This course will focus on the Highlands of Scotland, Focusing on Rannoch Moor, Glen Etive, Glencoe & Benn Nevis. The overall production will follow a ‘presenter’ in a sea kayak paddling up the whole length of the west coast of Scotland. Utilising a sea kayak will give us unprecedented access to all things wildlife as well as some extremely picturesque locations. The advantage of filming a journey in sea kayak is we will be able to film both on, and underneath the water, as well as on the land and from the air. The final film produced will make up program 3 of a 6 part wildlife/travel documentary series.
Ric Swift (The course instructor) is a very accomplished sea kayaker. It is now 25 years since he undertook a 3600+ mile journey to be ‘The first person to paddle a sea kayak, solo, unsupported around the whole of the British Isles’ for which he gained a Guinness World Record for being the first person to paddle from John o’ Groats to Lands End solo, unsupported in a sea kayak. (1365 miles)
Please Note – As a Wildlife Film School student, you do not need to have any experience in paddling a sea kayak to attend any of our 2024 courses, as you WILL NOT be paddling a sea kayak as part of your course.
The course will cover four individual areas of the Scottish Highlands. We will start at Rannock Moor, a high and windswept area famous for its rugged natural beauty and awe-inspiring views. From here we will more to Glen Etive, a very emotive part of the Highlands with such fantastic land forms as Buachaille Etive Moor and Black Water Dam.
From Glen Etive we will proceed west into the world famous Glencoe. Mountainous and rugged this area is a very romantic Scottish location featuring in many films and television series. After working in Glencoe we will head to the Benn Nevis Range. Benn Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland, awe-inspiring, rugged, windswept and very hard work, it will make a natural finally to this section of our overall production series.
The course will end after our visit to Benn Nevis area back in Fort William, unless you are accompanying on the next section of our journey around on the Isle of Mull.
I may seem strange for us to venture so far inland to film part of series that is focusing mainly on the coastline of Scotland. However to us, it seems strange that you would make a series working its way northwards through western Scotland without visiting this extremely famous mountainous area, as part of the overall story.
Rannoch Moor is an expanse of around 50 sq. miles of open moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch in Scotland. Rannoch Moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation.
It is notable for its wildlife, and is particularly famous as being the sole British location for the Rannoch rush, named after the moor.
This expanse was at the heart of the last significant icefield in the UK during the Loch Lomond Stadial at the end of the last ice age. Once the great mass of ice had melted, the subsequent unburdening of the Earth’s crust resulted in a continuing rise in the land which is estimated to be of the order of 2–3 mm per year.
Glen Etive is a glen in the Highlands of Scotland. The river Etive rises on the peaks surrounding Rannoch Moor, with several tributary streams coming together at the Kings House Hotel, at the head of Glencoe. From the Kings House, the Etive flows for about 18 km, reaching the sea loch, Loch Etive.
At the north end of Glen Etive lie the two mountains: Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag. The scenic beauty of the glen has led to its inclusion the Ben Nevis and Glencoe National Scenic Area. (NSA)
The river Etive is one of Scotland’s most popular and challenging white water kayaking runs. It provides a multitude of solid Grade 4(5) rapids with a variety of falls and pool drops. The Kings House is home to a herd of Scottish red deer that have become accustomed to the presence of humans, they will actually eat food straight from your hand on a cold winter’s morning.
Glencoe is a glen of volcanic origins, in the Highlands of Scotland, and is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.
The entrance to the glen from the east is below the foot of Buachaille Etive, on the edges of Rannoch Moor and Glen Etive, from here waters run west to Loch Leven via the River Coe. The river passes over waterfalls at the Pass of Glen Coe before flowing down to the sea. The glen is U-shaped, formed by an ice age glacier, about 7 miles long with the floor of the glen being less than 3/4 mile wide, narrowing sharply at the “Pass of Glen Coe”.
