Meet Our Mentors
The ScreenSkills and Wildscreen Mentorship Scheme is working to make the natural history industry a more diverse and inclusive space by connecting 22 individuals with industry professionals. Supported by ScreenSkills as part of the BFI Future Film Skills programme using funds from the National Lottery, the pilot scheme helps emerging talent to thrive in the world of natural world storytelling and aims to nurture and empower individuals passionate about pursuing a career in natural history filmmaking; allowing them to receive pertinent advice and guidance, gain industry insight, develop skills and resilience and progress in their chosen career.
We have a fantastic cohort of mentors supporting this years mentees, to all of whom we are incredibly grateful for volunteering their time to nurture the next generation of wildlife filmmakers. Meet our wonderful mentors below!
I'm a producer/director with fifteen years’ experience in natural history television, making shows for a variety of broadcasters including Netflix, Nat Geo & Animal Planet. The part of my career I enjoy most is working in the field, and I'm lucky to have been able to film in remote locations around the world from the Arctic to the Amazon. I currently work at Plimsoll Productions in Bristol where I've just finished editing and I'm now supervising the post-production on my latest films, before I start a new project in the autumn.
It's great fun working in wildlife TV, and I'd love to do what I can to help someone looking for their chance to break into the industry. Hopefully my experience can be put to good use!
Amy Thompson is an Assistant Producer, originally from Manchester and now based in Bristol. She has seven years’ experience working on productions for the BBC, Channel 4, PBS and Smithsonian. She is currently working at Silverback Films on an upcoming landmark series for Netflix.
Ashwika is a qualified Science Communicator and an international award-winning Natural History Filmmaker. Having kickstarted her career with a Wildscreen Panda Award for Best Emerging Filmmaker, Ash's time & projects ever since have been split between India, UK and New Zealand. Over the years, Ash has worn many hats: She's worked as a self-shooting Director & Producer, a writer, a narrator, a researcher, a development A.P, a camera-operator and she's recently made a debut as a Natural History TV presenter for CBBC. She has had work experience with companies like BBC NHU, NHNZ, Humble Bee Films, Plimsoll Productions, Silverback Films, Offspring, among others. For the last 3 years, Ash has worked regularly and consistently with Humble Bee Films as an integral part of their development team as well as a self-shooting producer in the field - her most recent show with them being Attenborough's Life in Colour for Netflix and BBC. Ash also takes time out to make conservation films on important environmental stories in India. Aside from filmmaking, Ash is a professional public speaker and an educator. She regularly delivers wildlife & conservation talks to thousands of young people in India & UK, to inspire young minds to discover the wonders of the natural world and encourage them to chase their own dreams. Find out more about Ash's work at www.ashwikakapur.com
"Being a mentor on this program is a great opportunity to give back. I've got where I have because of the generosity of colleagues who have encouraged and guided me on my way. Now it's my turn to be generous and pass the baton on!"
Ben is a DoP specialising in natural history, working across a range of projects from international blue-chip series to small scale digital projects for NGOs. Coming from a photography background Ben is passionate about blending editorial aims with the latest equipment to produce engaging digital imagery. From long lens behavioural work to obs doc and motion controlled macro filming, Ben has experience across a wide range of techniques and equipment.
After studying an undergraduates degree in zoology, then spending a few years working seasonal jobs across The United States and Australia, I realised that I could combine my passions for the natural world and photography by working in television. On return to the UK I studied an MSc in Science Communication before moving to Bristol at the beginning of 2019 to find work as a camera assistant. After a few months of meeting people and learning a little about what was required, I was offered my first job assisting on a Wildstar production in Asia. I spent the next two years freelancing before being offered a shooting researcher role on a brand new production at the BBC Natural History Unit. I’m looking forward to mentoring emerging talent as I think it’s important we create a community that fosters growth and values collaboration so we can tell the best stories possible and play our part in protecting the natural spaces around the world.
I believe mentoring is an important part of any industry, but especially one that can seem so impenetrable as TV. I hope to provide guidance for a diverse range of young and talented storytellers that will hopefully make their way into making great documentaries.
