For all aspiring film makers and also for viewers of our content here is my guide to the ethics of filming wildlife. These are my rules and how I operate I think they are reasonable and will gladly hold to them for all my filming for this Blog.
1. Remember it is only a movie/photo, it is not ethical to make any creature miserable just to get your shots. So keep your distance, take your time and be aware of your effect and presence on the creature. I have a simple rule of thumb here, a happy animal does their own thing and that is often what you want to film/photograph.
2. If you film in controlled circumstances and by that I mean a set, tank, a zoo, a wildlife park etc say so. For some things we will work in controlled environments but we will always say so and tell you why it is necessary. (More about set filming later)
3. Do not create unreal scenarios or scenes that would not happen in nature. For example a polar bear eating penguins. (Think about it).
4. Leave nothing but footprints and take noting but images. That is do not destroy or damage the environment you are working in. No litter, no gaffa tape, when you leave, leave no trace of your visit.
5. Do it right, get all permissions and permits before you film/photograph. To conduct any commercial operation, that means to take video or photograph you might sell, in a National Park or reserve you need a permit from the relevant authority. Permits come with conditions that need to be read and understood and kept to. On private land make sure you have the approval of the land holder. Remember in all cases, you never know when you may need to come back so ensure you keep to the rules. (If you are just a tourist and capture something amazing you might be able to sell, most authorities will be understanding and look to issue a permit after the event if your honest and upfront. Plus they will probably be excited to see what you have done too)
6. I always remember taking movies or photographs in nature is a privilege not a right. I think it is the best job in the world but it does come with responsibilities to your subject and the environment they live in. Respect everything and keep yourself real and have fun.