Charlotte Van der Haer Richardson on ScreenSkills' Leaders of Tomorrow programme

Charlotte Van der Haer Richardson on ScreenSkills' Leaders of Tomorrow programme

Charlotte Van der Haer Richardson is part of the latest cohort selected to take part in the ScreenSkills Leaders of Tomorrow programme. The three-year programme is focused on providing comprehensive and tailored support to mid-level professionals working in High-end TV to give them the tools to progress to senior-level, decision-making roles in the future.

Charlotte grew up in England and Europe and took a degree in fashion design with business at London Metropolitan University. She then attended Central St Martin's (University of the Arts London), before interning at fashion companies Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. She ran a couture house in Dubai for several years, returning to England in 2016, when she decided to have a career change from fashion and design. She did a BTEC in costume at college in Liverpool, the city where she is now based.

ScreenSkills has been part of Charlotte's career journey in High-end TV from the very beginning. While she was working dailies as a costume assistant on the film Tolkien, a colleague told her about the opportunities the organisation offers in the industry. She was selected for ScreenSkills’ new entrant Trainee Finder programme and worked on Moving On, a Jimmy McGovern-penned drama for BBC One.

“ScreenSkills was just what I needed when I made my career change, to give me direction and help me advance in the industry,” Charlotte says.

Alongside daily work, which may be for a few days to a few weeks, Charlotte works as a costume assistant on Channel 4's continuing drama Hollyoaks, which shoots in Liverpool. She has also recently worked on The Curse, a Channel 4 crime comedy.

Charlotte is steadily making additions to her CV as a costume design assistant, with the eventual aim of becoming a costume designer and head of department; she describes the Leaders of Tomorrow programme, which she joined in summer 2021, as invaluable to helping her achieve her ambition.

“Leaders of Tomorrow is great,” she says. “It supports the skills and training that is often overlooked in stepping up to roles in the industry. I'm using these three years to work on anything that may be a weakness in my CV or that I'm not well-versed on. The great thing about the programme is that it identifies any weak area and makes it the focus of my training.”

Charlotte is currently considering any extra training she will be supported to do as part of the programme. “I've been looking at online courses to learn new practical skills, such as Photoshop, and other digital training,” she says. “I'm looking at all sorts of courses that may help me in the future – sewing, for example, or historical costumes. There's so much I could use the bursary for that would be useful to me.”

Her mentor on the Leaders of Tomorrow programme is Ros Little, a freelance costume designer. “Ros has been very good and we have talked often,” says Charlotte. “I use her as a sounding board about projects I'm working on. I ask her technical questions – about continuity breakdown, for example, how she achieves it on projects she works on, or how others may do it.

“I've also asked about how she goes about hiring an assistant, and her advice is invaluable. She is so helpful on how to deal with people in the industry. It's so important how you put yourself across to people because it's a people business.”

Charlotte is full of praise for the Leaders of Tomorrow programme, saying: “It's great in helping people find the right role in the industry according to their skills and training. It addresses the huge issue of training to move people up; a lot of people aren't entirely sure they're in exactly the right role and there's no handbook out there that tells you how to get into roles or exactly what skills you need for them. Leaders of Tomorrow helps identify which skills individuals have and it will give me direction to achieve my ambition.”

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