Litmus Films is to film a year in the life of Sussex woodsman Ben Law. Ben's Woodland Year follows the life and work of the woodsman Kevin McCloud calls 'an extraordinary man – not exactly a warrior for his cause, more the quiet victor' and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes as 'Britain's greatest living woodsman with a knack for inspiring others'.
Ben has been a respected pioneer in forestry and sustainability circles for 30 years, but first inspired the general public when his cruck-framed self-build was featured on Channel 4 in 2002. That programme has since become Grand Designs' most repeated episode, voted most popular ever by presenter Kevin McCloud and audience alike.
Tapping into a 21st century approach to woodland life
Several books have given us an insight into woodland life, including The Woodland Way, The Woodland House, The Woodland Year and Roundwood Timber Framing. These cover not only the well-known construction aspects of Ben's life but also tap into some of his wider knowledge on woodland management and other aspects of living in the woods. Litmus Films Director Robert Stern comments that Ben's 21st century approach means "Ben's values and approach to life are just as relevant if you live in a high-rise."
He has appeared on BBC's Countryfile, and Harper Collins will be publishing his autobiography next month. Since Ben made such an impact on our TV screens back in 2002, he explains why he's decided to open his (recycled oak) farm door to Litmus' cameras in a video for an upcoming online crowdfunding campaign to raise money to complete the project.
"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."
Robert explains why he wanted to follow Ben and his apprentices through an entire annual cycle. "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."
Litmus launched its crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter platform on Monday February 18th 2013. A wide range of charities and publications including The Woodland Trust and Permaculture magazine have endorsed the project.