It's the calm before the storm for James

First published in Search by , Reporter

MANY of us dream of jetting off to exotic destinations and visiting strange new lands, steeped in history and culture, and 24 year old James Reynolds from Chalford is no exception, in fact it is his job, not to sightsee or sample the local cuisine, but to visit some of the poorest countries on the planet, frequently struck and left devastated by the world's worst natural disasters.

Right now, James is in China, where he has lived and worked for over a year as assistant producer for Kaimu productions, a small Shanghai-based film company, helping to make 80 Trades Around the World , a travel documentary for Channel Four.

But outside of work, James has visited Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam among other countries, documenting the aftermath of huge tropical storms and earthquakes, and posting his work on his website.

"It fascinates me, I love the adventure" said James, relaxing at his parent's cottage in Chalford before his six week trip to some of the most remote areas of China.

"My aim to raise awareness of the damage done in South East Asia by constant natural disasters, and to try and get the word out to educate people here in the west, as many of these storms go unreported"

As Asia's only location based storm-chaser, he often works with Geoff Mackley, the New Zealand-born film maker and freelance photographer who most consider to be the foremost storm chaser in the world.

"One third of the world's storms occur around Asia but they are so unpredictable, the costal villages and cities are always the worst hit. We sometimes hear of category fives, the most violent hurricanes, hitting the midwest of America, but countries like Taiwan for instance, can be hit by up to five of these per year" he said.

"Some places you visit you have to keep a low profile and be careful about how you go about approaching people. But the majority of people you meet are wonderful. The resilience of communities in East Asia is astonishing, they are tough"

James, who studied Chinese language at Edinburgh University, funds his travels by selling his work on-line to other documentary film-makers and private buyers.

He has even sold work to the Taiwanese government for educational purposes, and he plans to approach major Asian media companies to showcase his storm-chasing back catalogue.

His mother Jane, 57 and father John, 62, a retired Concorde pilot, who met while Jane was working as an air stewardess, said they would always support James in whatever he does, and wherever he goes.

"From a mother's point of view, we always encouraged him to take life by the scruff of the neck and get the most out of it" said Jane.

"Of course I worry but he's got an instinct for avoiding danger and bags of common sense"

James hopes to visit China's Sichuan Province after his work trip, where up to 50,000 people are thought to have died in the country's worst earthquake for 30 years.

"My ultimate aim in life is to have the independence to cover the most dramatic environments in the world. I love travelling and building up my profile, and soon I hope to combine all my films and photos to make my own documentary on the world's worst storms" said James.

All of James' work, together with up to date reports on China's earthquake and Burma's Cyclone can be found on his website

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