‘Sensational’ documentary unearths Bristol’s wildlife treasures

Bristol: A Hidden Eden has bee produced by a team of University of Bristol students

A fascinating new documentary on Bristol’s wildlife has been produced after three years in the making.

The 17-minute doc, BRISTOL: A Hidden Eden, features the profusion of wildlife to be found in Eastville Park, the night-time adventures of urban foxes and ‘Bristol’s greatest conservationist’ – the goat.

It was researched, filmed and produced by 20 University of Bristol students, the doc has been called “sensational” by naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall.

The original score to the film was written by award-winning composer Owain Llwyd.

Director and producer Matteo Clarke began planning the documentary during his first year as a Zoology student at the University of Bristol.

The 21-year-old said: “I think we were all really motivated to make this because we were making a proper wildlife documentary about the amazing wildlife in our own city.

Goats are among the wildlife to feature in Bristol: A hidden Eden

“And also to challenge ourselves that if you put your mind to it, you can make a great documentary with the animals that are right at our doorstep.”

The student team produced every part of the documentary themselves, all alongside lectures and exams. Most of the footage was captured over nine months, but some took much longer.

Matteo said: “One of the biggest challenges was filming the kingfisher sequence, it took me three years to get enough good footage.

“But with the help of the members - waking up at 4am before uni started - we managed to film enough of these elusive birds to make something worthy for the documentary.”

Now graduated, he has bagged a researcher role with the revered BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU).

A promotional post for the documentary

Another frequent collaborator with the NHU is naturalist Steve Backshall.

In a video message to the student team, he said: “To be able to go out and compose every single element of a film, right down to the score, is sensational.”

He added that it was “tangible evidence” they could tell wildlife stories and therefor change how people view the natural world. “This is priceless, beyond valuable,” Steve said.

Professor Claire Grierson, Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, said: “BRISTOL: A Hidden Eden is a stunning film that really captures the complexity of urban habitats.

“All of the students involved in the film have done a brilliant job - no doubt we will be seeing more of their work in the future!”

BRISTOL: A Hidden Eden, was produced and directed by Matteo Clarke. The assistant producers were Luke Hurricks, Isabelle Spring and Bryony Morgan. It was narrated by Charley Greenwood and the researchers were Oliver Pink, Max Derème, Louis Plumley and Felix Roland.