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Rising Star - Dom Walter
My name is Dom Walter and I am assistant producer at Talesmith - A UK based, television production company that specializes in natural history and factual films. Talesmith is a relatively new production company started by the award-winning director Martin Williams. It’s a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries in the industry and provides fantastic opportunities spanning from broadcast, to VR to giant dome screen theatre systems! I am super fortunate to work at this fast paced company with such an inspiring and fun team. I love every minute of it!
Talesmith - purveyors of fine filmic tales in high-end natural history and factual films for television and cinema. We deal in new perspectives, big ideas and big characters, but at the heart of it all there’s always great story.
"Dom is awesome!"
Martin Williams, Executive Producer Talesmith
We asked our Rising Star a few key questions:
What was your childhood ambition?
To be a Blue Peter presenter! I can partly ascribe my interest in television and creative curiosity to that seminal show!
What was your first break in the business?
Working on the Forces of Nature at the BBC as work experience was my first experience in the industry, however I always consider the first time working at Talesmith as my first major break. I noticed an article in the local newspaper about a start up natural history production company and so I got in touch, assuming I wouldn’t hear back. The next day I was meeting up with Director Martin Williams and pitching five ideas for television shows I’d thought up overnight. I got the job and Martin has been supporting my growth and development in the industry ever since!
What was your best of career move?
Other than responding to that serendipitous article in the local newspaper, I’d say starting my career in development research has stood me in good stead. Working in development at an early stage in my career gave me a brilliant insight into the processes involved in crafting a well-rounded film. I soon learnt that the geeky, academic science I found interesting wasn’t enough to make a compelling story, I had to think creatively about how to make it captivating and relatable to audiences of all ages. In my current role as Assistant Producer, I am still acutely aware of the importance of narrative in making any shoot successful.
What’s a good bit of advice you’d like to share?
Meet and learn from as many people in the industry as possible! For me this proved invaluable for quickly learning about the TV world. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people will go out of their way to give you a hand up in this industry.
Another thing I would say is having the confidence to take any opportunities that arise. It may seem scary at the time but if you feel deep down you can do it then you probably can! Don’t let the imposter syndrome hold you back!
I’d also say this: you can never do too much research. So often when I think I have exhausted all research leads I find something that seems small at the time but grows into a great story!
What’s your craziest /funniest work related experience/anecdote?
I was recently in Alabama filming the bite force of an alligator It just so happened that the day we were there was one of the few days in the year the owner of sanctuary collects the alligator eggs for incubating. We thought this would be great to capture, so after conducting a quick risk assessment I entered the swamp with our presenter Chris Packham and filmed as he retrieved the eggs. Unbeknownst to me, the mother alligator was creeping up behind me in an attempt to protect its young, and I only noticed when I saw the sanctuary owner flapping his arms to scare her away! Thankfully I escaped with only a few fire-ant bites and poison ivy stings, but it was hair-raising stuff!
What do you love about your job and this business?
One of the best things about working in this industry is by far the unparalleled access to places and people you get. In the last 6 months I’ve dined on the border of North Korea, flown in helis over glaciers in Alaska, filmed one of the rarest falcons in the world and touched a T.rex as it’s being exposed for the first time in 66 million years!
What is your proudest achievement?
Being asked to go out on my own to location scout in a heli in Alaska. It was the first time I had done anything like that and there was a lot of pressure to find the perfection locations in a very short timeframe. Luckily it all worked out, thanks to some long weeks of intensive research coupled with a great location fixer, and of course the natural beauty of the Alaskan landscape.
What’s your dream job?
My academic background is in biology and conservation, so the ultimate goal is to direct impactful films that raise awareness of the current ecological threats.
What part of the job or business do you relish the least?
Logging rushes hurts my head! Alas, it’s a necessary evil.
Tell us something that would surprise us.
I teach slacklining during the summer.
What are you working on now?
Flying Over Changbaishan - this is dynamic aerial film about Changbaishan National Park in north China for giant screen immersive theatres systems.
Resdiscovering T.rex with Chris Packham - this is an exciting special about the biology and behaviour of the T.rex for BBC 2, CBC Canada and France 4 & 5. Throughout the film we will gather evidence from the front line of paleontological research, analyze extant animals and work with talented VFX artists and modelers, to ultimately produce the most scientifically accurate CGI T-Rex ever created, unencumbered by the pressures of a movie script!
I am also working on a number of really exciting new projects – but these will have to be kept under wraps for now!