Wildlife Filmmaker Visits Wallace

Written by | News

Past pupil and wildlife filmmaker, Mark McClean recently visited Wallace High, offering students a glimpse into his exciting career as a wildlife filmmaker.

Mark left Wallace in 2004, heading to Northumbria University to study Geography and Sports Development. Following his undergraduate degree he spent some time travelling and working for his family’s business before following his passion, undertaking a MA in Wildlife Documentary Production at Salford University. 

He started his career with the BBC.  Following stints as a runner on Coast and Countryfile, he went on to work on Blue Planet and Dynasties, filming meerkats in the Mikgadikgadi salt pans.

He now works for an independent production company, Wildstar Films and travels extensively. Upcoming productions which should be on our screens next year include Crater Queens, looking at lions and hyenas in the Ngorngoro Crater, Tanzania and Forest Queens which will focus on bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Head of English Gillian Weir explained,

“It is wonderful for our students to get a glimpse into the dynamic world of documentary making. Our students are digital natives, well-equipped with high level technological skills.”

Mark has long since been a loyal friend to the school, freely giving of his time to inspire the next generation.

He was instrumental in the success of our Project Based Learning success in June 2022, taking part in Zoom sessions from location to promote exploration on such important topics as sustainability and climate change.

Gillian Weir noted,

“We were delighted Mark was able to squeeze in a session with us on a flying visit home to Northern Ireland for the wedding of another Wallace past pupil. Mark had the opportunity to meet with Year 10 pupils who interviewed him last summer and hear about the PBL (Project Based Learning) work which he had inspired. He then had a question and answer session with a Year 11 class, exploring various careers and skills essential for success.

He then showed us one of his films, which focused on the lives of forest elephants. It is part of an innovative series, Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory made by Wildstar Films for Disney+/ National Geographic. This exciting episode took us to the Central African Republic area of Dzanga Bai and was incredibly thought provoking.”

Yr 11 student Harry Walker commented,

“It was fascinating hearing about Mark’s experiences in the jungle and learning about the team effort involved in filming such an amazing production.”

His classmate Felix Elliott went on,

“Mark reminisced about his experiences at school and offered great advice about the skills needed for success in various careers. It is always interesting hearing about the dynamic lives of people in the world of work and it definitely gave me lots of food for thought.”

Kyle Cinnamond added,

“Watching the series on Disney+ has been all the more enjoyable due to our ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into its production.”

Wildlife filmmaker Mark McClean

Year 10 Interview Wildlife Filmmaker

Year 10 pupils were delighted to meet their “eco hero” Mark, whose work had been the springboard for some of the dynamic film trailers created in our Project Based Learning fortnight in June 2023. As well as exploring Mark’s work, pupils had looked at the ground-breaking work carried out by Dr Latifah Mohammed in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Resource Centre in the United Arab Emirates, including her work on cloud-seeding. They also worked with Dr Philip Anderson, a conservation hunter from South Africa.  Wallace’s focus on promoting sustainability is an important part of school life and we are delighted to be able to use technology to link with experts from across the world.

Year 10 pupil Ella was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Mark,

“Seeing the programme and being able to ask about the daily life of a wildlife filmmaker was definitely an exciting way to spend an English lesson!”

Gillian Weir concluded,

“It was fascinating hearing the advice Mark would give to his teenage self and we are so grateful for the unparalleled support offered by Mark and other alumni.  Mark played an active role in school life and was a pivotal member of the Rugby squad – staff from across the school were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with him. We are looking forward to hearing from Tanya Matthews on Prize Day and a visit from Singapore-based Iain McMullan at Christmas. The strength of our Wallace community is heart-warming.”

Last modified: November 24, 2023