Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Planet before Profit - Climate change films

Some of you may remember a discussion surrounding locked up rights to filming output that took place here last year.

Nalaka Gunawardene writes again about the importance of filmmakers putting planet before profit at SciDevNet:

Films and television programmes about climate change should be made freely available beyond their initial broadcast.

Films and television programmes about climate change should be designated a 'copyright free zone'.

This was the call made by broadcasters and independent film-makers at an Asian media workshop held in Tokyo last month (October).

For years, broadcasters have dutifully reported on evolving scientific and political aspects of climate change. They have also made or carried excellent documentaries analysing causes of, and solutions to, the problem. But these are often not widely available, because of tight copyright restrictions.

Limited distribution

Most media companies hang on to their products for years, sometimes long after they have recovered their full investment.

Even when film-makers or producers themselves want their creations to circulate beyond broadcasts, company policies get in the way. In large broadcast or film production companies, lawyers and accountants — not journalists or producers — decide how and where content is distributed.

It isn't just climate-related films that are locked up with copyright restrictions. Every year, hundreds of television programmes or video films — many supported by public, corporate or philanthropic funds — are made on a variety of development and conservation topics.

These are typically aired once, twice or at best a few times and then relegated to a shelf somewhere. A few may be released on DVD or adapted for online use. But the majority goes into archival 'black holes', from where they might never emerge again.

Yet most of these films have a long shelf life and could serve multiple secondary uses outside the broadcast industry.

Beyond broadcast

Communicating the need for social change is a slow, incremental process. Broadcasts can flag important issues, but real engagement happens in classrooms, training centres and other small groups where screenings stir up deeper discussions. Combining broadcast and 'narrowcast' outreach vastly increases the chances of changing people's attitudes and, ultimately, their behaviour.

But if moving images are to play a decisive role in the climate debate, television programmes and video films on the subject need to be more freely available, accessible and useable, as argued at the Tokyo workshop.

Read the entire article at SciDevNet here. Many thanks to Nalaka Gunawardene for bringing this issue to the public eye.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Secret Life of Elephants

Starting tonight at 9pm on BBC1, The Secret Life of Elephants follows the ins and outs of life and indeed death in the Kenyan Samburu reserve. Followed closely by four kenyans including Iain and Saba Dougla-Hamilton, newborn Breeze will face the most vulnerable time of her life whilst three tonne Anastasia will try her hardest to avoid acquiring a new piece of jewellery.

This three part series promises to be fascinating, emotional and dramatic, not least if Saba Douglas-Hamilton's blog is anything to go by! Elephants are thought to hold many emotions to which we can relate, including love, lust, jealousy, fear and anger, all of which will play a part in tonight's programme.

The Secret Life of Elephants hopes to open the world's eyes to the amazing work of the Save The Elephants research team.

The Secret Life of Elephants will be broadcast on BBC1 at 9pm on the 14th, 21st and 28th of January, and was produced by Holly Spearing (series producer: Nigel Pope). Episodes will be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for one week following broadcast.
You can also pre-order your DVD of The Secret Life of Elephants at the BBCShop online.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Radio 4's Darwin: In our Time

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Origin of Species', the BBC is airing a season of landmark TV and radio programmes under the title Darwin: The genius of evolution.

This week Radio 4 presents the series Darwin: In our Time which began today with the first programme On the Origin of Charles Darwin. Melvyn Bragg talks to Darwin biographer Jim Moore, UCL geneticist Steve Jones and Christ's College fellow David Norman, as well as college librarian Colin Higgins; to uncover Darwin's personal evolution from childhood through to Cambridge graduate.

The first in this series leads us through Darwin's troubled upbringing as the fifth child of a large and well-off family, to his escape from Edinburgh University after failing a medical degree, and on to his life at Cambridge training to be a clergyman, where he would be seemingly unimpressive at his studies.

Darwin entered Cambridge with every intention of becoming a clergyman of the Church of England, which would necessitate his signing of the 39 articles of the Church in order to graduate. Biology at this time was not much more than stamp collecting, and Darwin's beetle collection was one he took great pride in.
We learn of Darwin's development from mere beetle-watcher to entemologist to theoreticist; all while he takes on University life: tapping into his father's wallet, running up bills and skipping lectures to pursue vices such as drinking and shooting.

The Christ's College library gives us insight into his personal growth through a vast collection of correspondances between Darwin and his close friend and cousin William Darwin Fox. We hear too of Darwin's university role-model, Professor Henslow, who introduced Darwin to plants and “Ecology” and opened his eyes to the presence of patterns in nature.

The programme also takes a geographical perspective leading the presenters and listener around the common haunts of Darwin's student life.

The Darwin: In our Time series promises to be a fascinating journey through what was a very difficult time for such revolutionary ideas.

The next in this series will see Darwin journey to South America on the Beagle voyage and will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 9am on Tuesday 6th January.

You can listen to Darwin: In Our Time: On the Origin of Charles Darwin online with the BBC iPlayer until next Monday, and further programmes in the series will also be available on the iPlayer over the next few weeks.

One to watch: Darwin's Struggle: The Evolution of the Origin of Species will be showing on BBC4 at 9pm on 2nd February. Produced by Jeremy Bristow of the BBC Natural History Unit.
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