A FILM-MAKER from Salisbury has gained exclusive access to make a documentary about a woodsman who shot to fame on TV show Grand Designs.
Robert Stern and his company Litmus Films have been given unprecedented access to Ben Law, a pioneer in forestry and sustainability, despite major broadcasters failing to get permission to film him and his apprentices.
Mr Law inspired the general public in 2002 when his cruck-framed self-build was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.
The programme has since become Grand Designs’ most repeated episode, voted most popular episode ever by presenter Kevin McCloud and the audience.
Since then major broadcasters including the BBC and Channel 4 have tried to make a documentary on his life, but Mr Law rejected the approaches.
He said: “I felt there to be in Robert and Litmus a genuine documentary maker, as opposed to reality television, and that’s why I felt comfortable to go with it.”
Mr Stern was a TV news producer and reporter for US Network News in the Far East during the 1990s. He made the move to documentary-maker and established Litmus Films as an independent television production company in 2000.
He has produced more than 50 documentaries and news features on a wide variety of topics.
Last year Litmus took part in the innovative internet-based financing model of crowd funding to successfully raise £25,000 to follow the first Australian tour of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and Mr Stern hopes to do the same to make the documentary on Mr Law.
He needs to raise £50,000 by the end of March, which would make it the second highest total ever raised through crowdfunding, which allows people to invest in a project they support in return for rewards.
Ben Law’s Woodland Year has the support of charities, publications and professional organisations active in woodlands, sustainability and eco-architecture such as The Woodland Trust, the Ecologist and the Sustainable Building Association.
Mr Stern said: “We may not all be able to live and work in the woods as Ben has for the past 20 years, but Ben’s values and approach to life are just as relevant if you live in a high-rise.
“Dropping into Prickly Nut Wood for snapshots of what Ben does is interesting enough, but the only way to really understand Ben’s life and work is to follow his life through the changing seasons.”
To support the crowd-funding campaign go to kickstarter.com/projects/2006361025/ ben-laws-woodland-year.