In the wildest corners of our planet, powerful leaders have always reigned supreme. But this is a tale of a new breed of hero — fierce, smart, resilient, and…female. National Geographic’s “Queens,” from Wildstar Films, unveils the narratives of matriarchies and female leaders across the globe, weaving a tapestry of sacrifice, resilience, friendship, and love. These queens are not always gentle; they stop at nothing to ensure the success and safety of their families.

Crafted over four years and spearheaded by a diverse, female-led production team spanning the globe, this seven-part series leverages RED technology to unearth unexpected insights into the ascent of females in the natural hierarchy. Cooperation and wisdom, rather than brute strength, propel these queens forward.

The series culminates in a tribute to the women who have journeyed to the farthest reaches of the Earth, dedicating their lives to documenting and safeguarding the queens of the animal kingdom. After all, we don’t simply refer to her as Mother Nature without reason. All hail… the queens!


Director of Photography and Mentor

Justine is a well known British wildlife filmmaker and cinematographer who’s career has spanned over three decades. Her work can be seen on many landmark BBC, National Geographic, Disney and Netflix productions such as Planet Earth 1/2/3 (BBC), Frozen Planet (BBC), Seven Worlds (BBC), Night On Earth (Netflix) Great Migrations (Nat Geo) to name just a few. She can be seen in front of camera on the popular BBC Expedition series and many of the ‘behind the scenes’ segments of major wildlife documentaries. She is experienced in filming from height especially from the tropical forest canopy and well know for her iconic night filming, often of never seen before animal behaviour. Justine continues to mentor students from the UK’s prestigious National Film and Television School along with her active role on Queens as a mentor to the younger women developing their careers in the industry.


“Going from the filming of lions and hyenas in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania to the…tropics full of life and greenery…It was magical. Amazing experiences.”

-Justine Evans, Director of Photography and Mentor


Tanzanian conservationist, Director, and Wildlife Cinematographer

Erica Rugabandana, an independent film producer and cinematographer from Tanzania. Erica’s journey began in 2009, coordinating a conservation film unit, sparking her passion for nature storytelling through film. Over the past decade, she’s collaborated with Wildstar Films and Plimsol Productions, mastering the art of capturing wildlife and night shoots. Erica believes in film’s power to inspire environmental change and proudly documents Tanzania’s wildlife, infusing her work with a woman’s perspective.


“As a camera woman, I feel proud to document nature stories about wildlife in my country Tanzania and more express a woman perspective through nature documentaries.”

-Erica Rugabandana, Director, and Wildlife Cinematographer


Director of Photography and Mentor

Sophie left Ireland at age 19 and moved to Tanzania to chase a dream of wildlife filmmaking. That was 30 years ago, where she was one of a handful of female filmmakers working in the wild. Today, she is a BAFTA-award winner who has held the door open for other women to follow in her footsteps.

Sophie is known for her ability to capture exceptionally emotional behavioural content, with a strong focus on beauty - she believes that’s the key to it all. She is one of the Series’ Directors of Photography on National Geographic’s 2024 release ‘Queens’ focusing on female leadership in nature. Her impressive list of credits includes feature films for Disney Nature and BBC Earth, as well as landmark bluechip series for, amongst others, Netflix, National Geographic and The BBC - including Dynasties I and II, Our Planet I and II, The Hunt, Planet Earth II and Life Story, all narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough. Sophie was part of the core team that won the BAFTA for Cinematography in 2016 for The Hunt (BBC) and was accepted as a BAFTA member in 2018.

Growing up in the UK, Ireland, and Iran, Sophie traveled to East Africa in her early twenties where she met eight-time Emmy Winner & Cinematographer Hugo van Lawick. Hugo, renowned for his long-term partnership with National Geographic and Jane Goodall, took her on as a filming apprentice in the 1990’s and she spent several years learning the craft of natural history filmmaking out on the Serengeti Plains. Sophie carries on Hugo’s legacy today, in addition to filming she is actively and passionately involved in mentoring, public speaking & increasing diversity in wildlife filmmaking.


“We wanted to inspire women to get into the business [of wildlife filmmaking].”

-Sophie Darlington, Director of Photography and Mentor


Wildlife Cinematographer

Tania Escobar, is an acclaimed cinematographer specializing in natural history and high-end wildlife documentaries. With credits including BBC, National Geographic, and Disney, Tania’s work takes her to extreme environments worldwide. She excels in long-lens photography and capturing animal behavior, using techniques like night filming and drone footage. Dedicated to creating emotive connections with wildlife, Tania’s decade-long career has seen her spend extensive time in remote locations, from the Congo rainforest to desert landscapes, crafting intimate portrayals of nature’s wonders.


“Filming in low light, cameras like the RED GEMINI help a lot, but you can raise the ISO a little because the jungle is dark and bright at the same time.”

-Tania Escobar, Wildlife cinematographer


Wildlife Cinematographer

Erin Ranney is a wildlife cinematographer based in Alaska, Washington State and the Falkland Islands. She has a variety of remote field experience, both on land and sea; from setting up and running her own remote field camps in Alaska to working as crew on a 50-foot expedition sailboat for skipper Kirsten Neuschäfer in the sub-Antarctic. She also contracts as a deep-sea video engineer on the E/V Nautilus where she is controlling the live cameras on ROVs at depths of 4,000 meters, helps on her family tree farm and runs her own set net site in the Egegik district of Bristol Bay.

Her credits include “Natural World” (BBC), “Seven Worlds” (BBC), “America’s National Parks” (National Geographic) and several upcoming series yet to be released. She has also filmed and presented on the children’s’ conservation wildlife series “Planet Defenders” (CBBC).


“Queens has been this amazing chance for me to grow as a camerawoman and to get my hands on tools I probably never would have otherwise.”

-Erin Ranney, Wildlife Cinematographer