Film title decided and trailer up

Battle in the bush is the title for my new documentary which will be finished in the coming months. In addition, the trailer for the film is live and you can check it out here - https://vimeo.com/123903967

The film is about the role that Australia's native predators may play in helping to curb the extinction threats posed to native mammals by foxes and cats. UNSW Australia has been doing a great job of sharing updates about the film on Twitter and online (https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/battle-bush-%E2%80%93-trailer).

Battle in the bush is sponsored in part by UNSW's Centre for Ecosystem Science, Rewilding Australia and Australian Dingo Foundation. In addition, a Pozible campaign towards the end of the production phase helped raise enough funds to finish shooting, especially in Tasmania. 

This shows how useful the crowd-funding platform can be to assist with conservation efforts and also how keen many in the wider community are to contribute to conservation initiatives such as this documentary.

The next phase is to finish the edit and finalise a premiere for mid-June. 

Filming begins in Tassie

Greetings from Tassie. 

I flew into sunny Hobart on the 24th of January around noon and went straight to the beach to cool off - it was actually pretty hot. After grabbing something to eat at the Salamanca markets and organising a hostel I began to get ready for the following day.

I left Hobart at first light and headed for the north-west where I would attempt to film wild devils. Along the way I collected footage of the some incredible landscapes. My destination wasn’t too far from Wynyard and I was happy to arrive after a long drive. I’d collected a road kill wallaby which I would use as bait for the devils. Setting up took four hours as I dragged the carcass all over to leave scent markings back to its resting point about 15 meters from my hide. My filming location was exactly what I’d needed, a piece of pristine forest on farm fringe. From everyone I had spoken to these were the qualities of prime devil habitat. Not to mention I was in the north-west, an area where the facial tumour disease had not yet reached.

Testing out the hide

This sequence will play a key part in the film and only wild devils would do. I'd just finished watching an excellent documentary that was filmed about Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo. An American film crew followed him as he made his fictional film about a rubber barron in the Amazon who needed to pull an enormous cruise ship over a mountain. That's more or less the crux and Fitzcarraldo is an excellent film for anyone curious about Werner Herzog. Anyway, during the making of the Fitzcarraldo, Herzog had a cast including Mick Jagger, Klaus Kinski among others, and he insisted on travelling 1000 miles into the depths of the Amazon to film despite the jungle near a major settlement looking almost exactly the same. Filming close by would allow access to airports, food, hotels, hospital, etc. Despite the best advice from funders and government officials, Herzog insisted the film must be filmed as remote as possible because it would bring out qualities in the actors and a feeling in the film that could not be achieved if creature comforts were available. Anyway, although being in the north-west of Tassie is not the same as being 1000 miles inside the Amazon the idea is the same. Filming captive devils and then retreating to my hostel at night would not suffice. I wanted to spend time setting up, being filthy, reeking of dead wallaby, barely sleeping and still not knowing if I would get the shot. This is my escape from the city, from structure and comfort and I love it!

I spent from 7pm to 3:30am alert and ready to shoot and the wait was filled with so much excitement and anticipation. To be sitting in the Tasmanian bush waiting to lure devils out of the scrub and in front of the lens was such a romantic and long-held dream of mine. Did it come true? You’ll have to find out.

The Central Plateau is one incredible area


I’m back in Hobart today and I spent last night in Mt. Field National Park. I arrived quite late but managed to capture quite a lot of footage along the way. I’m hoping to start meeting up with experts from today to film some interviews. Looking forward to updating again towards the end of trip next Wednesday. Plenty more to do in the meantime. Thanks again for your kind donations which have made this trip possible. 

Cheers, 
Dan

Devil research on ABC

Last year I was fortunate enough to be a part of ABC Radio National's Science Show hosted by Robyn Williams. The focus of my time on the show was about my research on bringing devils back up to the mainland. Specifically, we've been using mathematical models, filled with ecological data, to predict the ecosystem effects of introducing devils to areas where dingoes have been removed. 

Devils are facing a very real extinction threat from the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) so establishing a wild, disease-free colony on the mainland may be one way to mitigate devil extinction. However, progress must only proceed with extreme caution. Before any free-ranging release takes place, comprehensive and long-term captive trials are going to be crucial to understand the effects of devils mainland ecosystems. 

You can hear the piece via this link -

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/devils-on-the-mainland-promise-to-control-foxes2c-cats2c-savi/5987756

Pozible campaign funded!

It took less than one week for the campaign for the Pozible campaign on the role of predators in forests to become fully funded! Thank you to everyone who donated, your support was overwhelming and I am extremely grateful. I'm now preparing to head over to Tasmania to shoot the remaining sequences for the film. From there I hope to wrap up the editing in February and March in time for an April finish. 

Crowd-funding is an incredible resource for independent filmmakers and science communicators and I urge anyone interested in sharing an interesting story via the film medium to give it a go. 

Cheers, Dan

New Pozible campaign launched

Last night I added the finishing touches to the 'role of predators in forests' campaign to support my latest documentary production.

It's now less than 24 hours since the campaign went live and already almost 50% of the funds have been raised! I'm extremely grateful for the generosity that people have shown the project. I believe this reflects the seriousness of the crisis facing native mammals and the value that many people place on our native species. If you've supported, shared, retweeted, liked or just wished the project well then MUCHAS GRACIAS!

I'm looking forward to seeing how the project fares over the next week or so.

Please continue to spread the word. Thanks again.

http://www.pozible.com/project/188725

DO