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23/03/17 – Richard Brock's response to the BBC's Natural World film Puerto Rico: Island of Enchantment ...
"How excellent to see the lovely film about Puerto Rico which combined so well high quality footage of wildlife, people and conservation. It shows it CAN be done!
The title “Island of Enchantment” tried to avoid the dreaded “gloom and doom” so feared by those in charge (as was the case with the Thailand trio = deliberately misleading about the truth). In Puerto Rico that was actually the strength of the story – so well illustrated with fascinating, dedicated characters – trying to turn Wildlife Losers into Winners (please see my 50+ series on Brockinitiative on Vimeo and YouTube).
There are lots more positive stories out there about the REAL natural world. Surely the famous BBC Natural History Unit and David Attenborough have the responsibility to tell them as they are – not just to please the commissioners?
So, please pass on my congratulations and encouragement to Peter Fison for producing something that will hopefully result in more of the same, especially from the Unit which hardly has a good track record for this kind of positive, truthful production."
Letter sent to Roger Webb, Mike Gunton and Julian Hector at the BBC.
29/01/17 – Conservation: The Bigger Picture?
In the February 2017 edition of Geographical magazine, the cover suggests that the BBC may need a "Reality Check"... They ask, "Do BBC nature docs gloss over the truth in the search for spectable?" Conservation: The Bigger Picture - Almost half of the species featured in BBC's Planet Earth II are listed by the IUCN as being ‘near threatened’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘threatened’ or ‘critically endangered’ thanks to human activity. Laura Cole sits down with three members from the BBC’s Natural History Unit to ask why these threats aren’t directly stated... See: geographical.co.uk/magazine/issues/item/2078-february-2017
Richard Brock says: Of course the BBC Natural History Unit love the record ratings = lots of happy viewers. So is it a win-win? Well, no. Mike Gunton feels that the BBC's arguments for the environment can be found across the full portfolio of its programmes. But he knows the more "truthful" ones get much smaller audiences than the "escapist" ones like Planet Earth II. And most of those viewers are already aware anyway. So, on balance, on Planet Earth II, many more come away "entertained" than "educated". Surely that bodes badly for the planet and its wildlife, and the BBC hierarchy must take responsibility for that. Planet Earth III? Hope not. Famous examples in the past were the leaving-out of the truthful editions in a series, so as not to "depress" the audience!
24/12/16 – What could have been even better on Planet Earth II (not eleven by the way) … and more …
The massive world-famous ecosystem that is the British Broadcasting Corporation was where I worked for 30 years – in the equally famous Natural History Unit, on Life on Earth, The Living Planet and much else. All that time the system remained pretty much the same. Channel controllers, or similar, at the very top of the food chain commissioned more and more “landmark” (=epic) series, with much time, money and particularly David Attenborough (that’s A for alpha). The series were praised particularly for their photography though others on satellite channels had equally dramatic pictures and sometimes better stories, otherwise they are mainly “fang TV” (as seen often in Planet Earth II). Although recently I have seen one-hour films on those channels with not a single human being in sight – apparently untouched wilderness in some of the most heavily human-populated places on the planet, for example – Indonesia. Is that lying?
Planet Earth II could be accused of that too apart from some “token” references to our changing planet. But as we watch the last snow leopards on the planet in the frigid Himalayas from the comfort of the Sunday night at home, perhaps those priceless animals are already extinct. I am not suggesting every wildlife programme has to have the “gloom and doom” that those channel controllers dread, with a fear of a serious loss of ratings. Against the spectrum of wildlife broadcasting, including radio, news and current affairs (ivory, overfishing, climate change), there is certainly room for smash-hits like Planet Earth II. Good for ratings, good for the BBC – value for the licence-payer. But is it yet another example of humans, in this case the BBC system, letting the real world slip by? If so, in the future, questions will be asked of the people behind this deception.
You can see the problem for the broadcasters in Planet Earth – not just the death of baby turtles confused by the lights at the beach in Barbados, but the fact that the viewers don’t like the truth, that’s bad for ratings, and it happens to be our fault.