Habitats within Glencoe include birch woodland, moorland and peatbogs. The upland parts of the glen are one of the best habitats for alpine and sub-alpine plants in Lochaber, due to the underlying geology and range of altitude. The peaks of the glen are home to snow bunting and ptarmigan, and the area also supports buzzards and golden eagles.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland, the United Kingdom and the British Isles. The summit is 1,345 metres (4,413 ft) above sea level. Ben Nevis stands at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Highland region of Lochaber, north of Glencoe and close to the town of Fort William.
The 2,300 ft cliffs of the north face are among the highest in Scotland, providing classic scrambles and rock climbs of all difficulties for climbers and mountaineers. The summit is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano. The popular tourist path from Glen Nevis skirts the side of this hill before ascending Ben Nevis’s broad western flank.
The course will take you through all the stages of –
• Initial program / script ideas & brainstorming
• Script writing
• Production ethics
• Presenter lead programming
• Presenters’ scripting
• Animal observation & tracking
• Filming on location
• Filming a Presenter on location
• Sound recording on location
• Video editing on location
• Audio editing on location
• Production of final film / documentary
• All necessary logistics & camp-craft
(We will also cover the elements below at various points during the course (Time Permitting))
• Locating / tracking Animals
• Map & compass work
• Navigation overland without a map
• Route planning
• Camp placement & orientation
• Base camp management
• Water management & sanitation
• Emergency procedures & actions
This course will be running from: Monday 6th May to 31st May 2024. This will be a practical course and you will need to be on location with us in Scotland for the full duration of the course.
We will be running 6 wildlife film courses during 2024, from March 2024 through to August 2024. Should you wish to, you are able to join us for more than one course..
Course Closing Date:
You need to have read, signed and returned your course booking paperwork back to us, and paid for your course, in full, with the equipment damage waiver before 5pm GMT on Friday 12th January 2024, to be able to attend this course. Your place on the course is not guaranteed until you have done this.
This course is booked on a ´First-come, First-served´ basis, so it is highly recommended that you book early to secure your place. You will not be able to book on this course after this date.
You do not need to have any previous film production experience to attend a course. (However a basic understanding about the principles of ‘how a lens works’ as well as ‘shutter speeds’ and ‘exposure’ will help you)
We will take you through the whole process of producing a wildlife documentary film from start to finish including; script ideas, production ethics, script writing, presenter and voiceover-led productions, filming on location, recording audio on location and editing on location; as well as all the necessary logistics and camp-craft requirements to allow you to be able to successfully work in such a remote environment.
We can guarantee that four weeks of filming / working on location will give you an unprecedented amount of time for you to learn and improve both your camera and production skills in some truly fantastic locations. The west coast of Scotland by far is the best location in the UK to both see and film wildlife.
The entire four week long practical section of this course will be operating out of various basecamps situated in different locations throughout Western Scotland. Each course will have a maximum of 4 students working from a vehicle/s. The vehicle/s will have a course instructor and wildlife guide/driver, with the students occupying the rest of the vehicle. This vehicle/s will carry everything logistical we need for our time in Scotland; as well as selection of 4K cameras, lenses, audio recording equipment and other production equipment; plus various grip, tripod and support equipment.
During the whole of your course we will living / working out of a tented basecamp; which will have electrical power via a petrol generator. For your comfort each student will have your own 2-man mountain tent.
As part of your course fees we will supply you with:
• All 4K camera equipment
• All ‘on location’ production equipment
• All ‘on location’ 4K editing equipment
• All basecamp tents and equipment
• All staff and instruction
• All vehicles and transportation overland required during your course
Number of Students:
To minimise our impact on the ground in reference to the size of our base-camps, there is a maximum of 4 students permitted on each course.
The cost of your course is £6000 per student.
You are able to pay for your course fees in monthly instalments.
We are offering a £500 ‘early bird booking discount’ for those who book and pay for their course in full, within 4 weeks of receiving their booking paperwork from us.
• All of the Wildlife Film School courses are booked on a ‘First-come, First-served’ basis.
• It is highly recommended that you book early to secure your place, especially if you are from outside of the UK
• You are not able to book after the ‘closing date’ of that course.
• Flights to and from the UK are not included in your course fees as our students fly in from many different destinations around the world.