We are Butterfly Effect Films

Documentary film production company based in South West England

The goal of Butterfly Effect Films is to create films which will make a difference. Powerful documentaries which tell an engaging story and will travel far and wide. Short films that will be watched and shared – leaving an imprint far greater than their size.

The team combines the award-winning storytelling skills and broadcast production experience of writer and producer Jo Stewart-Smith with the talented, creative eye of director of photography and editor Simon Vacher.

‘So now we just wait ’til he starts sending some bags up’
‘Start getting some scallops yeah!’
– Jon & Sam Shuker, Lyme Bay Scallop Divers


A showcase of our documentaries

Dorset Coastal Stories – The Fisheries Observer

Dorset Coastal Stories – The Fisheries Observer We follow fisheries observers Ruth and Lisève on a fisheries-science partnership, out of West Bay, (Bridport) studying an issue: the discard ban, which could seriously impact the livelihoods of many fishermen, especially those in local, mixed fisheries. As Lisève, says ‘there’s a lot fishermen can teach us and…

Dorset Coastal Stories – The Fisherman Chef with Ashley Stones

Dorset Coastal Stories – The Fisherman Chef with Ashley Stones Meet Ashley. He’s turned his hobby into a career and passionate about sustainable fishing he lives the dream as a commercial rod and line bass fisherman. Then the quotas arrive and like many fishermen he is forced to think again.. Client: Dorset Coast Forum Producer:…

Dorset Coastal Stories – Young and Fishing with Sam Shuker

Dorset Coastal Stories – Young and Fishing with Sam Shuker Sam Shuker, a 17 year old trainee commercial fisherman takes us out on a scallop boat from Lyme Regis and tells it like it is. He works long hours, determined to get as much experience as he can ready for the day when he is…

Love & Loss

Love & Loss This story of one close knit, inspirational family is both intimate and universal. Stan and Mary meet on the beach in Sidmouth in the 1950s. Stan’s father was a fisherman too poor to buy his own boat and although at 16, Stan dreamed of going to Brixham to work on the trawlers,…

On Call with Sidmouth Lifeboat

On Call with Sidmouth Lifeboat Simon our DOP is a trainee crew member on the Sidmouth lifeboat. We made this film for all the wonderful volunteer crew, shore team, support team and fundraisers on the Sidmouth lifeboat. It is theirs to show and share. The Sidmouth lifeboat is independent of the RNLI and the volunteer…

Working the Sea

Working The Sea ‘Working the Sea’ tells the story of Sidmouth’s fishing heritage by following one resilient family, the Bagwells from the war years onwards through romance and tragedy. As the women in the family pick up the pieces, it also weaves contemporary users of the coast (from the lifeboat to the sailing club) into…

Boat Stories – Fishing for Clovelly Herring

Boat Stories – Fishing for Clovelly Herring This film follows traditional herring fisherman, Stephen Perham, as he rows out into Bideford Bay before dawn to shoot his nets. He reveals his personal crusade to try and revive the local, sustainable fishery and avoid being the last Clovelly herring fisherman. Filmed & edited by Simon Vacher,…

A Tale of Two Halves – Julie’s Story

A Tale of Two Halves – Julie’s Story Julie Stapleton went through the grief of loosing her husband Mark Stapleton in 2011, but through the sport of paragliding and her close network of friends and colleagues discovered that grief can be overcome by joy in this story of inspiration and enlightenment. Dedicated to Mark Stapleton.…

Boat Stories – Lobster Potting & Berried Hens

Boat Stories – Lobster Potting & Berried Hens This film follows Ilfracombe lobster potter, Geoff Huelin, out to Lundy Island on a day’s potting trip, revealing a fisherman who is also passionate about conservation. Watch it and find out what a berried hen is! This is the first in a series of ten short documentaries…

Boat Stories – Living and working on Lundy Island

Boat Stories – Living and working on Lundy Island This film follows Lundy Island warden, Beccy MacDonald, at work and play as she multi-tasks: surveying seals, monitoring seabirds, meeting MS Oldenburg the Lundy ferry, looking after visitors and grabs a few precious hours off duty. It also reveals the direct impact marine litter can have…

Boat Stories – Salmon Netting on the Taw & Torridge

Boat Stories – Salmon Netting on the Taw & Torridge Meet 84 year-old Stephen & 76 year-old Sheila Taylor, as they row their tiny boat out into the open estuary to try and catch salmon. Once upon a time almost everyone living on the Taw or Torridge would have eaten wild salmon. As numbers dwindled,…

Constructed Wetlands in the North Devon Biosphere

Constructed Wetlands in the North Devon Biosphere Part of the North Devon Biosphere’s Estuary Project, this film explains how creating new wetlands help to trap soil and nutrients and save farmers money. Our brief was to make a short film to encourage farmers to consider taking up advice and grants to create farm wetlands and…

‘Sometimes the nets would be full,
we’d shake the nets out on the beach
and stand knee deep in herring’
– Stephen Perham, Clovelly Herring Fisherman


How we can be useful for you

Documentary production from start to finish

We take your story right from concept to delivery

If you’ve got a story to tell – a message to put across – or a brand to get out there or need to draw traffic to your website then a butterfly effects video will help you take wing and fly.

We can advise and help you with any length from 30 second trailer, 2 minute marketing promo, 5 minute engaging story, YouTube video or festival short all the way up to feature length documentary.

We will work with you from concept and development through production (filming & editing) to delivery and marketing.



Concept and development, detailed story research and script writing. Once we have your brief we can go out and do the research & obtain filming permissions



We offer location filming, (Exteriors or interiors) Interviews and sound recording. (Radio mics to pick up the action while on location)

Aerial filming. Two man operated drone (the latest hexacopter – three axis Gyro stabilised gimbal) with independent live video feed to camera operator to allow pans and tilts etc. Fully licensed.

