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I proudly recommend Phil Savoie whom I hired when we worked together at the Discovery Channel. At the time, we worked for the channel’s only production unit that produced some 200 hours of programming for the Discovery networks worldwide. We specialized in big science specials but as the resident zoologist and with his extensive filmmaking craftsmanship Phil proved to be invaluable as we created a series of natural history hour-long specials for the network. Phil proved to be so valuable and knowledgeable that the BBC Natural History Unit poached him for that prestigious filmmaking team. He was at the BBC NHU for over ten years and to my knowledge, he is the only American ever to be hired. He produced a number of award winning authored films as well as contributing to big landmark series like Planet Earth. His success there is a testament to his ability to research complex science topics, his love of nature and his technical wizardry filming intricate sequences. He’s a great teacher, quietly brilliant. I’ve always thought of him as a true gentleman and recommend him unreservedly.
Steve Burns National Geographic Channel, Executive Vice President
Phil is a delightful person to work with. He is a highly creative and talented wildlife filmmaker and biologist. His beautiful natural history documentaries are always a joy to watch – a combination of world class, innovative wildlife photography and interesting and fun story telling. Thanks Phil – my life has been the richer for working with you!
Nicky SpodeProduction Executive, BBC Television
Phil worked at the BBC Natural History Unit as a producer and cameraman. He was widely recognized for his extraordinary technical knowledge and strong visual eye. Towards the end of his time here he produced and shot a number of very beautiful, award-winning films for the Natural World strand.
Alastair FothergillExecutive Producer PLANET EARTH, BBC Television
Phil is the complete media professional, expert in photography and expert in his storytelling. He’s obsessive about the detail of the task in hand but in a way that allows his colleagues to smile and relax around him. I am continually calling on him for advice as experience has shown he is likely to know the answer to whatever question I may have. I can always be assured of a thoughtful answer. Without his willingness to share knowledge and to gladly give assistance it would often take many calls to find a solution. I unreservedly recommend him.
Dave BlackhamHead of Operations, Granada Bristol
Phil proved himself an extremely valuable asset to our team. His camera work, field production skills and post production craft suberb.
John SparksSeries Producer, BBC
Working with Phil was a huge pleasure. His knowledge of and passion for wildlife meant we were always on the same wavelength, and his commitment to quality programmes helped us create great shows.
Andrew BuchananHead of Development, Partridge Films
Philip is a dedicated naturalist and cameraman/producer who has excellent instincts, great visual style and an amenable personality. It was a pleasure to work with him!
Holly StadtlerCoordinating Producer, Discovery Channel
Phil Savoie is a highly experienced and creative filmmaker with many years of experience filming, directing and producing the highest quality BBC natural history programmes. Phil has a strong passion for natural history as a subject matter, and he also has considerable knowledge of the craft of filmmaking. He is extremely hard working and professional and every time I have worked with him I have been impressed by his attention to detail and his enthusiasm for his work. I’ve enjoyed working with him tremendously. Phil is also a great communicator and teacher and loves passing on his experience to others.
Tim MartinExecutive Producer, ‘The Natural World’ BBC Television
Philip has been an associated of mine for more than fifteen years during that time Philip has proved himself to be diligent and dedicated to his work. He has integrity and is totally committed to any task he undertakes. His knowledge is immense and the results from his work prove his determination to achieve.
Edward Catton OrrManaging Director, Production Gear Limited
I have worked with Phil on many productions and admire his professionalism and enthusiasm. Phil is a great cinematographer, director and producer, bringing together a great crew on each film he makes. His enthusiasm for the subject matter, the production process, technical equipment and detail is borne out in the end product every time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Phil, and look forward to the next time we are stuck in a dark room for long periods.
Mark KnightsSenior Telecine Colourist,Spirit Pictures,Bristol
I’ve known Phil for more than fifteen years through the motion picture industry. He’s internationally recognized as one of the top producer/ cameramen working in nature documentary film. We correspond regularly via the CML blog and I endorse him and his work without reservation.
