Growing A World Wonder

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Richard Nockles

Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Terry Gilliam


What motivated you to make this Virtual Reality Project?

The Great Green Wall is an incredible, generation-defining project. Yet the wider world seems to know very little about it. This VR film was created to change that, sharing its story in a way that feels spectacular but also tangible on a human level. The film was designed to highlight climate change issues by taking World leaders in VR directly to the front line of the problem.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Range of GoPro rigs, zip lines drones and Gyro stabilisers


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your virtual reality video to help tell your story.

The key with VR is creating motion and action that fills the scene. This project was designed to engage the audience by taking them to places they would never usually see. We crafted floating shots through packed scenes using hundreds of extras from local communities who were very keen to get involved.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

The film was scripted with clear messaging about the impact of over population and overgrazing mixed with the rise in global temperatures. We knew exactly what type of experience we were building. The unknown element was the casting of the key characters. We met with dozens of girls in and around Koyli Alpha in Senegal and were delighted to meet Binta and her Grandfather Moussa who totally blew us away with their performances. This Story is their story.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

We travelled to Koyli Alpha village in Senegal, home of the Fulani people, to hear their stories and share them with the world. We met with tribal elders, children, and a range of people who live and work along the wall, discovering how it is already influencing their daily lives. The Senegalese people were incredibly generous and helped us throughout the 2 week shoot. The village elders even gave us a blessing ceremony in front of the entire village. Very special moment.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Shooting VR is so addictive. Getting it right is hard but such fun to learn. My advice is to get out there and try it.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Producing good VR is very difficult. A VR director has to mix theatre and film production techniques, my favourite part is blocking out the action, the build up to the shoot. Working with actors, extras and the VR teams.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

Gyro stabiliser for fluid motion walking shots


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

The Great Green Wall is a hugely progressive and ambitious project, not just for Africa, for the whole world. It’s more than just an environmental initiative; it’s a symbol of hope that humanity can reverse the effects of climate change. ‘Growing a World Wonder’ lets people experience this for themselves, in incredible Virtual Reality.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

Senegal is one of the original partner nations for the Great Green Wall, and one of the leading lights of the initiative, with huge progress already being made there. The story of the Great Green Wall in Senegal offers a clear demonstration of the challenges faced by people across the region, and shows how The Wall can help tackle them.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this virtual reality video.

Having spent two weeks running through the bush picking up drones and setting zip wires I was horrified to see an eagle swoop down in front of me and pick up a ten foot snake from the grass ahead of me.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

I hope that audiences see the impact that overpopulation and global warming has on our environment.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

VR for change | Climate change | VR production techniques


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

The Great Green Wall is taking root in the Sahel region, at the southern edge of the Sahara desert – one of the poorest places on the planet.

More than anywhere else on Earth, the Sahel is on the frontline of climate change and millions of locals are already facing its devastating impact. Persistent droughts, lack of food, conflicts over fewer natural resources, and mass migration to Europe are some of the many consequences.

Yet, local people from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East are fighting back. Since the birth of the initiative in 2007, life has started coming back to the land, bringing greater food security, jobs and stability to people’s lives.

Once completed, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on Earth and a new Wonder of the World.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:



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