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The Last Song of the Nightingale

While the Robin is a bird that is synonymous with Christmas; there’s another bird that is in desperate need of our attention, according to producers, Katie Stacey and Luke Massey, whose film Singing with Nightingales, was shortlisted for the AHRC Research in Film Awards 2018.    

As Katie explains: “The nightingale is one of Britain's best loved birds, and its song has established itself firmly in British heritage. But it is now one of the UK's most endangered songbirds: it has felt the full extent of habitat destruction, pesticides, climate change and persecution and, since 1970, its numbers have declined 90%."

Throughout history the nightingale has featured in English literature and folklore - in Ancient Greece it was documented that a good singing nightingale could sell for more than that of a slave, while it is also believed that a singing nightingale was used as a cover for young Tudor lovers to meet in the darkness of night.

Katie has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to help their multi-award winning team of young filmmakers, journalists and photographers complete a conservation documentary about this special species.

Using a unique storytelling blend of animation, natural history and documentary style filmmaking, she says they will explore the nightingale’s story.

“Our intention for applying this method of storytelling is to change the narrative around the nightingale, and birds in general, so that their story appeals to a much broader audience. By incorporating history, art, music and animation with the traditional natural history style filmmaking we believe we can access a whole new crowd.

“However, the nightingale’s story is not a standalone case and so it will act as the poster species, demonstrating how all those issues affecting the nightingale, are also affecting all the wild birds of Great Britain.


“Once people are made aware of these things, then they begin to care, and when they care then they will act to protect and preserve.”

The multi-award winning team behind The Last Song of the Nightingale, Katie, Luke and animator Will Rose’s skills lie in producing, filmmaking, journalism, animation and photography. But foremost they are passionate birders and naturalists, who genuinely believe this film can change people’s perspectives of birds and educate them on birds’ importance to humans.

As the eminent biologist and inventor of the term “biodiversity”, Thomas Lovejoy, put it simply, “If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.” 

“We have already begun filming The Last Song of the Nightingale and the first story we shot, of Mercury Award winning singer Sam Lee and his evening spent 'Singing With Nightingales', was shortlisted at this year's Research in Film Awards, in the Inspiration Award category,” says Katie.

Back in 2014, Sam performed ‘The Tan Yard Side’ to the accompaniment of a nightingale on Radio 4, in honour of the 90th anniversary of the first-ever outside broadcast by cellist Beatrice Harrison dueting with her resident nightingale. Since then, Sam has led a series of magical events in woods around the UK, involving stories by the campfire about man’s legacy of making music with nightingales.

The team are just over half way to securing their target, while naturalist and broadcaster, Chris Packham, (winner of the UK's favourite nature book organised by AHRC) has also shown his support on Twitter for making this much-needed film. Katie adds: “Help us to inspire people to care about nightingales, other birds and our environment, before the nightingale sings its last song.”

For more information about the documentary and to pledge to make this film happen, please see the Crowdfunder page.


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