It’s naïve to think wildlife can benefit much within our cities. The majority are not allowed in, cannot cope anyway. It’s only a few (photogenic?) species that can survive and their days may be numbered – except on the television screen. They need our help.
And perhaps, instead of the traditional “Diaries” last ten minutes, we should see something about the conservation of those plants, animals and places we have been enjoying – albeit vicariously? Rather than self-congratulatory sequences of the adventures of the undoubtedly talented teams.
John Vidal, in a full page article in the Guardian of 19th December 2016. “We are amazed by images of wildlife seen in ever more beautifully filmed natural history documentaries. They raise awareness, entertain, inform and amuse. We weep when we hear there are fewer birds in the sky, or that thousands of species are critically endangered. But there are some metaphorical megafauna that the BBC and we in the media really do not want everyone to see…we avert our eyes and pretend they are not there… We hope they will go away, but they appear to be breeding (a lot). But it is now clear that they are doing so much damage that, unless confronted, there is little chance that the rest of the animals, including us, will survive very long…
…either we can wring our hands and carry on watching ever more gorgeous images of wildlife, and see nature carry on declining… Or we can intervene.”
WATCH: “Wildlife Winners and Losers - How to turn losers into winners” via Brockinitiative on YouTube and Vimeo. Spread the word to help wildlife and the planet. This is how you can help.
07/11/16 – SPECIES, the Third Batch of Wildlife Winners & Losers Films Released!
07/09/16 – Second Batch of Wildlife Winners & Losers Films Released!
The next two sets of films from the Wildlife Winners & Losers are Places/Europe & Places/Tourists... More here!
01/07/16 – Wildlife Winners & Losers film series launched.
The films are being released on Vimeo and YouTube over the coming months in groups of ten entitled "Places”, “Places & Tourists”, “Issues”, “Species” & “Solutions”. The first films, available now, are a mixed bag to whet your appetite!
If you're short on time, watch the promo first and then go on to watch the full film when able! Check out this first:
Chimps and Trees - The extraordinary story of one chimp and a dedicated biologist, from the Congo to Kenya.
For updates on the Winners & Losers film campaign, go here!
The natural world is changing very quickly now. The clock is ticking faster and faster. Some species are winning, some are losing. Many people are trying to help - in some exciting cases wildlife is helping itself. My series "Winners and Losers" looks carefully with well-documented evidence at these changes - past, present and particularly the future. Using previously unseen footage from the recent past we bring the story right up to date and try to look forward as to the winners and losers we might expect - and why. As far as I know, no one has done this so deliberately around the world with so many species and places. In the 60+ shortish films recently finished in 2016 we find many examples of winners, or, at least those trying not to be losers!
10/05/16 – Man with a mission – to help save the planet.
Steve Egginton publishes an article about Richard Brock and the imminent launch of his "Winners and Losers" campaign.. Download the full newsletter here: Mendip Times
The series of sixty conservation films are coming together... See the downloadable pdf with full details below:
09/07/15 – Winners and Losers – How to turn losers into winners.
A series of fifty short or fairly short conservation films which are really different, and positive. They’re about change and will all be completed by the end of this year, 2015. Twenty five are ready now, including wolves, whales, chimps, white storks, River Thames, squirrels, Dubai, sea turtles, butterflies etc. Being filmed this summer is “PLASTIC PERIL”. A wet-wipes story and a beautiful seabird, the fulmar, also known as “the Flying Dustbin”. It’s been a great winner but now may becoming a loser. Filming locations include Yorkshire, Cornwall (see photos of Richard Brock and Mark Grantham) and the Antarctic. But also less exciting locations!
