Nigel Marven Filming

Nigel Marven’s Guides To Finding Your Wildlife Film Subject

Beware Snakes
A sign outside Nigel Marven’s house.

To television naturalist and broadcaster Nigel Marven nature is a never ending wildlife adventure and this could not be more evident than when you set foot through his gates.

A veritable animal sanctuary, Nigel keeps a cacophony of animals in the grounds in and around his home, including a wild turkey, amphibians in their tanks, a number of owls and a whole host of reptiles (the giant tortoises were fantastic) to name but a few.

It’s a haven for wildlife-lovers, and when I visited with Chris Packham, he ended up stuffing some of the tortoise faeces into a bag to take home. I’m not joking.

Sam Pearson with a Giant Tortoise
Me with one of Nigel Marven’s giant tortoises. She loved being scratched under the chin.

Having worked with Nigel before on a few of the natural history programmes he produces out of the offices situated at his home, alongside the 2014 iteration of Eden Shorts, I really should have known what to expect.

Off the back of the informative filming guides I created with Nigel and his team the previous year it seemed obvious to go back for more in order to show the amateur wildlife filming community some of the skills and techniques they could incorporate into their own short wildlife films.

How To Film Large Mammals

Badgers are one of the nations’  favourite mammals but seeing them, let alone filming them, can be very tough.

In our first film, Nigel stakes out a badger sett to show us how to record some incredible behaviour with these illusive yet spectacular British species. Later he takes us through some of the different kinds of shots you could use to piece together your final film into a much more engaging sequence.


Using Boxes To Film Wildlife

Sometimes it may not be possible to find your animal subject in a quintessentially natural location, be it because they are so hard to uncover or their standard habitat so hard to film.

Nigel Marven and Bird Box
Nigel Marven shows us how to record video with a bird or bat box.

Here, Nigel shows us how you can film with bird or bat boxes, both inside and outside, to ensure a personal view of your subject in your wildlife short film. Parents with offspring and animals leaving to and fro provide great behaviour for your films, and the great thing about an occupied box is that it’s almost guaranteed!

Alternatively, if you want to focus on some more diminutive British species, moth traps can provide a window to a world that can prove tough to find. These winged insects are drawn to the trap’s light and a night near one of these can reveal some forms and patterns that will leave you in awe.


The only thing left to figure out now is how you’re going to put it together into a film. If you’re presenting your film you can make a virtue of your equipment through interaction. However, if you’re trying to pull together a more personal natural history you may need to think hard about how you can display your subject in a way that doesn’t seem artificial.

Alongside personal safety, the well being of your subject’s should be a priority. Be careful to not be too disruptive when using any of these techniques – we don’t want to endanger any of the animals or stress them out.


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