We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them questions about the experience of making their films. The following questions were answered by Gavin Boyland, Director and Producer of Big Cats: Episode 3, A BBC Natural History Unit Production for BBC and PBS with THIRTEEN Productions LLC co-produced by France Télévisions, a finalist in the Conservation, People and Big Cats, and Science in Behavior categories of the International Big Cats Film Festival.
What inspired this story?
When we set out to make the definitive series on the entire cat family we were obviously conscious of the threats cats face across the planet. It was incredible important that we were honest with our audience on the endangered status of many cats. We also wanted to highlight the incredible dedication scientists and conservationists have and the cutting edge work they’re doing.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
I think what surprised us time and again was the sheer passion and determination people have for cats. So many people have dedicated their lives to making a difference and that resolve really inspired our audience too.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
The series was made for a very broad and popular audience, airing in the UK in primetime on the BBC’s flagship entertainment channel. The hope primarily was to create awareness of the challenges cats face. But also to give people hope, hope that something cat be done by supporting the people battling to protect cats.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
The biggest challenge was actually deciding what stories to cover in the first place. There were many complex issues that we could have gone into in much more detail but I was always conscious in keeping the story relevant to our audience. To overview all of contemporary cat science and conservation in one hour was hard to say the least, I only hope we’ve done justice to the incredible endeavour going on right now.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on big cats?
When the NHU set out to make this series we wanted to show Big Cats in a new light. These are familiar animals but we want to reveal a different side, bring them out the shadows and emphasizing the lesser known species. The cats are an incredible animal family, charismatic, fascinating and beautiful.