Ismaele is the recipient of Schoolyard Films and Jackson Wild's Northern Europe Environmental Film Scholarship in partnership with Amberjack Films and m:Brane.
Not everyone can say they’ve worked in collaboration with powerful international production companies, but for Ismaele Tortella, this is his reality.
“There are several things that I’m proud of, but the most important for me has been how I’ve been able to start working with big productions [such] as the BBC and Silverback Films. I’ve been following a group of Eurasian otters for the past few years in northern Norway, discovering unseen behaviors. Thanks to this, I started working with those production companies. It makes me extremely happy that something that I have been working on so hard and close to my heart, would be the reason for this step in my career.”
During Ismaele’s early days as a wildlife photographer, he saw his photojournalism shortlisted in a variety of different international photography competitions. His work also found the spotlight in a handful of international magazines, ranging from Nikon to National Geographic. Now a director and arctic cinematographer living in Norway, Ismaele has continued this trend of success with two of his short documentaries winning awards in several international film festivals, and even being broadcasted on Italian national television. His most recent project, “Arctic Blue,” explores concepts that apply to both Ismaele personally and his global audience.
“For sure the biggest and the most demanding project that I have is my first feature documentary: “Arctic Blue.” It is my personal journey facing my challenge of accepting myself and where I fit in this changing world. And the way that I explore my story is through the animals and people of the Norwegian Arctic where I live. Working on a personal documentary feels like going to a psychologist.”
It’s these philosophies that breathe life into his work. By pulling from his own beliefs and experiences, Ismaele is able to create a clear vision for his projects, making it easier for his audiences to understand and internalize exactly what he’s trying to say.
“I feel that in nature documentaries or photography, we often approach this world by ourselves. Maybe because the subject is challenging to reach, or we need a lot of perseverance to find something special. Something that makes it hard to find people with the same sensibility and motivation. Or maybe because we just enjoy those intimate moments with ourselves. But in the moment of constructing something bigger, or to change something we need to come together. And I think that this is what I value most about the Jackson Wild Collective, aiming to put us together.”
As successful as he has been, Ismaele’s freelance work does come at a cost from time to time. However, it’s not enough to fully dampen the incredible experiences that his job has allowed him to live.
“The unpredictability of freelance work [is the hardest part of the work that I do]. I never know what my life will look like in six months, where I will be, or with whom I will be. At the start this was exacting, the adrenaline was taking over the stress. But now after years like this, I feel the weight of the uncertainty,” he shared.
“At the same time, this gives me the opportunities to visit and see places and animals that I would never be able to see. To witness the wonder of the natural world.”
There is so much more of the natural world out there, waiting to be captured on camera. We are confident that Ismaele’s continued efforts to document this world will help global audiences become better aware about the intricacies of the planet they live on. The more aware people are, the more educated they become. A shared understanding of our natural world is vital. It gives people an opportunity to connect on common ground, so that they don’t have to approach this world themselves.