Bristol-based Natural History production company Wildstar Films has announced that applications are open for its Wildstar Academy mentoring and training scheme.

The scheme is aimed increasing the number of people from under-represented groups working in wildlife and premium factual documentary making.

The Wildstar Academy provides fully funded placements to “underrepresented individuals who are looking for a step-up in their careers and who may not have access to the opportunities, training, or contacts to help them build their profile.” Successful applicants receive in-depth training as a member of one of Wildstar’s teams on-high profile productions on location around the world, followed by long-term mentoring and support in the industry.

Working with leading industry professionals, the programme focuses on skills such as field directing, producing or cinematography as well as providing an opportunity to work with some of the innovative, high-end equipment developed by the Wildstar tech team

Applicants should come from a group currently underrepresented in wildlife filmmaking such as females, indigenous people, disabled and neurodivergent candidates, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates. They should also have a proven level of experience in television and content production and a desire to progress in the world of TV, film or content creation.

Applications can be made through the Wildstar Academy website and are open until midnight (GMT) on 30th June 2024.

Vanessa Berlowitz and Mark Linfield, co-Founders of Wildstar Films said: “Wildstar is committed to making our industry more diverse and representative of audiences around the world. The inclusion of global talent through our Wildstar Academy programme has provided different perspectives and made the stories we tell richer and more authentic. By supporting new voices in this way, we will add depth not just to our content but natural history filmmaking more widely, representing our natural world in the way it deserves. We are really look forward to bringing on board the next talented group of Academy trainees.”

Previous Alumni of the Wildstar Academy include Kenyan Faith Musembi who received a placement as a Director on the groundbreaking female-led Queens production team, before becoming a Producer and Director of her own episode in the series – the first ever black woman to have this role on a landmark premium documentary series. Since then, she has been working as Producer Director at the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol.

Faith Musembi said: “I had privileged access to some of the most accomplished minds in natural history filmmaking. An access that saw my skillset nurtured, developed and accelerated in a way that would have otherwise never happened.   So when I say that that the mentorship support changed my life, I am not being hyperbolic.”

Specialist chimpanzee field guide and camera operator Diana Kanweri was the first Ugandan woman to work at the Ngogo Chimp Project and built on her passion for camera work to contribute footage for Netflix’s Chimp Empire. As part of the Wildstar Academy she has been offered three international shoots as a camera assistant, including filming macaws with world-renowned wildlife cinematographer Martyn Colbeck.

Diana Kanweri added:  “The Academy has broken the barriers in my way, this opportunity for camera training and mentorship is so helpful,  I have been learning all about long lens operating and camera settings, I believe I can take this one on. Martyn Colbeck, my mentor made this all easy for me, teaching me not only to operate cameras but also the art of filming, shot sizes, composition, framing and timing and also how the editor would use the footage.”

The Wildstar Academy is a partnership with NEWF, RED and Wildlife Direct.


Jon Creamer

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