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Project Details


Oak Island Films Ltd is a television production company which show people how beautiful nature is and how the world could be better than it is.

Placement Details

Oak Island Films Ltd. is a television production company based in Bristol, UK and Ottawa, Canada. Oak Island Films strives to show audiences the beauty of nature is and how the world could be better than it is. Ted Oakes, owner and Managing Director, is an award-winning Executive Producer with over 25 years’ experience making ground-breaking TV. He has a PhD in Zoology from Oxford University and has previously worked as a wildlife biologist, raft guide, and public speaker.

How we tell stories about the natural world has a huge impact on how others perceive those environments and the creatures in them. Filmmakers have the ability to not only share information, but to touch viewers on an emotional level, to make them care, and ultimately to make them take action to protect landscapes and species at risk.

This placement is a natural history TV researcher and public engagement position. Participants help to research and develop stories for new natural history and adventure TV series. This is a great placement for youth interested in developing a career in science communication or media in the context of conservation. The placement is ideal for someone with a biology degree or film-making experience who would like to be engaged in natural history storytelling.

Placement Category: Communication and Media

Placement Season: Flexible

Placement Type: Virtual

2023 Participant Highlights

Participants Charlemagne Claros and Malaika Khan

Charlemagne shares the following testimonial about her experience in this placement: “Working with Ted and Jo at Oak Island Films has given me so many new and advanced skills! From researching and interviewing subjects for film projects to presenting ideas to important stakeholders to designing engaging film pitch documents. I am walking with so much it’s hard to narrow it down to any one skill. It’s been an overall boost of confidence, leadership, and managerial skills!”

Malaika’s most valuable takeaway from her placement experience with Oak Island was gaining experience within the documentary industry alongside building practical skills in graphic design. Having 1:1 mentorship in career development with Ted Oakes has boosted her confidence and set her up for career success! “I had a great experience learning from Ted and getting a behind-the-scenes look at how a lot of the documentary media I watch is made. I got to sit in on executive meetings, interview subjects, draft scripts and gain a wealth of knowledge I wouldn’t have otherwise. This experience definitely helped guide me and figure out what I want to pursue next in my career.”

2021-2022 Participant Highlights

Over two years, five Ocean Pathways ambassadors dedicated their placements to working on the docu-series, Great Lakes Untamed. The landmark international docuseries, Great Lakes Untamed, which had its world premiere on September 26th and is “the definitive natural history of the Great Lakes, a celebration of nature on both the Canadian and US side of the watershed.” The project is a collaboration between TVO and Smithsonian and has an ambitious education and outreach program with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Three ambassadors joined the project during the editing and had the opportunity to assist on post-production pieces. In 2022, two more ambassadors gained valuable experiences assisting with promotion for the series across Canada.  They also had opportunities to help with other BBC projects including Snow Dogs, set in northern snowy landscapes. 

Read about the 5 previous ambassadors that took part in the Great Lakes Untamed docu-series here!

Participants Julia Trombley, Ella van Cleave, Chevaun Toulouse, Emily Miceli, Karry Yiu, Timme Zhao, and David Donovan

Through her placement, Julia learned what it means to be a full-time researcher in the world of wildlife filmmaking. One of her big takeaways is having a much better understanding of how the process works in film, and perhaps more importantly, how to land a job in the industry (which she did!). 

Besides being directly involved in several aspects of filmmaking, from research to editing to location scouting, Julia was invited to attend meetings with Executive Producers, providing valuable insight into how these films are made. Julia also had the chance to practice behind the camera and into the editing process using Adobe Premier, and to attend the Jackson Wild film festival, a conference dedicated to wildlife film. 

Ted created a learning environment where Ella was able to pitch ideas, make mistakes and ask questions in a safe, non-judgmental space. Being invited to meetings at the Executive level provided real insight into the wildlife filmmaking industry and opened doors that would have otherwise been closed to her. According to Ella, networking is one of the most important skills in filmmaking and she got to practice lots! 

A highlight for Ella was also a point of stress working for weeks to prepare for a crew to start filming Snow Dogs – this solidified for her just how many details must be worked out before filming can even start. Her most valuable take-away, however, were the many, many contacts she made throughout her placement, culminating with securing her dream job working in wildlife film in Vancouver. 

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