Just seven years after his graduation, a Zoology student from The University of Nottingham is forging an award winning career in the field of scientific documentaries.
This year Alex Tate won a television Bafta for the ground-breaking specialist factual series ‘Inside Nature’s Giants’. The series, which features dissections of some of the world’s biggest animals, is made by Windfall Films for Channel 4.
Alex, who was on the programme from its very inception, said: “’Inside Nature’s Giants’ uses animals to tell modern day, factual, ‘Just So’ stories. For instance — how did the elephant get its trunk? How did the lion get its roar? We wanted to show how animals work using a proper scientific approach and providing proper scientific answers.
Alex Tate travelled the world after leaving Nottingham. Ten months later he got work-experience with the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol on the series ‘Planet Earth’. He moved to the Natural History Museum, setting up a small independent production company in his spare time. After completing a Masters in Science Media Production at Imperial College Alex went to work for Windfall Films.
As a researcher at Windfall Alex worked on a couple of engineering shows for National Geographic - Monster Moves and Big, Bigger, Biggest — before going back to his zoology roots and developing the 'Inside Nature's Giants' format.
Alex said: “Cutting up animals is, on the face of it, a bit gory but it is what scientists do all the time. In making the series we had to find a balance between the science that we wanted to show to people and not making it too gory. Although we knew we had an innovative idea we were genuinely worried that seeing pictures of huge animals on a slab would actually turn people off. We needed to convince viewers that what they were watching had been done respectfully with the intention of educating as well as to entertain.”
In just seven years Alex Tate’s thirst for new and innovative ways of making and producing scientific programmes has taken him from a work-experience job to an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
When asked for his advice for students struggling to find their dream job he said: “I have never followed other people. The way to succeed is perhaps to do things your own way — to break the mould. You are never going to become a master of what you want to do unless you train properly or have mentors to guide you. You also have got to show initiative and try and do things other people haven’t done — that will get you noticed. There are so many people looking for the same job you have got to try and do something different and stand out.”
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation – School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk
) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
Additional information: For more information about Windfall Films go to www.windfallfilms.co