow
My name’s Libby Penman and I'm a filmmaker from Kirkcaldy, Scotland. I'm a freelance camera operator and have just completed a Master’s degree in Wildlife Documentary Production.
I'm chuffed to bits to be selected to take part in this programme, having the opportunity to get mentorship from an industry expert is going to be amazing because this field can be really challenging to progress in. I’m totally fascinated by animal biology and behaviour but my main drive for working in natural history is to tell stories that highlight environmental issues and conservation projects.
Natural history filmmaking has the ability to connect people to a vast range of stories and places from all around the planet so it makes sense that we need a wide range of different people telling these stories in the first place. I think increased opportunities for all unrepresented groups of people in this field will elevate the industry with fresh perspectives and programmes like this mentorship scheme are an amazing way to do that. Thanks for having me on board Wildscreen!
Malka Holmes, Wales
Malka Holmes studied Fine Art and Design at Leeds Metropolitan University, and went on to work in television in Germany as a photographer. On her return to the UK she worked as a photographic assistant for the wildlife and environmental photographer David Woodfall. She then specialised in moving imaging and worked for Time Team C4, the BBC science department in London and the specialised factual department in Cardiff.
Malka then felt she wanted to pursue her career by focusing more on the natural world by volunteering for the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB, this included getting her hands dirty planting trees, hedge laying and outdoor education, this lead to Malka making films for NGO’s and charities.
Mitoshka Alkova, Bristol
Mitoshka recently graduated Film Production from Arts University Bournemouth with a focus in Documentary and Cinematography.
The graduation documentary film she directed was focused around the endemic Maltese honeybee- the Apis Melifera Ruttneri- and the way invasive species meant it was reliant on human intervention for its survival. A field study taken over two trips to documents the disappearance of a species not touched upon by the media, and something she felt would give us purpose in her last year.
Natalie Clements, Cardiff
I have been operating cameras as a freelancer in TV for over 10 years and I have always had a passion for wildlife and natural history stories. I currently follow rewilding journeys of endangered species travelling between the UK and Africa and have spent lockdown filming a lot of British wildlife.
Dedicating my spare time in the field and being accepted as a mentee is allowing me to start making useful and meaningful connections so that I can take my technical skills and passion into the wild!
Paul Scott, Bristol
I'm Paul and I'm an aspiring wildlife cameraman. I live for adventure and I love nothing more than getting out in the wild and witnessing animal behaviour. I particularly enjoy fully immersing myself in a habitat and living in it whilst filming. My main specialisations are long lens and drone filming, but I also enjoy building camera traps and shooting time lapses. I believe it's important for people to watch wildlife behaviours and events, as witnessing these spectacles reminds me how unfathomable life is and how tiny we really are.
Wildlife TV & Film production is the perfect amalgam of adventure, technical understanding and social responsibility. I was thrilled to get onto the ScreenSkills and Wildscreen Emerging Talent Mentorship Scheme! My mentor is a very accomplished industry professional and I have learnt tonnes of valuable information from him already! I believe this will be a very positive step in my wildlife career progression.
You can connect with Paul via his website www.wildnomadic.co.uk
My name is Rose Summers, I am a Bristol-based freelance filmmaker with a focus on natural history storytelling and conservation communication. I aim to produce work that inspires, immerses and reconnects audiences with our local wildlife and champions the people working with nature.
Following graduating with a BA in Marine & Natural History Photography, I have shot and edited online video content for a number of conservation NGOs including Plantlife, WWF UK, Back from The Brink/ Wildscreen and Nature Picture Library.
I live to learn and as I pursue a career in Natural History production, I look forward to hearing of others experiences within the industry, collaborating on projects and partaking in opportunities that can deepen my understanding of storytelling and conservation messaging.
Sam Kite, North Yorkshire
Hi, I’m Sam Kite, and I am currently based in North Yorkshire, working as a Story Researcher for Robert E Fuller, helping to produce films on a range of subjects, from barn owls to kestrels, and buzzards to foxes.
I am ecstatic to have been chosen for this amazing programme, to be able to learn from industry professionals and hopefully increase my network of contacts in the industry, which we all know is critical for this line of work!
Working in Natural History filmmaking is an absolute dream of mine and having had some experience already, it has only fuelled my desire to further my career path in this industry.
I think the ability to place viewers in locations around the world from their own home and to offer a mindful escape from the stresses of their personal lives is one of the most empowering rewards of wildlife filmmaking.
My name is Valentina, I came to the UK in 2014 and completed a Master’s degree in Visual Anthropology - Documentary Filmmaking. I ran my own videography and documentary production company for three years, which took me to all parts of the UK, the Canary Islands, China and East Africa. I then began working full-time as a freelancer on Factual, Documentary and Current Affairs productions, as camera op, media manager and shooting researcher.
In 2021 I got my first Wildlife job, as Edit Assistant working on location in Zimbabwe on a True to Nature production about Baboons. It had been my dream to work in wildlife since I started out in TV, and this experience made me certain of that goal. My main passion is camera work and being on location, so I am keen to work on further wildlife productions in shooting roles.