Filming The Bonsai Empire "Developing Deciduous Bonsai Course": Behind The Scenes

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In July 2019 I had the pleasure of filming a series of bonsai lectures with Oscar from Bonsai Empire, for a new online course "Developing Deciduous Bonsai". This article shows a glimpse of behind the scenes and the filming itself.

Many thanks go to Sean Stolp, Jose Redondo, Daniel Lake, Rowena Edwards and Paul Ladbrooke who give up their time for free to help during filming. This enabled Oscar and I to film as many lectures as possible within a limited time-frame. As often happens in bonsai, there are people who give up their time for free, travel great distances and work hard simply to help make it all come together successfully.

Bonsai Empire Walter Pall

Bonsai Empire Mauro Stemberger

I was in illustrious company for the Video Course, both Walter Pall (Germany) and Mauro Stemberger (Italy) were also filmed in their garden demonstrating a number of lectures and techniques.

Bonsai garden

Bonsai garden

Filming took place in my UK garden in Aylesbury. As Oscar from Bonsai Empire wanted to film the garden, some time was spent making sure that the trees had been well-trimmed! (The separate film of the garden can be seen here as well as the Introduction film to the course itself.)

video deadwood bonsai

The back of my house was turned into a studio using a 4 metre-wide video screen to allow Oscar to film in wide-screen. The first of three days of filming began with the main subject of deadwood carving, in this case a Field Elm/Ulmus minor.

bonsai empire deadwood bonsai

Demonstrating deadwood-refining techniques on the Elm

bonsai empire elm bonsai

This lecture can now be viewed on Bonsai Empire for free here

bonsai elm wiring

bonsai elm wiring

Once I had completed the carving work on the Elm, the tree went 'backstage' where Jose and Dan applied wire to the branches while I started filming a new lecture.

bonsai empire linden

The second day of filming tackled deciduous midsummer maintenance work on a European Hornbeam bonsai, including partial defoliation and the rebuilding of a deciduous bonsai apices.

hornbeam bonsai

Partially defoliating the Hornbeam bonsai with the help of Sean.

I have been developing the bonsai since 2010 when it was a tall field-grown tree purchased on Ebay.

hornbeam bonsai empire

A screenshot of me working on the hornbeam ended up being used to promote the video course.

yamadori hawthorn bonsai

The third and final day of filming culminated with a lecture on my collecting techniques for deciduous trees, in particular Hawthorn. A large part was also devoted to the successful aftercare of newly collected deciduous trees. The tree shown here was collected in the local Chiltern Hills just 8 months beforehand and is estimated to be 125-150 years of age.

If you’d like to learn more about carving deciduous trees and how I do it, take the time to watch the free-to-view 25 minute lecture available right now.
The rest of the course is pay per view, but given the expense of filming 4 artists in 4 different countries over 2 months, if you want to aim higher with your bonsai than some of the free “YouTube experts”, then we need to support ventures such as these.
And the enrolment fee is considerably cheaper, and easier, than flying out to have 1:2:1’s with Walter Pall, Mauro Stemberger and myself!


See "Developing Deciduous Bonsai"