IWFF LABS accepts applications from both scientists and budding filmmakers who want to learn how to make ethical wildlife films. Out of hundreds, only 12 LABS Fellows are accepted. IWFF identifies local wildlife research or conservation projects as ‘clients’, and they are assigned to a LABS team to do the impossible, produce a short film in four days (with the help of professional mentors) that will debut on the big screen at the IWFF Awards Show. IWFF LABS films have gone on to screen at film festivals and gained thousands of views on platforms like the National Geographic Short Forms Showcase as well as proving to be useful wildlife communication pieces for the clients and scientists and Fellows alike. 


2019 IWFF LABS films were sponsored by Canon, Defenders of Wildlife and The Montana Film Office. IWFF Award Show + LABS Film Premiere sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.

A Blackfoot Challenge

This film tells the story of efforts led by the Blackfoot Challenge to facilitate a healthy population of trumpeter swans in Montana's Blackfoot Valley after a 100-year absence. 

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team: Jake Gable, Anthony Pavkovich, Lisa Tossey, Annie Roth 

Moving Lines

A short film about the partnership between Defenders of Wildlife and Wildlife Services to help reduce predator conflicts with livestock in Ovando, Montana. 

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team: Ben Mirin, Brett Addis, Luke Peterson, Megan O’Connell 


TRIBUTARY is about the importance of the Clark Fork Coalition's watershed management work on a tributary of the Bitterroot River near Missoula, Montana. 

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team: Kara Cromwell, Matthew Cicanese, Wenjing Xu, Kit McGurn 

Tracking Ghosts

TRACKING GHOSTS follows innovative mountain lion research being done at the MPG Ranch in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team: Gemina Garland-Lewis, Steven Kell, Ramey Newell, Jessica Van Fleteren 

2018 FILMS

2018 IWFF LABS films were sponsored by Canon, Tangled Bank Studios and The Montana Film Office.

Breathe Deep

This is a collaborative video weaving together the story of two scientists at the University of Montana studying an unlikely superstar of mountain survival, the deer mouse.

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team:  Jeff Kerby, Billy Almon, Jennifer Adler and Wendy Baxter

Tracking Snow

Discover a novel way of studying elusive carnivores…using snow! Join two scientists – Jessie and Tommy – as they re-purpose an old technique in a way that not only revolutionizes how we study threatened species and manage our landscapes but also highlights the importance of collaboration in conservation.

IWFF Filmmaking Team: Danny Copeland, JP Lawrence, Tanya Martinez, Jaclyn Aliperti


The focus of HOPTIMISTIC is about evolutionary coat color change in snow hares showcasing research from Scott Mills and his team at the University of Montana.  

IWFF Filmmaking Team: Zach Montes, Alie Caldwell, Becca Skinner, and Mark Chynoweth

Rewinding A River

Abandoned mines are a problem for water quality across the West. There are more than a half-million sites, many leaking toxic pollution like acid mine drainage and heavy metals into our streams and rivers. In REWINDING A RIVER we follow Trout Unlimited’s Paul Parson on a project to tackle the impacts of an abandoned placer mine.

IWFF LABS Filmmaking Team: Adrian Smith, Cassandra Chowdhury, Kyle McBurnie, Victoria Armayor

2017 FILMS

2017 IWFF LABS films were sponsored by Canon, Tangled Bank Studios and the World Wildlife Fund.

Life of Pine

Despite being smaller than a grain of rice, mountain pine beetles are causing big problems for pine forests across North America. Due to changes in climate and other factors, the recent outbreak of these destructive insects has reached proportions never before seen in recorded history. To combat this epidemic, Professor Diana Six has made it her mission to crack the genetic code of the pine tree. In LIFE OF PINE she studies the relationship between the mountain pine beetle and the trees they kill will provide us with valuable insight into the future of our forests. 

IWFF Filmmaking Team:  Chris O’Flaherty (Vimeo), Todd Amacker (Instagram), Shireen Rahimi, Olivia Schmidt (Instagram), and Tim Treuer (Instagram). 

Music by New West Studios and art by Eric Linton

Special thanks to the University of Montana, WWF, Canon USA, and Day’s Edge Productions

Generously funded by WWF and Tangled Bank Studios.


Sounds of the Prairie

SOUNDS OF THE PRAIRIE was made in tandem with World Wildlife Fund to highlight the importance of quiet places and what we can hear when we really listen.

IWFF Filmmaking Team: Tess Eidem, Arun Dayanandan, Cliff Kapono, Carlos Toro

Between Two Lichen

For 150 years, scientists believed lichen was defined by a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and algae. The fungus provides structure and support for the organism, while the algae produces food through photosynthesis. However, researchers recently discovered that certain lichen have an additional fungus in the mix. This threesome was revealed after a team set out to explain what made one type of lichen toxic versus another that was seemingly identical. 

IWFF Filmmaking Team: Andy Johnson, Talia Yuki Moore, Chris A. Johns, and Kate Furby.

The film was created with support from Day’s Edge Productions at the International Wildlife Film Festival’s Filmmaker Labs

Macro photography by Tim Wheeler.

Learn more about John McCutcheon’s Lab at the University of Montana and follow the filmmakers on Twitter (@seakaterun, @taliamuaddib, @daysedge) and Instagram (@andyjohnsonphoto, @seakaterun).


DOWNSTREAM was created in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about the important role of healthy grasslands in the northwestern United States play in providing clean, clear drinking water downstream, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

IWFF Filmmaking Team: Michelle Lotker, Kathryn Boyd-Batstone, Shane Campbell-Staton, Antonella Wilby