Worlds Collide – Migration through the Bottleneck

Guest blog by Nicholas Rodd 

Worlds Collide – Migration through the Bottleneck

About the film:

Batumi, Georgia is home to one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. Over a million birds of prey pass through a narrow bottleneck. Below them, scientists and birders eagerly watch and record the skies whilst at the same time local traditions send showers of bullets and nets snapping in their direction.

My short film aims to explore these stories without judgment nor restraint towards some of the harsher realities for birds passing through on their migration. 

The overall aim was to raise awareness and spark conversation on the complex challenges of raptor migration through the bottleneck.

Background

Georgia is unique in many ways but when it comes to raptor persecution unlike Cyprus, Italy, Malta there is no violent standoff. The approach taken is “non-confrontational”, one pioneered by the Batumi Raptor Count (The BRC) a team who have been working in Georgia conducting a systematic count of the migrating raptors for over 10 years. But much more than that, they have been conducting hunting monitoring, education events, youth engagement and exchange activities as well as trailing work with falconers all whilst building a steady eco-tourism industry in the villages where the work – a huge CV for an organisation ran by volunteers from outside of the country.

It is the BRC and this approach that caught my eye. For those who are aware of the challenges facing our migrating birds, all too often the same story of a deep and bitter battle manifests itself. In Georgia however, it seems that there is potential for something new and innovative, something hopeful and positive. This combination of skies full of birds and the approach to raptor persecution was enough for me to want to make a film.

The Film Making Process 

Worlds Collide was shot over 8 weeks during two Autumn migration seasons between 2018-2019. 

Despite there being over a million birds passing through Georgia, bad weather, a little local unease and the usual challenges of filming made progress frustratingly slow during the first season.

The flip side of this meant that although I had to return for a second season I was able to build on the relationships made with the participants. Comparatively the second year filming was a breeze, and whilst arranging interviews still might have involved a litre of potent local Cha Cha and three rearranged dates and times for the interviews,  the frankness and openness of their comments made for much more honest and open material than the year before.

Watch the Film

In 2020 the film finally reached its first audience and since then has been selected at 6 international film festivals across Europe and the US. Most recently it won the Best Short Film at the Ireland Wildlife Film Festival.

As such I have released the film free to watch worldwide to maximise its reach.

https://vimeo.com/452185987/d942c634f5

What you can do

My own conclusions whilst absent from the film are that change on a local level is not only possible but is happening right now. Fortunately, one of the ways we can help is by visiting and taking part either as a counter through the BRC or eco-tourism. 

If you are interested to find out more and help with fundraising check out the BRC website – their team are one of the most dedicated and best in the business.

Finally, and very importantly I would like to thank OSME whose support helped get the filming of the ground in the first year. Allowing me and a colleague to make the trip out to start the processes of Worlds Collide.

Future Plans

To maximise the film’s impact on a local level I would like to complete a Georgian subtitled version so that those involved with communities and decision-makers can use and share the film in the Georgian language.

New Projects, Secondly, I am turning the lens of raptor persecution a little closer to home. I am again fundraising, this time in order to produce a full-length documentary that explores the human relationship with Golden Eagles in the north of England and the Scottish border region. 

The story is complex as it is in Georgia, except there is big money and interests involved. Fingers crossed people are willing to be brave and make this film a reality.

Nicholas Rodd 

About me

I’m a self-shooting producer working mostly on short-form documentaries and films.   

I live and work within the UK, where I collaborate with conservation charities to promote their messages and campaigns. Working part-time for the RSPB as their wildlife cameraman I get to travel the UK and beyond to film the very best bird spectacles and discover some of the issues from those on the front line of conservation. At the same time, I develop film ideas for Hidden World Productions where I can explore topics and stories that go beyond that of the charity sector.

FOOT NOTE FROM OSME

To support the great work at Batumi please consider helping them by making a donation:

https://www.batumiraptorcount.org/support

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