Category Archives: sun bear video blog

“Big Dream Little Bears” – behind the production..

It’s been a long hill to climb getting Big Dream Little Bears ready for release. It’s hard for anyone outside the movie business to know how many processes a film goes through before it can be broadcast. Just look at the long list of credits on any small, seemingly low budget, documentary and think how many experts and expert wages are involved. It took a while, too long, for us to realise that we weren’t going to get any technical or financial help, so there were no options for us other than to give up on the project or do everything ourselves. Score the music, many hundreds of hours at the edit suite, colour grade, record voice-overs, do the graphics, sound mix, arrange preview screenings etc. etc. etc, on and on it goes.

 It wasn’t much of a decision really. We knew we wouldn’t give up on it.

 From the beginning, when we first began talking with Wong via Skype, we were determined to do a film that brought the actual people, the real experts doing the heavy lifting, to the forefront of the story. We’ve all seen so many, often very good, celebrity driven documentaries where the true stars of the story are relegated to the background. We thought surely there is an audience taste to meet these dedicated, hard working and hardy individuals doing the back-breaking, often dangerous work, for us all.

 We’re glad film stars and other concerned celebrities break their busy schedules to use their high profiles to help.  Fantastic. We congratulate them. It’s a selfless and much valued contribution.  We believed there was also room for a film that got inside the lives of the people on the ground, a story that showed their hopes, fears, humour, disappointments and victories while fighting to overcome so many obstacles between them and their goals.

 Judging from the wonderful reactions to our test screenings at universities and colleges here in Australia, and considering Big Dream Little Bears was selected by World Kids International Film Festival to tour schools in Mumbai for a year and is an Official Selection for the CSIRO Australian Science Film Festival, there is an audience hunger to delve a little deeper into the subject. We’ve had over 65,000 hits on our Youtube site alone.  None of that helped us get it broadcast on TV of course, but frankly, we don’t give a damn, we’ve taken a page from Wong’s book, just keep moving forward, one small step at a time.  There is an audience out there and we can get it to them, you, on the web.

 It’s a great freedom actually, having done all the work and financed it all ourselves, we don’t owe any production company or network anything. It’s ours to do as we want. So we’ve decided to release it Video On Demand and give 40% of the profits to the BSBCC.

 I remember well at one point while filming Big Dream I spent six or seven days on a ladder in the sun waiting for the first bear to take it’s freedom. Constant spider webs being woven on the camera, ducking bees, covered in ants, swatting mosquitoes, feet numbed and trying not to touch the electric fence (it finally zapped me).  I would gladly triple that time than do one more minute of writing letters or filling in applications to get this film out to the world. Time to get the show on the road.

What better way and what better time to do so than to have Wong, the man who dreamt the dream to release the littlest bears on earth, officially announce the release of Big Dream Little Bears at his TED talk on the 14th of July.

 I hope a lot of Malaysians see this program and realise what their incredible, highly trained fellow countrymen are doing to save their heritage. Borneo is a jewel of the world.

 

Howard Jackson & Dr Audrey Low

Wildhoop Productions

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre on 14 Jan 2012

It has been almost 4 years by now since I founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Thanks to the helps from many, so many in fact, people and friends from across the world,

the establishment of the centre has been progress slowly but surely toward its goals.

These sun bears used to be kept as pets.

These sun bears used to be kept in small cages.

But luckily they were rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

In BSBCC, we these rescued sun bears have access to the forest enclosure, good forest enclosure in fact.

Our sincere thanks to Sabah Forestry Department for giving us this piece of forest for the sun bears.

These video clips were taken today on January 14, 2012.

These are how some of our rescued sun bears live in the centre.

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Room for love for the sun bear

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Please help us spread this video. Share it with your friends.

Sun bear climbing liana at BSBCC

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Sun bears in Borneo live in the lush tropical aseasonal rainforest.

With high solar radiation, high rainfall and constant warm temperature year round, this forest simply fills with life.

The forest forms multiple canopy layers, with the top layers measure average 50 m above the ground, and some “emergent” tree species reaching 70 m or more.

Under this condition, sun bears have evolved as an arboreal species to exploit the multiple strata in the forest.

Sun bears are superb climbers.

They spend a lot of their time resting on big canopy branches, and sleeping in the tree nest that they made high on top of tree.

They also forage on these multiple canopy layers, harvesting fruits, ants and other insects, and bee hives.

This is Cerah the female sun bear.

She was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department in 2007.

Her life as a captive sun bear literary transform after the establishment of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in 2008.

Here at BSBCC, she can have access to the forest enclosure.

She can climb like a wild sun bear in her forest enclosure.

She can eat termites and ants like a wild sun bear.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre aims to conserve sun bear through education, research, rehabilitation, and improve welfare for captive orphan sun bears.

We need your help to achieve these goals.