Briony is an Assistant Producer/Director, specialising in wildlife and adventure documentaries. With a background in Anthropology, she’s passionate to tell important stories about the relationship between people and the natural world: something that has taken her from remote islands in the South Pacific to Outer Mongolia. Briony has worked for various broadcasters including the BBC on series such as Tribes, Predators and Me, UKTV on Expedition with Steve Backshall, Nat Geo, Discovery, Channel 4 and, most recently, on a landmark natural history series for Netflix. When she’s not on location or in the office, you’ll most likely find her on a cricket pitch or out hiking with her dog.
Charlotte currently works as Post Production Coordinator at Icon Films in Bristol, assisting the Post Production Manager in overseeing and organising all aspects of the Post Production process. Charlotte’s career path into Film and Television has been rocky at times (working unrelated jobs while gaining voluntary experience, redundancy due to covid) and she is keen to show newcomers to the industry that it is worth sticking to your goals, even if the journey towards them isn’t always as straightforward as education courses would have you believe.
Having found Post Production to be underrepresented during her time at college and university, Charlotte is taking part in the scheme to hopefully increase awareness of the Post process, it’s importance, and why it could be an engaging and exciting area for young emerging talent to work within.
With an unconventional background in Drama and Theatre studies, I'm a researcher who prides myself on telling powerful stories about the natural world. Currently working on a blue-chip series at Silverback Films, but I have previous experience working on low budget and fast turn around shows such as "The One Show".
Jessica Mitchell is a Camerawoman specialising in underwater, macro and timelapse photography. Since graduating from Falmouth University in 2011, Jess has had the opportunity to work on some of the biggest landmark natural history programmes over the past 10 years, most recently being David Attenboroughs Green Planet for the BBC. Career highlights include freediving with Orca and working in Buckingham Palace.
I have over 13 years’ experience working within television and film production. I thrive in setting up complicated shoots around the globe and making sure that it all comes together. I am a great multi-tasker, good with people, well networked and a dedicated team player with a cheerful demeanour.
I have managed numerous natural history documentaries for Smithsonian Networks, Natural Geographic and other international broadcasters. I love researching new locations, species & tec. I am a traveler at heart and get a thrill from setting up international shoots in foreign countries. I have setup complex shoots simultaneously in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Botswana, Namibia, USA, UK, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Zambia, Bahamas, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Argentina,Chile, Russia, Finland, Norway, Central Africa Republic & Gabon. I have vast experience with setting up underwater shoots and from greenlight to final delivery, I am involved in the whole production process.
When I am not busy with production, I assist with archive footage research & sales, film distributions, film festival submissions, development research, film permits and budgeting.
Over the past ten years I have worked in a range of Post Production support roles at the BBC, BBC Studios and Wild Space Productions. In my current role as a Cloud Archive Manager, I am coordinating the migration of the BBC’s Natural History Unit Archive into a new Cloud system to keep it safe and accessible for years to come. I am also passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, Women in STEM and the environment.
I would not be where I am today without great mentors who supported and guided me. Mentoring enables me to pass that on to a new generation of talent. I have mentored a number of people over the years, and have felt very privileged to watch them blossom in their own careers.
Lindsey Parietti is an Assistant Producer with the BBC Natural History Unit where she focuses on environmental impact and human-wildlife storytelling. Her short film Blood Island won a BAFTA Award, a Jackson Wild Award and was a Panda Award finalist in the short film and emerging talent categories in 2018. She went on to turn that film into the observational documentary BBC series Baby Chimp Rescue. The response to the series and outpouring of support from UK viewers helped to build a sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees in Liberia who are victims of poaching and the pet trade.
Mark has worked as a wildlife documentary cameraman for the past 28 years, specialising in long lens camerawork in remote locations. He’s been principal cameraman on numerous landmark productions for the BBC, Netflix, National Geographic, Disney & others. He’s contributed sequences to many other programmes including Planet Earth I & II, Frozen Planet, The Hunt, Our Planet & several DisneyNature feature films.
