Hugh Miles (filmmaker)

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Hugh Miles is a British filmmaker who specialises in wildlife films. An award-winning cinematographer, Hugh likes to be involved in as many aspects of the filmmaking process as possible, even appearing in front of the camera to help the audience get closer to the experience of actually being out on location.

Passionate about conservation from an early age, Hugh spent most of his school holidays carrying out conservation work at RSPB reserves, and decided on a career as a wildlife filmmaker after watching Eric Ashby on television in the early 1960s. After first going to film college, Hugh got a job at the Film Unit in Ealing, enjoying it so much he stayed there for nearly nine years. However, Hugh was then able to combine his interest in filmmaking with his passion for conservation by joining the RSPB. Here, Hugh was in charge of producing one hundred minutes of film a year and would try to get stories about birds onto television as often as possible by producing press releases for the national news, which would be viewed by over 10 million people. Hugh went freelance in the mid-1970s, with his first job being to film for the seminal BBC wildlife series Life on Earth.

Much of Hugh's success has stemmed from his use of a technique, learnt from J. A. Baker's book, The Peregrine, which allowed him to gain the trust of the animals he filmed. By wearing the same clothes and doing the same thing every day, Hugh hoped that the animals would get used to him as part of the landscape and would eventually take no notice of his presence. This enabled him to get close to wild otters and pumas and achieve shots that have proved impossible for others.

One of the films that Hugh is most proud of is People of the Sea. After they had started filming, it became clear that there was a powerful conservation story to be told about the decline of the cod stocks in Newfoundland, and they ended up making a programme that was different from the one that they had set out to make. The film went on to win awards for Best Conservation Film at Jackson Hole 1997 and Wildscreen 1998, and was also seen by the Premier of Newfoundland, who decided to put a copy in every school so that the children were brought up understanding their environment and the dangers of over exploitation of a wildlife resource.

He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Cherry Kearton Medal and Award in 1986,[1] won a BAFTA TV award for Best Photography in 2000, shared with Chip Houseman, for Wildlife Special: Tiger; and was awarded the Panda for Outstanding Achievement at Wildscreen 2002.[2]

In 2011, Hugh was awarded an honorary degree from the University for the Creative Arts.[3]