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V079 Internship and film course
Program contens of the film course and the internship
If you are passionate about wildlife, if you have a desire to learn more about wildlife filmmaking and would like to develop your career as a wildlife filmmaker then this intensive one month course offered by the us is for you - inspire yourself!
The Academy operates a globally unique one month wildlife filmmaking course, in South Africa, developed by international, experienced and award-winning wildlife filmmakers. It seeks to inspire and inform aspiring filmmakers and provide a variety of skills essential to making original and appealing wildlife films.
This course has been designed with you in mind and the following key elements make the course successful:
- A practical filming location shoot in a stunning wildlife game reserve to give you hands on camera experience in Southern Africa.
- Tutorials and lectures developed by renowned wildlife filmmakers and National Geographic Television who know how hard it is to make a start in the wildlife filmmaking industry
- Individual access to editing suites and tutors to enable you to complete your own film at the end of the course which you can use as a promo for a bigger project.
- Specific focus on Business Skills to provide you with an understanding of budgeting, negotiations to enable you to survive long-term in the industry.
- So, Fast-track yourself into the wildlife film industry with the our course that is designed to equip you with all the information you need to succeed.
The Academy accepts students from all over the world. Some of our past students have joined us from the U.K, U.S, Australia, Brazil, Spain and the rest of Europe to take part in the course.
The Academy is based in the city bowl of Cape Town in South Africa, at the foot of Table Mountain in a suburb known as Oranjezicht. The Academy is only 5 minutes drive from the city centre with fantastic shops and restaurants, the Table Mountain cable car station and the beautiful beaches in Camps Bay and Clifton.
The cosmopolitan nature of the city means that there is a diverse range of experiences on offer. From pristine coastlines and a breathtaking countryside offering unique faunal and floral kingdoms, to the many shopping malls, restaurants, jazz cafes, markets, theatres and glitzy casinos and nightclubs.
The Headquarters are based in a large converted house, which has a warm fireplace for the chilly Cape Town winter months and a large garden with a swimming pool and barbeque area for those hot summer months.
Lectures take place within the main lecture room of the house, overlooking the garden. All lectures make use of visual material and there is a TV/VHS/DVD player for viewing purposes. The editing suites are also based at the Academy, and include individual editing points for each student, and a projector and screen for tutorials. There is access to digitizing decks, playback facilities, and the latest editing hardware and software.
Other facilities for your use at the Academy include pc's, internet and email, a film library with the latest wildlife films for you to watch at leisure, and a reading library with the latest journals, magazines and books on wildlife and filmmaking - all available for your use at no extra cost to your course fees.
Delicious home-cooked lunches are served every day, and are included in your course fee. All lecturers are experienced and successful wildlife filmmakers and make use of vastly different filming styles. They use a variety of techniques such as hands-on practicals and the use of wildlife films as case studies. Their combined input helps you to experience the many different facets of the wildlife filmmaking industry. All lectures are interactive and encourage lively debates between the students. Several of the Course Lectures have been specifically designed for the Academy by National Geographic Television based in Washington, U.S.
Before the field trip, you will spend time at the Academy developing your own personal wildlife film story that you wish to film and produce a 5-minute short film from. This will include developing a unique storyline, writing a synopsis and treatment, laying out a storyboard and shot list and developing characters. You will work towards the field trip location shoot in order to capture all the footage you require to complete this film. You will then be taken to a premier game reserve within southern Africa for a week’s location shoot. On this field trip you will be accompanied by an experienced wildlife filmmaker who will act as your tutor, a ranger to locate the wildlife for you and answer your zoological questions, a technical expert to help with camera technology and a logistics assistant to ensure that your trip runs smoothly and everything is to your liking. You will be driven around the reserve in an open top landrover which facilitates filming, with the express purpose of finding the shots you need for your personal film. Examples of past locations that the Academy has taken its students to include: A number of diverse game reserves in the malaria-free Eastern Cape and also a number of lodges in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Game in these places includes lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, antelope, hippos, reptiles, smaller creatures such as mongoose, abundant birdlife and raptors and rare flora.
To make a successful wildlife or natural history film, you need to combine creative and technical camera and editing skills with a good appreciation of animal behaviour, ecological processes, ethics in the natural world and local communities, and some serious business knowledge. The Academy teaches all these areas of expertise and inspires its students to combine these skills in unique and successful ways.
The course is divided into 3 parts and is structured in a logical filmmaking order. The course combines a balance of theory-based lectures making use of visual materials as well as practical fieldwork which includes a location shoot in one of southern Africa's premier game reserves and personalised tutorials in the editing and final audio mix suites.
Part 1: Pre-Production and Lectures at the Academy
Introduction, Orientation and Inspiration:
Gain an overview to the exciting industry of wildlife filmmaking. Who are the key players? What are the current trends in wildlife filmmaking? Get inspired by promos of some of the latest international documentary films to be commissioned. Engage in lively debates about ethics when filming wildlife and communities, and how to get the ultimate shot without overstepping the mark. Learn about the field trip area where you will complete your location shoot, and start thinking about the film you wish to deliver by the end of the course.
What do Commissioning Editors, Broadcasters and Distributors want?
The Academy has an international network of broadcasters and commissioning editors such as National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery Channels as well as freelance and independent producers, distributors and filmmakers. How can you build on and maximise your relationships? What are commissioning editors looking for? How do you present yourself to broadcasters? How do you set up your own production company? How do you know what film to make?
Conceptualising and Pitching:
Where can you find those award-winning stories, how do you tell them in unique ways and what mindset do you need to develop your film in a distinctive way? How do you develop your story from conceptualisation to actually convincing a broadcaster to commission it? You will learn the fundamentals of synopsis and treatment writing and how to do a great pitch. You will deliver your 'open pitch' to a panel of experienced filmmakers who will provide feedback on your style and your concept.
Camera Technology, High Definition, Shot Composition and Lighting:
You will beshown and taught how to handle various camera equipment, from small HDV cameras to large rigs, and all the accessories such as filters and different lenses. You will have much opportunity for hands-on camera practice and be taught the fundamentals of location sound. Through tours to local gear-houses, you will be shown the latest HD technology and lighting.
Soundtracks, Sequencing and an introduction to Shooting for Edit:
It is one thing to point your camera at wildlife and shoot footage but how do you string this footage together into a meaningful sequence that works and makes an impact? Before you head off onto a location shoot, you need to understand the principles of creating a sequence and have an understanding of how to 'shoot to edit'. National Geographic Television have designed a specific lecture to teach you how to put a sequence together. You will be shown how to record location sound as well as how to create the final soundtrack of your film in post-production.
Funding and Budgeting:
Raising funds for a documentary is vital but can be a challenging process. You are shown how to prepare a professional production budget and provided with templates to work with. How do you make a living from your productions? Where do you get the funding from? What equipment do you need to invest in and what do you need to hire? How do you avoid bankruptcy?
Exposure to Key Industry Contracts, Networks and Wildlife Film Festivals:
You will learn about the key international festivals to attend, and how to get yourself known on the international circuit. Making contracts and developing networks is crucial and the course provides you with the necessary contacts you will need to get started. What to expect:
- Lectures start at 9am, finish at 4pm with a 1 hour lunch break at 12pm.
- Lectures are followed by a wildlife film screening every day at the Academy at 4pm of award-winning international films everyday.
- A lot of information in a short amount of time - come prepared for hard work!
- A wide variety of different lecturers and interesting site visits to local gear-houses.
- Complete set of notes
Part 2: Production and Location Shoot
The field trip filming experience takes place at a premier wildlife reserve in southern Africa. All your equipment is provided (camera, tripod and accessories) and you are accompanied by highly experienced wildlife filmmakers.
