Wildlife and Science Filmmaking
Making the wildlife on planet Earth come to life on the screen is a skill that takes time. You can read all you want, but really the only thing that will increase your skill set is to go out and do it yourself. This website is designed to get you started making your own science films as quickly as possible. Science and wildlife filmmaking is no longer just for the privileged and well-connected. It’s something that everyone can do, no matter what limited equipment they have. In fact, we believe that everyone with a passion for science, nature, and wildlife—lab scientists, teachers, enthusiasts—should have at least some basic skills with video filmmaking in today’s media-rich world. Using video is one of the best ways to tell your story. We’re here to show you how to turn your passion into amazing, inspirational films.
First Ask WHY!
The first step in the process of making films is to ask yourself – Why. Why do you want to make films? Why make certain types of films over others? What is the goal? If you don’t first start with these questions you won’t know who your audience should be and you won’t know how to start crafting your films. Or, even worse, you could risk blindly making films without intention.
As I outlined in the above video, here are a few reasons why we make films.
- Videos can help tell a story very quickly.
- In many of our videos I’ll often use complex animations to simplify the concepts or simply show an animal behavior. Both are, I think, quicker and easier to explain visually.
- They are powerful inspirational tools.
- About 10 years ago when I started we were making videos for teachers to show students. My catch phrase at the end of videos was this. Still, do this day I do skype calls with classrooms and they all seem really excited to chat and they often tell me how inspired they were by the videos we made.
- They can create change. Either through changing the minds of everyone, or if done right, changing the mind of a few that make big decisions.
- Let’s take a couple examples. First, back in 2004, Morgan Spurlock made a film where he ate nothing but Mcdonalds for a month and had to supersize his meal if they asked. It didn’t turn out great for him and that inspired a big change in McDonalds. Now you can get healthy options and they never ask if you want to supersize your meal.
- Second, In 2006, Jean Michelle Coustau screened a documentary he made about the NW Hawaiian islands to President bush, and shortly thereafter the president signed a bill preserving 138,000 square miles of that ocean as a Marine National Monument. It was a huge win for everyone and maybe the only person that really need to see that film, was someone like the president.
- We live in the 21st century – and it’s the way we communicate.
- Think of any of the more popular social platforms – facebook, youtube, instagram, snapchat. All of these use video heavily.
- Also, consider how much you’d rather watch content over reading about it in a book. Times are changing for better or worse, but some of the best communicators are going to take advantage of this platform.
About this Platform
We’ve laid out this website to help just about anyone on their journey. If you’re new to filmmaking you can get familiar with the basics in Getting Started. Seasoned professionals may benefit more from the in-depth approaches in our Advanced Filmmaking section. We address all the steps of the production process as well, from brainstorming to editing. Just choose from the menu at right or dive into our new book about science filmmaking.
About the Filmmakers
Untamed Science is made up primarily of award winning producers Rob Nelson, Jonas Stenstrom and Haley Chamberlain – hosts, and scientists with one goal: make science concepts easy to understand. Collectively we have a lot of experience in the world of science and natural history filmmaking. Read up more on the main filmmakers responsible for this site’s content.
Rob Nelson: Rob is both a marine biologist and filmmaker by training. He has been an active guiding force in Untamed Science since the idea to teach and inspire first occurred to Rob. He now leads the world biomes site and biodiversity pages. He also stars as an on-camera host for Science Channel’s Secrets of the Underground, Man-eating Python, and What on Earth. Rob is an avid Scuba Diver, Whitewater kayaker and Skydiver… read more about Rob
Jonas Stenstrom: Jonas is one of the lead producers for our science outreach videos online. He is a PADI certified dive ambassador for the crew and is working to help promote Ocean Awareness with the Untamed Science team. Jonas is currently the editor and host for our new Decoding the Driftless Documentary on PBS. He also has a passion for adventure sports. Jonas is also an on-camera host… read more about Jonas
Haley Chamberlain: Haley is one of our on-camera hosts. She is both a biologist and actress by training. She has ben in charge of our elementary science programs, music videos, space shoots, and on-camera LIVE scientist interviews. Haley also appears as television host for Smithsonian Channel and Science Channel. Read more about Haley
In the past we’ve done extensive work with many other fantastic filmmakers and scientists, including: