Richard Brock studied zoology and botany at Cambridge University and upon graduation joined the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. He worked in the BBC NHU for 35 years producing, among others, the highly successful Life on Earth and Living Planet series, collaborating with David Attenborough and gaining international recognition as an accomplished producer. Concerned by the Corporation’s lack of willingness to address the real current state of the environment however, he left the BBC and started his own independent production company, Living Planet Productions.
“These days it’s simply not good enough to use the old response, ‘If people know about it they’ll care for it and do something.’ Wrong. They’ll just go on being conned that it’s all perfect out there, with endless jungles, immaculate Masai Mara’s, and untouched oceans. What planet are they on about?”
Living Planet Productions has made over 100 films on a wide range of environmental topics, shown all over the world. As his archive of films and footage mounted up, Richard felt that there was something more, better, that could be done with this resource.
“When you consider the miles of footage and thousands of programs sitting in vaults out there unused, it seems tragic that the very wonders they celebrate are dwindling, often because no one tells the locals and tries to help. That is why I believe its Payback Time for the wildlife television.”
Determined to make a difference, he decided to set up the Brock Initiative, to use his archive of footage, and to ask others to do the same, to create new programs, not made for a general TV audience, but made for those who are really connected to the situation in hand: local communities, decision makers, even that one fisherman who uses dynamite fishing over that one coral reef. Its about reaching those who have a direct impact; reaching those who can make the difference.
“Showing the truth on some minority channel is not the answer. Showing it where it counts, is. It does not have to be expensive either. In fact it can be very cheap. These are not programs for broadcast to western audiences demanding BIG productions – you are often showing films to people who have never even seen TV. The effort comes in showing the right thing, to the right people, in the right way, and not about expensive effects, top quality cameras or cutting edge effects. Using donated archive footage cuts costs dramatically. New footage, important for putting a film in a local context, can be taken on small miniDV cameras and editing can be done on any home computer. In this way, it becomes feasible to put together a film even for a very small, but crucial audience.”
The Brock Initiative has successfully completed numerous projects in different countries. Aside from making a real difference in these areas the Brock Initiative hopes to encourage and assist others, both film-makers and those who can use film in their work, to do the same. It invites others to follow suit, to learn from our mistakes and success, to donate footage to us, to ask for footage from us; getting it to those who will really benefit from it. Using footage for a production for one village in Tanzania is not going to affect the commercial use of that footage, and can only improve people’s image, in a world increasingly aware about global responsibility.
“The very business that made such a success of the subject, surely, should now put something (I suggest a lot) back. It can’t afford not to, and they can afford to do it. And it would improve certain people’s image.”
Film is a powerful medium. In the right place and in the right way, film can be positive and effective conservation tool, instigating real change. This is something anyone can do, and many people should be doing. It doesn’t cost the world, but will go a long way to saving it.
“Not only must wildlife TV catch up, be realistic, it must also put a lot back with the very skills and footage that earned its success in the first place.”
Richard is a tireless conservation film maker who is making a real and tangible difference to the many causes he cares about whilst encouraging others to do the same. His passion for taking media where it will have the most impact is exemplary.
FFC Filmmaker of the Year – 2006
Living Planet Productions
Dumpers Cottage, Chew Magna, Bristol BS40 8SS, UK
Telephone: +44(0)1275 333187
By Jason Peters