Ira TiffenVice President, Research and Development,The Tiffen Company, LLC
Philip is a skillful and experienced cinematographer. He is also a trained naturalist which makes his role in the production of natural history films and programmes well informed scientifically. His finished programmes are of the highest quality and whenever I have been asked to provide a commentary script or a voice-over I have been more than happy to do so. He has always been keen to pass his knowledge to students which I am sure he continues to do with his utmost skill. He is, above all, a pleasant and amusing character. A joy to work with.
Barry PaineFreelance Broadcast voice and writer
It is my extreme pleasure to call to your attention, Philip Savoie, a student from my Film Production class at Boston University. Phil was one of the most responsive students in my eighteen years of teaching. Beside his regular class assignments, he was constantly reporting to me on his forays into the aesthetic and practical aspects of delivering the art of film to the screen or television. Since his graduation, the British Broadcasting Corporation has employed him in their prestigious Natural History Unit as Director/Cinematographer/Producer. We keep in touch, and I have had the opportunity to screen his outstanding work. His projects are broadcast world-wide and have received awards here in the USA, as well as England, France and Japan. I remember his student film, ‘The Firefly’s Light’, which was distinguished by glowing praise from the Boston Globe Film critics and a Student Academy Award. More recently Phil was nominated for an Emmy in Cinematography for work on the BBC ‘Congo’ series. His other BBC series work was recently recognized with a BAFTA nomination in cinematography as well. To this day he remains one of my best students.
David L. Quaid ASCAcademy Award Winning Cinematographer
Phil is the consummate professional.
Mike GuntonExecutive Producer, BBC Natural History Unit
It is a pleasure to write in reference to the qualifications, accomplishments, knowledge, talents, and character of Phil Savoie, a grand master of the art and technology of natural history filmmaking, as well as a fellow biological professional, whom I have known for more than a decade. Phil is a unique and amazing individual: accomplished artist and consummate naturalist, who shares with the best of both that special gift of seeing “into the life of things,” as Wordsworth put it in Tintern Abbey. These gifts are paired with the probing mind and the hunger for detailed knowledge and understanding of a professional biologist. He has as clear a view as I have encountered of conservation and natural history in the bigger picture of Earth’s future. I suspect that you will not find another like Phil. It is not just the unmatchable professional qualifications, breadth of experience, and technical brilliance that he would bring to your program, but the person behind those qualifications. Teaching, explaining, showing how, including, and rewarding are ingrained, almost instinctive, in his personality and behavior. And there is not a pretentious or arrogant bone in the man’s body. (In fact, despite working with Phil on and off for more than a decade, when I saw his CV for the first time recently, I realized I knew only a small fraction of what he has done, because he is a genuinely modest person.) When Phil was working in Costa Rica on Hotel Heliconia for BBC Nature, I served as a Scientific Advisor because of my knowledge of the nectar-feeding mites that feed and breed in the flowers of this hummingbird-pollinated plant. The mites ride between plants in the nostrils of the birds. Phil was able to capture on film details of mite behavior, on the bills of visiting hummingbirds, that I had been unable to detect in 30 years of field work. That’s the professional side. The human part of the story is that Phil insisted on producing a parallel version with professional narration by a Costa Rican, so the film could be used in public schools throughout the country, and so that his Costa Rican field assistants would have a meaningful record of their work to take home and show to their families. The astonishing breadth and depth of experience Phil Savoie brings is matched by a caring and generous soul, direct in communication and genuine in his interactions with all.
Robert K. ColwellBoard of Trustees Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut
I am writing to recommend to you Mr. Phil Savoie. I have known Mr. Savoie well for a number of years beginning with his coming to confer with me on natural history questions while he was still an undergraduate here in New Haven. Many young people come by and one is of course courteous but not expecting special sequel from most of them. Phil, however, was clearly an extraordinarily talented man as a naturalist, with unflagging commitment, and with a most felicitous persona. l gladly gave him special permission to attend my lecture course at Yale on the Biology of the Terrestrial Arthropods. I marked him as a rare one and am glad he stays in touch as he progresses through his growing proficiency and expertise as a zoologist/ecologist and also as an expert scientific film-maker. His-inquisitiveness never wines, and his memory-bank of knowledge of natural history has become a prodigious store. He of course knows intimately the ecology, herpetology, and entomology of eastern North America, and he has done extensive important field work in Latin America and elsewhere. I recommend him without reservation and hope to continue visiting with him from time to time when his travels bring him near.
