Wildlife Filmmaker Chris Palmer Discusses Ethical Choices in Storytelling

PF_Storyfest_Badge_V4_03-15-16_ALsmall-03.pngHis feet squirmed while he swiveled side to side in the chair. “Did I answer your question?” he asked for a second time in his thick British accent. “I’m a grandfather… I don’t want (my three grandchildren) to grow up in a world where they can’t see a humpback whale, where they can’t see a grizzly bear. I mean that would be an impoverished world,” he stressed.

According to Palmer, we all have a responsibility to maintain biological diversity and decrease animal extinction. “The way wildlife films work with regards to conservation are… people watch them and say gosh I am going to stop polluting or I have to stop wasting water… we need a change in public policy… we need to go from a fossil fuel based economy to renewable.” He said.

Palmer perfected techniques to manipulate scenes to evoke emotions from his viewers. It’s unsettling to think that we are all being played by powerful music, camera-angles and strategic scene lighting.

In the past Palmer’s distastefully staged a Killer Whale skull settled along the ocean floor, and rented out wolves. But “there is no formula.” He said. “And we’re still struggling with that … we know some of the elements. But actually finding them and putting them in a film is not that easy to do.” He works with naturalists and biologists to treat animals ethically while filming in a green way.

— Emily Priborkin and Samantha Sorbaro

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