ECWG members and guests enjoyed a lively presentation by Chris Palmer at the Annual Gala Black Tie Dinner Meeting on Dec. 5th at the Cosmos Club.
Film producer Chris Palmer talked about stories from his provocative and newly published memoir, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King, challenges broadcasters to raise their game.
Illustrating his remarks with compelling clips, Professor Palmer provided a thought-provoking perspective on wildlife filmmaking. He took us behind the scenes of wildlife films, exposing an industry undermined by sensationalism, fabrication, and sometimes even animal abuse. He described how, over the course of producing many films, he became haunted by the measures sometimes taken by broadcasters and filmmakers to capture compelling images. Are filmmakers doing more harm than good by staging “money shots” to capture more dramatic footage and achieve higher ratings at the expense of the animals and truly natural behaviors? Chris Palmer’s new book is available on Amazon.com.
During the social hour ECWG members elected the officers for 2016.
Chris Palmer Chris Palmer is a professor, speaker, author, and environmental/wildlife film producer who has swum with dolphins and whales, come face-to-face with sharks and Kodiak bears, camped with wolf packs, and waded hip deep through the Everglade swamps.
Over the past thirty years, Chris has spearheaded the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime time television and the giant screen IMAX film industry. His films have been broadcast on numerous channels, including the Disney Channel, TBS, Animal Planet, and PBS. His IMAX films include Whales, Wolves, Dolphins, Bears, Coral Reef Adventure, and Grand Canyon Adventure. In the course of his career, he has worked with the likes of Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Ted Danson. Chris serves as president of One World One Ocean Foundation and the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation, which produce and fund IMAX films on conservation issues. MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world’s largest and most successful producer of IMAX films.
Chris also serves on American University’s full time faculty as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence at the School of Communication. In 2004, he founded AU’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking, which seeks to inspire a new generation of filmmakers and media experts to produce informative, ethically sound, and entertaining creative work that makes a difference.
His new 2015 memoir, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King (Bluefield Publishing) criticizes mainstream television networks for producing wildlife films which harass animals, deceive audiences, and harm conservation efforts. Jean-Michel Cousteau called Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker “fascinating reading,” and Ted Danson described it as a “must-read for all who care about the natural world.” In the Foreword, Jane Goodall describes the book as “courageous.” Chris and his colleagues have won numerous awards, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination. Chris has also been honored with the Frank G. Wells Award from the Environmental Media Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival. In 2010, he was honored at the Green Globe Awards in Los Angeles with the award for Environmental Film Educator of the Decade. In 2011, he received the IWFF Wildlife Hero of the Year Award for his “determined campaign to reform the wildlife filmmaking industry,” and in 2012, he was named the recipient of the Ronald B. Tobias Award for Achievement in Science and Natural History Filmmaking Education. He received the 2014 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching at AU, the 2015 University Film and Video Association Teaching Award, and the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Wildlife Film Festival. Chris holds a B.S. with First Class Honors in Mechanical Engineering from University College London, an M.S. in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture also from University College London, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University where he was a Kennedy Scholar and received a Harkness Fellowship. Born in Hong Kong, Chris grew up in England and immigrated to the United States in 1972. He is married to Gail Shearer and is the father of three grown daughters: Kim, Christina, and Jenny. He is currently writing a book about how to be an effective father. He and Gail have endowed a scholarship for environmental film students at AU to honor Chris’s parents and to encourage the next generation of storytellers to save the planet.