Mark Emery

HQ: Ocala, Florida

For the last thirty years my wife Mary and I have been working in the wildlife industry. As a young man I worked in a reptile institute milking rattlesnakes and wrestling alligators five times a day. The place I worked, Silver Springs, was also the center for underwater filmmaking at the time. I eventually went to work for Jordan Klein and his son Jordy. Jordan Sr invented underwater cinematography and his son Jordy had me working on some of the first shark shows for The Discovery Channel. Jordan won the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement for his work. I ended up working in Alaska and brought the skills I learned from Jordan and Jordy there and we began making wildlife films for National Geographic filming bears and salmon underwater. Later I produced and directed and shot many films for National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, BBC, and The Smithsonian Channel. I met my wife Mary in Alaska and she is the star of my life. The business side of our work would not happen without Mary. We have been to 35 countries filming fish and wildlife. My folks were both classical musicians and later teachers so I learned several instruments when I was young and began writing soundtrack for our films. As of 2018 we have two Emmy's for Cinematography, a Wildlife Communicator of the Year award, a Chris Award and several film festival awards. What we have found is that our home in Florida is crying out for a film on the ecosystems there.

Help Mark and Mary Finish Their Film of the Florida Springs and Spread Awareness

Project goals: $20,000

The Florida Springs are under attack and there are few films that tell the tale. I worked as a young man driving glass bottom boats and doing talks on the wildlife there with a dozen other drivers. There are now only three of the original African American drivers left. The single female driver is likely the first African American boat captain in Florida. Together with another gentleman who ran Jungle Cruises and grew up on the river they are telling us the tale of Silver Springs, one of the largest artesian spring systems in the world. I wanted these four people with a combined 200 years of experience to share their insight in their own voice. We have shot the interviews with Zeiss lenses and RED cameras and I have personally been filming the wildlife along the river for three years now mostly on my own nickel. A go fund me site helped pay for hard drives and equipment rental but now we need money for the edit and distribution. The goal is to give the film to the drivers and their families, the local Silver River Museum, Silver Springs State Park, a local children's science center and to get it into the Florida School System. We hope to build this into a one hour UHD production after this 20 minute piece travels the Film Festival circuit and we raise more funds.

$20,000 should be be enough to get some final pieces in place. We need helicopter work, archival research and the extra hard drives, writer, narration, color correction and editing.

▸ Issue

Except for the Planet Earth series, most projects feature main characters that are most often called "charismatic megafauna," bears, lion, elephants, big cats etc. Understandably these animals are a huge draw. We like to show the other members of the cast also, animals that connect the supporting infrastructure and make it complete. These species are often the red flags that let us know that an area is in trouble. Problems don't start with the big guys but with the interruption of multiple much smaller characters. While leaving the heroes in place, we can cover these other stories in a way that "quick glance" references can't. They also give an in-depth feel to the animals' world that should draw more viewers into the the story and stay with them longer.

▸ Impact

After 30 years of working on many films and watching so many others working hard to do the same, I feel like there is a greater awareness of wildlife and wild places among viewers. Any way we can heighten their experience by making them feel like they are there also makes most folks want to take care of these valuable resources. I worked for the BBC on Alaska Wild Live in 2017. We were able to broadcast wolves, bears, salmon and whales directly into homes from remote areas of Alaska in 3 seconds. This was a huge success financially for the BBC but also a wake-up call that people need to see live images at times to believe it is all real. Polished productions are still very important and I believe have a longer life and a greater ability to influence more folks. The live shows though will likely be one more arrow in our quiver to find viewers that might not normally watch our shows.

Ocala, Florida [Summer] | King Salmon, Alaska [Winter]

If you can help with this project that’s wonderful and we thank you, if not I hope you will get involved in a local project that changes the landscape in some way to benefit wildlife. When we help wildlife and wild places we usually find we feel better about ourselves and our surroundings.
— Mark Emery

Snapshot of my work