NFTS Science & Natural History Students Follow in Footsteps of Sir David Attenborough As They Film At Knepp Estate

Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA students from The National Film and Television School recently ventured down to West Sussex to spend a week shooting the pioneering rewilding project on the 3,500 acre Knepp Estate, led by award winning wildlife cinematographer Paul Stewart.

“One of the most technically difficult skills we need to learn is tracking animals on ‘long lens’. Only after such an intensive week at a place like Knepp could we build the confidence we now have.” Kirsty Slemint, current NFTS Science & Natural History student

The students are working on a module that aims to bridge the gap between the camera and technical skills they have learnt so far on the renowned two-year course, with the storytelling aspect of their upcoming ‘First Year Film’ module. The Knepp Wildland Project turned out to be the perfect destination for filming.

Knepp has become a leading light in the conservation movement and from the moment they arrived, students witnessed the huge range of wildlife that the area has to offer thanks to the project’s extraordinary success.

Since 2001, the land, once intensively farmed, has been devoted to a ground-breaking rewilding project. Using grazing animals as the drivers of habitat creation, and with the restoration of dynamic, natural water courses, Knepp has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. It has produced astonishing successes in a relatively short space of time and extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding there with populations of more common species rocketing. It has also offered solutions for some of our most pressing problems - like soil restoration, flood mitigation and pollinating insects.

“There’s no better way to put your camera skills to the test than under Paul’s guidance, knee deep in mud!” Jaxon Derow, current NFTS Science & Natural History student

The visit to Knepp found our students following in the footsteps of Sir David Attenborough who filmed his recent BBC series Wonder of Song at the estate and heralded the work being done there. The students were fortunate to be led by cinematographer Paul Stewart, cinematographer on stunning natural history titles including Our Planet, Planet Earth and the upcoming Prehistoric Planet on Apple TV+.

"Opportunities like this one at Knepp allow our students to explore and experience diverse environments. It provides them with real-world experience as they learn industry skills to take with them when they graduate and throughout their careers." Daniel Green, current NFTS Science & Natural History student

The Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA at the NFTS aims to give students the skills and expertise needed to pursue a successful career in wildlife filmmaking. Through practical training exercises students learn how to direct and produce entire science and wildlife productions and practice the ability, confidence and knowledge to generate and pitch ideas and formats to commissioning editors.

The National Film and Television School and our students would like to offer a huge thank you to everyone at Knepp for hosting us.

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To find out more about Knepp and the incredible work they do go to: