The Muddy Duck team: Robbie Phillips, Hattie Lavender, Russell Barnett and Billy Heaney.

Graduate business secures international growth promoting conservation

Muddy Duck Productions, a graduate business made up of four Zoology graduates from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus have developed international opportunities with their work, which aims to help promote science and conservation through media.

The team, Robbie Phillips, Hattie Lavender, Russell Barnett and Billy Heaney, have received support and funding from Exeter’s Student Startup Programme including a student startup grant. Billy explained: “They were incredibly encouraging and have provided us with the assistance we needed to really get Muddy Duck going. The support has also continued with advice on running a business, which has given us the confidence to turn our ideas into exciting opportunities, and most importantly into films.”

Muddy Duck hit the ground running with their work. Russell revealed: “In our first year, we were flown out to Northern Cyprus by the University of Exeter and commissioned to create a film about the work of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project for social media. Whilst on location, I also presented several short films for social media highlighting the effects of plastic pollution on nesting green turtles in the Mediterranean.”

Robbie continued; “After our return from Cyprus, we were commissioned by the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust and their patron, Gillian Burke, to produce a film depicting the story of ‘Septimus the seal’. We worked first hand with Gillian on location in Cornwall, directing her as she presented on the film.”

Projects from the Muddy Duck team have continued to evolve including collaboration with international non-profit Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, whose mission is to inspire people to take action and protect the world’s oceans. They have also secured work with the University of Exeter and with Wildlife Exposed TV. This summer, the team will be working with Dr Chris Laing on a new virtual field course and in 2020, they will be teaming up with Jack Perks on a road trip around Scotland filming some of Britain's most loved wildlife.

Most recently, Muddy Duck Co-Founder, Billy Heaney has signed a contract with David Foster Management. Billy explained: “David represents some of the best household names in wildlife television, so who knows where my career may take me in the future. I first got in contact with David in December 2018 whilst I was travelling in Australia, I emailed him my presenting showreel and fortunately for me, he loved it and wanted to arrange a meeting when I returned from the land down under. After a lengthy phone call meeting and a couple of days to think things through, I jumped at the chance of signing with David and a few days later, my profile was up on his website alongside Chris Packham and Bill Oddie!”

Billy continued: “In the near future, I will be focusing on presenting on the Big Blue Ocean Cleanup’s educational programme alongside one of David’s other recent signings, BBC Earth Un-Plugged presenter Hannah Stitfall. This is great for the Muddy Duck productions team and we are all looking forward to be working alongside her.”

The future is bright for the Muddy Duck team who want to continue working with high profile research institutions, charities and businesses, to help promote cutting edge environmentalism and science through film and other media. Hattie concluded: “At the moment we are specialising in affordable short-form online content, but in the future we would like to be able to expand our kit and make even better films. With the current state of the world’s ecosystems, communicating science to the general public has never been more important and we want to continue to educate and inspire.”

To discover more about Muddy Duck Productions and support their work visit the website. To view their film for the Marine Turtle Conservation Project in North Cyprus, which has been shortlisted for the 2019 Wild Film Festival visit YouTube.

Date: 21 March 2019

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