Simon King – Interview

Simon gives some answers to the questions we all want to ask…

When and where were you born?
I was born in Nairobi Kenya on December the 27th 1962.

What was your family life and upbringing like?
I left Kenya when I was two years old. Raised in Bristol, my parents separated when I was about nine. I lived with my mother, Eve and my sister Debbie, but always saw plenty of my father, John.

What do you think influenced your choice of career?
An undying sense of wonder in the Natural World, and wanting to discover more. Having a mother in the music industry and a father in the television industry ensured I had a framework on which to hang my passion.

Are you married?
I’m married to Marguerite, with whom I often work; she is a talented film maker and camera operator.

Do you have any children?
I have four children, 3 from my first marriage: Alexander born ’86, Romy born ’89 and Greer born ’95.

Marguerite and I have a baby daughter, Savannah, born August 2006.

What are your hobbies and interests?
There are so many things I love doing besides watching wildlife; drawing and painting, playing my Irish flute, swimming, walking, archery, yoga, star gazing (astronomy not celebrity!), gardening, cooking and reading to mention a few.

If you hadn’t been a wildlife cameraman and presenter what would you have done?
It would certainly have been closely linked with the natural world. I started life wanting to be an elephant when I grew up. When that aspiration was quashed by the laws of nature I plumped for zoo-keeper, then warden on a reserve and finally cameraman/presenter. I’m lucky enough to have managed the latter for the past 30 years or so.

I should love to develop my painting skills and also my music, either of which would fulfil me, so long as I was able to take long walks on a regular basis.

What is your favourite part of the UK and also the world?
The UK has so many riches, but partly through familiarity and partly through contact I would have to settle on the far north, and the South West. The Hebridean Islands each hold a magic and charm of their own, as does Shetland, and the Somerset Levels will always be very close to my heart.

If you were an animal, which animal would it be?
Peregrine Falcon, no question. Playing at 1000 ft travelling in excess of 200mph has to be a wonderful way to start the day.

Your frequently asked questions …

How do I get in to wildlife film making?
Probably the most frequently asked question over time. and a good one! The straight answer is there is no one route into the wildlife film-making industry. My own route was unorthodox. I first appeared on TV when I was 10 years old, in a period drama about a boy on Dartmoor who finds and raises a fox. This came about because of my already established passion for animals and my late father, John King, who was then a director with the BBC in Bristol. We went on to work together (and apart) for the next 25 years, making a number of series and stand alone programmes. In that time I developed as a cameraman and producer, whilst continuing on-screen appearances.

So how does this help with regards to advice? I’m not sure, but what is certain is that throughout that time, I have been true to my first passion – The Natural World and all that it represents. A genuine interest and knowledge of the subjects one hopes to work with is the single most important tool for the job. A zoology degree can open doors but is not essential (I left school at 17 to make my first film as a cameraman!). Media Studies too can help develop a knowledge of the fundaments of film making, and get you meeting the right people. The ready availability of video cameras and home video editing facilities really has made a tremendous difference to the access everyone has to develop these skills. Creating a show reel, to display your ability as a cameraperson, presenter, producer or any other discipline can speak volumes to a potential employer.

But above all – passion. Genuine, full-blooded passion for the subject will open more doors than almost any other credential. Marry that with perseverance and you’re on your way. Good luck!

Are there any opportunities to work with you?
Though I would love to offer the opportunity for you to accompany me in the field, in practice it’s not usually possible. Most of the work I do is with just one or two people, and we have worked together for many years. There are projects, such as Big Cat Diary / Week that have much bigger teams, but all team members are specialists in their field and are hand picked by the production team. But who knows, if you do pursue your passion and your dreams, and you end up working in wildlife film-making, we may indeed work on a project together.

Would you like to film the wildlife in my garden?
Though I am unfortunately not able to answer your e-mails personally I am always thrilled to receive your stories of close encounters with wildlife. There are projects, such as Springwatch & Autumnwatch, which benefit enormously from your knowledge and input, and I am in close touch with the production teams for both. Perhaps they may contact you sometime in the future.

Can I book you for a personal appearance?
I do, when my schedule allows, provide public speaking opportunities. Any enquiries contact us.

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