Perhaps you're an aspiring Sir David Attenborough, or a fun and bubbly Michaela Strachan... Maybe you are a fearless and adventurous Steve Backshall or prefer for your footage to take centre stage and simply narrate over the top, allowing the music to inspire your viewers. Whatever style of narration you may follow, it's time to bite the bullet and have a go.
It can be a daunting experience to start filming when you have never done it before. Thoughts such as 'perhaps I am not good enough', 'my camera is too old', 'my computer is too slow' or 'I can't edit' may be going through your head, but trust me when I tell you, all of the natural history presenters have been there once before, including me. We all have to start somewhere. Just remember, the sooner you start, the sooner you will improve and the harder you try, the more skilled you will become.
The main thing you need is passion! To be an excellent wildlife filmmaker passion, a love of animals, a respect for nature and a creative mind are all very important. If you have these attributes, then all other filmmaking skills can be self-taught to a certain degree.
When I started, I was only a presenter, that was it! I adored animals and could handle them, but couldn't photograph them particularly well. I certainly could not edit footage and didn't know how to select cameras or any technical equipment. But I am 100% self-taught and very proud to be.
The main thing you need is passion... then everything else can be self-taught.
I decided to focus my films in a particular direction focusing around my passions, which mainly are conservations and wolves. What is your passion? Think about what you truly love, how you can film it easily within your budget and how you can bring it to life for the viewers.
Getting Started On Your Film
Pick an animal or subject you love. If you adore birds, then focus on birds. Perhaps you love to immerse yourself in the world of micro-insects or the slow-motion world of tortoises. Maybe you have a cat that is really interesting to watch or an active pond with some cool aquatic life.
Try and make your film stand out by creating a scene for your chosen subject. For example set it at nighttime, or within an old, historic graveyard. Maybe you are fascinated by the nature existing within an urban, man-made area. Being unique is always good.
You don't have to travel far to exotic places or remote areas to win this competition. A superb story could be played out in your back garden between the snails in the undergrowth or the hares playing in a local field.
Make sure to film with a steady hand. I prefer to use a tripod in order to make sure my shots are smooth and easy on the eye. Get lots of wide shots, close ups and shots of the animals doing things unique to them, such as feeding, their living quarters or interacting with other animals. If you are filming yourself, make sure you are in the frame and take a few cuts. That way you can watch it back and make any amendments.
Finishing Up Your Film
When it comes to editing, try a few easy online programs such as Window's Movie Maker or Apple's Final Cut. If you get stuck, there are lots of online tutorials you can look up which can advise you on editing techniques.
Listen to your music and make sure to edit your clips to fit in with the beats. It can be very powerful to change frames when the beat changes. If the subject matter is small and jumpy, pick some quirky and bouncy music. If you are filming your slow old tortoise, choose slow and low sounding music. This creativity will help you stand out from the crowd.
When doing a voice over, make sure you speak slowly and clearly. Don't stand too close to the microphone or you will hear your 'P's and 'B's pop and not too far that it's too quiet to use on your film.
Stand Out From The Crowd
If you want to present in front of the camera, remember to be engaging. Talk to the camera, like you are chatting to a good friend. The viewers will be able to see your passion and this will draw them in. Be charismatic, but remember to be natural. Be yourself. All of the presenters we know and love on TV today have their own quirks and characteristics. If you are yourself, you will come across as a likeable character. Use a script, but make sure it comes across like you have not memorising it. Talk clearly and pace yourself.
If you are a budding TV presenter or filmmaker then why not have a go in setting up your own online channel.
If you fancy doing something adventurous, why not try and film yourself on a selfie stick with a Go Pro type of camera. You could be trekking through the woods near your house or up a mountain.
The Eden Shorts competition is just the start. If you are a budding TV presenter or filmmaker then why not have a go in setting up your own online channel. You can upload your films there, improve on them and get viewer feedback. You never know, you might hit the big time and find that you have thousands of people subscribing to your channel.
Why not take a look at last year's entries for some inspiration.
You can see which types of films have caught the judge's eye and will have a better idea of how to shape your films. Just remember to keep them nice and short, on the 1 minute marker and film something which you love and really inspires you.
If you are an aspiring wildlife filmmaker and Eden Shorts seems like something you would be interested in then make sure you to get your entries in by the 30th September.