Charles RemingtonProfessor Yale University & Peabody Museum Curator
Phil is the most talented filmmaker I have had the pleasure to work with. In addition he is a top notch field biologist.
W. John Kress PhDCurator, Head of Botany, Smithsonian Institute
Phil’s preparation, knowledge, and ability to work very well with everyone is exceptional.
Noble ProctorOrnithologist, Mycologist and Conservationist
Phil Savoie is a mine of information, he made the class not only educational, but also fun and entertaining. He was very good at answering all our questions, explaining complex things in a simple way, and telling us stories to help us understand the application of the equipment. It made a big difference having all the equipment there and even having a go at using it. I would definitely recommend a course with Phil for all BBC staff involved in shoots.
Ingrid KyvaleDirector, BBC Natural History Unit
Really, really enjoyed the workshop – the general familiarization with the kit and what is/does what was just at the right level. Also the carnet, customs information was very interesting – for me as a PC as I have no experience of this yet and always appeared to be quite daunting! The behind the scenes secrets also worked very well – as a viewer you do just tend to watch film without thinking how difficult it must’ve been to get a particular shot – all these tricks are invaluable to know! Overall I think you’re obvious enthusiasm, humor and passion for what you do was the best bit – (sorry to be gushy) but very inspiring! Thanks Phil
Mel ThomasProduction Coordinator BBC Bristol
Just a note of thanks for your highly informative and entertaining course. I found it thoroughly fascinating and invaluable. I have been lucky enough to go on some shoots involving time lapse and macro filming and the information provided in your class tied in perfectly with the experience I gained on those occasions. I am the sort of person who prefers to know how a process works to enable me to understand and troubleshoot any potential problems and having a proper knowledge of the equipment used and why will certainly assist me in the future. I think this course should be incorporated into any induction for new production staff. The hands on experience of the camera equipment in the mornings enabled us to understand which lenses had been used and how shots were obtained in different locations when we were dissecting programmes during the afternoons. Very well done – Phil.
Jo AveryProduction Coordinator BBC Bristol
Thanks for the course! I thought I’d give you some feedback while it’s all still fresh in my mind. Overall I found your presentation a very worthwhile experience. You gave a real taster of the excitement of getting the whole package to come together and achieving the results that brought us all to film in the first place. Your extensive collection of gadgets all under one roof and years of experience combine to give an unrivaled rich learning day. You did a great job of getting over the nuts and bolts information. On a practical level, it was a great insight into the logistics of getting into position and preparing for the various shots we too often take for granted. I felt your friendly style made you totally approachable and the subject much more accessible than usual. I hope I’m not alone in saying that my confidence when dealing with filming equipment issues will be improved. Many thanks again for a brilliant job.
Stephen LyleAssistant Producer BBC TV
I’m writing to tell you how immensely helpful your course has been for me. I come from a scientific background, so there were many subjects related with equipment where I was quite lost up until now and were very necessary for me to know in order to do my job in the best possible way. I must say that the clever selection of points were covered brilliantly. Also, even when talking about practical matters, it was very enjoyable, fascinating and explained in a accessible straightforward way that made it easy to digest. I thank you very much for this. Your enthusiasm is very contagious.
Almudena GomezResearcher BBC NHU
I attended your day course last Tuesday and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I have worked for several independents where I have had to set up and organise shoots, as well as assisted cameramen in the field. I think I reflect others opinions when I say that it would be a very valuable introductory course for anyone joining the unit, no matter what their role. I really enjoyed watching examples of how different gear has been used – certainly inspirational in my opinion. It was also great to be reminded of the logistics when taking equipment abroad and the many factors to consider if you want the shoot to go as smoothly as possible. Thanks again for your time, contagious energy and the useful notes you compiled for us.
