Wildstar Films snags BBC Natural History Unit boss to head development & production

Doug Mackay-Hope

UK factual prodco Wildstar Films has appointed Doug Mackay-Hope, the former head of development at the BBC Natural History Unit, as SVP of development and production.

Mackay-Hope spent eight years leading development for the BBC Studios business, working on globally successful series including Big Blue LiveAttenborough And The Giant Dinosaur and Endangered for Discovery, alongside Blue Planet II and Seven Worlds. Before joining the BBC, Mackay-Hope worked for indies including Icon Films and Tigress, creating Deadly 60 and helping shape River Monsters With Jeremy Wade for Discovery.

Wildstar Films was founded by Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz in 2018 with the aim of bringing “fresh thinking, new perspectives and greater diversity to natural history.” Its new six-part series America The Beautiful for National Geographic has just launched on Disney+, and the company is currently in production on a feature-length film for Disney Studios.

Multiple wildlife series for Disney+ and National Geographic Channel are also in the works, including Sentient, in partnership with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures and The Epic Adventures Of Bertie Gregory, while previous credits include Elephant and Monkey Kingdom for Disneynature.

Prior to founding Wildstar, Linfield and Berlowitz worked on docs including Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and Life Of Mammals.

“I’m super excited to be joining the creative powerhouse that is Mark, Vanessa and team Wildstar – they have already come so far so quickly and it’s only just the beginning. And as a person that likes to push boundaries and parameters – Wildstar is definitely the right place to be able to do that,” said Mackay-Hope.

Expanding the team

Mackay-Hope’s appointment comes as the Bristol-based natural history producer continues to expand its senior leadership team to position itself for further growth, and follows the recent arrivals of Juli Porter as COO and staff executive producer Anwar Mamon.

Porter joined Wildstar from her previous position as COO of Whisper, where over the course of 10 years she grew the company from a start-up into a group of six companies producing sport, entertainment and documentary output for platforms and broadcasters worldwide.

Mamon, meanwhile, also joined Wildstar from the BBC Natural History Unit, where his credits included Life At The Waterhole for BBC and PBS, Grizzly Bear Cubs & Me for the BBC, and Primal Survivor for National Geographic.

“Wildstar has enjoyed a period of rapid growth over the past year. We’ve expanded our business with clients across streamers and broadcasters and we are now in production on a wide range of exciting series with high profile talent attached.

“Doug, Juli and Anwar joining our leadership team will help us build on this success and continue to broaden Wildstar’s slate and clients,” commented co-founders Linffeld and Berlowitz.

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