Expand AU Menu

Shooting in the Wild: Chapter Breakdown


An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom


Chapter summaries

Foreword by Jane Goodall
A sparkling essay by the famed researcher and author describing her own experiences with filmmakers who come to Tanzania to document her work, and her take on wildlife films in general.

Movies That Can Change Your Life

Explores how wildlife films got to be such a powerful form of entertainment as well as a key conservation tool, though the genre today is dogged by ethical issues the book will unveil.

Chapter 1
State of the Art: The Many Faces of Wildlife Filmmaking

An overview of the whole universe of wildlife images on the screen: in movie theaters, television, and new media.

Chapter 2
How Did We Get Here? A Brief History of the Business

Shows how the roots of current problems in wildlife filmmaking lie deep in the industry’s past.

Chapter 3
Behind the Camera: How Wildlife Films Are Made

An overview of how a film gets done, from pitch to distribution, based on the author’s extensive experience as a producer. A good how-to for aspiring filmmakers and useful background for audiences.

Chapter 4
The Money Chase: Finding Funds without Selling Out

The challenge of raising money for productions, including a lively portrait of Ted Turner, the author’s friend and longtime colleague on Audubon’s film program.

Chapter 5
Cult of Personality: The Celebrity Connection and Presenter-Driven Shows

How the emphasis on celebrity hosts and high-octane presenters is driving what viewers see: the good, the bad, and the ugly of working with big names.

Chapter 6
Audience Abuse: Staging and Other Deceptions

Dubious practices some filmmakers use to inject drama into their films but that often deceive audiences into believing that “staged” or manipulated scenes are real. Where do we draw the line?

Chapter 7
Too Close for Comfort: What Filmmakers Do for the “Money Shot”

Some filmmakers routinely endanger themselves and wild animals by getting too close—sometimes with tragic consequences, as when Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray. An especially dramatic chapter with accounts of Timothy Treadwell falling prey to his beloved grizzlies, Brady Barr being mauled by a python, and more.

Chapter 8
Nature Porn and Fang TV: The Temptations of Sex and Violence

At the extreme edge of the wildlife film business are productions that sell sex and violence—good for ratings, bad for the animals that are demonized, trivialized, or even harmed.

Chapter 9
Sins of Omission: Leaving Conservation Behind

Wildlife films have been vital to landmark conservation campaigns, like the fight for dolphin-safe tuna. While some films now avoid conservation messages in the push for commercial success, others use them creatively—for example, to persuade Africans not to eat great apes as meat.

Chapter 10
Doing It Right: Profiles in Ethical Entertainment

Profiles of a half-dozen gifted and committed filmmakers show how these films can be riveting entertainment while respecting the animals’ boundaries, portraying their lives and habitats truthfully, and addressing conservation issues.

Chapter 11
The Way Forward: How Wildlife Films Can Make a Difference

Palmer proposes an eight-step program for reforming the wildlife film business, and offers his vision for what it can be at its best.