Film students get once in a lifetime opportunity to work on TV documentary

Film students get once in a lifetime opportunity to work on TV documentary

Two students could not believe their luck when they secured the chance to work on the final instalment of smash hit TV trilogy, ‘Life of a Mountain’, with revered Cumbrian film-maker, Terry Abraham.

The students, both on the University of Cumbria’s Wildlife Media BA Hons course, happened upon this incredible opportunity when Terry gave a fascinating guest lecture on freelancing and industry opportunities.

After enrapturing the audience, Terry invited them to apply to work on filming ‘Life of a Mountain: Helvellyn’, the third and final instalment of his hugely popular lakes-based TV documentary series.

The applicants were whittled down to three and two have since formed a close partnership with Terry - Paul Bacon 21, from Buxton in Derbyshire and Nathan Buckley, 24 from Stroud in Gloucester.

Laura Baxter, course leader of Wildlife Media, is delighted for her students.

She said: “This is the start of a really rewarding partnership where Paul and Nathan have learnt a great deal working alongside Terry and have taken increasing levels of responsibility, whereby Terry now attests to the fact he delegates various important filming tasks to them. 

“Paul and Nathan have produced various footage which will feature in the final edit of the documentary and be broadcast next year, a fantastic credit on their CVs and stepping stone to other professional work opportunities.” 

The fantastic opportunity began a year ago and since then the two students proved their abilities and have accompanied Terry on most shoots.

Speaking about this experience, Paul Bacon said:

“We do all sorts, literally anything Terry does, we go with him.

“We have climbed Helvellyn countless times, often in the early hours, to catch magical sunrises and cloud inversions and film time-lapses and drone footage of the dramatic landscape.

“We’ve done people shoots, interviews and any bits of wildlife as well, just everything that goes into the film.

“Best thing about the whole experience has been the people we’ve met. The locals, the people in and around the mountains, it’s been fascinating meeting them. So a massive thanks to Terry for having us along, it’s been amazing.”

Paul has just completed his undergraduate degree but is carrying on his studies with an MA in Creative Practice, in which he hopes to explore the more experimental side of wildlife media.

As soon as Nathan came to Cumbria to look at universities, he knew it was the place for him and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

He said: “Goes without saying it’s been an invaluable experience working with Terry and I’m very grateful to him for giving us the opportunity to work with him on his final ‘Life of a Mountain’ film which has been an absolutely brilliant experience and great fun”.

Terry took a risk inviting the unproven students to help film Helvellyn but he was encouraged to see them grow in confidence and ability over the year.

He said: “They’ve really blossomed working with me, I can see their confidence has grown as people and on the job.

“Working with me on ‘Helvellyn’, has inspired them and in turn their enthusiasm has inspired me, so much so that after this project is finished, I have offered them freelance work as my crew.”

It certainly has been a life-changing experience for the students who have learnt out in the field on location and alongside professionals in the industry, making connections and networking to enable them to start their own careers doing what they love.

‘Life of a Mountain: Helvellyn’ production is still ongoing and all filming is set to be completed by February 2020 with the premiere set for May. 

Terry’s two previous documentaries in the trilogy ('Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike' 2014 and 'Life of a Mountain: Blencathra' 2016) have garnered awards, widespread critical acclaim from the national press and have been seen by millions of viewers on the BBC excluding DVD sales or cinema screenings.

Anyone inspired by Paul and Nathan’s story can visit the university online. This year’s clearing process is underway and the university has many options for people wanting to explore their higher education options.