The Call of Nature’s Wild: Spotlight on Children’s Filmmaker Jimmy Wilson
Guest article written by Gaya Lynn
The fox. The bald eagle. The white tail deer. For most of us the possibility of seeing these splendid creatures up-close and personal may be hard if not impossible. We either live too far away from their natural habitats, or we simply do not have the time to go into a forest and see them. Fortunately for us, children`s filmmaker and photographer Jimmy Wilson has created a set of nine children`s DVDs that allows these animals to appear on our television and computer screens.
In the Jimmy Wilson Children`s Adventures series, Jimmy has filmed some of nature’s most fascinating and treasured wild animals. Wanting to get live footage, Jimmy traveled to distant and remote places such as Churchill Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world, and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania Africa. “I really tried to take people to areas that even I hadn`t seen before, had it not been for the films.” Jimmy recently said in a interview.
The videos not only include amazing footage, but also contain interviews with over thirty leading wildlife experts. In the DVD ‘White Bear’, Jimmy interviews top polar bear biologist, Dr. Paul Watts. Thanks to Dr. Watts’ compelling insights, the viewers will learn interesting details and facts such as how the polar bears use their rather long necks (longer than other bears) to help puncture and penetrate the polar ice to get to their favorite prey the ring seal. Other experts featured on his DVDs include: wolf biologist Dave Mech, author and photographer Jim Brandenburg, world renowned lion biologist Craig Packer, and moose expert Rolf Peterson. “I try to pick interesting subjects and find the top experts in each field,” Jimmy added.
Jimmy combines these expert testimonies with his stunning photography. Although filming required tremendous skill, patience, and a bit of courage since wild animals such as the polar bear can be dangerous, but Jimmy loved every second of it. “Each film took roughly six months to produce. It was a multi-layered project. Jimmy himself wrote, produced, directed and distributed the films. With each video he made sure that the series was suitable for the entire family. Without a doubt, what makes these films so attractive is the lack of gratuitous violence that is often found in other videos. “With so many videos on the market today,” he went on, “it`s more important than ever to give our children films that are not just entertaining but educational as well.”
Jimmy also wanted to make sure that the animals were filmed in their natural habitats. With a camera in hand and a pair of running shoes on his feet, Jimmy filmed all the shots himself.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Jimmy pursued other successful careers: first in commercial real estate and then as a bush pilot. But his true passion was always photographer and filmmaking. Eventually, he would combine his love of filmmaking with his other love–nature.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Jimmy loved the outdoors. As a child he would ride his bicycle within the surrounding areas and had the chance to see with his own eyes amazing wildlife such as deer, owls, foxes and eagles.
One significant, almost telling childhood memory came when he was in elementary school. When he was just eleven, he was selected to run the 16 mm projector and show Walt Disney nature films. As he watched footage of the Himalayas and Rocky Mountains, Jimmy was inspired by the films and somehow the idea stuck. Though Jimmy worked in other fields, he always wanted to make films about the great outdoors and share his passion. Indeed his work is truly a labor of love. In his smooth and calming voice, Jimmy added, “I made sure that the subject was the star, not me.”
The last video, Jimmy Wilson’s Nature, was perhaps his most challenging in terms of the duration it took to film. Jimmy mounted a hidden camera on a trail and filmed continually day and night. The results are stunning. He was able to capture moose, black bear, grey and red fox, deer. bald eagle, pine marten, fisher and other wildlife. “I filmed throughout all four seasons, and it took nearly three years to produce. You get a chance to see what life is truly like in the forest,” Jimmy explained.
Filming life in the forest was sometimes as unpredictable as it was wonderful. During the filming of the video, “Monarch of the Woods,” for example, Jimmy learned how to moose call. He learned how to do it so well that the first time he tried it, he soon became face to face with a bull moose! “I had never been so scared in my life. Eventually the bull moose walked away, but they can be very dangerous.”
Between an encounter with a moose, and other unpredictable and exciting adventures, Jimmy loved every moment of filming. “Joy is always present in my films.” As a result of this labor of love, both audiences and the film industry have recognized and praised his work. In Los Angeles Jimmy`s children`s series was honored with the ‘Gold Seal of Approval’ by the ‘Parents Television Council’.
Today, Jimmy lives in Minneapolis and is doing what he loves most: photography and enjoying nature. He walks and swims daily, flies his floatplane, and continues to work as a photographer. He considers his adventure series as one of his greatest accomplishments. “Whenever a parent or a child tells me they like my dvd`s, it fills me with such a good feeling- that I did something that made a difference.”
And those differences are not just the educational value of the videos, but how they leave the audiences with a better understanding and appreciation of nature. Today more than ever wild animals are in danger. Climate change and habitat destruction are just a couple of the factors involved.
Thanks to ‘Jimmy Wilson Films’, these animals appear alive and well. It`s so refreshing to view animals in their own natural habitat, just the way nature intended.