NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA students recently experienced filming wild birds at an RSPB Reserve in Sandwell Valley from putting up hides to using telephoto lenses.

The MA is delivered in partnership with the RSPB and includes a Scholarship to support a student through their course. The RSPB is working closely with the NFTS to inspire a new generation of filmmaking talent equipped to create engaging and innovative content that champions the charity’s conservation cause  by reaching new audiences through new and impactful visual communications. 

The students spent a long and productive day at the Sandwell Valley Reserve. It started with a talk on the ethics of wildlife film-making by conservation filmmaker, Madelaine Westwood, which stimulated a fascinating discussion. The students then practiced their recce skills working out where would be best to film the wild birds on the reserve.

After lunch, wildlife cameraman, Toby Hough gave a talk on telephoto camera work and the use of hides. There were plenty of questions from the students about this essential skill, not least what do you do in the little canvas box for 12 hours at a time?!  Appropriately the day finished with all the students learning the arcane skill of putting up hides.

On the second visit, the students returned to film from the hides and found out for themselves what it’s like to film wild animals from the little green box. They used 400mm telephoto lenses with 1.5 teleconverters which allowed them to get great close-ups of the ducks, geese and lapwings, and even some of the more shy denizens of the reed beds.

NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA course leader and experienced producer of wildlife documentaries and series, Paul Reddish said: “We would like to thank the RSPB for providing such an invaluable opportunity for our students to learn how to film for real at the reserve. They have all really enjoyed the experience and are inspired to learn more.”

If you are an aspiring wildlife filmmaker, sign up for the course open day on the 23rd April 2018 at