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Born to be wild – A rendezvous with Mike Pandey

Mike Pandey

An interactive session with Mike H. Pandey, an avid filmmaker who has taken giant leaps in wildlife and environmental film making. 

It takes immense passion, perseverance, and lots of toil to realize the true calling of life. Take the case of Mike Pandey, an award-winning documentary film maker, who found a profound grip on wildlife and environmental subjects. He journeyed through England and America, transiting briefly in Bollywood where he did special effects for films such as Razia Sultan.

About Mike Pandey

Mike, who is now a veteran, became a film maker and was fascinated by wildlife because of his roots in Kenya. He was born and brought up near The Nairobi National Park, which was situated at the back of the Pandey household in Kenya, proved to be a rich source of inspiration for him.

In 1994, he became the first Asian producer/director to win a Wildscreen Panda Award, also known as a Green Oscar, for his film The Last Migration – Wild Elephant Capture in Sarguja. Several of his other films, such as Shores of Silence, Broken Wings, and The Timeless Traveler, to name a few, have been directly instrumental in bringing about legislative changes to protect species such as whale sharks, elephants, vultures, and horseshoe crabs.

He has won a whopping 300+ national and international awards!

Seamedu students’ rendezvous with the man himself

On 21st July, 2016, students of Seamedu School of Pro-Expressionism seized the golden opportunity of interacting with Mike Pandey and his son, Gautam Pandey (who’s taken the baton from his father), through a video conference over Skype. Despite being unwell, Mike made sure that he talked throughout the two-hour session with the students. His words were laced with his more than 40 years of film making experience as he expressed his own vision of making films. He stressed on how films should be made for the benefit of the environment and humankind.

Film Making Seminar

Through examples from his films such as Shores of Silence, he demonstrated how the film resulted in effecting a complete ban on the killing of whale sharks in the coastal area by the Government of India. This 70-minute film won him a National Award for Best Film in the ‘Exploration & Adventure’ category back in 2005. The students got to see a glimpse of the film through a 6-minute demo cut. Before the session began, the students watched a show reel of his New Delhi based production house, Riverbank Productions, which comprised of mesmerizing visuals of wildlife captured beautifully by his own team.

Enthused, he further guided the students on how to make engaging films by reducing the talking heads and emphasizing on visual storytelling, how good camera work and crisp images infuse interest in audiences, how use of live sound makes the film more powerful and impactful in the international film circuit. 

Film Making Seminar_2

The Q&A round

In an interactive discussion, the excited and curious students started asking a lot of questions and Mike handled every question with fine élan. Applying his worldly experience of such a niche aspect of filmmaking, he guided them towards understanding the deeper aspects of the entire production pipeline – right from scripting, research and development, planning shoots, and filming to editing. He also expressed his concern on the future of wildlife films, mentioning how there are a very few number of buyers apart from government agencies and NGOs for wildlife-related issues. 

Inspiration and support for young film makers

Functionally being the president of IDPA (Indian Documentary Producers Association) himself, Mike expressed a need for a secure platform for documentaries in India. He encouraged the students to participate in this quest for exploring different environmental issues, raising them in the form of films, and submitting their films to the IDPA (since the organization is continually engaged in an endeavor to establish new film makers, to expand their horizons, push the boundaries, experiment and improvise to tell their stories in innovative ways by providing exposure and workshops for skill enhancement).

He also shared bits of quick trivia out of his booty, like how even the dreaded pests (like cockroaches) are being utilized to formulate antibiotics, etc. With a promise to be in touch with the students through social media for addressing any of their queries, Mike concluded the session, drawing a huge round of applause from the students.

After a lunch break, the students were treated with a screening of his ‘Green Oscar’ winning film, ‘The Last Migration’.

That was indeed a ‘wild’ time spent with an ace film maker for Seamedu students!

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