Please visit http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org to learn more.

Please help us spread the words and spread the loves.

http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

After exploring this liana (forest vines) for about 15 min, Cerah decided to climb higher.

She literary disappeared in the three canopy about 30 m above the ground. 

But she did not stay long up high.

Slowly she descended from the liana to the ground.

Enjoy the video.

When Mary met monkeys

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Few days ago Mary the sun bear and I spent the afternoon in the forest like we usually do. Suddenly we have a visitor when Mary was busy looking for termites in this spectacular liana (vine). It was a pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina). The macaque came right on top of us to feed on the fruits of kunau-kunau (local name) (Baccaurea tetandra, Family Euphobiaceae) 

Few minutes later, more macaques came to check us out. We were literally surrounded by them. Pig-tailed macaques are a common primate species found in the forest of SE Asia. They share their forest habitat with sun bears. At Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, pig-tailed macaques are one of the five common primate species. Other four primates are orangutans, long-tailed macaques, red leaf monkeys, and human!  

Watch the interaction between Mary the sun bear and the macaques in this video.

Feel free to share it with your friends too!

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Sun Bear Diary- Mary finally climbs!

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Sun bear is an arboreal bear.

In the wild, they spend a lot of their time resting, sleeping, and foraging on tree canopy of Southeast Asian rainforest.

Like Mary, sun bear cub learns how to climb when they are young.

Their mother will bring their cubs to look for food when they are capable to move around.

At the age of 4 or 5 months old, sun bear cubs are capable of walking, running and climbing. 

So what is a big deal of Mary climbing a tree at the age of 9 month?

Mary is not an ordinary sun bear cub.

Her mother was probably killed by poacher when she was about three months old.

She was then captured by the poacher and kept as a house pet.

Her owner has no knowledge of raise a sun bear cub.

They did not give Mary milk, which is the most important food for all baby mammals.

Because of that, she lacked sufficient nutrient for her growth and development, such as calcium and other minerals to build bones in her body.

Mary has a relatively small body when Sabah Wildlife Department rescued her and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Her body was relatively short and small.

She cannot walk and run properly like other sun bear cub her age.

She has weak limbs and walk slowly. Clumsy, so to speak.

We believe Mary suffered from calcium deficiency.

We hope she can overcome this problem and grow well under the care of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Today she was climbing this dead tree and trying to find food in the tree.

Although she failed to find any termite or ant colony, she did well on her climbing skill.

This is a big start and a good progress for Mary the sun bear to start her new life at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre aims to conserve sun bear through education, research, rehabilitation, and improve welfare for captive orphan sun bears.

We need your help to achieve these goals

Please visit http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org to learn more

Please help us spread the words and spread the loves http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org

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Big Tree Little Bear and Tiny Termites -video

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Sun Bear Diary: Fulung in the forest

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Time flies! It has been more than two months we had rescued Fulung and nurse him. Over the past two months, he gained 10 kg, from 7.8 kg when he first came, to 17.5 kg as of yesterday. This video was taken yesterday when I walked him in the forest. There were a lot more clips that I took of Fulung doing some amazing things in the forest. I am not good at video editing nor have time to do it. What I did is do a quick and simple editing and post it up. Hope you like it!

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Sun Bear Diary – Mary and ants

This is something that I wanted to do every time I walk one of our sun bear cubs in the forest: I want to upload and post the videos that I took (literally hundreds of them if not thousands already) of the bears doing their “things” in the forest and share them to the world. However, I am always facing the dilemma of finding enough time to do so. 🙁

Yesterday I walked Mary the sun bear for the first time after being away for 3 weeks (our stuff and volunteer walked her during my absence) in the forest like before. We had a great time together in the forest (although both the leeches and mosquitoes were really bad because of the heavy rain we had lately). Although she still wanted to suck my finger once in a while to seek comfort, her condition is much better compare to last month when she first came here. She moved much faster and more agile. Good news for sure.

I hope I can find more time to upload and catch up with editing and uploading the videos on internet so that you all can see their special behavior and illusive life style. Stay tuned and enjoy the video!     

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Big Dream Little Bears

  by Howard Jackson and Dr Audrey Low.

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After a year and half’s work on our documentary witnessing the pivotal moment in Wong’s big dream for his little sun bears we decided it was close to completion and high time to test it on an audience. The Sydney Film School where Howard works was kind enough to offer their screening theater and so we set about inviting a wide cross section of people to see our big dream little film. Normally, with a preview, all the principle team; the producer, publicists, designers, marketers, sponsors, investors etc, etc…and the film makers; director, camera, sound, editor, talent, narrator, colorist, score composer etc, etc, etc, fill half the theatre. But for our film (our big dream no budget as we’ve come to call it) has a sum total of 2. The thank-you’s and congratulations and stroking of one another’s egos, were therefore mercifully short.