Laura HarveyResearcher, BBC Television
Phil taught video field production to seniors. His student evaluations confirmed the impressions I had of him: that he was caring without being indulgent, demanding without being unreasonable, critical without being discouraging and personable without jeopardizing his students’ respect for him. I never saw a beginning teacher work so hard and care so much about the education of his students. His preparation was conscientious and thorough. He made extra efforts to provide his students with up-to-date information, beyond our facilities and texts, by locating and obtaining materials distributed by professional vendors and by organizing and conducting special field trips to professional organizations in the Boston area. Being a successful film/videomaker in his own right, his own extensive knowledge and experience made more relevant and timely whatever material he was teaching. Perhaps, most important Phil’s love of film and video is genuine and absorbing. His personal energy, both in and out of the classroom, is contagious and inspiring. I recommend Phil to you without reservation.
J. Philip MillerAssociate Professor College of Communication, Boston University
This is one of the best production classes I’ve taken at BU. Phil Savoie wanted you to learn as much as you could. His relaxed style of instructing made you want to learn more about filmmaking. Learning all I can about production was very important to me and I’m very happy I was able to take this class before leaving BU. Phil has inspired me through his very energetic manner of relating to his students.
Sarah WattsFilm Student, Boston University
Phil Savoie was very easy to get along with and the information he gave was pertinet and timely. He exposed the class to aspects of film/video making we hadn’t seen in other classes, production or theory. His active status as a filmmaker allowed this. He was also great to go to for solving technical problems. He understood what was being asked and explained the solutions clearly and understandably.
Jos RosenFilm Student, Boston University
I must say this is the best class I have taken here at COM. I had an opportunity to learn a great deal. This is primarily due to Prof. Savoie’s expertise and dedication to the class and its needs. He surpassed the perimeters of the class by incorporating field trips to various production facilities and also offered extensive written information in the form of brochures, pamphlets, starter kits and hand-outs. All in all, he always went out of his way to make sure we were given as much knowledge as possible. He also exhibited and instilled confidence in his students no matter the level the students were at. He was always very accessible for extra feedback and was always willing to offer alternatives if we got stuck. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity of taking this class with Phil. He is truly the cream of the crop!
Abbey BaratzFilm Student, Boston University
I would like to express the strongest possible support for Phil Savoie as a colleague in the department and the graduate program. During the nearly twenty years I have been here, I have never seen anyone dedicate himself so fully to the job at every possible level. He also has remarkable Knapp Evaluation scores considering it was his first year teaching anywhere. He is very collegial and has gone out of his way to fit into the department. At a time when most first year faculty are trying to find their feet under them, Phil hit the ground running and has not lost any speed since. The breadth of his expertise and his dedication to the students have made him an absolutely invaluable asset to our department.
Ronald TobiasProfessor School of Film and Photography, Montana State University
Phil Savoie has been a tireless professor in Montana State University’s School of Film and Photography for the last three years. He has a peerless knowledge of the field of nature filmmaking and goes out of his way to share all the tricks of the trade developed over his career. He has also been a tremendous advocate for students and the schools production equipment. He constantly tries to keep our equipment up-to-date so we made so we may remain competitive. Through his urging and hard work the program has professional grade HMI lighting and a jib both important tools that allow students to produce work in line with the industry. Phil has also been a great proponent as well as resource for the students pushing to make sure that it is easy as possible for productions to be realized. As Phil’s student and teaching assistant I can personally vouch for his dedication to the job. I cannot count number of times I’ve found him still in his office long after everyone else has gone home. Phil often sends emails with Internet links to new information that is useful to all students is always available to talk about our work. His classes are good blend of instruction in hands-on time both of which are very important to successful production curriculum. Despite this, every semester he has worked to significantly improve his lesson plans and teaching style, which is a sure sign of a professor who truly cares about his development and students. Phil is a personable and talented instructor who is an asset to the School the Film and Photography. His combination of industry acumen and sincere willingness to assist students to become the best they can be is rare.
Scott WiessingerMFA Film Student, MSU

I can say without hesitation Phil Savoie is at the top of his field in terms of film production skills and is passionate about passing knowledge on to his students. He brings many exceptional skills to the classroom as a professor. Foremost he is passionate about his work and inspires everyone to succeed with unwavering dedication and a jovial personality. He is also very adaptable to the needs of his students and promotes light-hearted classroom. What I respect most about his teaching style is that from day one he treats everyone as colleagues not just students. I cannot overstate the positive influence this has on classroom dynamics by encouraging dialogue, communication, and constructive critique. Not only is Mr. Savoie an excellent filmmaker, he is a great naturalist with a keen sense of wonder for the natural world. Although I have learned more about film production from Phil than anyone in my career it is his passion for biology and intriguing stories in nature that motivates me to be a better filmmaker. Phil also extends his teaching outside the classroom setting. He makes a point to immerse his students in challenging conditions and gives them assignments that will make them think critically about all aspects of production including location, storyline and sound design to name a few.

