Nina Constable- Wildlife Documentary Filmmaker
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Nina is an award-winning filmmaker from Cornwall, who creates amazing films telling important conservation stories...
Short bio about yourself and your career so far:
I am a self-shooting documentary filmmaker based in Cornwall focussing on telling stories of wildlife conservation from beavers & butterflies to elephants and seagrass, marine and terrestrial. My work has taken me to many amazing places but over the past few years I have been working closer to home telling some of the stories of our UK wildlife. My work spans from online to broadcast producing films for small & large conservation organisations such as butterfly conservation, Cornwall wildlife trust and WWF UK to filming for larger productions for the BBC, Channel 4 and a number of other broadcasts.
How did you get into film making?
Filmmaking began for me when I studied an MA in documentary filmmaking at the University of Bristol, but the conservation side really started during a film internship I undertook in Mozambique for the Marine Megafauna Foundation producing short films on their scientific work looking to protect whale sharks, manta rays and turtles.
Moving to Cornwall after returning back to the UK I got my first small commission with Cornwall wildlife trust and haven’t looked back since!
What does a career in film making entail?
It can be a different thing for many people, depending on whether you work as part of a large production or independently. As I write, direct, shoot and edit it entails it all for me - from the initial concept through to delivery.
It entails a huge amount of research, a lot of asking questions and listening, a lot of organisation and planning, being adaptable and resourceful and a strange schedule when you’re on shoots! As I edit as well it is a lot of time at a computer once the filming is done but this is where it all comes together for me and I love to see the story emerging from the reams of footage I’ve shot over the weeks or months I’ve been filming.
Please highlight a conservation issue you are particularly interested in:
I am interested in any conservation issue that is looking to protect or restore a species or habitat but one particular conservation topic I am that is close to my heart is the wide-spread re-introduction of beavers across the UK and the trickle down positive impact this will have on a whole host of species and habitats. This would also be a huge step in our attitude towards our natural environment where we allow space for nature to return, where we let go of our need to control and tidy an environment and allow nature to shape it in the way it wants to and allow it space to breathe. Having been involved in the Cornwall Beaver Project before beavers were released in 2017 I have seen with my own eyes how these animals can transform a landscape, from an area of land prone to flash flooding to a restored wetland, home to a diverse array of species not seen before and much better able to cope with flooding & drought.
What can people do you help with this issue?
Learn, read, share and support those working towards a future where beavers are a part of our landscape. Talk to people about it, teach them or learn from them, have conservation conversations!
How does wildlife film making contribute to wildlife conservation?
There are many ways in which filmmaking can contribute - whether it’s raising awareness about a species in need of help, helping to generate funds for organisations on the front line needing help to continue their work or helping someone fall in love with a species or a place and consequently want to protect it, each of these are ways that film can reach those that might not otherwise have been reached. Film can also inspire people and inform them in how they can get involved, empowering them to take action. This is something that I see as very important to include in all of my films, giving a call to action so people know how they can help, how they can get involved.
What is your greatest achievement?
Beavers without Borders, a film for Beaver Trust, is currently doing the festival circuit and has won an award and been selected in a number of festivals already, this feels like a huge achievement as it means the film will reach a much wider audience and hopefully have a bigger impact!
What is your favourite species?
Eek! I don’t think I have one! I love them all, even the weird ones!
What advice do you have for people wanting to pursue a career in wildlife film making?
The advice I would give to those wanting to get into the field of filmmaking is to get out there and shoot something on whatever equipment you have to hand, even a phone will do - but always think about the story you are trying to communicate as that is always the most important thing - if you are telling an important story and communicating it well you can produce a powerful film that could have a big impact without having the most expensive gear … And work hard! Working hard and working with integrity can lead to long term working relationships with organisations and to date I continue to work with almost every organisation I have ever produced a film for …
Starting out, I didn’t own any of my camera equipment, I borrowed or hired for the first 2 years, and still today I shoot most of my films on a DSLR with no big camera rig, and the commissions with WWF and broadcast credits goes to show that you can work on big commissions without having the most expensive equipment or being part of a big production team, you just need to get out there and get creative!