Fiona Fowler on her HETV virtual production training support

Fiona Fowler on her HETV virtual production training support

For Fiona Fowler, an interest in TV wasn’t restricted to the shows themselves. From an early age, she’d had her interest sparked by more than what ended up on the screen. “I’ve always watched the behind-the-scenes footage and became really interested in how animation and 3D characters were created. I’ve always thought I’d love to do that.”

It’s an interest that went on to shape a number of her choices, eventually leading her to be on the new Virtual Production Training Pilot initiative. The trainees were then brought under the ScreenSkills general banner of support with the HETV Trainee Finder programme. The new entrant initiative offers paid placements across a number of craft roles on production, with Fiona receiving a place on the set of the Edinburgh production, Anansi Boys.

She said: “I had been sending my CV out to companies and letting my friends know I was starting to look into VFX work. A friend of a friend who was working on production on Anansi Boys knew there was a trainee programme from ScreenSkills in the VFX/VP department and put forward my CV.”

It’s a role that aligned perfectly with the way she had started to shape her screen journey, “I chose a degree in games design as I was very interested in digital art and became interested in programming and more technical learning at school and did a postgrad in 3D design for virtual environments, so I’ve always been drawn towards using tech in a creative way. Learning how a Games Engine and Environments could be used in TV production is exciting.”

With the word of virtual production rapidly evolving, ScreenSkills’ courses and training programmes have opened up a new avenue to those looking to work in the screen industries, enabling Fiona to witness how this evolving technology can shape a show. “It’s fascinating. When I was able to see the whole process come together through the cameras on set and how great it can look in camera, that’s amazing to watch. But the whole process of getting it to that stage was great to see and be a part of. There were a bunch of talented people working out any kinks, developing tools on-set and planning future tools, workflows and pipelines, people that are driven, ambitious and seem to love learning and teaching.” 

As part of the VP support offered by ScreenSkills, Fiona was given one-to-one mentoring sessions with specialists, Garden Studios. She said: “It was great to ask some questions and get some guidance on things to start looking at for more skills in things like on-set camera skills and meet people who are working in the same industry.”

It became a part of a programme that helped both provide her with opportunities and inspire her to continue to follow down this path. “I don't know where I would have gotten such a good opportunity to learn and get my foot in the door. I graduated from uni a while ago, I was anxious that the time out (to work on other places, travel etc) could impact getting started easily. There are opportunities for recent graduates etc. but being able to train on the job and get invaluable skills and experience paves the way for further work. VP being so new, it’s amazing to be able to get at the ground level and learn so much with the whole industry learning at the same time. I was able to secure a job with Dimension Studios working in their VP department as a junior virtual production technician and have been out working on projects since August last year.”

And to those thinking of taking moving into a screen career? “Make steps towards it, no matter what stage you’re at, so many different types of people and different backgrounds come into this industry, there’s not just one path, and people bring all of their previous experiences to this job. It’s worth all the hard work to be working in an industry full of passionate people and being able to learn something new almost every day at work.” 

The HETV Fund will be running more Virtual Production training for new entrants and mid-level, and professional freelancers in HETV for 2023 - 2024. If you are a training provider wanting to submit an expression of interest to run the programme, please see a link to the HETV tenders HERE. If you have any further questions about the Virtual Production training in HETV email

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