Providing Ecology Support to the Film Industry

Providing Ecology Support to the Film Industry

In early 2021 BSG Ecology was approached by Catherine Birdy Productions Ltd to provide advice and support ahead of filming of the newly released feature film ‘Catherine Called Birdy’ at Tretower Court, Brecon and Stokesay Castle, Shropshire. This provided staff with a very different challenge from conventional planning-led projects, and an opportunity to help share good practice and promote the profession in a different environment.

Previous survey work at both locations had confirmed the presence of maternity colonies of bats (lesser horseshoe bat at Tretower Court and Daubenton’s bat at Stokesay). The activities that needed to be considered were set-dressing and filming. Given the timings, nature, and low-risk of likely impact of the proposed activities, we advised that a full European Protected Species Licence would not be needed. A non-licenced method statement for the respective locations was prepared, and controls discussed with the project team.

As part of the implementation of the method statement, the film crew were provided with a toolbox talk to ensure they were aware of the presence of bats within the film set locations, and the legislation protecting bats from disturbance. Roosting lesser horseshoe bats were present at both locations during filming. These were closely monitored to check for signs of disturbance, and access to roost locations by the film crew was prevented.

BSG Ecology were also on set ahead of all potentially disturbing activities (such as shoots requiring internal illumination, use of haze, and lighting of false fires in open hearths) to undertake targeted inspections for the presence of roosting bats. Inspections of static set props (such as camera and light rigs, and wall drapes) were also undertaken at regular intervals to check for new residents.

Catherine called Birdy was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022 and has been available via Amazon Prime Video since early October 2022. The cast includes Bella Ramsay, Billie Piper and Andrew Scott.

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