News - March 11, 2015

Campus to get media production company

Koen Guiking

Ruben Smit, the director of the nature film The New Wilderness, announced on Wageningen’s Foundation Day that his new media production company Natural History Unit Nederland would be located on Wageningen Campus, and would probably be moving in within weeks.

The company is already collaborating  closely with Wageningen scientists  on new films and documentaries.  ‘I’d been toying with the idea of  setting up shop on campus for some  time, says Smit, a Wageningen UR  alumnus and former employee.  ‘When the rector invited me to give a  speech on Foundation Day, that confirmed  me in my decision to put this  plan into practice.’ 

He is following the example of the  BBC’s documentary makers, who  made a deliberate choice to be  based near Bristol University rather  than in London. ‘It’s to prevent us  getting bogged down in the Dutch  media scene in Hilversum and to get  inspiration from my professional  colleagues, because that’s how I see  Wageningen’s scientists,’ explains  the ecologist, who studied in Wageningen  and got his doctorate there.  Smit’s fellow workers in the Natural  History Unit Nederland are Philippe  Tammes and Melchert Meijer zu  Schlochtern.

Smit makes films that focus on the  relationship between individual animals  while still presenting the bigger  story of how ecosystems affect  one another. Smit: ‘That holistic story  is what I want to get across as an  ecologist. Collaborating with Wageningen  scientists lets us give a proper,  substantiated explanation of the  interactions between animals.’  The Natural History Unit Nederland  is already working intensively with  Wageningen scientists on its next  big production, which is about life  in and around the Wadden Sea.  ‘This film will only be released in  2018 but nature films require a lot of  preparation.’ The film makers discuss  what unusual processes are  found in nature, for example, with  experts such as marine biologist  Han Lindeboom, and when would  be the best time to record these processes.  Both the film makers themselves  and Wageningen UR’s directors  expect that being based on campus  will facilitate access to the latest  knowledge and insights.