For me, Bristol is the place to be for being a freelance cameraman, who shoots mainly ‘people and wildlife’ programmes – right on the doorstep of the production companies who produce the majority of wildlife based programming.  The presence of the world famous BBC natural history unit has attracted the people and independent companies alike to the city, so Bristol can genuinely be known as the home of natural history programming. 

Wildlife is never too far away in the city, foxes a regular sighting late at night and in the early hours, enjoying their city as any other human resident.  Loads of green spaces to lay back in and contemplate nature, Leigh Woods for some hiking and spotting and biking.

I’ve been living in and out of Bristol since September 2004, firstly just to undertake a couple of weeks work experience at the NHU, kind of testing the water.  It didn’t take long to realise that Bristol had to become my home and thus started a living and working relationship with the city, mixed in with stretches of time abroad filming, long enough to move out.  I’ve had a very welcome return each time and still nowhere else tempts me to move elsewhere.

What I like about the city is that it’s compact… everything you want and need is within a walk or cycle, whichever area of the city you’re in.  Speaking of which, the city is the premiere cycling city in the country with routes around and out of the city, its amazing how far you can get just with 20 minutes of cycling.  The suburbs are seemingly endless and Bristol is a large city, but at the creative heart everything is just there.  When you want to get out of the city, you’re surrounded by countryside in every direction… Wales, Somerset, Devon, Gloucestershire… all easily accessible for weekends camping, surfing, cider sampling, wild swimming and mountain biking.

When you’re in the city, there are some great creative hubs to meet people… so many people on the same wavelength with projects going on all over the place.  When I’m in the city on the last Tuesday of the month it is a must to attend the Bristol Media Tuesday networking night.  This has been running for a number of years and it the monthly chance to make new contacts, and bump into old – not just in television but across the creative board… advertising, publishing, PR, digital, animation, composers, writers… always a different mix of people in the same place, just staying in touch with the scene over a friendly beer.

I live in Arnos Vale, which is the location of a grand old cemetery – very peaceful walks around some 50000 mostly derelict graves… slightly morbid but away from it all in the dead centre of the city.  Just down the road is one of my favourite meeting places: the Boca Bar, part of Paint Works – a once disused paint factory, which has been regenerated and converted into offices for creative companies and now a thriving business centre.  The Boca is the meeting spot for the large creative contingent which works from Paintworks on the Bath Road, just up the road from Temple Meads station.  Laid back, comfortable and good atmosphere, many a productive meeting and ideas writing sessions have happened here for me and I’m sure plenty of other creatives in this part of the city… And now they’ve finally gotten round to installing free WiFi, no better excuse to work with some coffee.

A lot of my time when not filming is spent networking and catching up with friends.  One of the regular catch up spots is The Windmill, in Windmill Hill next to Bedminster station.  Perfect opportunity to have a pie and pint with a friend, Hannah, who’s recently returned from one filming trip in Ethiopia only to be preparing to go away for another month away next week.  Each area of Bristol has its own thing going on and the Windmill is a place off the beaten track to have a good catch up.  Another regularly visited place for meetings and socialising is The Watershed on the Harbourside… go for the cinema, a coffee or a decent lunch plus regular host of many industry events.

I can’t think of anywhere else I’d like to lie and mix with people than here in Bristol… such a wealth of activity and creativity, there are opportunities freely available where you know to look.


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