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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Martin Belderson

Martin Belderson is better known as a documentary film maker having made action-adventure, science and natural history documentary films for a wide range of British and international broadcasters including the BBC, The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, PBS, Canal+ & Yorkshire TV’s ‘First Tuesday’.

Born in London in 1961, and before getting bitten by the movie-making bug, Belderson had various jobs, including panning for gold and other strategic minerals in Northern Britain (summer fieldwork for Regional Geological Reconnaissance Programme), as a door-to-door potato salesman, crewing on the Greenpeace vessel ‘Rubicon’ and falling off mountains (unpaid).

As a stage technician, he crewed at Thames TV, the London Coliseum, the West  Yorkshire Playhouse, festivals and on tours. He was also a grip, gaffer, 2nd assistant camera and clapper loader, working on pop promos, and short films for Film Four and Screen Two. He worked in Leeds and in Soho as an assistant film editor before finding work in 1987 as an assistant producer and researcher for the BBC's flagship science programme Horizon, working on 'Britannic Greenhouse' and 'Clive Sinclair: Portrait of an Inventor'.

He worked on 'Wildlife on One' for BBC1 and 'Nature' for BBC2, including filming mink in Britain, black snow in the Czech Republic and dolphins in the Mediterranean. He made a crucial investigative breakthrough for the Natural History Unit's Golden Panda Award-winning special 'The Global Detective' (BBC1), which led to the prosecution of an Italian fashion chain for buying CITES protected caiman skins from violent traffickers in Paraguay and Brazil. Filmed giant otters, hyacinth macaws, anacondas and caiman jacare in the Matto Grosso.

In 1991 he devised 'Defenders of the Wild'—eight one-hour films about endangered wildlife and the people who fight to protect it—for Channel Four/Discovery. The two series involved filming river dolphins in the Himalayas, tigers in Thailand, chasing pirate whalers, Sicilians standing up to the Mafia and the illegal wildlife trade in Brazil.

Worked on the '3D' current affairs magazine show for ITV and on the acclaimed 'First Tuesday' documentary strand (ITV/Discovery).

Since 1994 he has worked as a Director-Producer-Cameraman on over thirty documentary films, of which he wrote twenty-four. He was the Series Producer of three major co-productions: ‘Bonington’s Secret Mountain’ (YMPA/C4/Discovery), ‘UFO: Down to Earth’ (Discovery Networks) and ‘O’Shea’s Dangerous Creatures’ (YTV/C4/Discovery).

"I have devised more than twenty hours of original television," he says. "My documentary credits fall into three categories: science (including 'Rough Science' and 'Horizon: Crater of Death'); action-adventure (inc. the Sports Emmy winning 'Rock Queen'); and natural history (including 'O'Shea's Dangerous Creatures' and the award-winning 'Defenders of the Wild'). I have filmed on every continent save Antarctica from mountaineering in Tibet with Sir Chris Bonington to filming inside the Hot Zone of an Ebola outbreak in the Congo.

"I also produce and edit arts, campaigning and educational digital productions for the public, voluntary & community sectors." He recently started exploring online digital comedy and drama (‘The Buffet Car’, 'Axon' - BBC Wales/Illumina Digital - and 'Sharkfighter').

Currently setting up a feature length documentary for cinematic distribution: ‘The Death of the Dinosaurs’. It’s the story of the asteroid impact that produced largest explosion on Earth in a quarter billion years and the continuing controversy about its role in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

As an author, Belderson contributed to New Scientist in 1986-88 and penned an issue of Commando in 2003. He has since published a dark comedy thriller, Big Cat (Aeolian Press, Apr 2013), under the pen-name Jack Churchill. A second novel, Dinosaur Claw, is due in 2014. Belderson has also written a non-fiction book about the art of the documentary interview, Read Before Filming (2014).

He lives in Leeds.

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