Nat Geo WILD's wildlife photographer Filipe DeAndrade talks new digital series 'Untamed' [INTERVIEW]

You will never look at wildlife in the United States the same way after checking out Untamed with Felipe DeAndrade on Nat Geo WILD’s YouTube Channel.

DeAndrade was born in Brazil and has been passionate about photography and animals for his entire life.  He won the 2015 Nat Geo WILD “To Inspire” film competition in 2015 and has been a man with a mission ever since.

Untamed with Felipe DeAndrade is about him and his two best friends traveling in a van around the country to find the most amazing animal stories.  There will be ten episodes this season and which will feature predator birds, dolphins, mountain lions, monkeys in Florida and more.

Adventurer and just all-around cool guy Filipe DeAndrade connected with about his new digital series on Nat Geo WILD’s YouTube and spoke of his work, some cool things you didn’t know about animals in the U.S., which animal may be the biggest badass in the animal world and more.  Where are you from?

Filipe DeAndrade:  I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I know, right?

TCC:  Please tell me about your childhood and early experience with animals?

FD:  It's hard to tell you about my childhood because I still don't feel like an adult. I'm basically doing the same thing I did 20 years ago but am now being paid to do it; hang out with animals. I'm living out Peter Pan's fantasy. Early family vacations were to the Amazon in Brazil where it feels like stepping inside of nature’s coloring book. The wildlife is spectacular and the views are majestic. I fell in love with everything I saw and a curiosity for wildlife still hasn't escaped me.

TCC:  What about your education?

FD:  I studied film at the University of Florida, but I also had a focus in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.

TCC:  How did you become interested in photography?

FD:  By visiting this area in my college town known as Payne’s Prairie. It has everything from alligators, snakes, hundreds of birds to even wild horses and bison. I was memorized and no one believed what I was seeing so I began photographing it.

TCC:  Other than animals, what else do you like to photograph?

FD:  My friends sleeping. I know, it’s weird.

TCC:  How did you become an animal expert?

FD:  Expert is a stretch. I'm learning something new every day. And considering I want to learn everything about every animal on our beautiful planet, I haven't even graduated wildlife kindergarten.

Filipe DeAndrade (photo credit: National Geographic/McKenzie Barney)

TCC:  What are some of your favorite wild animals?

FD:  Favorite wild animals? The misunderstood ones. Venomous snakes, apex predators and birds. All animals that get overlooked or considered to be a nuisance. Maybe because I can relate?

TCC:  Are there any animals that you don't like or find boring to watch or film?

FD:  Honestly, no. There are certainly animals that I like to film over others but I find that the more I watch something the more I learn. And that excites me. If you dropped me off in Borneo and told me to film an Orangutan while it cleaned out its belly button lint, I would be keen.

TCC:  Which animal(s) do you think will surprise viewers?

FD:  I think the hummingbird will surprise people. They are looked at as nature's ballerinas, but when it comes down to it they are nature's badasses. They are constantly in motion and are fighting to protect what is theirs.

TCC:  Do you own any pets?

FD:  No, I don't. I thought about having a van cat but decided against it when I realized the DMV doesn't issue licenses to cats.

TCC:  What is “Wild to Inspire?”

FD:  Wild to Inspire is the universe calling every aspiring wildlife filmmaker to go after the chance of a lifetime. Africa and Nat Geo WILD. What a perfect combination.

Join Filipe DeAndrade and his two best friends on the trip of a lifetime as they travel the United States in search of the most diverse, iconic and unexpected animal species the country has to offer. (photo credit: National Gegraphic)

TCC:  Tell me about Untamed?

FD:  Untamed is our (my two best friends and colleagues Brian Moghari and McKenzie Barney) attempt at sharing with Americans what we have in our wild backyard. This country rivals any other when it comes to natural beauty. So we, along with Nat Geo WILD, came up with a project that could exhibit a few examples of why people should get out and explore this beautiful landscape.

TCC:  What are some things people have to look forward to on the show?

FD:  I think they have to look forward to witnessing phenomenal wildlife stories from their own backyard. Phenomenas that exist within less than a day's drive away.

TCC:  What is your favorite thing about working with Nat Geo WILD?

FD:  My favorite thing about working with Nat Geo WILD is having a platform that is dedicated to telling wildlife stories to the most committed fanbase in the world.

TCC:  Do you ever find yourself rooting for animal to escape predator?

FD:  As the moment's happening and I'm filming it, there is no room for emotion because I'm just trying to get the shot. However, when I watch the footage back I find myself very emotional and even in tears over what just happened.

TCC:  The "Would You Rather Clip" is really funny.  You mentioned getting the name of an old woman tattooed on your, eh, cheek.  Have you tried to reconnect with her?

FD:  She was 91 when I met her, so if there's any way to be reconnected and find out if she's alive, I'm definitely up for hopping on a plane to see my spirit animal!

TCC:  Have you ever found yourself fearing for your life?

FD:  The closest I've come to fearing for my life is hiking into a kill site where a mother mountain lion just took down a mule deer for her two adult-sized cubs.

TCC:  What are some misconceptions people have about wild animals?

FD:  That they are pests or unnecessary. Every animal plays a vital world in the natural world. And we should respect that.

TCC:  Is there a specific kind of animal that you want to discover more about?

FD:  I want to discover more about Bobcats this week. And next week Bull Sharks. Every week is a different answer haha.

TCC:  Where would you most like to travel to?

FD:  Right now I want to travel to Namibia so that I can see some desert lions.

TCC:  What do you like to do for fun?

FD:  I like to film animals haha. I am on vacation right now and am filming wild bobcats on the Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

TCC:  Where do you live now?

FD:  I'm living out of my van. Makes it easier to get around.

TCC:  How can your fans connect with you?

FD:  Through Instagram. I love talking with the wildlife community. My handle is @filipe_deandrade.

TCC:  Which charities do you support?

FD:  I would say a cause I heavily believe in is the African Wildlife Foundation. I worked with them in three different countries and love what they stand for.

TCC:  What's next for you?

FD:  You tell me. Where should I go and what should I film? Connect with me on social media and I would love to know what wildlife stories I am missing out on from your wild backyard.

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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