My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I cannot remember how exactly I came across the work of Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone but I am very happy I did. They have created some amazing wildlife films and Mark also writes a beautiful, powerful, poignant blog from his camp in Kenya, Africa observing and filming the majestic elephants there. I encourage you to follow his writings!
Mark Deeble and his wife Victoria Stone are a wildlife film-making partnership. Mark and Vicky’s films are personal, authored documentaries that typically take 2-3 years to produce. The couple both produce, direct, write and shoot their films. The films are made entirely on location, working out of remote bush camps.
Mark and Vicky are versatile cinematographers – both are qualified pilots and divers. They are as at home underwater filming crocodiles as they are shooting aerials or filming minute insects perched high in the canopy. They were married in 1992 and have two sons who have been home-schooled in the bush.
Their films have achieved global recognition with over 100 international awards – including an Emmy, two Peabodys and many ‘Best of Festival’s.
The following interview is with Mark:
All photos credit to: Deeble and Stone
1. What inspired you to embark on this journey of love for nature and wildlife?
Ive been passionate about wildlife since I was a small child. I was fortunate to live on the coast in Cornwall in the UK, and have parents who encouraged me in my explorations and indulged my childhood obsession with fish and marine-life.
2. I read your blog Mark “A wildlife filmmaker in Africa” and am touched by your writing…so beautiful and sad about the elephants in Tsavo, Africa, and the horrors of poaching…Is this the topic of your next film and what is the best way that we the general public can help to make sure poaching comes to an end?
The film won’t be about poaching, but it will be about elephants and the system they support. We tend to look at elephants and admire them for their sentience, wisdom and sense of family. There is a lot else going on though – as ‘key stone’ species they are essential to the ecosystem – a whole array of other creatures depend on them. Our film will show that, against the story of an extraordinary matriarch and her family.
I think the only way to stop poaching is to kill the demand for ivory. There will always be someone willing to risk their life to poach an elephant as the rewards are so high – we can make it harder for them and slow the rate down, but we won’t stop it. It requires a combination of legislation and education. I see our role as sharing our wonder of elephants – the extraordinary creatures they are, and the amazing world they enable. Only when people appreciate elephants and they become relevant, will they begin to care and out of that grows love, and from that springs action.
3. In what way have the elephants inspired and touched you?
In so many different ways and on an almost daily basis. For example; recently I saw a young mother who was having trouble getting her baby up the muddy bank of a waterhole. The matriarch came over, reassured the mother and then showed her how to reach around the baby, holding it close to the bank and then grasp its tail to pull it up!
4. What has been (or is) one of your greatest challenges with the work that you do?
It is a real challenge to fund this type of film. Most films are story boarded, researched, scripted etc ahead of shooting and the results are predictable. We do that to a degree, but we then spend 3 years filming – when we listen and observe what is going on around us and then respond. It’s a very organic way of working, sometimes unpredictable, but hugely rewarding. We often come across behaviour or scenes that have never been observed before, let alone filmed. There is huge energy and excitement when you work like that.
5. You and Vicky have 2 boys I believe…I have seen a few photos on your site of them in the bush with you both. Did you raise them in the bush and what was that experience like and how has it influenced them?
We raised them in the bush for the first ten years. I’d recommend it! They are both practical, imaginative and sensitive. They question everything they see and are grounded in the way that people are, when raised in the wild, with animals for playmates, and sticks and stones as toys. I am hugely proud of both of them.
6. What is your greatest hope for our planet at this time?
That we curb our population growth, reconnect with Nature and appreciate the simple things in life that really make us happy – everything else will follow.
What Journey are YOU on?