University of Salford MA Wildlife Documentary Production graduate, Tom Rowland has picked up the award for Best Cinematography at the prestigious Screentest National Student Film Festival for his film, Adapting Anolis.
Tom’s award adds to the University’s excellent track record for MA Wildlife Documentary students, as he joins the likes of Salford alumni Tania Escobar and Amber Eames who in previous years have picked up awards for Best Documentary and Best Cinematography at the glitzy ceremony held at London’s South Bank.
His film documents the many varieties of Anolis lizards that dominate Cuba’s rainforests and their various adaptations that make them suitable for life high in the trees, in the undergrowth or by water, and that also make them one of the planet’s most diverse and evolutionary significant animals.
To make Adapting Anolis, Tom spent a month on location in Cuba collecting footage in the dense jungles as well as at the Cuban film school Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV, where he and production co-ordinator Ivan Medina set up a special lab that replicated the rainforest environment. It was here that he was able to spend time getting up close with the lizards, filming them with cutting edge macro and long lens techniques.
Of winning the award, Tom says; “I was pretty taken back and was not at all expecting it - especially since the competing films in my category were of such a high standard. You wouldn’t have thought they were student films at all.
“I was also nominated for Best Film and Best Documentary – as this was the only wildlife film in the festival, to get nominated was also a real honour. It was great to be flying the natural history flag alongside the many great fiction based films and human-based documentaries.”
He has been involved in media production and drama since the age of 10, always knowing he wanted to pursue a career in television. That, coupled with his keen interest in biology and animals, meant that working on wildlife documentaries was an easy career decision to make.
When deciding where to complete his Master’s degree, Tom had already heard good things about the University of Salford, and once he saw the facilities on offer at the MediaCity UK campus, he was sold.
As well as the world class facilities, Tom also puts his award down to being able to work with world-renowned wildlife film professionals such as Paul Reddish, who he says gave him “a real insight into the industry, the skills needed to break into it and the knowledge of how to make a good wildlife film.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Tom is continuing to travel the world as a wildlife documentary maker, working as a researcher for National Geographic’s Wild Brazil as well as making films for the ‘Save the Rhino’ charity in South Africa.