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Book & Film: Shooting in the Wild

Shooting in the Wild
A documentary film based on the book

The new documentary for public television Shooting in the Wild reveals how the production of wildlife films sometimes involves deception and sensationalism. Host Alexandra Cousteau and veteran film producer Chris Palmer take a behind-the-scenes look at wildlife filmmaking.

Watch the full documentary here.

Hosted by Alexandra Cousteau
Featuring Chris Palmer
Producer/Director Ed Beimfohr
Producer/Editor Frank Fitzmaurice

Read review by scientist, author, and filmmaker Dr. Randy Olson.

The Team

Chris Palmer is the Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and a professor at SOC

Chris Palmer

Author, Shooting in the Wild

Chris Palmer is a full-time professor of Film and Media Arts at American University. Over the past thirty years, he has spearheaded the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime-time television and the IMAX film industry, work that won him and his colleagues many awards, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination. Read full bio here.

Alexandra Cousteau

Host, Shooting in the Wild

A National Geographic "Emerging Explorer," filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues, Alexandra Cousteau continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau, Sr. Alexandra is dedicated to advocating the importance of conservation and sustainable management of water in order to preserve a healthy planet. Read full bio here.

Press Kit/ Credits

Publicity Postcard – Download

Publicity Photo: Chris Palmer – Download

Publicity Photo: Chris Palmer, Alexandra Cousteau – Download

Shooting in the Wild, Film Credits – Download

Chris Palmer book cover

Shooting in the Wild (the book)

An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom

By Chris Palmer, with foreword by Jane Goodall (ISBN-13: 978-1578051489)

A veteran producer examines the thrilling yet controversial world of wildlife filmmaking—from celebrity follies to life-and-death perils.

Published by Sierra Club Books, available at

Download IWFF Press Release (PDF)
Chapter breakdown with summaries
Praise for Shooting in the Wild
Reviews & Media Coverage
Q & A with Chris Palmer

Study Guide for Shooting in the Wild Shooting in the Wild is also available as an e-book:

Wildlife and nature films are a hugely popular entertainment genre: networks such as Animal Planet and Discovery are stars in the cable television universe, viewers flock to IMAX theaters to see jaw-dropping footage from the wild, and the venerable BBC still scores triumphs with series such as Planet Earth.

As cinematic technology brings ever-more-breathtaking images to the screen, and as our direct contact with nature diminishes, an ever-expanding audience craves the indirect experience of wild nature that these films provide.

Watch Video

Watch an excerpt from a speech by Palmer at the 2010 Environmental Film Festival.

watch speech

But this success has a dark side, as Chris Palmer reveals in his authoritative and engrossing report on the wildlife film business. A veteran producer and film educator, Palmer looks past the headlines about TV host Steve Irwin’s death by stingray and filmmaker Timothy Treadwell falling prey to his beloved grizzlies, to uncover a more pervasive and troubling trend toward sensationalism, extreme risk-taking, and even abuse in wildlife films.

He tracks the roots of this trend to the early days of the genre, and he profiles a new breed of skilled, ethical filmmakers whose work enlightens as well as entertains, and who represents the future that Palmer envisions for the industry he loves.


Huffington Post Logo

"Palmer's new book is a sharp and searching assessment of the contemporary wildlife media universe from someone who loves the field and wants to see it live up to its promise." Full review
- Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, The Huffington Post

What People Are Saying

Ted Danson, photo care of Star Pulse.

 "One of the most effective tools for conservation has been the documentary film. Among the pioneers and best exemplars of this genre is Chris Palmer, who knows how to tell a story that reaches both heart and mind. His book is a major contribution to our understanding of the role mass media plays in protecting our planet." 

-Ted Danson

Carl Safina, photo care of

"Who hasn't wished they could make films about wild animals? Yet how many have any idea what's involved? This is a rare insider's look at the agony and the ecstasy, the pitfalls and the pinnacles, of filming in the wild. And it points the way toward taking the genre to the next level. A terrific view into a hidden realm and an exacting profession." 

-Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point

Photo of Jean-Michel Cousteau.

"Shooting in the Wild is a fascinating, insightful, and comprehensive story of the thrill and challenge of capturing nature on film ... a thoroughly inspiring look at what can be accomplished and why we should continue to try. It is also a who's who of filmmakers who have profoundly affected our view of wildlife. A must read for filmmakers and for anyone in the audience." 

-Jean-Michel Cousteau, president, Ocean Futures Society

"Chris Palmer's compellingly readable account of the wildlife film business reminds me of everything I love about nature films, while serving as a call to action to correct its abuses. It will change the way we look at wildlife films." -Richard Leakey

"The ideal wildlife film should enlighten, entertain, alert us to problems, and stimulate us to conservation action, urges Chris Palmer. Anyone who watches wildlife films-and millions do so-must read this perceptive and enlightening book. -George B. Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera, author of A Naturalist and Other Beasts

Read all advance praise for Shooting in the Wild