Intrepid Wildlife Filmmaker takes on the ultimate endurance challenge

Issue date: 16 February 2017


Katy Parrott, a recent MA Wildlife Filmmaking graduate from UWE Bristol signed up for the experience of a life time, beating off 1000s of other applicants to fly off to South Africa to star in the current BBC Two series Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week.

The show is described as the ultimate endurance challenge, with some of the UK's fittest men and women pushed beyond their mental and physical limits by battle-hardened veterans from the world's toughest special forces.

In recognition of her success, Katy was recently named Arts, Creative Industries and Education Student of the Year at the Celebrating UWE Talent Awards. The awards acknowledge the achievements of UWE Bristol students who've represented the University through hundreds of work-based learning opportunities including placements, internships and volunteering in local, national and international businesses.

Katy says, “I'm delighted to have received this award. My experience being a 'recruit' in the BBC series Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week is far from your average work experience. But it turned out to be life changing. The opportunity exposed me to life in front of camera, on location with a 100 strong crew and more importantly revealed a physical and mental resilience I didn't know I had. And it's a good job I possessed those qualities as 3 days after filming in South Africa for the show, I set off to trek 400km for my Masters final film project in Bulgaria.”

Intrepid Katy's adventures continued in Bulgaria, where as part of a trio of explorers they became the first team to trek the entire length of the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountain, each trekking with 30kgs of kit and wild camping in bear infested forests. The Rhodope mountains are considered a European biodiversity hotspot, and are home to bears, wolves, reptiles as well as an abundance of birds of prey. With each team member having a background in Biology or Zoology, the team set out to discover and survey the wonderful wildlife in the region.

After achieving a BSc in Biology, Katy sought a career path that combined her creativity and passion for the natural world and was drawn to Wildlife filmmaking. She explains, “I chose MA Wildlife Filmmaking at UWE Bristol because it sits within the heart of the Natural History TV world; Bristol. The links with the industry, specifically the BBC NHU, and high employability rates were a massive draw for me. I was amazed by how many skills I learnt during the year. I had never used a film camera or editing software before the MA and ended up producing my own ambitious film, with incredible guidance from Peter Venn, the media centre staff and my BBC mentor, Liz White. I couldn't have asked for a more challenging, rewarding and amazing year and would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Since graduating, Katy has secured a job developing wildlife and adventure film ideas for Monty Halls at Seadog Productions. In her spare time, taking inspiration from her special forces training, Katy has joined the Army Reserves to train as a Combat Medic for an infantry unit.

Monty Halls said, “Katy plainly has a very bright future indeed. She joined our team here at Seadog Productions 2 months ago, and immediately made an impact. Her drive and initiative, combined with a lively imagination and formidable determination, have made her a highly valued team member. She is a cross between Tinkerbell and the Terminator.”

UWE Bristol's popular MA in Wildlife Filmmaking in partnership with the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) is a practical, one year Masters degree; featuring masterclasses from industry leaders, practitioners and experts in the field and craft of wildlife filmmaking. Now in its fifth year, the course has a graduate employment rate of more than 95%.

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