 It was an evening screening but we made it a point to let people with children know they were welcome and so in amongst the heads of university departments, Borneo experts, professors, our Sydney sun bear expert (Lesley Small), a small smattering of film makers, educators, advertising people, animal lovers and members of the general public; we had a dozen or so kids ranging from four years old to twelve.  Some looked fidgety and bored before we had even begun our introduction and we couldn’t help thinking it could only go downhill from there.

 The lights went down, the title came up and within the first minutes the kids had settled and were giving the story their full attention. We hadn’t really considered this film to be something that would engage children so I have to admit we expected them to lose interest after a while but against all expectations they sat with their eyes glued to the screen for the full 52 minutes and 38 seconds.

 As filmmakers you tend to judge the audience appreciation (or not) by the sounds and movements throughout the theater.  The right ones came pretty soon after the film began: a nice series of chuckles and outright laughs at the interchanges between Wong and the international bear crew and the oughs during the darting and medical procedure.  I noticed someone almost jumped off their seat when the first bear was zapped by the electric fence and the macaques stealing the bear’s food were a special favorite.  Towards the end a distinguished professor called out “Oh no, she’s not going to go” when it looked like none of the bears would ever leave the cage and then when it happened called out again “Good on you girl.”

 In short the audience reaction exceeded our best expectations, and certainly exceeded our worst. The kids were doing Wong’s slow motion “Free the bears” impersonations in the foyer (if you haven’t seen that, it’s on the Wildhoop youtube channel).  The question and answer time at the end, normally a polite formality went on so long we finally had to say we surrender and that we wanted to get to the food and drink we had prepared. 

 One of the heartening aspects of the screening for the BSBCC was the number of people who came up to us afterwards, whist sharing a beverage or two, to ask us how they could help or donate to the cause. The fact they could see where the money was spent and that Wong and Wai Pak, and the people dedicated to Malaysian conservation, were making a difference, or put another way, they could see hope, really struck a chord with people. It also surprised them to learn that you could build a purpose built facility in Malaysia that cost around about the same amount as it takes to fund a fairly low budget documentary.

 It has been a fascinating journey for us. We originally went to Sabah to shoot some footage so as to put up a clip on the web to help publicize Wong and the BSBCC and at the same time to use the clip to try to get film investment here in Australia so we could go back with a crew to make a slick documentary. The first part of that plan was a resounding success (we’ve had just short of 50,000 hits on Youtube alone), the second part, wasn’t quite a resounding victory. Insisting we feature the team of people working on the bears without superimposing a western presenter in front of them was never going to help get investors. But, like Wong, we weren’t going to give up. We looked back through the footage we had shot and realized there was a stand-alone story within.  Well, we hoped. It’s hard to tell until you put in front of a real flesh and blood audience

 Doing every job between two people is a long and tiring process, we’ve had to stop occasionally to go out and teach so we could start the next stage, but having a close to completely finished project within the time we’ve taken is about what it takes for a production house.

 Since the great response to the Sydney Film School screening we’ve had an offer to show it in Melbourne at another film school and, both interestingly and coincidentally, after our surprise at Big Dream’s success in entertaining kids, we’ve had a distribution offer that could see the little bears be viewed in schools and universities (with an education pack included). The film was described as moving, inspiring, and perfect for young people. We’re still in negotiation but it does show that Wong’s belief, if only people knew the Borneo sun bears exist, they would be interested and love them.

 We’re almost there, just few last tweaks to sort out the broadcast specs, (the first time we’ve encountered something we can’t do or learn to do ourselves), but we are ever so close to having the dream ready for audiences to join Siew Te Wong and his fantastic team on their quest to save one of Borneo’s rarest and unknown (hopefully we can do our small part to help to change that) treasures.

 Future plans? Obviously this process has sent us stark raving mad, we keep dreaming of going back to Sabah and doing another one. Anyone working with animals that no one has ever heard about and no film company would ever invest in. Contact the two crazies at Wildhoop Productions.  

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Wong’s note:

Wong’s note:

Thank you Howard and Audrey so much for accomplishing such a tremendous task for “making” (producing, directing, filming, editing, narrating, …………) Big Dream Little Bears. I would never have thought that this project has come this far. I still recalled clearly the first email that Audrey wrote me and offering help few years ago.  “Do what you do best to help us” was my replied. True enough, Audrey said her husband is a film maker and can help us make some videos to promote our course. The end result is much better! Big Dream Little Bears is a great gift from Howard and Audrey and Wildhoop Production to me and BSBCC. This is a great documentary that recorded what was happening during the few weeks when we moved the sun bears from the old bear house to the new bear house. We now can always remember every single detail – including the continuous sneezing from my allergy to sun bears.

Thank you Howard. Thank you Audrey. Thank you Wildhoop Production!      

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