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Against All Odds: Dundee-bound Antarctica film of ‘joy and hope’ wins prestigious Emmy

Dee Ann Pederson photographing Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island colony, Antarctica
Dee Ann Pederson photographing Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island colony, Antarctica

A US-made story of discovery and hope that the film-makers hope to bring to a post-Covid exhibition in Dundee has won a prestigious Emmy.

David Alexander of Houston Creative Media and Dee Ann Pederson of Windows of Nature have won a Lone Star Emmy as producer/editor/motion graphic artist/sound engineer and photographer/videographer respectively for the film ‘Against All Odds: Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island, Antarctica’.

The film was a joint collaboration with award winning American nature photographer Dee Ann Pederson whose sister lives in Dundee and who wants the film to feature at the city’s Discovery Point when conditions allow it.

David, a career changer who won his first Emmy for another documentary in 2019, said it was “exciting” news.

Dee Ann, meanwhile, told The Courier it was “truly the crowning highlight” of her career.

What’s the film about?

The Courier Weekend magazine recently carried a feature interview with Dee Ann and David which gave an insight into the making of the film.

Dee Ann, who gave up her corporate career to pursue photography 20 years ago, runs her own Houston, Texas-based company Windows of Nature and is equally at home in the frigid Arctic as she is in the heat of the Serengeti.

Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island colony, Antarctica

Two years ago, she embarked upon a once in a lifetime expedition to photograph and video Emperor Penguins in a remote area very close to where legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton famously lost his polar ship Endurance in 1915.

Having previously visited South Georgia, she discovered in 2017 that Quark Expeditions had obtained the permits necessary to get to the Snow Hill colony – home of the Emperor Penguins – where no one had visited in eight years, and where challenging conditions on the edge of winter meant the success of the trip was far from guaranteed.

The film, pulled together with David Alexander when she returned, was the result.

David Alexander of Houston Creative Media

At a time when America is being “bombarded” with negative news on everything from the pandemic to politics, David describes Dee Ann’s work as a “breath of fresh air” that tells stories of hope – a sentiment he shares though his own work which also aims to tell positive stories.

Responding to news of the win, the piper and accordionist who can trace his ancestry to 17th century Clackmannanshire told The Courier: “An Emmy Award is always a surprise!

“I was very pleased and quite astonished to win my second award – two years in a row now!

Dee Ann Pederson in Africa

“But, I believe the award is a testament to a lot of hard work, dedication, attention to detail, and a focus on hope and beauty.

“Being recognized for excellence from one’s peers is humbling.

“I’m grateful to Dee Ann for the opportunity to do this project, to my peers who find my work high-quality, to my wife, and to especially to God, who brings beauty from ashes.”

Award is an honour, says Dee Ann Pederson
Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island colony, Antarctica

Responding to the “amazing” news about the Emmy, Dee Ann told The Courier: “I could not have imagined 20 years ago when I sat in the tundra of Denali National Park with an incredible bull moose for several hours and listening to the Sandhills cranes migrating above me with my Nikon F5 film camera that I would one day sit before an Emperor penguin colony braving the extreme elements of Antarctica.

“I could not have imagined I’d be using equipment that would allow me to turn the experience into a short film to share the magic, awe and wonder of these extraordinary creatures with those who are as passionate about nature as I am but may never have this opportunity.

Emperor Penguins at Snow Hill Island colony, Antarctica

“I am so honoured to receive this award for “Against All Odds…The Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island, Antarctica” from the Lone Star Regional Emmy Awards; truly the crowning highlight of my career.

“Cheers to all those who have supported my passion – to Brad Glass, Nicole Miller, to David Alexander for the special collaboration on a this project, to Russ Evans for showing me Antarctica for the first time and most important to Mother Nature and the Emperor Penguins for sharing their world with me.”

Dee Ann Pederson with the Russian ice breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov en route to Snow Hill colony, Antarctica

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