StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

“How I go about writing a NATURE special for PBS.” WNET’s Janet Hess on Season of the Osprey

Janet Hess is the series editor of NATURE, PBS’s prime time wildlife series, and the writer of Jacob Steinberg‘s SEASON OF THE OSPREY.

In conversation with Peter Hamilton, Janet recalls how she found her unique and enviable writing career.

She describes her creative process, beginning with her deep immersion in the footage with her long time editor Jim Isler.

In the case of OSPREY, she marveled at Jacob’s selections of extensive, never-before-seen sequences that ranged from intimate scenes of chick-rearing in the nest to drone-captured moments of migrating osprey in flight.

Janet describes how her script was inspired by Jacob’s strong central story — the tale of a champion osprey’s successful breeding season on the Connecticut marsh.

NATURE is created by New York’s WNET Group and is celebrating its ever-popular 40th year.

Listen to Janet Hess on Writing Wildlife Programs


Our OSPREY outreach campaign celebrates this magnificent species, and covers in a detailed case study the making of a blue chip wildlife special.

In previous podcasts:

  • PBS‘s Bill Gardner describes how Jacob’s osprey pitch reel ‘popped’ against the criteria that he uses to evaluate documentary projects, leading to the coproduction between WNET’s NATURE series and Love Nature.
  • Dr. Alan Poole is a leading osprey scientist and author of OSPREYS: THE REVIVAL OF A GLOBAL RAPTOR. He shares with Melanie Wallace the astounding wonders of the species.
  • Industry legend Ellen Windemuth is CEO of WaterBear Network, founder and CEO of Off The Fence, and executive producer of Academy Award winner MY OCTOPUS TEACHER. Ellen and Jacob share their lifelong passion to connect the art of filmmaking with wildlife conservation.

From the Archive