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The 2020 documentary short, Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration made by myself and my filmmaking partner Maxwel Hohn, has been selected as a finalist in the 2021 Animal Behavior Short Form and Ecosystem Short Form categories.

The prestigious Jackson Wild Media Awards is an annual international media competition considered to be the highest bar of achievement in natural history filmmaking. It is commonly referred to as “the Oscars for natural history filmmaking”.

This year’s submissions included over 750 entries from nearly 30 different countries. Finalists were selected by a panel of 150 international judges who together screened over 3,000 hours of media.

Maxwel and I are in good company, as other finalists this year include: BBC Natural History unit, Apple TV, David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet, Netflix, and Howard Hall.

Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration was a self funded passion project, fuelled by four years of dedication from nature videographer Maxwel Hohn. Filmed at a secret location on northern Vancouver Island, and edited and produced in the Comox Valley. The mini documentary, like its tiny subject matter, is a small entity in a big pond.

“We are humbled to have our film alongside so many inspiring productions.” Says Maxwel Hohn. “Our story of the western toad tadpole seems to have really connected with people all over Canada, and the world. It’s being played in schools, it’s been given over a dozen film laurels, it caught the attention of TV production companies, and most importantly, it’s kept people entertained in a unique way.”

“The film really connected to people’s childhood memories of toads and tadpoles” says me! “It touched a nerve with the public and with the natural history film industry. To see it as a finalist at Jackson Wild is a huge honour.”

“The film is as independent as you can get, and a true product of British Columbia’s incredible natural history”. Adds Hohn.

A panel of final judges from around the globe will select the 2021 Jackson Wild Media Award Winners over the coming weeks. Winners will be announced during the Jackson Wild Media Awards gala on Thursday, September 30.

“The judges selected an incredible slate of inspiring finalists with powerful messaging and stunning imaging. These richly woven stories reflect diverse perspectives from around the planet, and are deeply personal and purpose-driven," said Lisa Samford, Executive Director of Jackson Wild. "But, more importantly, they inspire an inherent connection to the species, places and issues that are critical to our survival on this beautiful planet and amplify the importance of what we as individuals can do to make a difference in restoring and protecting them while the opportunity still exists."

2021 will mark Jackson Wild’s first hybrid conference, with the in-person conference and awards event live streamed to global audiences unable to travel. Event speakers and delegates will include innovative filmmakers and industry thought-leaders, alongside leading conservationists, photographers, and scientists from across the globe, all engaged in conservation, nature and science media.

Since the success of Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration, we also produced another hugely successful minimentary - Call of the Coastal Wolves, which went on to win several other film festival accolades. They have both spent this year filming natural history for various television productions, and have several of their own films currently in production.

The west coast of Vancouver Island is a wild place. This past couple of weeks I experienced snow, hailstone, rain, high winds, sun and rainbows - all in one day. The sound of birds fills the daylight hours and drowns out the little man-made noise in the area. The swell of the ocean, void on the east coast, is a constant reminder here that the next stop west is Japan. The houses decorate the shoreline while the trees tower above and the mountains watch over. Otters visit the bay, eagles sore, harbour seals pay a cautious visit, and the post is delivered by sea plane.

I'd love to speak more of why I was there, and where "there" is exactly, but I'm not allowed. At least not yet.

What I can say though is that next year will see the fruition of this project, and it's going to be spectacular. Lots of incredible, top of the league professionals, lots of wildlife, and lots of Canadian goodness.

It's a pleasure to be a part of productions where everyone is equally as passionate and excited about the wildlife we are privileged to witness.

As I unpack, clean gear, prep equipment and decompress after the last couple of weeks, I look forward to the next shoot. COVID has taken it's toll on travel and most business, but with pre-trip test, lots caution and safety measures, it's possible to keep the filmmaking industry alive.

I can't wait to tell you more about this project - when I'm allowed to!

I was recently asked to be a guest on the rather splendid Dive In: The Podcast. This fried slice of audio gold is produced by a group of highly skilled and passionate divers from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their weekly podcast features news, book reviews, opinion, laughs, and guests from all over the diving globe. Oh, and me.

If you have a spare hour on your hands, or want to fill the room with some background noise as you do the vacuuming, click here.

Dive In: The Podcast is a fantastic example of how quality free content is on the rise. I love that these folks are going above and beyond to create original, well produced media goodness - because they want to. It's all about exploring and sharing.

Support them by listening.

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