Spring 2014 Update: A New Idea for a New Year

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I know it’s been a while since I posted anything on here, and that’s partly due to me not having anything worthwhile to post and partly due to my own laziness. But, I have decided to make a conscious effort to change my ways and become a much more regular blogger so be ready for much more frequent updates (I’m planning to at least do one every week from now on) on what I’m doing in order to begin a career in natural history film-making.

Since my last post from China, the one thing worth mentioning that I did do to contribute to my career is that I did sort of try and make a film. I say “sort of”, because I didn’t actually get around to filming, but that wasn’t really my fault. I’ll explain. While I was training Kung Fu, I came to learn that a lot of the different moves, particularly in the more traditional styles, have names that are more often than not related to specific animal behaviours. While performing “chicken stands on one leg” and “the tiger flicks its tail” I thought about the specific animal styles of Kung Fu that are fairly well known in contemporary Western culture, having been popularised by films such as Kung Fu Panda. What was it that the old masters created the styles from? Was it observation of genuine agressive behaviours in animals that inspired these styles? Or did they create styles based on symbolism and personification of the animals?

And so I set about researching some of the animal styles and comparing them to the way the real animals fight, which is the premise for my idea. I discovered that some of the styles – for example Praying Mantis – copied the body mechanics of their natural counterparts, whereas others appear more to capture the “spirit” of the animal, for example the fierceness of the Tiger. I decided that my film should be presenter-led, and should include interviews with masters about their styles, performances of those styles, as well as footage of the animals themselves fighting – perhaps even showing some if this footage to the masters and asking them to talk about which elements of what they see are reflected in the Kung Fu.

While researching which animals were available to me I was told that Praying Mantis come out around September in Fujian province. Having just started to learn some Praying Mantis style myself, I thought this would be the perfect place to start – I would have access to the expert as well as the animal, so filming should be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, both of my current teachers at the school left in early September before I had seen any real Praying Mantises. And if that wasn’t enough, I had some visa troubles which meant that I couldn’t stay in China long after anyway. I took it as a sign, so after months of hard training I decided I had earnt a holiday and went to volunteer with the Giant Pandas in Bifengxia, near Chengdu, Sichuan province (see Photos page).

Anyway, although I had to leave the idea is still there, so hopefully one day I’ll go back to China and see the idea through. In the meantime, I have something else to focus on: on 25th April I have an interview for a place at UWE to study for a Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking, which if I manage to secure a place would be an incredible opportunity. Run in partnership with the BBC NHU in Bristol, the degree should not only equip me with the skills I need to make my own film, but also provide me with a few networking opportunities and allow me to slip a few CVs on a few people’s desks! Right, I’m off to do some more preparation for my interview. Heres a short video from UWE about the course and the wildlife filmmaking industry…

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