Profile on Zee Muller

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We love sharing more about the people that we work with and that are integral to what we do. You may have seen some of our behind-the-scenes videos and know some of our crew, but it is rare that you get a chance to know the editors, that are so key in any film production. We are also on a mission to highlight the amazing women we work with – and want to introduce you to Zee Muller – an exceptionally talented creative and editor. Watch some of the films below that she has been a part of and you will quickly agree that she is not only gifted, but versatile too.

More about Zee

I am primarily an offline editor with an intense passion for telling stories. I am highly driven in narrative and have a keen sense for subtle elements. I have 8+ year’s experience.

Witty and whimsical are definitely strong keywords to define my story-telling spirit. I always search for the bigger picture and step outside of the box. It makes life more interesting. If I manage to make you laugh, cry, rage or just feel weird feelings you have never felt before – that makes me happy and fulfilled as an editor. Wildlife, environmental causes and human-spirit are definitely topics that are close to my heart.

I also have a broad knowledge of all things dinosaurs, unicorns, baking, and norse mythology, because without these things I may go mad.

Working my way up from Intern to Senior Editor at The Ginkgo Agency in Cape Town I quickly found a space where I could utilize my skill and use my voice as a visual story-teller. With my time there, I have had the privilege to work with big names in the game ranging from the late great Nelson Mandela, Bono, Charlize Theron, Jane Goodall and big brands like Mercedes-Benz and Nikon.

As of 2017 the next big step was that of freelancing. I have been fortunate to have carried on my passion for wildlife, documentary, human interest and advertising – working with King James, Black Bean Productions and other clientele.

Right now, I am trying to set my sights on the international world and will always see how I can push myself even further. Constant evolving, changing and growing whilst making my mark in the digital narrative space.

I have been privileged to have worked on some amazing projects and as of late I was very proud and honored to contribute to United for Wildlife‘s expedition with the Royal Family in particular HRH The Duke of Cambridge to Africa to aid with the illegal wildlife trade!

We spent some time chatting to Zee, hear from her below.

Q: Tell us how you first got involved with Black Bean Productions?
Zee: I always loved animals and the conservation space. I knew in my life that it was something I wanted to be part of; how I could enable myself to contribute towards it in a small way with my skills and passion for story-telling. And having always seen the amazing work that Black Bean did for years I decided that this was a group of people I would be proud of to work alongside. Working with Black Bean Productions I have been exposed to so much that I was unaware of when it comes to the natural world and conservation challenges faced in Africa, and I have had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing wildlife footage.

Q: What was it like working on The Edge of Existence trailer?
Zee: Editing this video was definitely a highlight of my career! When you are so intensely involved with a project sometimes, you don’t grasp the magnitude of what this could mean to the outside world, how your work can help educate people around the world. Having seen the response to it and the positive feedback it really made me proud to be part of something so incredible and important in terms of the human-wildlife conflict conversation. It’s a global issue, that very few are talking about and a lot of feedback was from people viewing this internally, whilst pitching was underway – and it really made me feel proud to hear the encouraging words and feedback on this production, especially from individuals that have worked in the film industry for decades.

Q: What’s your first memory of wildlife conservation?
Zee: As a child, especially in the 90s when these topics were not as prevalent, we were rarely exposed to wildlife conservation efforts – especially being from a small town. But I remember vividly when the news broke for the first time about the black rhino being critically endangered. I couldn’t understand how such a majestic animal that was part of our landscape and cultural history was under fire for something that belonged to them. It made me incredibly sad and aware at the same time and I think I always knew then that I wanted to make a difference somehow in the conservation space.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with Black Bean Productions?
Zee: What has surprised me most about working with Black Bean is just how  humble and passionate this team is. As much as they care about the work they do and the difference they make, they are also incredibly passionate about people, especially towards the people they welcome into their team. They are definitely the ones on the frontline for me when it comes to making a difference in the conservation world. And for the few projects I was part of, I truly was made to feel part of the team, and valued.

Q: What do you find most challenging about wildlife conservation when it comes to filmmaking?
Zee: The most challenging thing about working in wildlife conservation is always finding out that there is so much more to learn and understand still. It is an incredibly complicated and sensitive space and one needs to constantly be aware of every aspect and how to balance both the sides of society and wildlife with the same sense of urgency. Because at the end of the day if you want to make a real difference, especially working in a media space where you craft the educational narrative for your audience, you have to always mindfully involve and carry the interests of both parties. People are just as important, and it really is a delicate balance.

Q: Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with Black Bean?
Zee: I have met some incredible team mates on the BB team. They have made such an impact in my life and inspired me with the passion they have for their craft to make a difference in this world. And being an editor, we are mostly behind-the-scenes and not in the field so the ‘people’ we meet are the heroes in our stories. I have been introduced to such incredible visionaries and pioneers of the conservation space, even just through the interviews filmed that I have worked on in the edit suite. It really motivates and fuels me to do what I do as a story-teller. Black Bean Productions also has a unique style – they shoot in an incredibly cinematic way – and tell these conservation stories with sensitivity, putting passion into every shot. Oli Caldow, the DoP, is a perfectionist – which is often the case for commercial filmmakers (Black Bean Productions also do commercial work) but it is not always the case for documentary filmmakers. I loved working with this incredible footage, about real people and real problems – but filmed to such a high standard.

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about wildlife conservation
Zee: My strongest belief about wildlife conservation is self-awareness and constant education. It is not a black and white issue. Always go deeper and look behind the scenes of what goes on; beyond the news headlines and sad stories. There are always voices that are not being heard and it is by being aware of those voices that one can actively be part of a solution going forward. You need to truly put yourself in the shoes of those on the forefront of the crisis.And also – a  lot of people think that wildlife conservation is this big thing that is unattainable. That it is a thing where you can’t make a difference. Every person can make a difference in their own small space. Find out where somebody in your community makes a difference. Take the time to find out what efforts are being made around you and join in. Start conversations about what’s happening – to educate others. There are so many ways you can get involved and if more people get involved in small ways it creates a ripple effect at the end of the day.

Q: What might people be surprised to know about you
Zee: I think the most surprising thing about me is that I would be happily content with a small piece of land, living off the grid with my future kingdom of animals, animals that all need a home. That and I am hopelessly obsessed with jellyfish and all things bioluminescence. I often want be on the other side of the editing screen!

Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?
Zee: When I am not working you can find me happily immersing myself in music, both listening to it and going to live shows and always trying to explore the world to expand my horizons. That and my constant quest for the perfect cup of coffee.

Q: Is there are particular moment or memory that stands out for you in terms of your editing career?
Zee: I think the best moments that stand out for me are those moments when clients are really happy with your work. It is the ultimate satisfaction for a creative to be able to bring alive the vision and the mission of each of those individuals, because at the end of the day it is something of value and importance for them, and if I have contributed towards that, it makes me fulfilled and happy as a story-teller. It keeps me going on this path to find a greater purpose in my life.

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