Next January, Padgett heads to New Zealand for three to six months to co-direct a documentary film with former BBC natural history videographer James Reardon.
"He's got the chops and the experience, and I'm totally new generation, totally digital," says Padgett. "We're feeding each other. It's really taking us both to get this done."
Their subject is the Chatham Islands, a rocky archipelago about 300 miles south of New Zealand. It has a high concentration of species that develop on biologically isolated islands and a human culture uniquely shaped by isolation and conflict.
"It's the wild west but way bigger and with endemic albatrosses with nine-foot wingspans," he says.
Since graduating from Sewanee, Padgett has traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, New Zealand, Europe and the U.S. Film has been a constant, but he says he only began taking it seriously in the last year or so.
"Our generation is so good at being like 'Oh yeah, man, I'm not really trying,'" says Padgett. "It's cowardice. It's because if you fail, you tried and you suck. Well, you have to throw down at some point and say 'I'm going to try to do this.' I've mentored with some great camera people and some amazing businessmen. I grew up with National Geographic specials on TV. I always wanted to do this. Now I feel like I have the tools to give it an honest try. And if I don't make it, I don't make it, but I have to try."