Fellow Story

Innovation Grant Helps Scientists Learn to Communicate through Film

A Network Innovation grant supported a special series of events on conservation filmmaking at the North America Congress of the Society of Conservation Biology. Fellows Tara Cornelisse, Kristy Deiner, Naomi Fraga, Matt Hamilton and Sarah Reed helped organize the events, titled “How Filmmakers and Conservationists Connect People, Nature, and Climate”, which also featured ecologists, scriptwriters, directors and producers as panelists and participants. Our goal was to connect conservation scientists with film experts, recognizing that film is a great medium for communicating conservation and environmental messages and also recognizing that scientists often have a compelling story to tell but may lack the tools or perspective to most effectively communicate.

The day began with a workshop and panel discussion, which covered topics ranging from communication best practices to technical considerations. The workshop was a success, with about 60 participants who contributed to discussions, met potential future collaborators, and picked up new skills.

The evening event featured a showcase of highlights from 11 great conservation films, including introductions by several of the filmmakers who had produced the films. This event, attended by about 250 people, got rave reviews with some attendees reporting it was their favorite part of the conference.

Collaboration among Fellows continued after the workshop as we summarized highlights from presentations and panel discussions and organized this information into the specific resources provided below. In addition to the Switzer Network Innovation grant, the Society for Conservation Biology provided financial support.

The outcome of our time together has culminated in a collection of online resources available through the Filmmakers for Conservation website. We recommend checking them out if you are interested in learning how to communicate using film.