Posted on 23rd September 2019

Elizabeth J Penman: Filmmaker

My name is Elizabeth Penman and I am a filmmaker based in Glasgow, Scotland.

I am passionate about the industry we work in and honestly believe the vast majority of my knowledge and understanding of climate change and environmental issues, has been gained through watching documentaries and TV programmes about the matter. These shows have fuelled my desire to try and promote sustainable living and simultaneously have powered my faith in the important role our industry has to play in the delivery of these important messages.

I started my journey as a filmmaker age 12 through shooting videos at the skate park and in forests and mountains (anything that took me outside!)  As an extreme sports enthusiast throughout high school I uploaded these action sports edits to YouTube in abundance and my passion for creating content only grew. I went on to Napier’s Screen Academy Scotland, leaving with a 1st class BA in FILM. During my undergrad I directed several short films, which subsequently screened at festivals in the UK, Europe and US, winning a few awards along the way. I additionally spent nearly 2 years in California studying and working in the TV and Film industry out there.  Upon returning to the UK I worked full time in the industry here, initially as a runner, which is when I was first introduced to ‘Albert’ and what the initiative stands for. With the support of my Production department I began making ‘Going Green Behind The Scenes’ for the BBC ONE drama ‘The Victim’. This mini documentary showcases the unique way each and every department on this show made an effort to be as sustainable as possible throughout production.  The film features interviews from crewmembers, exclusive behind the scenes footage and an 8-week long time-lapse sequence of the elaborate courtroom-set build, which was constructed from sustainable timber and old recycled sets. You can see the full film here:

I am also the filmmaking lead for the BBCs newly reformed Green Team. Here I am working alongside a team of dedicated individuals to run and film Green events and push for new industry values and training opportunities.  If anyone would like any more information on upcoming eco TV events/ training then please feel free to reach out, I’d be happy to help.

I have recently been doing a lot of studying and work in the wildlife sector too.  I believe that wildlife documentary filmmaking is a form of conservation in itself – it provides people with an emotional connection to nature and our planet, which in turn inspires action and positive change. Moreover, the footage is crucial for ecological research and unfortunately in a final sense, it is some of the last documentations and visuals we have of certain species before they go extinct and are lost forever. I am currently in development for an exciting new project around this idea, which hopefully I will be able to share soon.

My goals for the future will certainly be storytelling focused on our environment and the animals and people that live here. I want to be creating content that educates but also inspires people to get actively involved in living a more environmentally friendly life.

It is a delight to be invited to join BAFTA’s Albert Ambassador scheme, by which I am happy to be making a commitment to spreading knowledge about our planets welfare through sustainable production within TV and Film.  Whatever area of the industry you are working in, I would encourage everyone to being going into pre production with empathise on planning the shoot with a huge focus on the environmental implications of your work. Planning ahead elements like kit, crew travel, catering, and looking at the most green solution for each, will have an accumulating positive result. Moreover, if the on screen works itself can include any sustainable messages, then that’s even better! Documenting and sharing this good work, even if it is just through eco- focused behind the scenes, will give other productions fresh new ideas and keep this issue at the forefront of everyone’s attention!