Pupils and staff filled the Bacon Theatre last week excited to welcome Producer and Director, Dr Chadden Hunter, for a Whole School lecture.
Chadden grew up surrounded by incredible nature in Cairns, Australia. Curious from a young age about all things wildlife, especially creepy crawlies, he spent much of his childhood chasing bugs and spiders. Aged seven, he watched ‘Life on Earth’ on television, the first program of its kind that truly opened up our planet’s hidden gems to the wider world. Captivated, Chadden decided that he wanted to make nature a career.
Some years later in Ethiopia during his PHD – which studied Gelada Baboons, Chadden realised that studying these animals was doing very little to protect them. Local farmers wanted to cull the baboons as they were seen as vermin within the community, unaware that the Gelada were actually endangered. Chadden got himself a spot on a chat show, so tell as large an audience as he could about the Gelada. The response from the people of Ethiopia was astounding. He realised then that film was how he should spread the word about our world’s magnificent creatures and habitats.
Since then, Chadden has worked on some of the best-known Natural History series of recent times, including Wild Arabia, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, and Seven Worlds, One Planet. During the talk, he shared stunning images and never-before-seen footage, explaining lessons in creative thinking, problem-solving and working in a team as well as inspiring yet cautionary examples of the fragility of the natural world.
Chadden revealed the huge challenges of making these spectacular series which combine detailed planning, technical excellence, personal risk and a lot of patience. He is very aware that he and his team often tread the line between conservation and entertainment. That connection and travel are both damaging the environment yet integral to its conservation and progress. He left pupils with the message, ‘what can you do to protect tomorrow’s world?’
Chadden stayed behind to chat to pupils and to answer any questions. Eye-opening and inspiring, it was a pleasure to have Dr Hunter as the first Whole School lecture of the year.