Dawson DunningMFA Film Student, MSU
Phil has a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of film production, field logistics, equipment operation and workflow management. Best of all good for him. What’s good for us is that he is extremely interested in sharing this information with students. Phil has proven himself to be dedicated to the students and to the project of making us better storytellers and filmmakers. He is readily available outside of class for both formal conference and informal discussion; his kindness is a benefit to us all. Many weekends I have been on campus in the Visual Communications Building, working on editing or something, and there Phil is too, working on lessons or preparing equipment demonstrations for the students. He gives a great deal of his time and energy to us and always has words of encouragement for us, both in the classroom and in the hallway. I feel like this is my chance to offer some of those encouraging sentiments in return.
Spartacus ShapiroMFA Film Student, MSU
I wanted to drop you a note to express my appreciation for all you do for the film program generally and me personally. Whether it’s in class, during office hours, or over lunch I appreciate your eagerness to share your filmmaking knowledge. I have learned a great deal from you as you demonstrate production craft and techniques, critique student work, or deconstruct films. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your positive attitude, generous encouragement and perpetual enthusiasm are always inspirational as a fledgling filmmaker. The excitement you have for teaching is obvious in every encounter with students and its clear that you are a natural, even as you actively strive for continuous improvement. I’m very glad our paths have crossed. I consider myself richer for it both professionally and personally.
Rex JonesMFA Film Student, MSU
As a student I’ve had the pleasure of taking classes with many outstanding professors, but one of my professors, Phil Savoie, truly stands out among them all. Phil is an energetic and involved professor who devotes himself to truly educating his students and reaching them all on a personal level. He makes it a goal to make sure that everyone feels involved in class and that his students feel as if they are learning what they need in order to be successful. His eagerness to teach is matched only by his students’ eagerness to learn. His dedication to be a great professor truly impacts all of us as students. He is a hands on teacher, always bringing in equipment and materials for us to work with so that we may become more involved with both the technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking. He is great at balancing the workload on the students so that we are being properly challenged while also learning, experimenting, and having fun at the same time. His critiques of our films are insightful and he encourages us to build upon our strongest talents and to work on our weaker areas as well. He is always available if a student has a problem or a question and he is truly willing to do his best in order to help a student overcome their obstacles in either filmmaking or academics. He takes great pleasure in watching his students excel forming lasting bonds that will remain long after we have all graduated.
Suhan KupogluFilm Student MSU
My first interaction with Phil Savoie was during my interview process with the MFA program as a student. Phil exuded an excitement about cinematography and filmmaking that was contagious. The evidence of his passion and curiosity were encouraging factors for my decision to apply to the MFA program at Montana State University. During my first year in the program, Phil was my professor for Advanced Cinematography. Although the title of this class suggested that we would be learning about cinematography techniques, Phil provided me with an incredibly broad range of detailed knowledge pertaining to storytelling and producing, as well as absolutely priceless cinematography skills. As a scientist, I deeply appreciate Phil’s attention to biological details. It’s absolutely imperative to Phil to have the facts straight, to understand the science and the research behind the subjects, and to accurately portray these facts through visuals. Phil’s background as a field biologist has provided him with a unique set of tools and viewpoints, which are invaluable for science and natural history filmmaking, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to have learned from Phil. Because of his wealth of knowledge pertaining to EVERYTHING camera-based, Phil is like a walking encyclopedia. And, more importantly, he is constantly keeping abreast of new technology, cameras, and methods…from film to cutting-edge digital.
