This course will focus on the Isle of Skye. 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 5 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 start in the Fort William, where will meet at a local supermarket to undertake a ‘bulk food shop’ as a group. From Fort William we will make our way to the Kyle of Lochalsh. From here We will then work our way down the sound of sleet to paddle through the fantastically remote bays of Loch Eishort and the island of Stay up towards the Cuillin Hills. Paddling north we will travel up the whole of the western side of the island rounding the headland of Glendale and Waternish before heading south towards the Portree area.
The course will end at the island town of Portree, unless you are accompanying on the next section of our journey around The Outer Hebrides.
The Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and at 639 sq. miles, Skye is the second-largest island in Scotland after Lewis and Harris. The island’s peninsulas radiate from a mountainous hub dominated by the Cuillin hills, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country. The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing, and forestry. The island’s largest settlement is Portree, known for its picturesque harbour. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, red deer, and Atlantic salmon. The local flora is dominated by heather moor, and nationally important invertebrate populations live on the surrounding seabed.
The northern peninsula of Trotternish is underlain by basalt, which provides relatively rich soils and a variety of unusual rock features. The Kilt Rock is named after the columnar structure of the 344 ft cliffs. The Quiraing is a spectacular series of rock pinnacles on the eastern side of the main spine of the peninsula and further south is the rock pillar of the Old Man of Storr. Beyond Loch Snizort to the west of Trotternish is the Waternish peninsula, which ends in Ardmore Point’s double rock arch. Duirinish peninsula is separated from Waternish by Loch Dunvegan, which contains the island of Isay.
The Hebrides generally lack the biodiversity of mainland Britain, but like most of the larger islands, Skye still has a wide variety of species and an abundance of game birds. The corncrake, red-throated diver, kittiwake, Atlantic puffin, goldeneye and golden eagle are commonplace. As are the Mountain hare and rabbit which are now abundant (Unlike on the Isle of Mull) they are preyed upon by wild cat and pine marten.
The rich freshwater streams contain brown trout, Atlantic salmon and water shrew. Offshore the edible crab and edible oyster are also found, the latter especially in the Sound of Scalpay. There are nationally important horse mussel and brittlestar beds in the sea lochs and in 2012 a bed of 100 million flame shells was found during a survey of Loch Alsh. Grey Seals can often be seen off the Southern coast.
Heather moor containing ling, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, bog myrtle is everywhere abundant. The high Black Cuillins weather too slowly to produce soil that sustains a rich plant life, but each of the main peninsulas has an individual flora, and he basalt underpinnings of Trotternish produce a diversity of Arctic and alpine plants.
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 8th July to Friday 2nd August 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 Thursday 29th February 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.