Bringing Migration Alive!

An important part of Route 39 Academy’s vision is for students to have links with the world of work and to understand more about the range of jobs available to them. Above all, we want to put them in touch with inspirational people, doing extraordinary things.

Therefore, this week we had the pleasure of welcoming Satish Kumar, a peace activist, to tie in with our World War One project, and Jacinth O’Donnell, a wildlife film producer and director, to link with our Migration project.

The Wildlife Film Producer

Jacinth lives and works from her home in rural Somerset. As a freelance producer she works for a variety of TV production companies, producing wildlife films that are commissioned by broadcasters including Discovery, ITV and National Geographical. Her films are shown all over the world.

The Making of a Film

She explained to the students how first she needs to think of an original idea, and then comes a lot of research. “You’ve done a lot of background research for your migration projects – it’s very similar to what I have to do when I’m fleshing out an idea for a film,” said Jacinth. She then went on to explain that if the idea is strong enough, a broadcaster will commission it and then the pre-production phase starts. 

Then it’s time to pack her bags and set off from Somerset to film in the animal’s native habitat. Jacinth showed clips of her wildlife films from locations all over the world – polar bears in the Arctic, lemurs in Madagascar, macaque monkeys in India, and kangaroos in Australia. The students really got a sense of the hard work involved, the great opportunities, the tight teamwork needed – and the many things that can go wrong. (Filming Black Mamba snakes at close range is no joke!)

Student Questions

Our students were full of questions relating to Jacinth’s work, such as, “How did you get that shot of the Greenland shark underwater?” and “What do you do if you are filming animals that are killing and injuring each other – do you try and intervene?” Jacinth was impressed by the students’ lively curiosity, “I really enjoyed talking to the students because they were really listening and came up with so many interesting questions.”

Achievement Awards

Later, Jacinth talked about some of her films that have dealt with migration, such as caribou in Alaska and loggerhead turtles in Florida. She spent time looking at the students work from their STEM Migration independent study work, and gave five students a certificate of achievement for their work. “The students’ migration projects were both artistic and informative, with some fantastic drawings and great facts about a diverse range of animals,” she commented.

Be Film-maker from Home!

Above all, Jacinth was keen for our students to understand that nature is not something just on TV, or on the other side of the world, but it is on our doorstep – especially here in north Devon. She explained how easy it is to make a film with a mobile phone and basic free editing software, and encouraged students to get outside and film what’s on their doorstep.

“The atmosphere of the school was uplifting,” said Jacinth,” I felt inspired by sense of energy, pride and common purpose shared by the pupils and the staff that I met.”

If you know of someone who’d make a good Fellow, please contact Sophie Poklewski Koziell: