|7 Feb 2022
|Old Girls' Association
Ella had always had an interest in the natural world and wanted to work for the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) from an early age. The unit is based in Bristol, along with many other independent production companies specialising in nature programmes for television. During holiday breaks from her degree, Ella arranged work experience with a variety of these companies in pursuit of her dream.
After graduating, Ella continued to work here and there for a couple of years but, typically for the television industry, the contracts she found would usually only last between two weeks to six months.
Around January 2018 when Ella was almost ready to give up hope, an internal advert for a researcher role came up and Ella applied. She was successful at interview and was offered an incredible two and a half year contract as a researcher with the BBC NHU. Unsurprisingly, she was over the moon.
The programme turned out to be Green Planet with Sir David Attenborough and despite starting work on it in May 2018, the finished programme won’t go to air until 2022.
Ella’s role as researcher has several parts to it. In the initial stages, she was tasked with finding stories that might work well and researching their details online, in scientific papers and by talking to scientists. Then Ella and the team selected the best of these ideas and worked out the logistics, i.e. where to shoot, what time of year, how long for, what equipment and which people were needed.
After that came the most exciting but also the most nerve-wracking part - going on the shoot! Ella found it incredible on location but also terrifying that it might all go wrong after so many hours and so much money had been invested in it. At the end of each day, she and her team would check through the footage but it was difficult to tell if it was good enough just by watching it on a laptop screen on location.
Back in the UK, Ella then had to log all the hours of footage and separate it into categories that could be quickly accessed by the producer in the edit. For instance, she compiled a file of drone shots, one of set up shots and another for the lead character. It was an incredibly time-consuming task but she enjoyed seeing the footage starting to come together.
The last part of the process is the fact checking. The BBC is held in such high regard worldwide that the production teams want to ensure they don’t betray the viewers’ trust by making mistakes. So, Ella’s final job is to make sure the script is accurate by checking the facts back to at least two peerreviewed scientific sources.
It’s an intense process from start to finish and one which Ella is putting her heart and soul into. She herself was inspired to work in this field as a young child watching Sir David Attenborough on the BBC and now she feels proud and blessed to be part of something that will inspire future generations.
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