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Phil’s visit was one of the true highlights of the year. His extreme enthusiasm for wildlife filmmaking and photography was infectious and he was able to pack a huge amount of useful information into one short day by giving real world examples and copious handouts all of which I’ve kept reference. I particularly appreciated the way that he would show a video and then break it down into the various problems the team faced in making that video and how these problems were solved. As a budding natural world photographer I was constantly told how difficult it is to make it in this career path and what perhaps we should consider alternative forms of photography. It was so refreshing to hear Phil speak and at the end of the day I was left thinking maybe just maybe I can make it and that anything is possible. I cannot recommend Phil Savoie highly enough and it was just a shame that we did not have another visit with the opportunity to put into practice some of the techniques and skills were talk on that day. Toby Gibson, MSC Student Nottingham U

Phil was great. He was really and truly the most informational speaker that we had all year. One thing that really stuck with me was the way that he took the time to learn about each of us. Not only did it engage us, but it made us feel like he cared about the direction we were going. His advice after that was exceptional, but definitely made more of an impact because he took the time to meet each of us. He was also one of the only presenters who could tell us exactly how they got a cool shot and was excited to share it with us. He didn’t make it feel like a lofty goal or a crazy pipe dream. He took footage that we would have never imagined we could get, and he broke it down. He made us realize that as long as we have a camera creativity some duct tape and maybe a pulley we could get awesome shots. Katy Cain MSC Student Nottingham U

Phil’s talk was entertaining and very informative. It gave me a good insight into wildlife videography and photography. What’s more, it was very inspiring. Phil made an effort to get to know the students and their interests. He shared very useful information and tips. Phil was by far the best speaker on our course and I learned a lot from him. Alek Steplen MSC Student Nottingham U

Phil provided a very interesting talk to us, Sharing a lot of useful information; regarding techniques, equipment and ideas. As well as this he was active throughout the talk, kind, polite genuinely interested in a topic which has become his career and what we are striving to achieve, something that aided me in creating ideas and gave me back my passion for, when I was getting a bit tired of it. Alex Wilkinson MSC Student Nottingham U

Phil was very energetic and enthusiastic. He involved everyone in the room and truly showed us his passion towards this subject making it infectious. Jack Butcher, MSC Student Nottingham U

The time and effort put into the presentation was very much appreciated; everything was well organized and easy to follow. I was so happy that he took the time to get to know us and find out our professional goals as well as who we are as individuals. I was left with more information than I knew what to do with. Thanks to this talk I am so excited to move forward and working the industry. Amanda Hilgers MSC Student Nottingham U

Phil’s visit consisted of an inspiring class filled with the engagement and two-way communication required to keep an audience completely focused for a whole day. Phil had the perfect approach in this area, as he involved us all throughout – asking us questions about our goals and ourselves. He also had a very hands-on theme to the day; he brought all his own photographic kit in for us to see, including lenses and cameras to which we would never usually have access. He talked us through how to get the best from our kit, and small steps we could take to improve our images overnight. Another fascinating part of the day was when Phil showed us footage that he’d filmed during his career, and told us all the tips, tricks and what you could you do with a bit of beer and honey! Lara Nouri, MSC Student Nottingham U

It was great that he took the time to talk to us individually at the start. I also thought the format of the session was very effective, where he showed us short clips of footage and then explained the thought process behind them. The notes that he left have also been useful, and meant that we could enjoy/focus on the presentation without having to worry too much about writing everything down! If he is ever planning on doing more talks in the UK then I’m sure we would all be very interested to know! Tom Reed, MSC Student Nottingham U

