Did you know that each year an incredible 15,000 species are discovered? We think that’s pretty astonishing… That’s why we invited Danny Smits of WWF UK to tell us more about Astonish Me – a short movie that takes viewers on a journey showcasing some of the world’s lesser known or recently discovered species, from massive insects to colossal squid, a fish with a transparent head and birds and frogs of every colour.

Astonish Me

The film has been created to celebrate WWF’s 50th birthday and showcases some of the incredible new species recently discovered around the world. It’s been produced by acclaimed writer Stephen Poliakoff and director Charles Sturridge and stars British actors Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton.

Insights

Our new short film, ‘Astonish Me’, is a magical tale of adventure and discovery that showcases some of the incredible new species recently found and filmed around the world. Created by acclaimed writer Stephen Poliakoff and BAFTA winning director Charles Sturridge, the film is intended to inspire a new generation of conservationists by revealing just how much there’s still to discover about the natural world.

In a time when we hear a lot about the very real and serious threats faced by our planet we wanted to create something inspiring that both celebrated the wonders that are yet to be discovered and showed why it’s important we protect them. One of the major technical challenges of creating ‘Astonish Me’ was making sure that the footage and imagery would work well on the big screen as the film is being shown at ODEON cinema across the UK (before selected film screenings). Due to the nature of species discovery, a lot of the images and footage captured is very rough and generally taken by scientists in the field, using a camera intended for cataloguing not cinematography. There simply wasn’t enough high quality footage of new species so we needed to think more creatively about how the images could be used to inspire and capture the imagination of the audience.

Over the course of a couple of months we went through hundreds of images with our partner ARKive until we settled on a collection of stills that we thought would work in the film. Working with Annex films and their innovative techniques, we then set about adding movement to what had previously been static images, bringing them to life in a way they had never been seen before. We also worked closely with MPC (Moving Picture Company) on the special effects which make the ending of the film such a wonderful spectacle.

In conclusion the creation of ‘Astonish Me’ has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved. We hope the film will remind us all that there is still so much we don’t yet know about the natural world and we need to protect it so we have a chance to find it.