More About the Author
Chris Palmer is a professor, speaker, author, and environmental/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 the Everglade swamps.
Over the past thirty years, Chris 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, Animal Planet, and PBS. His IMAX films include Whales, Wolves, Dolphins, Bears, Coral Reef Adventure, and Grand Canyon Adventure. In the course of his career, he has worked with the likes of Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Ted Danson.
Chris's career as a film producer began in 1983 when he founded the nonprofit organization National Audubon Society Productions, where he served as president and CEO for eleven years. In 1994, he founded another nonprofit film production company, National Wildlife Productions (part of the National Wildlife Federation, the largest conservation organization in the United States), which he led as president and CEO for ten years.
Chris is currently president of One World One Ocean Foundation and the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation, which produce and fund IMAX films on conservation issues. 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 and founded the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. The Center's mission is to inspire a new generation of filmmakers and media experts to produce informative, ethically sound, and entertaining creative work that makes a positive difference to environmental stewardship.
His 2010 book, Shooting in the Wild: An Insider's Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom (Sierra Club Books) was described by Jane Goodall as "a very important and much-needed book." Now in its second printing, Shooting in the Wild (along with a film version produced for PBS with Alexandra Cousteau) pulls back the curtain on the dark side of wildlife filmmaking, revealing an industry undermined by sensationalism, fabrication, and sometimes even animal abuse.
His new 2015 memoir, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings Are King (Bluefield Publishing) criticizes mainstream television networks for producing wildlife films which harass animals, deceive audiences, and harm conservation efforts. Jean-Michel Cousteau called Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker "fascinating reading," and Ted Danson described it as a "must-read for all who care about the natural world." In the Foreword, Jane Goodall describes the book as "courageous" and "very important."
Profiles about Chris have appeared in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He has been interviewed on the Today Show, ABC Nightline, NPR, the Fox News Channel, and other networks. He publishes articles regularly (including a bimonthly column on "best practices" for Realscreen Magazine) and currently serves on the boards of fourteen nonprofits.
Chris is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and film festivals. He regularly gives workshops on a variety of topics, including how to radically improve one's success and productivity, how to raise money, how to give effective presentations, how to network effectively, and how to motivate and engage students. He recently spoke at TEDxAmericanUniversity. For five years, while teaching at AU, he was a stand-up comedian and performed regularly in DC comedy clubs.
Chris 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. He received the 2014 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching at AU and the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Wildlife Film Festival.
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 from University College London, an M.S. in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture also from University College London, and a 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 is the father of three grown daughters: Kim, Christina, and Jenny. He is currently writing a book about how to be an effective father. He and Gail have endowed a scholarship for environmental film students at AU to honor Chris's parents and to encourage the next generation of storytellers to save the planet.