Thanks for a great day! Overall I found your presentation a most worthwhile experience.  You gave a real taster of the excitement of getting the whole package to come together and achieving the results that brought us all to the NHU in the first place.  I felt it was a privileged opportunity to ask what might be considered at other times to be dumb questions.  It was good to get some dedicated time for us. I’ve been lucky enough to go out on location many times and I’m suitably nosy about equipment, but often we’re all too busy or tired for lots of questions and no one shoot tackles so many disciplines.  Your extensive collection of gadgets all under one roof and your years of experience combined to give an unrivalled rich learning day.  On a practical level, it was a great insight into the logistics of getting into position and preparing for the various shots we too often take for granted.  I felt your friendly style made you totally approachable and the subject much more accessible than usual.  I hope I’m not alone in saying that my confidence when dealing with equipment issues will be improved. Many thanks, Stephen Lyle, Assistant Producer BBC Natural History Unit

I wanted to thank you for the course yesterday which I thoroughly enjoyed, and which afforded some significant personal gains, namely: I can get hold of all those essential bits of information that are never in the right place at the right time. I appreciate much more the processes of organizing a shoot. I appreciate the diversity of techniques open to filmmakers and hence I’m in a better place to criticize the films that I view. I have been stimulated into dreaming up new storytelling devices for wildlife films. I will henceforth always bear in mind the editor when shooting films. I’m a relative newcomer to this industry. After yesterday I feel much more at home. Thanks again, Jonnie Hughes Researcher BBC NHU

I attended your day course last Tuesday and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. It has been greatly beneficial, particularly working in a unit where it is the main medium. I really enjoyed watching examples – certainly inspirational and techniques that aren’t used enough. It was also useful to be reminded of the logistics when taking equipment abroad and the many factors to consider if you want the shoot to go as smoothly as possible. My only criticism is that it was a lot to fit into one day. Two would have been perfect! Anyway, thanks for your time and the notes, which I hope will come in very handy throughout my TV career! Best wishes, Laura Harvey, Researcher BBC

I’m writing to tell you how immensely helpful this course has been for me. I come from a scientific background, so there were many subjects related with equipment I was quite lost up until now, and were very necessary for me to know in order to do my job in the best possible way. I must say that the clever selection of points of today’s course was covered brilliantly. Also, even when talking about practical matters, it’s been very enjoyable, fascinating and explained in a very straightforward way. I thank you very much for this. Your enthusiasm is very contagious. Almudena Garcia, Researcher BBC

Great course, learned alot. What worked for me- The Kit – was good to see some equipment in the flesh plus all the tools and useful bits. Case studies with footage – useful insight into the aspects of being on the job, you can read all the books in the world but its always seems best to hear cases first hand. The need for problem solving with examples – got an understanding that there will always be situations that with a bit of “nouse” you can get a result. Adapting and Adopting kit- was good to see how you can and sometimes will have to, build kit yourself.  Really found that interesting and I like the fact that there is still room for a bit of DIY.  “Cable Dolly on the cheap” explanation. Love this type of shot, would love to do one of these one day. Good handouts, so many times you go to a course that has rubbish hand outs if at all any, informative plus good to have links on where to get more information. Thanks again, Jody Bourton Researcher BBC

Really really enjoyed the workshop – the techy stuff went a bit over my head – but just general familiarisation with the kit and what is/does what was just at the right level.  Also the carnet, customs stuff was very interesting – for me as a PC as I have no experience of this yet and always appeared to be quite daunting! The behind the scenes secrets also worked very well – as a viewer you do just tend to watch stuff without thinking how difficult it must’ve been to get a particular shot – but now totally appreciate these things (and will be looking out for reverse shots).  The wrangling made me laugh as I’ve done a bit of that myself – all these little tricks are good to know! Overall I think you’re obvious enthusiasm, humour and passion for what you do was the best bit – (sorry to be gushy) but very inspiring! Thanks Phil  Mel Thomas Production Co-ordinator BBC

Phil Savoie is a mine of information, he made the course not only educational, but also fun and entertaining.  He was very good at answering all our questions, explaining complex things in a simple way, and telling us stories to help us understand the application of the equipment.  Ingrid Kvale Producer BBC

