Look: The Alder Woodwasp and its Insect Enemies
Also known as: Programme 77
The very first step Gerald Thompson took in the world of wildlife cinematography, "The Alder Woodwasp (Xiphydria cornelus) and" its four known "Insect Enemies" is a technically stunning account of this small creature, and the four parasites that specifically target its young.
Encouraged by renowned Look producer Eileen Molony, Thompson sacrificed a new car to buy his first cine camera, promptly submitting this piece to the 1960 BBC/Council for Nature Film Competition. With an impressive combination of detailed entomological knowledge, skillful manipulation and exceptional macrophotography, this intriguing film won the event and was broadcast nationally a year later, on the BBC's Look strand.
Stunning photography details these incredible insects as they court and release their eggs, with intricate footage capturing their 'enemies' drilling through the bark, sabotaging the carefully laid woodwasp larva. Thompson specifically engineered lighting systems to deal with his microscopic subjects, the film proving a model for future developments in this specialized field.
Described by the founder of the BBC Natural History Unit, Christopher Parsons, as an "outstanding piece", it was the first step towards the creation of the world-renowned Oxford Scientific Films, which started production seven years after this seminal film.
In 1961 It won the Grand Pix at the Padua Festival in Italy, Top award at the 6th Exhibition of scientific teaching films of the 22nd Venice Film Festival and in 1962 3rd at the Vancouver International Film Festival and 2nd at the East London International amateur film festival in South Africa.