Wildlife Presenter and Fulbright Scholar Bryson Voirin is close to getting his doctorate. He has been studying sleep patterns in large mammals and birds at the Max Planck Institute for 4 years, and he breezes into our early morning shoot looking fresh as a daisy, despite having attended the Wildscreen Panda Awards ceremony for natural history programming the previous night.
28 year old Bryson is full of praise for the WildScreen Festival #wildscreenfest, the 6 day natural history film festival that’s just finished in Bristol. “It’s the first time I’ve been to Wildscreen and it was really fun,” he enthuses, “I wanted to go to connect with natural history people in one central place, and it was great for that. It’s a good medium to meet people in a social setting, in what is largely an academic field of study. Everyone from the natural history film world is there.”
I’ve met Bryson a couple of times now, and he is a pleasure to work with. He has a breadth of zoological knowledge, and his love of the subject matter is a delight. If he hasn’t studied a creature himself he generally knows someone who has, and peppers the interviews he does for our Channel 5 series with interesting examples and a lively turn of phrase. Great TV. I get the feeling that this enthusiasm and energy reflects his general approach to life. When he was 16 years old, growing up in Florida, Bryson told his parents that he wanted more than his easy life in the sunshine, and took himself off to high school in Germany, where he’s been studying ever since. Being bilingual has helped him to find work on German TV as well as on British and US channels. “Brits don’t mind me because I’ve been in Europe so long I don’t seem offensively American,” he jokes, “But it seems that to crack American natural history presenting I need to be old and fat with a beard!” Someone is clearly missing a trick somewhere, and it’s not likely to be Bryson.
“I also got to meet the head of just about every major natural history channel. Wildscreen publishes the delegate list ahead of time, which is brilliant because it meant that several people got in touch with me to set up appointments when they saw my name, and the rest came about organically. I met people from Icon Films, Discovery, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Wildscreen US…” And those are the ones he can remember. “The Icon Films after party was pretty legendary”, he grins, clearly debating whether to tell me that it took two days to recover. (click here to see Icon Films’ Harry Marshall networkign with Media Parents http://blog.mediaparents.co.uk/2011/09/media-parents-networking-bristol-2/).
“Wildscreen was a great experience,” says Voirin, “I’m really hoping some of the projects discussed and projects I pitched will come off. I also met some really inspirational people from developing countries whose films I would not ordinarily have seen, and learnt tons about how TV works in sessions about filmmaking and scriptwriting. I found it really exciting to learn about everything that can be done with GoPros.” The series we are working on relies largely on UGC, so we too have a healthy respect for the GoPro’s quality and versatility.
“I would definitely go to Wildscreen again. Hopefully next time around I’ll be nominated for a presenter award,” he smiles. The previous night’s partying doesn’t show, and Bryson has been smiling, engaging and delivering great lines and information throughout an on-camera interviews that take nearly five hours and cover ten different natural history subject areas. I shake his hand at the end of the filming day, and congratulate him on a good day’s work. “Not bad considering I got to bed at 5, eh?” Bryson smiles as he leaves to catch his plane. I guess that’s a PhD in sleep research for you.