Just a note of thanks for your highly informative and entertaining course on Wednesday.  I found it thoroughly fascinating and invaluable. I have been lucky enough to go on some shoots for Inside Animals involving time lapse and macro filming and the information provided in the course tied in perfectly with the experience I gained on those occasions.  I am the sort of person who prefers to know how a process works to enable me to understand and troubleshoot any potential problems and having a basic knowledge of the equipment used, and why, would certainly assist me in the preparation of a trip. I think this course should be incorporated into any induction for new production staff not only from the terminology point of view, but in helping us to understand the filming process. During the course, hands on experience of the camera equipment in the morning enabled us to understand which lenses had been used and how shots were obtained in different locations when we were dissecting programmes during the afternoon.  It was extremely rewarding to “hesitantly” think you had correctly guessed the equipment used in a shot and then be delighted to find out you were right! Well done – let’s have more of these courses. Jo Lethbridge Production Coordinator BBC NHU

Just wanted to say thank you for running the course last Friday. It was really useful. It is great when people want to share their knowledge. It was all great- but for me the part where you showed shots from your film and talked about how they were achieved was particularly useful. It would be great to learn like this more often. I’m going to suggest that producers could do this more often when films come out. It is a great way to learn about new techniques! Best Wishes Bridget Appleby Associate Producer BBC

Just a quick note to say thank you for today’s course- I have only been here since Xmas, but it was the first time that I have felt that there was someone around to help me learn this stuff and that I didn’t have to learn it all by myself- what a relief! I appreciate that you are busy, and today was on a different subject, but I would really like to catch you over a coffee to talk about the role of a camera assistant, and how one might become involved, as again, this is one of the aspects that has interested me in the past, but have never really had the chance to find out more about it. Thanks again. Jeff Wilson, Researcher BBC

Just wanted to say thanks for today’s course. It was very informative, and entertainingly and enthusiastically put across. I do think there might be potential for an advanced equipment familiarization course aimed at APs and Producers covering some of the other tools at our disposal that go beyond the standard film kit available, including specialist lenses and cameras, different kinds of jibs, cable systems etc. Thanks again, Nigel Bean Associate Producer BBC

Just to say – fantastic course – very informative and I learned a lot. Thank you! Ros Gillions Production Co-ordinator BBC NHU

Thank you. I think the best thing was when you showed a section of film and then explained how the shot was achieved. This was great as it actually gave you a real insight into what filming on location is really like, how painstaking it can be, and how you have to be incredibly creative (or a bit mad) to really get that perfect shot! All in all, I had a great day and came away learning much more that I was anticipating so seriously, thank you for everything. Very best wishes, Garreth Rhodes Researcher BBC

I think the course was great thanks! It’s always going to be tricky to learn specifics in one day like that. But the great thing about an overview from someone like you is that it inspires people. People can see what is possible and briefly how these things can be achieved after lots of hard work and perseverance. I’d imagine different people would take away different aspects of the course, some more technical regarding cameras and kit, others more on the creative side and storytelling. I feel overall that there was a good balance of technical, creative and business bits. Speak soon Tom Widd, BBC Web Platform Producer

Thanks so much for your course yesterday it was really helpful. I particularly liked watching the clips and then seeing how you did it – most enlightening. Thanks again. Victoria Ribeck Researcher BBC

I really enjoyed the talk yesterday and learnt a vast amount. I thought it was particularly well suited to me because camera work is what I want to get into so I don’t really have any criticism to make. I thought it was great that you wanted people to get ‘hands on’, as this can help dispel the myth that equipment can be quite daunting. Thanks again, Sue Gibson Researcher BBC

Just wanted to say, the course was really interesting. I’m all enthused to go out and film something impossible now. Thanks lots Lou Fergusion Researcher BBC

Over the last two years, Phil Savoie has been an amazing professor, mentor, and friend. Ever since he taught my first cinematography class at Montana State University he has helped me develop my technical skills around the camera, while also expanding my interests into the many fields of operating. His expansive expertise of working all over the world has been a great asset. Zack Osterhout Film Student MSU

