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Fredonia professor licenses praying mantis video footage to CBC
Friday, October 31, 2014

Fredonia professor licenses praying mantis video footage to CBC

Phil Hastings, associate professor in the Department of Visual arts and New Media, recently licensed his video footage of praying mantises’ sexual cannibalism to Merit Motion Pictures (MMP).

MMP is one of Canada’s leading producers of factual entertainment programming for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s award winning series, “The Nature of Things,” which is hosted by eminent Canadian scientist Dr. David Suzuki.

On Nov. 6, the CBC television show will premiere, “Decoding Desire,” an original documentary episode of “The Nature of Things,” that examines the newest science on desire and attraction between males and females in various species. Shattering old assumptions about the sexes in both the human and animal worlds while presenting the current research on mating and sexual behavior, the documentary will introduce new viewpoints on human sexuality and explore why partners are chosen. It is for this episode that Hastings’ footage will be utilized.

In 2010, Hastings began working with Professor Bill Brown from the Department of Biology to document the cannibalistic mating practices of praying mantises. “I’m always looking for these types of collaborative experiences for my students and myself and hope to see more cross discipline work take place in the future between film and video arts and the other disciplines at Fredonia,” said Hastings. Hastings’ interests in biology and environmental sciences have played a part in much of his creative work over the years, including his current Morphology Series. The project, according to Hastings’ website,, “creates new video-based life forms through the manipulation of raw video data and presents these life forms in a series that draws inspiration from turn-of-the-century scientific investigations.”

In addition to licensing to CBC, Hastings has had the fortune of licensing his creative work to a number of outlets, including National Geographic’s NatGeo Wild show, “World’s Weirdest: Animal Taboo,” which was produced by Beyond Productions, the company that creates the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” television show. In February, Hastings’ praying mantis images were seen in the weekly magazine New Scientist as the center spread of its Valentine’s Day special. His original video, the “SUNY Fredonia Mantis Project,” was hosted on the YouTube channel for New Scientist, where it has been viewed nearly 60,000 times.

In addition to promoting his own work, Hastings noted that opportunities like the one he has been afforded with CBC serve to promote the university, as well. Hastings was able to get a special thanks to Fredonia included in the final credits for his recent licensing.

“One of my long-term goals is to acquire a high resolution, high speed video camera that can be used for cinematic work and the sciences, but what I’m looking at runs in the range of $250,000, and that’s just not a realistic amount of money I can raise,” said Hastings with regards to his future in filmography. “So for now I’ll wait, but I have enough other projects in progress that will keep me busy for the near future.”

Hastings’ video can be viewed at

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