“Just imagine this. You are a wet-wipe (or other small piece of plastic domestic debris). Yes, a wet-wipe – bane of the hidden world of sewage disposal. From your typical domestic habitat – a kitchen or more personal bathroom, you are flushed away down a plumbed pipe (of course from a wet-wipes point of view using the standard wildlife film perspective) into another pipe, this time a living one, and then on to a baby living one. Yes you’ve passed from an ‘innocent’ human home and behaviour into the living insides of two birds many miles away on a sea cliff somewhere, to an adult fulmar petrel and it’s chick. It’s a species with an amazing story which feeds its’ chick by regurgitation (lovely word).
It’s not just wet-wipes but condoms, bottle tops, and now ‘micro beads’, micro-plastics in facial scrubs, toothpastes and shaving foams, now entering the food chain from plankton up to seabirds. Some large companies have pledged to remove them from their products. Others, like Unilever, Aldi and Lidl have, as yet, to agree. They will be looked at and reminded of the damage bad publicity can do to their image. Witness the effect Blackfish had, and still has, on the huge SeaWorld company and it’s disaster with killer whales in captivity. And BP’s expensive oil spill via the US courts because of its’ mess in the Gulf of Mexico.
Films, these days, can have great conservation impact in all media and every time another bad corporation suffers, nature wins a little more.
Plastics turn up in seabirds and also on our beaches, and, via the food chain, through fish for example, right back to that kitchen where the wet-wipe began its’ journey of death and destruction. We look at the all-connecting problems of plastics and pollution at sea, not only in Britain, but across the planet’s oceans to the Plastic Pacific and the Antarctic, eventually returning back up those pipes of the fulmar to our own lifestyles, innocent as they may seem.” Richard Brock, founder of the Brock Initiative.
Richard's films will be released online later this year.
07/04/15 – TurtlesNear Dalyan in Turkey, a big sea turtle event is taking place this April.
Every year, somewhere in the world, about a thousand turtle experts and enthusiasts meet to discuss the present and future of these living dinosaurs- from Angola to Zanzibar.
Richard Brock will join in and film them as an update on "World of Turtles" revealing how turtles are surviving (or not) in some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet.
Can ancient turtles and modern humans mix? Watch this epidode of "Winners and Losers - How to change losers into winnets" and find out!
09/03/15 – Brock Initiative at WhaleFest
Richard Brock, founder of the Brock Initiative, talks about his latest movie “Are Whales Winning” from his new series Winners and Losers.
Just finished an “unfinished” film: “Are whales winning?” for WhaleFest at Brighton, March the 14th and 15th. The reason it’s not finished is that this twenty minute film looks at changes in whale-killing, and whale-watching (worth one billion dollars a year globally. Some ten million people in ninety countries enjoy it). The film will come right up to date in 2015 including WhaleFest, and will follow the continuing controversy about captive dolphins and killer whales at SeaWorld in the USA where a huge corporation is being brought to its knees by the so-called “Blackfish effect”, media exposure of deadly captivity.
01/03/15 – Winners and Losers - A series of 20 minute films for 2015/2016
Richard Brock talking about his new series, which was described as a "great idea" by Sir David Attenborough.
Despite my great age, and after 35 years with BBC Natural History Unit (David Attenborough - Life on Earth, The Living Planet etc ), this is not a trawl through my wildlife/human conservation footage since. Rather, I believe it provides unusual well-documented stories of change leading to new material and suggesting solutions for the future of wildlife, people and the planet. Updates reveal some encouraging efforts and results across a wide range of species, habitats, and issues. Many of the issues are also challenges which the younger generation may face and even overcome.
With the possible advantage of hindsight and understanding change, why and how this series "Winners and Losers" may really help change losers into winners, will show the truth from then to now and next, illustrated dramatically in exciting short stories on an extraordinary variety of over thirty stand-alone episodes - and increasing all the time!
The first four films from about thirty to be produced by the end of this year are: Wolves across Europe (man and predators); Chimps (deforestation and bushmeat); Butterflies across Europe (climate change) and Whales worldwide - in time for WhaleFest in Brighton, March 14th/15th.
Richard's films will be released online later this year.
01/12/14 – Is Dubai Doomed? Update.