A logistics representative from the Academy will also be with you to help with any general queries you may have. This is the chance to watch your storyboard come to life.
You will be in close proximity to amazing African wildlife under the expert guidance of your experienced ranger.
The accommodation on location is either in canvas tents or in a lodge depending on the destination for your course, and you are served 3-course meals, three times daily which are ample and delicious. You are taken on at least 2 game drives per day with ample opportunity for walks as well.
The aim of the field trip is to give you hands-on filming experience and for you to accumulate as much footage as you need of your chosen concept from which to compile your final film.
Examples of past locations that the Academy has taken its students to include:
The Eastern Cape, South Africa, the Okavango Delta in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve. Game include lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, antolope, hippos, reptiles, smaller creatures such as mongoose, abundant birdlife and raptors and rare flora.
What to expect:
- Early mornings to film sunrises and late nights to enjoy the nocturnal animals.
- All filming equipment is provided, but bring your own if you prefer. You will be expected to clean the equipment every evening after use and take immaculate care of it..
- Open top vehicles, usually landrovers, with experienced wildlife guide/ranger.
- Game viewing of some of Africa's most charismatic species in close proximity.
- Great food and comfortable accommodation.
Part 3: Post-Production
On returning from the practical location shoot to the Academy in Cape Town with raw footage in hand, you will digitise and then edit your own footage on individually assigned editing suites under the tutorage of post-production experts.
At the end of the editing period, you will have produced a broadcast quality 5 minute short film which will have voice-over narration, soundtracks and final audio mix prepared in a professional audio studio, which you will then present to a panel for constructive feedback to help you improve.
What to expect:
- Never being ready to leave the edit suite!
- Technical glitches as with any good post-production delivery deadline!
- Long hours and frustrations.
- Walking away with a certificate and a DVD of your finished film, glowing with pride!
- Showing your films to other students and an expert panel, and receiving constructive criticism.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any pre-requirements for applicants?
Students attending the course should have a genuine interest in documentary filmmaking and a passion for wildlife, animal behavior, conservation and the environment. No experience or academic qualifications in camera-work or editing are needed. A basic understanding of computers is preferable. All lectures are given in the English language. There are no age restrictions and you should have an open mind and enjoy teamwork. Before the course starts, you will be sent information on your field trip location, and you should start to develop an idea for the 5 minute film, based on southern African wildlife, that you will make during the course.
What equipment is used/provided?
You will be given access to the latest camera equipment, such as the Sony HVR-Z1E HDV cameras, HD technology, large filming rigs such as the Sony D50, tripods, location sound equipment such as Sennheiser 416 rifle mics, the latest editing suites (Apple Mac & Final Cut Pro HD V5). You will also be taken to local gear houses for tours and Q & A sessions to help you understand the equipment that you could choose for your future shoots.
What are the employment prospects?
It depends on the talent and drive of the individual concerned. The course provides an ideal opportunity for aspirant filmmakers to achieve a good grounding in all aspects of wildlife filmmaking which will prove attractive to any potential employer. You will gain the right contacts, training on how to market yourself, and creative skills to develop you in the right direction to make you more suitable for employment in the wildlife filmmaking industry. Several ex-students have been lucky enough to receive funding from NHU AFRICA (Natural History Unit) to produce their own films after the course and have set up production companies.
What industry contacts are available?
The Academy has a vast international network of producers, distributors, freelance filmmakers, broadcasters and their commissioning editors. These contacts are made available to students throughout the course including email addresses and telephone numbers and you are shown how to build and maximise these relationships, find out what broadcast commissioning editors are looking for and how to get known on the international circuit.
How do I organise transport?
Cape Town is a beautiful city to explore but DOES NOT have a reliable or safe public transport service so we advise that you hire a car whilst in Cape Town. The cheapest car hire companies in the city will charge approximately 300 Euro per month.