Awards include 5 Emmys & 2 BAFTAS.
His travels have taken him as far afield as Outer Mongolia, the high Canadian Arctic, Antarctica & most places in between.
He lives on the west coast of Scotland.
Natasha is a Self-shooting Field Producer working for Offspring Films on a landmark natural history series. She has over 10 years’ experience working on both Natural History and Factual series for major UK and US broadcasters.
"I wanted to participate in the scheme because I want to encourage those who are underrepresented in the industry, especially those who are interested in being part of editorial teams and also those who want to self-shoot. It can be a tough industry to get in to."
Sabrina grew up in two worlds; schooling in New Delhi while spending holidays travelling the world, sparking a lifelong interest in wildlife and capturing the stories of others. A Broadcast Hotshot, RTS diversity speaker and a participant on the BBC Rise Diversity Scheme – she knows better than most the complexities of being a BAME member of the TV community. She’s spent over 10 years working in the industry, usually as the only diverse voice in a large team, but never letting that stop her from bringing her unique perspective to every pitch or production.
"I have always wanted to have a mentor, as I wanted to give back to an industry that has helped me realise my passion in life. I also had a brilliant mentor at Renegade Pictures and then BBC who gave me encouragement, guidance and even a kick up the backside sometimes. I'd love to use my experience to help someone too."
Sol is an experienced award winning international sound designer with over 10 years industry experience in sound and 4 years as professional audio engineer creating content for a multitude of platforms.
Susan has been making documentary films for over two decades. Graduating from Baylor University (USA) with a Film & Digital Media Studies degree, she went on to mentor with an ACE editor specializing in documentaries in Washington DC. Cutting for some of the best documentary filmmakers in the states as well as in South Africa, Susan has won numerous awards for her craft, among them four SAFTAs, a Jackson Wild Media Award, as well as five SAB Environmental Media Awards. In 2010 she was awarded the acronym from the South African Editors Guild but shortly afterwards, Susan took the leap into independent documentary filmmaking and started making her own documentaries on wildlife and the environment. Her filming was recognized by Africa Geographic when the magazine named her an ‘Unsung Conservation Hero’ for her work behind the camera and her photography was awarded a commendation at the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.
Susan's first film, ’STROOP - journey into the rhino horn war’ was a four year journey into documenting the rhino poaching crisis where she and her producing partner embedded themselves on the front-lines to show the fight in Africa and the scope of wildlife trafficking in Asia. The film received critical acclaim and was officially selected for 40 film festivals, winning 30 awards while being broadcast and streamed in nearly 100-countries around the globe in 7 languages. She was nominated at Wildscreen in 2020 for her producing and directing on the film. Her second film, the adventure quest ‘Kingdoms of Fire, Ice & Fairy Tales’ premiered at Jackson Wild in 2020 and will be broadcast in 2021.
"I look back at the start of my career in documentary filmmaking as one of hearing my professors at university regularly telling me how oversaturated the market was (and still is I presume!) and that we would need all the luck we could get to make it out there. It was pretty damning stuff knowing that you were heading out into a genre that everyone wanted to be a part of… and passion didn’t enter the equation. So I grabbed every opportunity that presented itself and one of them was a mentorship with an ACE editor in Washington DC. I didn’t want it at first. I didn’t want to sit in a dark room, I wanted of course, to be out in the field! But boy, am I so glad I took that opportunity. I found that I had been graced with the best mentor on the planet. He taught me so much. He guided me in so many things that I still think of and do to this day. He had a graciousness and a joy in sharing his knowledge. And I still call him up for advice! I can never repay him, but in return I try to mentor whenever I get asked and whenever I see a need for it. My time as a mentee was an incredible start to an abundantly joyous career in wildlife/natural history filmmaking… I still wake up every day and wonder ‘how on earth did I get here, I’m so lucky!’. And I know a large part of that was the mentor I had in those early days… so if I can give back a tenth what he gave to me, I’d be happy."
If you are interested in becoming a Wildscreen mentor please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org