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Chris Palmer

chris-palmer-headshotChris Palmer

Author, Wildlife Film Producer & Professor, American University

Chris Palmer is a professor, speaker, author, and environmental and wildlife film producer who has swum with dolphins and whales, come face-to-face with sharks and Kodiak bears, camped with wolf packs, and waded hip-deep through Everglade swamps.

Over the past thirty years, he has spearheaded the production of more than 300 hours of original programming for prime time television and the giant screen IMAX film industry. His films have been broadcast on numerous channels, including the Disney Channel, TBS Superstation, Animal Planet, and PBS. His IMAX films include Whales, Wolves, Dolphins, Bears, Coral Reef Adventure, and Grand Canyon Adventure. He has worked with many celebrities, including Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Ted Danson.

chris-palmer-with-binocularsChris and his colleagues have won numerous awards, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination. Chris has also been honored with the Frank G. Wells Award from the Environmental Media Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival. In 2010 he was honored at the Green Globe Awards in Los Angeles with the award for Environmental Film Educator of the Decade. In 2011 he received the IWFF Wildlife Hero of the Year Award for his “determined campaign to reform the wildlife filmmaking industry,” and in 2012 he was named the recipient of the Ronald B. Tobias Award for Achievement in Science and Natural History Filmmaking Education.

Chris is currently president of One World One Ocean Foundation, which, thanks to Greg and Barbara MacGillivray, has launched a $150 million global multimedia and education campaign to restore and protect the health of the world’s oceans. He is also president of the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation, which produces and funds IMAX films. MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world’s largest and most successful producer and distributor of IMAX films.

In 2004, Chris joined American University’s full-time faculty as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence at the School of Communication. There he founded, and currently directs, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, whose mission is to train filmmakers to produce films and new media that effectively strengthen the global constituency for conservation.

His book, Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, was published in 2010 by Sierra Club Books and has been widely praised. Jane Goodall called it “a very important and much-needed book.” Now in its second printing (and being made into a film for PBS with Alexandra Cousteau), Shooting in the Wild pulls back the curtain on the dark side of wildlife filmmaking, revealing an industry undermined by sensationalism, fabrication, and sometimes even animal abuse.

In his twenty years before becoming a film producer, Chris was a high school boxing champion, an officer in the Royal Navy, an engineer, a business consultant, an energy analyst, an environmental activist, chief energy advisor to a senior U.S. senator, and a political appointee in the Environmental Protection Agency under President Jimmy Carter. He has jumped out of helicopters and worked on an Israeli kibbutz.

Chris holds a B.S. with First Class Honors in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture from University College London, and a second master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University where he was a Kennedy Scholar and received a Harkness Fellowship.

Born in Hong Kong, Chris grew up in England and immigrated to the United States in 1972. He is married to Gail Shearer and the father of three grown daughters (Kim, Christina and Jenny). For five years he was a stand-up comedian and performed regularly in DC comedy clubs. He is currently writing a book about a different kind of wild life—his three daughters and how to be an effective father. He and Gail have installed 31 solar panels on the roof of their home in Bethesda, and they recently endowed a Scholarship at the American University to honor Chris’s parents.


Chris’s Email: palmer@american.edu

Chris’s Website: www.ChrisPalmerOnline.com

Center Website: www.environmentalfilm.org

SOC profile: http://www.american.edu/soc/faculty/palmer.cfm

Chris’s Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisPalmerAU

Chris’s blog: http://soc-palmer.blogs.american.edu/