Specialised action filming such as adventure or sport shooting

Filming in extreme conditions out at sea, arctic exploration & travel

Long lens or macro work for specialist filming such as wildlife




Graphics and Motion Graphics


Voice over script & recording.

Music Original (specially composed) or library music to suit your production.

Editing the finished film (complete with soundscape and colour grade) into various lengths suitable for different needs.

Delivery in HD broadcast quality, 2K or 4k formats suitable for online web use, YouTube, vimeo, festivals and for copying on to DVD or blu ray.



We can offer help with blogging & social media. Press releases and articles.

– Frazer Anthony-Johns & Jonnie Miller
Fal Estuary Scallop and Oyster Dredgers


Highly qualified specialists
Jo & camera on location near Mortehoe sq

Jo Stewart-Smith


E: jo@butterflyeffectfilms.com
T: ‭+44 7816 815761‬

Jo is an award winning writer, director and producer with over 25 years experience in broadcast television, travelling widely and making films for BBC1, 2, ITV, Channel 4 and international channels. She has a TV production background in both drama and documentary. Jo has over 70 broadcast writing credits including nine BBC Natural Worlds and David Attenborough’s Nature’s Great Events and several awards including the coveted Wildscreen (‘Green Oscars’) Panda for best script. She has also made non broadcast films (features

and shorts) for NGOs such as RSPB & the North Devon Biosphere. Jo loves working with people and has helped newcomers such as cameramen, artists, scientists, gardeners, farmers and fishermen to present or find their own voice on television or film. She works freelance as a script doctor and story structure consultant from initial pitch via various treatments and edits to final voice over script helping filmmakers to find the story. A few years ago she decided to make films on her own patch and began producing and blogging the series of ten short films: boat stories – www.boatstories.co.uk.

Boat Stories have now been shown at over 150 public events by ITV and regularly by schools, visitor centres and museums. Jo and Simon have made films for a variety of clients including the North Devon Biosphere, Dorset Coast Forum and Sidmouth Coastal Community Fund. Their film for Sidmouth was taken up by the BBC and we made a short for BBC Inside Out.

Sidmouth based film maker, Simon Vacher. Ref shr Simon Vacher-8. Picture: Alex Walton

Simon Vacher

Director of Photography & Editor

E: simon@butterflyeffectfilms.com
T: +44 7765488101

Simon has travelled the globe extensively on some of the most adventurous and ambitious shoots recently to appear on TV for National Geographic and BBC Four. He also shoots regularly for independent production companies commissioned by Channel 4 and for regular spots on local television. Highlights include filming in Antarctica, the Falklands, the Indian Ocean and dramatic UK locations such as Lundy Island. Simon is also a CAA approved drone pilot. His diversity toolkit of experience includes filming wildlife as

well as human-led documentaries. Previously, Simon has worked across a wide range of digital media, including motion graphics, video editing, live event camerawork and corporate media, giving him a modern and rounded approach and understanding of how every stage of production works, from scripting, to shooting to editing and delivery. Simon is a real people person, often working with presenting and contributor talent whilst offering the skills for more adventurous remote location shooting and cinematography. His work can be explored further at his website www.simonvacherfilm.com.

Jo and Simon first worked together on four of the series of ten boat stories films. Two of these: Salmon Netting on the Taw & Torridge and Fishing for Clovelly Herring were selected by Bath Film festival’s official jury to celebrate their 25th anniversary. The popular boat stories series of short films has now become ITV Westcountry’s first ever web series.

Plymouth Film Festival official selection

Bath Film Festival official selection

‘8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and a little snout at the back,
then we’ve got one female in the water,
it’s quite a nice little group actually’
– Beccy MacDonald, Warden Lundy Island


See what our clients say

‘Jo (the producer) would put a veteran FBI agent to shame with her attention to detail and impeccable research skills. Simon, the cameraman, can make anyone look good on film – as I found out – his camera skills are equal to a Spielberg blockbuster. As a team, they are utterly brilliant together. Please don’t hesitate getting in touch with them for any project you might like to promote – trust me – they make it reality.’

– Ashley Stones commercial rod and line fisherman from Facebook

‘I just wanted to say thank you for taking on board our comments for the Fisherman Chef film – we’re really pleased with how both films have turned out, the emotions and passion really come across. I know you and Simon have gone the extra mile with these films, the attention to detail makes them even more wonderful to watch, so thank you, it really is appreciated. .’ – From our film Dorset Coastal Stories – The Fisherman Chef with Ashley Stones’

– Sophie Franks, Dorset Coast Forum

‘Absolutely beautiful film with a great message underneath… protect our oceans and only take what you need… couldn’t agree more 👍 Pleasure to help.’ – From our film Dorset Coastal Stories – Young and Fishing with Sam Shuker

– Colin Garrett, Underwater Photographer

‘What a great day! We had a wonderful time sharing our knowledge, experience and our day job with you guys. So glad we could lend a helping hand at sea too. Can’t wait to see the finished article’

– Ashley Stones commercial rod and line fisherman from Facebook

‘This is lovely. Beautifully shot, edited and scripted and we will use your lovely v/o. Thanks again for such a fab film.’ On our short film Love and Loss for the BBC

– Sam Smith Series Producer BBC Inside Out

‘Sometimes the sea can be a bit shuffly’
– Stan Bagwell, Sidmouth Trawlers


Start a project with us!


Exeter Phoenix

Gandy St




‭+44 7816 815761

+44 7765488101