Between now (December 1st to 12th) and soon then next U.N. major conference on Climate Change will take place in Lima, Peru. The Climate crunch is due to happen in Paris at the end of next year, 2015.
If you want to see the way the planet is going, watch, and listen to, the very latest update in Is Dubai Doomed? (two versions: 8 mins and 43 mins). All the warnings are there – Climate Change, pollution, rampant greed and consumerism, and especially Sea Level Rise.
Will those famous man-made islands like the Palm Jumeirah and The World disappear beneath the waves, as is happening now around the planet? Doom indeed for not only Dubai, but the real world we all share.
Or could there be a more happy ending?
12/11/14 – Now you see it, now you don’t.
I have this vision of sometime in the future (when?) millions of people around the world will be gazing at apparently limitless wildlife on their TVs (4K plus? How much further will it go?), with amazing sound, on huge screens and in personal home cinemas. Meanwhile the rest of the planet is more or less devoid of wild, wildlife and wild, wild places.
Disney will be using entirely tame or captive animals – yet more polar bear cubs in zoos (see Frozen Planet). “Intrepid” cameramen will venture into the last remnants of wilderness and bring back unique (the last?) immaculate glimpses of endangered species and habitats – as seen at the end of each still-amazing but predictable, hugely expensive, and, most importantly, totally misleading content about the real wild world that survives, just beyond those millions of super-duper screens.
Why can’t they really show, and tell, the truth? And they need to do that much sooner than anytime later.
Imagine how surprised the viewers will be when they do find that there’s nothing left.
Contact Richard with your comment: email@example.com
23/10/14 – The Discovery People and Nature Wildscreen Festival Panda Award goes to: Bat Man of Mexico
On this particular "brilliant win", Richard Brock says this: "Isn't Green Chip better than Blue Chip - if you have to choose? It ought to be, the way things are going. Let's see more like this Discovery (AKA Panda) Award winner (= green chip) and perhaps less of escapist, very expensive, predictable and the traditional (= blue chip)."
9/9/14 – Are you tired of Climate Change? Do you care about Sea Level Rise? Are you part of Public Fatigue about all this?
Well, see Is Dubai Doomed?, a short (8 mins) very different look at the famous (and infamous) place that could bring those questions home to you. If anywhere shows the warning signs, it's Dubai. And with a major U.N. Conference on Climate Change coming up in New York from September 23rd this year, and in Paris next year, Dubai will be in the spotlight for all to see... if it really is doomed?
24/8/14 – We shed a tear for Crusoe, the lonely baboon, then blithely destroy a species by Camilla Cavendish
17/8/14 – Discovery's Sponsorship of the Wildscreen Festival – An open letter to the wildlife film-making industry from Richard Brock
Wildscreen says its’ “Principal Sponsor” is Discovery. Have you followed the despicable portrayals by Discovery with its’ sensational, inaccurate showings of wolves in “Man-eating Super Wolves” (see: www.wildlife-film.com/features/Richard-Brock-The-Demonising-of-Wolves-by-Animal-Planet-220714.html) and sharks in Shark Week (see: www.oregonlive.com/movies/index.ssf/2014/08/the_dark_side_of_shark_week_af.html)? This is simply to attract ratings at the expense of these already maligned creatures. I suggest you boycott Wildscreen this October if you disapprove of Discovery’s rotten record – as a protest. Is this sponsorship the broadcasters desperate attempt to buy respect for a trashed reputation? It degrades Wildscreen too for taking the money – all that seems to count. Not the wolves or sharks.
Contact Richard with your opinion: firstname.lastname@example.org
14/8/14 – The campaign may be winning! The "Blackfish" Effect
It appears that due to the sucess of media and film, the tide is turning in the war against animal cruelty, over-exploitation and misrepresentation.
