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Preview - Toby Strong, BAFTA winning Cinematographer comes to Darlington

Have you ever wondered how Film & TV manages to capture the amazing shots of nature, wildlife and our beautiful planet? How the stunning views on programs such as Human Planet and Elephant Diaries are captured, or the truly insightful and intimate closeups on the BBC 'Watch' seasons (Spring, Autumn, Winter).

Perhaps you are a keen photographer, film maker or student of the art?

The multi award and BAFTA winning Director of Photography, Toby Strong is visiting Darlington Hullabaloo on Friday June 10th to give an illustrated talk through his life and career, share some secrets and recount some of his epic journeys to bring us up close and personal with the wildlife of our planet.

Over the last 25 years Toby has travelled to every continent, from crossing the Sahara with camels to sailing to the Galapagos, from the Himalayas to the ice caves on the peak of mount Erebus in Antarctica.

In advance of the show, here are a few Q&As put to Toby.

What's the process prior to heading out to film? How do you know you'll get the content you need to support the story you're hoping to tell?

I meet up with the director and we talk through the story and how best to achieve the sequence, style, what kit and cameras and equipment. Also, how long we will need and make up of team. It’s always a really exciting part of the process.

There is always a risk in our world that nature will not perform, and we won’t get what we need, but I have to say in 25 years I’ve never had a complete failure…right up to last week when I returned from Sri Lanka where I was supposed to be filming whales, which worryingly didn’t turn up - not one whale! So, it does happen.

Has your photography created any opportunities for you to advocate for environmental issues? How can photography and cinematography help to get these messages across?

Working on series like planet earth and blue planet are wonderful at showcasing the beauty of our natural world, and also fostering passion and thus a desire to protect, which is hugely important, and I love doing.

But working on a series like The Earthshot prize with Sir David Attenborough and His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, was very close to my heart. Not only did it highlight what needs our immediate attention in the world, but it was also able to champion those working tirelessly to find solutions.

Has your understanding of people’s behaviour changed after spending long periods of time with wildlife?

I most certainly based my parenting on animals, from watching gorillas and elephants. My poor son may have things to say on this! I also operate around people as I do around animals, staying aware of energy and space, there is much one can learn from sitting and watching a group of meerkats!

Do you have any tips for someone starting out in wildlife cinematography?

I have learnt it’s very little to do with what film course you’ve done, if any. It’s more to do with your passion for the natural world and skills…. climbing, diving, set building, social skills, all those things your passionate about.

Then start… Start filming and making short films, this is what will get your foot in the door. And persevere, keep going!

This will be a brilliant opportunity for fans, nature lovers and budding cinematographers to hear direct from one of the best in the world.

Tickets are available from

Darlington Hippodrome box office on 01325 405405 or visit

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