A documentary with NSW South Coast connection has taken out the top prize in its category at a prestigious award beating household names like Attenborough.
After The Fires was one of three finalists for the Long Form Conservation category at the Jackson Wild 2021 Media Awards.
After the Fires was a film made about the impacts of the Black Summer bushfires on Australian wildlife.
Producer and writer of the film Karina Holden said she was thrilled when she heard the news.
"It's a really important and big award, we were up against some mighty films, including one of David Attenborough's big calling cards," said Ms Holden.
Ms Holden said winning the category was a testimony to the importance of the film.
"It was a real forewarning of what's happening in our climate and a bellwether about how we need to start looking at natural ecosystems very differently."
This year there were more than 750 category entries from around 30 countries for the Jackson Wild Media Awards, with finalists being chosen by more than 150 judges.
After the Fires was created over a one-year period, filmed immediately after the fires on Kangaroo Island in January 2020.
The film maps the ecological recovery of Australia and the devastating impacts Black Summer had on the Australian wildlife.
Editor of the film and former Bega Valley local, Toni Houston said she was happy the film was being recognised in such a significant way.
"The most important thing for all of us, is that the story about the impact and cost of climate change is out there."
Ms Houston said working on the film was a highlight in her career, feeling privileged to work alongside "stellar" filmmakers Karina Holden and Cian O'Clery.
Recognition from prestigious award brings exciting possibilities for Australian filmmakers
Ms Holden said smaller filmmaking companies have had to long compete against big blockbuster films created by the BBC and the likes.
Ms Holden believed winning the award would encourage broadcasters to support independent filmmakers.
"I think it gives broadcasters confidence that these types of films are really relevant and should be commissioned, because that's been the real struggle," she said.
Broadcasters picking up films like this gave space for films that are, "sometimes more nuanced, personal, and intimate," she said.
"An award like this really encourages people, whether it's the ABC who commissioned this film, or other networks to really be encouraged to put more natural history made by local filmmakers, on their channels," she said.
The team who brought the film together was small, each sharing ties and a common appreciation for the South Coast.
Ms Holden said during their filmmaking process they also had some direct and different cinematographers who were able to come and contribute to the project.
"We were a small, nimble team telling more intimate storytelling, but still being grounded in the vision and connecting it to the bigger world," she said.
Exciting new film project involving Humpback whales off Bermagui Coast
On recently receiving exciting intel from scientists about unusual humpback activity happening offshore near Bermagui, Ms Holden seized the opportunity and went there to capture the rare footage.
"We managed to be in the middle of a mass feeding frenzy, which has only ever been filmed once before by amateur photographers," she said.
Ms Holden said she was excited to get started on the new film project, especially since it would bring about a positive story which they can share.
"After making a film like After the fires which has been about loss, to tell a story about abundance and recovery is just wonderful," she said.
"The oceans around there are extraordinary and I look forward to continue telling stories about the rich nature of the South Coast."
Ms Houston said the power of filmmaking is capturing important moments in time that ought to be brought to the forefront.
"It was such a massive global event the Black Summer fires- and the impacts on Australia were just so incredibly devastating.
"That can't be forgotten, and through a film like this, it won't be forgotten."