China takes shark fin soup off the menu
New survey shows an 82 per cent fall in sales of shark fin after a ban at government banquets and a celebrity media campaign. Shark fin soup, one of China's most famous dishes, has fallen dramatically out of fashion after a high-profile campaign by anti-cruelty activists. Wealthy Chinese have supped on shark fin soup, a gelatinous broth, since the Ming dynasty; it is a staple at wedding banquets and other special events. But younger Chinese are now firmly rejecting the dish after an advertising campaign fronted by Yao Ming, the former basketball star. The trade in shark fins in Guangzhou, the southern hub of the industry, has fallen by 82 per cent in the past two years according to WildAid, the US group behind the campaign. It added 85 per cent of Chinese diners surveyed online said they had given up shark fin soup in the past three years. Two dozen airlines and five of the biggest hotel groups have also taken it off the menu. Read more here: www.telegraph.co.uk
Shark fin imports to world’s biggest market drop by third
Hong Kong - The volume of shark fin products imported into the city of Hong Kong in 2013 dropped by 34.7 percent, according to government data analysed by WWF. Statistics show that there was also a significant decline in the number of shark fins re-exported from Hong Kong to other locations. Viet Nam overtook mainland China as the top destination for fins leaving Hong Kong, the city which accounts for over half of the global trade volume. While it is not illegal to consume shark fin in most places, many shark species are being hunted at highly unsustainable rates putting their futures at risk. Recent trends indicate that shark fin, once perceived as a delicacy or an essential part of dinner banquets, may be no longer as socially acceptable as it once was. WWF has made significant progress in convincing caterers like hotel chains, and transporters like airlines, to stop carrying shark fins. Additionally, the Chinese government has banned shark fin at official state functions, which may be impacting demand for fins. Famous Hong Kong wedding planner Tim Lau says, “Shark-free banquets have become more popular over the past two years. At least 20 per cent more wedding couples now choose shark-free banquets.” As of this month, 116 caterers have joined WWF’s Alternative Shark Free Menu programme and168 corporations have taken the No Shark Fin Corporate Pledge. Visit: wwf.panda.org
And this is despite Discovery's Shark Week!
SeaWorld shares sink amid concerns over killer whale displays
Shares in SeaWorld plummeted in New York trading after the American marine theme park operator admitted animal rights protests had hit visitor numbers in the second quarter. The stock plunged more than 30 per cent on Wednesday as the company revealed it expects full year revenue to fall by up to 7 per cent, citing the "recent media attention" derived from a California bill proposal seeking to end killer whale shows at SeaWorld. Last year, Democrat Richard Bloom introduced the bill after watching Blackfish, a documentary exploring the death of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, who died after a 12,000-pound orca known as Tilikum pulled her underwater at SeaWorld in Florida. The documentary, watched by more than 20 million people after it aired on CNN in the US last year, raised concerns about the treatment of killer waves in captivity at tourist attractions and argued that Tilikum's violent behaviour was the result of abuse and harassment. SeaWorld dismissed the documentary as "inaccurate and misleading". Read more here: http://www.independent.co.uk
So, Blackfish really is a film that has made a difference! Proof that a big corporation can be hit.
... laughing all the way to the bank!
The Demonising of Wolves by Animal Planet
The wolf has had a bad press ever since the Little Red Riding Hood story broke…
Except on 21st July 2014 Discovery’s Animal Planet showed that same wolf program at 10pm in Britain. And where else on world TV will they continue to desecrate wild animals in this way?
I watched it and here are some comments: … Based entirely on a false premise of there being insufficient natural prey causing wolves to attack humans. Not so… Claimed to be a “Special” = especially bad for the wolf… Huge exaggeration of a few selected over-dramatised cases (apparently)… Grotesque (undisclosed) reconstructions, unconvincingly, peppered with sub-standard amateur footage of snarling wolves… Endless, relentless “fang TV”… Frequent “deadly”, with emotive music stimulating American predilection for attack and aggression… Will do as much harm to wolves as Jaws has done to sharks, what the Benchley’s so regretted, as, surely, Animal Planet will, in this production which degrades the producers, the cameramen and all the wretched team that made it.