Christi CooperMFA Film Student, MSU

Phil was great. He was really and truly the most informational speaker that we had all year. One thing that really stuck with me was the way that he took the time to learn about each of us. Not only did it engage us, but it made us feel like he cared about the direction we were going. His advice after that was exceptional, but definitely made more of an impact because he took the time to meet each of us. He was also one of the only presenters who could tell us exactly how they got a cool shot and was excited to share it with us. He didn’t make it feel like a lofty goal or a crazy pipe dream. He took footage that we would have never imagined we could get, and he broke it down. He made us realize that as long as we have a camera, creativity, some duct tape and maybe a pulley we could get awesome shots.
Kathy CainMSc Student, Nottingham U.
Phil’s visit was one of the true highlights of the year. His extreme enthusiasm for wildlife film-making and photography was infectious, and he was able to pack a huge amount of useful information into one short day, by giving real-world examples and copious handouts, all of which I have kept for reference. I particularly appreciated the way that he would show a video and then break it down into the various problems the team faced in making that video, and how these problems were solved. As a budding natural world photographer, I was constantly told how difficult it is to ‘make it’ in this career path, and that perhaps we should consider alternative forms of photography. It was so refreshing to hear Phil speak, and at the end of the day, I was left thinking maybe, just maybe, I can make it – and that anything is possible. I cannot recommend Phil Savoie highly enough.
Toby GibsonMSc Student, Nottingham U.
Phils visit consisted of an inspiring class filled with the engagement and two-way communication required to keep an audience completely focused for a whole day. Phil had the perfect approach in this area as he involved us all throughout asking us questions about our goals and ourselves. He also had a very hands-on theme to the day; he brought all of his own photographic kit in for us to see including lenses and cameras to which we would never usually have access. He talked us through how to get the best from our kit and small steps we could take to improve or images overnight. Another fascinating part of the day was when Phil showed us his footage that he’d film during his career and told us all the tips tricks in secrets he’d used to achieve some of the more challenging shots.
Lara NouriMSc Student, Nottingham U.
Phil provided a very interesting talk to us, sharing a lot of useful information regarding; techniques, equipment and ideas. As well as this he was active throughout the talk, kind, polite and genuinely interested in the topic which has become his career and what we are striving to achieve, something that aided me in creating ideas and gave me back my passion for it.
Alex WilkinsonMSc Student, Nottingham U.
As an ecologist, I have never failed to be impressed by Phil’s command of taxonomy and biology. Despite no longer functioning professionally as a biologist, Phil has retained every bit of biological professionalism and integrity. This is why Phil is also a consummate naturalist and this shows in his filmmaking. As a photographer, I quickly realized that Phil possesses a keen aesthetic eye. His compositions, whether still or moving images, demonstrate artistic balance and a mastery of light and shadow, in addition to a deep biological understanding of his wildlife subjects. In addition to being a creative, talented scientist, Phil is one of the most jovial people I have ever met. I have watched Phil’s delightful personality pave roads and put out fires. I truly believe that he has mastered the art of interpersonal navigation. He is both a first-rate academician and caring mentor who commands both academic theory and in-field problem solving.
Jeremy R. RobertsProducer & Director Conservation Media
I wanted to tell you that your service to our group was absolutely remarkable. Your knowledge, energy, patience, and style were all outstanding, we all benefited tremendously from your commitment to excellence. Best wishes and thanks for a truly unique and superior effort on your part. Your tour of Belize was hands down the best nature field experience myself or the students have ever had.
David L. Hicks PhDProfessor of Biology, Whitworth College
Thanks again for another fantastic field experience. Everyone in our group had a great time, and more importantly learned a great deal while doing it.
David Richard PhDChairman, Biology, Rollins College
Charlie, Rita and I had our Belize get together the other night where we shared slides and fond memories. Night-stalking animals with you was the highlight of the trip. I’m hooked, and returned with some unbelievable pictures… Can hardly wait to go back.
Bob ArmstrongProfessional Photographer & Author
As artists we are constantly traveling seeking fresh subject matter. Over the years this has exposed us to many “animal tours”, and I must say that your trip was the best and most productive one we have ever had the pleasure to be a part of! Please count us in on the next one.
Richard & Natalie SurvingMillsburq Studios
The trip was a enlightening, worthwhile experience, a once in a lifetime event that I will never forget. I learned more about Tropical Ecology in two weeks than I did all semester!
Susan DunnStudent, Clemson University