Posts Tagged ‘Paul Redman’

Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs” – film-maker and documentarian Werner Herzog.

On Tuesday, September 6, three powerful new films chronicling EIA’s recent undercover investigations into timber smuggling, the ivory trade and whaling will make their world debut in the USA on Nat Geo Wild.

Paul Redman and Clare Perry filming in a Japanese fish market (c) EIA

Broadcast under the collective banner of Crimes Against Nature, Blood Ivory depicts the brutal horror of elephant poaching in Kenya and black market trade in the marketplaces of Hong Kong and China; Making a Killing exposes Iceland’s hunting of endangered fin whales to package and sell for consumption in Japan; and Chainsaw Massacre uncovers the Vietnamese army’s involvement in the widespread smuggling of timber from neighbouring Laos.

Each film follows seasoned EIA investigators in the field as they methodically piece together the clues of wildlife and forest crime and follow evidence trails leading to corrupt officialdom, organised criminal syndicates and grasping businessmen. Along the way, viewers will share the setbacks and successes in films rich with imagery both startling and haunting.

What they won’t see, and possibly won’t suspect, is the long year of preparations and often physically and emotionally demanding work behind the scenes to get three one-hour films in the can.

The project effectively began in 2009, following EIA’s tiger team in China and Nepal for a pilot film eventually broadcast early last year on Nat Geo Wild as Eco Crime Investigators – Inside the Tiger Trade.

The broadcast, first in the USA and subsequently worldwide (and it’s still in heavy rotation), was such a success that further programmes were commissioned.

On location in Kenya with Mary Rice and Dave Currey (c) EIA

Initial meetings with the London-based production company hired by Nat Geo to make the films focused on the likely scope of the three investigations, the probable shooting times and budget requirements for each, and a loose schedule around which investigators would have to fit all their usual campaign work and commitments.

It was in October 2010, when filming was concluded in Iceland and underway in Vietnam, that I was brought onboard as Project Co-ordinator; you could draw up a job description for the role which might run to several sides of A4, or you could just as accurately say my primary function was to help ease the process along as required.

Both EIA and the production company shared the same goal – to make the best programmes possible; naturally, both came at it with different considerations to the fore. The nature of conducting investigations in the field is that you never know what’s going to turn up and where it might lead; the nature of film-making is that you have to satisfy those commissioning the venture that they’re going to end up with a solid narrative arc and a substantial conclusion, preferably before shooting begins.

From the word ‘go’, EIA was adamant that its investigators would not serve as props, nor would they be mouthpieces for scripted lines which might in any way reflect poorly or inaccurately on the organisation, its methodology or its invaluable work. At the same time, we accepted that the film-makers needed to distil often-complex issues in a way that was accurate and wouldn’t leave viewers scratching their collective brows and reaching for the remote control. Looking at the finished products (and I believe I must have done so a score of times for each!), I think it’s fair to say this was achieved remarkably well.

In the field was where problems could most easily arise as directors fretted that they wouldn’t get the key shots they needed within the timeframe allowed, or when they were debriefing an investigator following an emotionally exhausting undercover filming session and needed the same kind of projected energy on take seven as was given the first time around. But our investigators are nothing if not troopers – and on many occasions during this project they were fixers and guides too – and the passion they have for their various campaigns all but radiates from the screen.

Julian Newman interviewed during filming in Laos (c) EIA

When location filming concluded by late March, it remained to fine-tune the narratives, film interviews with the key campaigners and nail down the voice-over and visual inserts such as animated maps..

With security the key consideration for EIA, this was also the time for me to go through each film with a fine toothcomb and ensure that the identity of our undercover Chinese investigator was protected at all times; you’d be amazed at how often somebody’s features can be fleetingly reflected in background mirrors and table tops.

All that remains now is for you to watch the films, and help EIA by spreading the word for others to do the same.

* After the US premiere on Tuesday, the three programmes are due to be broadcast on Nat Geo Wild in other territories, including the UK, later this year – watch our website and blog for details as we learn them.

Paul Newman, Press OfficerPaul Newman

Press Officer


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January is an exciting time of year for me as it is a chance to invest in the latest technology that gives EIA its cutting edge. Now don’t presume I am advocating needless spending, I hate waste and excess as much as any environmentally conscious activist but when it comes to investment it is people I have in mind when spending our hard earned funds.

Our campaigners go to great risk, as one did last year when he strolled into a logging port unaccompanied in Asia, clutching our latest technological wonder. He had in his hand a compact stills camera that records fantastic quality stills and broadcast quality footage in a device that is small enough to fit into his pocket, quickly, if trouble occurs. Our need for people to want to see our message means investing in visuals that attract your attention. The world is moving into High Definition and now we can too, albeit a beat behind, when the prices become affordable. Our evidence and information has always been of such high quality that broadcasters know that when we say we have new information it will not only be ground breaking but it will also be visually engaging. These new campaign tools will ensure we stay at the forefront of media based campaigning.

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010. Credit Paul Redman/EIA

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010.

It is not just EIA I will invest in this month but also in many talented individuals in Tanzania thanks to our funding from the UK Governments Department for International Development (DFID). Buying cheap, small and high quality video cameras, stills cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) means that the voice of rural communities can reach decision makers in the time it takes to send an email. In Tanzania it is not EIA that is doing the telling. It is people like: Elisha Thompson, known as ‘big brother’ he has used the latest gadgets we provided to tell the story of impoverished children in his ‘DREAM’ film now showing at the ‘Un-inhibited Muse Festival‘, or Erica Rugabandana with her film on Loliondo pastoralists that made the Tanzanian government formally recognize the pastoralists’ rights to look after their forest land; or Mwalimi a villager in Southern Tanzania who recorded, with one of our gadgets, the illegal loggers stealing from his ancestral forests resulting in government enforcement. We live in an exciting time when technology for high quality recording becomes affordable to many and the term ‘citizen journalism’ has become a reality.

So if you are heading out into the January sales to stock up on your clothes cupboard or buy that flat screen TV you missed out on at Christmas, stop and think. Perhaps this is the year to carefully invest in a small camera or laptop so you can become a campaigner too and expose the issues that you feel passionately about.

Paul Redman. Credit EIA

Paul Redman

Video Production and Training Co-ordinator

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