Katie Deacon knew from an early age that she wanted to work in a behind-the-camera role in film production. A ScreenSkills-endorsed university course later she was ready to start working in the art department, but unforeseen circumstances made her put her career on the backburner for some years. Once she was ready to return to work, she was unable to get a foot in the door. Until Film Trainee Finder enabled her to reconnect.
Surrey-born Katie always had an interest in the screen industries. She used to watch behind-the-scenes documentaries and actively started researching roles in the art department more than 10 years ago. “The ScreenSkills website offered a good breakdown of roles and explained what everything entailed. That made me realise I wanted to pursue a career in film,” she said. “The job profiles also helped me research different university courses that could help me get into the industry.”
A ScreenSkills-endorsed course at the University of South Wales helped her develop an understanding of the process of designing sets. Katie also learnt about draughting and model making. She hasn’t needed to do much with these skills as an art department assistant so far, but she has experienced first-hand that it is good employers know she has the capacity to do both. “I recently worked on The Crown and because they had seen my portfolio with all my technical drawings in it, they asked me to do two technical drawings whilst I was there,” she says. “They were able to trust me to do that and I was able to talk to them in more depth about things because of my knowledge.”
Katie’s career is up-and-running now but this was not always the case. “Immediately after leaving university I became a carer for a family member, which lasted for several years,” she says. “When I attempted to find a way back into the industry, I had no luck.” A friend who had retrained as a make-up artist via ScreenSkills Film Trainee Finder encouraged her to apply to the scheme to help her reconnect to the industry. “Her journey made me realise that although I was a bit older now, it was still an option for me to pursue a career in screen.”
Trainee Finder offered her an array of opportunities and helped her kick-start her career. As part of the programme, Katie completed three placements on the low budget films The Last Tree, Amulet and Clay Kickers. “Being accepted on the scheme has given me a lot of confidence,” she says. As art department assistant she has been able to learn about different roles in department. “No day is the same, which sounds like a cliché, but it never is. Researching and sourcing items and dressing the sets for productions in different genres is a lot of fun. I really enjoy delving deep into a character and developing and creating a space to help convey their personality and their relation to the story.”
Although Katie has not yet decided which role she wants to specialise in, she is certain that she wants to continue working in the art department. Throughout the years she has been able to rely on what she learned during her degree and she has found that keeping her knowledge and skillset up to date has been essential too. “Having the skills is only the beginning though,” she says. “Connecting with people has been instrumental in entering the industry. Facebook groups are really helpful for this and I tend to look at the credits of something I have enjoyed watching so that I can try contact people working in the art department of that production."
ScreenSkills Trainee Finder has placed hundreds of young, talented, creative individuals on film, high-end TV and children's television across the UK. The entry-level placement scheme matches trainees with productions who have paid into the skills investment funds (commonly known as the levies) for on-set and on-the-job training. In return, the production companies can claim back some of the trainee's salary.