When I was caught in the glare of the harsh reality of searching for a graduate position in the media industry, I stumbled upon an adventure-film production company named Coldhouse. I became captivated with naive curiosity and applied for the position. I was interviewed, and hired and then – like a family of wolves – they adopted me, and taught me what it means to be wild.

My intern adventures began on a shoot in Wales, where I trudged between slippery rocks and winding rivers formed over the aeons by the omnipresent rain. Scrunched under a survival bag, I wrung out my water-logged gloves and continued my attempt to operate the camera with frozen hands. I had never experienced the mountains in this way before, and filming in such challenging conditions felt a little out of my comfort zone. But that is the beauty of an internship with Coldhouse, there are so many opportunities to learn new things, not just about filmmaking, but about your own strengths and weaknesses, your own limits and abilities.

Almost a full calendar year later, the tangerine sunset illuminates the steep granite rock face in front of me. I look back down at the sea 20 metres beneath and try my best to ignore the first-time nerves of rock climbing. I was welcomed to the sanctuary of the top of the cliff with cheers and a selfie with half of the Coldhouse team. This was a memorable end to a well deserved day off, after a packed fortnight of non-stop filming on a little island called Owey, just off the West Coast of Ireland. 

Having a passion for filmmaking is one thing, but being able to combine that with an expedition-style outdoor shoot is a niche combination. Admittedly I’ve been raised in the millennials generation of makeup, wifi, technology, and lazy comforts. On Owey, we stayed for a week to make a climbing film, creature comforts like [hot] showers were non-existent, as was mains electricity, and we camped in what can only be described as a shed – which was also home to several spiders and layered with dust so thick we had to clean off the kitchen surfaces with a stiff brush! 

If I read that description before applying for the internship, I’m not sure I would have gone for it, but I’d have been making the biggest mistake of my life. There’s something so inspiring about waking up with the rising sun, and not being plagued with the material habits that used to overtake my mind in the city. Packing up to hike out to somewhere beautiful, I’m not sure I realised before that part of my job would be to strap myself into harnesses dubiously secured on the edge of a huge cliff face, to film climbers. Given that I have always been very uneasy with heights, to mine and everyone’s surprise, I loved hanging about here, wielding a camera as the climbers worked their routes.

One of the things I appreciate most about these experiences is how I feel when I’m back. Despite the sorrow of leaving such a magical place, and the immediate ache of wanderlust, I feel like an improved person. It’s as if nature has influenced me, and shown me how life is meant to be lived. I forget my insecurities and realise what really matters in life, and it’s not make up and WiFi.

Socially, if people hear that I’m in the media industry, they’ll immediately strike up conversation about Channel 4, or the BBC, and then proceed to ask me if I’ve applied for a job with these companies. My answer is always No, because it’s not adventure film. It’s not a chance to work with incredible outdoor brands, and see beautiful parts of the world like it is with Coldhouse. The outdoor film world introduces you to the hidden gems of this planet and teaches you how important it is for us to protect them, and the cultures of people that live there. Senior team members have told me many stories, such as being treated to a pretend marriage ceremony in Morocco; locals lending them traditional beaded outfits to celebrate and dance until the early hours (then of course, being hard at work filming the next morning!).

I never expected how much Coldhouse would teach me. Some highlights of my internship are things you probably wouldn’t expect. I’ve had the chance to be a part of some incredible projects editing in the studio. It’s particularly rewarding to see something I have edited being used by a client on social media, like a little taste of fame. I had never been particularly proud of my work during University but as I’ve gradually shunned my imposter syndrome, this internship hasn’t just proved to me that I can make something ‘worthy’, it’s also shown me that I had much more potential to become a better filmmaker than I ever realised.

The editing team took me under their wing, and taught me everything there is to know. Learning about professional editing has been the most insightful experience. I went from stringing together a few clips at university, to being able to design a complex narrative, and conduct a detailed symphony of rushes in large, complicated projects.

So my journey over the last year has been indescribable. I’ve made friends for life with the kindest, coolest people. I’ve scrambled along cliff edges, hiked, travelled, camped, climbed, fished, filmed, swam, ran, and grown so much as a person. My internship with Coldhouse has been unforgettable, and I can’t even begin to thank them for granting me this experience.

Lunging through the door to my city flat, I scraped my hastily packed duffle bag through the frame with me. I looked around at my show-room style apartment, and sat down in my living room for the first time in fourteen days, fighting back the lump in my throat. I sighed with relief. Relief that ten hours of travel was over, relief that I was back to homely comforts, and my own bed. I realised I was actually alone for the first time in 336 hours. But in spite of feeling happy to be home, I immediately missed everyone’s company, and the eye-opening life I’d just experienced for the first time on a little island called Owey.