I have made several films on wolves, as they are. For the BBC Natural History Unit, we made The Wolf Saga about the last female (with pups) killed in Sweden. Since then numbers have increased by helping farmers and educating the public. The situation is still very bad in next-door Norway whose farmers lose hundreds of sheep in the winter weather, but if one wolf kills one, probably dying, sheep, that wolf brings out the worse primitive revenge from a country considered to be very civilised. Animal Planet’s Man-Eating Super Wolves will only inflame that attitude if their very misleading lie is shown there. Since leaving the BBC, I’ve filmed Wolves across Europe – from Portugal and Spain to France and Italy, on eastwards to Scandinavia, Estonia and Russia. Apart from the wretched Norwegians, and despite despicable Animal Planet, wolves are now being accepted in nearly every European country. Indeed, they are seen as a tourist attraction in countries that need that income, such as Romania, a stronghold of wolves and bears in Europe. I also filmed there.
If Animal Planet gets a People’s Award at Wildscreen this year, it should be for the most obscene two-faced (self-censored) and anti-wildlife show ever seen on world television.
Is Dubai Doomed? trailer, the latest film from Richard Brock.
This film takes an unusual look at the world famous city of Dubai, apparently unstoppable in its growth. This is certainly not a typical travelogue and includes some testing questions to its leaders about its future from a ecological point of view. Consumption of natural resources is a focus, combining smuggling, fisheries, trade, tourism, oil, flamingos, and changing marine life on a massive scale. Has Dubai gone too far? We offer solutions as climate change and sea level rise could prove to be crucial to a currently confident city which seems to defy the laws of nature. So far.
11/02/14 – The latest film from Richard Brock: I was a Dog in Isiolo
The Chinese, Roads, Steam, Rhinos, Elephants and Ivory.
The latest about the greatest wildlife threat of our time.
Urgent and unusual, this short film tracks the trail of illegal elephant ivory and rhino horn and searches for solutions from Richard Brock. Sadly, one truth about important and negative news stories is that, as the media continues to report them, they have a decreasing impact, verging on rejection. So called “fatigue”. A classic example is climate change. It is, also, I believe, true of the elephant ivory and rhino horn tragedies that the public are so used to hearing or seeing about that they are increasingly dismissed… “Oh, I know about that. Isn’t it terrible” And on the next, new, story. So I made “I was a dog in Isiolo” in an effort to overcome that elephant and rhino fatigue. However many statistics you ventilate, however many mauled elephant or rhinos you show (and many people don’t want to see those anyway), the information is diluted in the flood of today’s media. “Dog” tries to overcome this. By tracking “The Chinese Connection” where dogs are eaten in Isiolo in northern Kenya, we follow Chinese road builders north where they move from dogs to elephants, not to eat but to steal their tusks – ivory. Illegal poaching is bringing Kenya’s elephants to their knees. Not only the elephants will suffer but also Kenya’s vital tourism trade, as the wildlife is stolen by Chinese greed. All over Africa “The Chinese Connection” is from Angola to Zimbabwe raping the resources in the name of ‘progress’.
"May I please draw your attention to this short film linked to the London Wildlife Conference this February on the illegal trade in wildlife, and possible solutions in the future? Please circulate, distribute and pass on the contents to help, in particular, elephants and rhinos. Because they really need it. Just think how the Chinese would react if Africans started stealing their beloved pandas, which are protected by the death penalty!" Richard Brock (Email: email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org)
New film by Richard Brock completed: Can we Save the Red?
We are very fond of our native red squirrel, part of our culture, part of our countryside. But how long will they be with us? Much is working against them, including the introduced tougher non-native grey squirrel, which carries a disease that kills reds but not the greys themselves. And there’s traffic, cats, lack of suitable woodland. Read more on our 'Films' page...
Can we Save the Red? will be shown at the National and International Perspectives on Red Squirrel Conservation - 2013 National Conference on Friday the 19th of April 2013, where Richard will be present to discuss.