Phil is a terrific professor who not only cares for his students but also challenges them to do their best work. His enthusiasm is infectious. He cares about his students and wants them to come away with an in depth understanding of cinematography and the filmmaking process. His knowledge of the business and film & video production is a great asset our film program. Brian McCauley Johnson Film Student MSU

Phil Savoie is an extremely talented individual with a sincere excitement to teach others his craft. Being an assistant for Phil not only helped advance my knowledge of film making and motion picture camera work, but also helped open doors for me into the professional film making world. He was always willing to help me and answer any questions I had. In the classroom Phil has a genuine excitement for what he is teaching and the real-world experience to back up his knowledge. I am very thankful for getting the opportunity to work with Phil. Byrant Jansen Film Student MSU

Because of his wealth of knowledge pertaining to EVERYTHING camera-based, Phil is like a walking encyclopaedia. And, more importantly, he is constantly keeping abreast of new technology, cameras, and methods…from film to cutting-edge digital. Christi Cooper, MFA Film Student MSU

Phil taught video field production to seniors. His student evaluations confirmed the impressions I had of him: that he was caring without being indulgent, demanding without being unreasonable, critical without being discouraging and personable without jeopardizing his students’ respect for him. I never saw a beginning teacher work so hard for and care so much about the education of his students. His preparation was conscientious and thorough. He made extra efforts to provide his students with up-to-date information, beyond our facilities and texts, by locating and obtaining materials distributed by professional vendors and by organizing and conducting special field trips to professional organizations in the Boston area. Being a successful film/videomaker in his own right, his own extensive knowledge and experience made more relevant and timely whatever material he was teaching. Perhaps, most important Phil’s love of film and video is genuine and absorbing. His personal energy, both in and out of the classroom, is contagious and inspiring. I recommend Phil to you without reservation. J. Philip Miller, Associate Professor College of Communication, Boston U

It is a pleasure to write in reference to the qualifications, accomplishments, knowledge, talents, and character of Phil Savoie, a grand master of the art and technology of natural history filmmaking, as well as a fellow biological professional, whom I have known for more than a decade. Phil is a unique and amazing individual: accomplished artist and consummate naturalist, who shares with the best of both that special gift of seeing “into the life of things,” as Wordsworth put it in Tintern Abbey. These gifts are paired with the probing mind and the hunger for detailed knowledge and understanding of a professional biologist. He has as clear a view as I have encountered of conservation and natural history in the bigger picture of Earth’s future. I suspect that you will not find another candidate like Phil. It is not just the unmatchable professional qualifications, breadth of experience, and technical brilliance that he would bring to your program, but the person behind those qualifications. Teaching, explaining, showing how, including, and rewarding are ingrained, almost instinctive, in his personality and behavior. And there is not a pretentious or arrogant bone in the man’s body. (In fact, despite working with Phil on and off for more than a decade, when I saw his CV for the first time recently, I realized I knew only a small fraction of what he has done, because he is a genuinely modest person.) When Phil was working in Costa Rica on Hotel Heliconia for BBC Nature, I served as a Scientific Advisor because of my knowledge of the nectar-feeding mites that feed and breed in the flowers of this hummingbird-pollinated plant. The mites ride between plants in the nostrils of the birds. Phil was able to capture on film details of mite behaviour, on the bills of visiting hummingbirds that I had been unable to detect in 30 years of fieldwork. That’s the professional side. The human part of the story is that Phil insisted on producing a parallel version with professional narration by a Costa Rican, so the film could be used in public schools throughout the country, and so that his Costa Rican field assistants would have a meaningful record of their work to take home and show to their families. The astonishing breadth and depth of experience Phil Savoie would bring to your program is matched by a caring and generous soul, direct in communication and genuine in his interactions with all. Robert K. Colwell, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut

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