Lauren Byrne knew she wanted to get into film when she was aged 14 and saw Jaws for the first time.
A decade on, she’s a camera trainee, with credits that include Men in Black and her current project, Made in Italy, starring Liam Neeson.
When she was growing up in Darlington, County Durham, she did not know how to pursue her passion for the cinema. “I considered working in theatre,” she says, “but every time I would watch behind-the-scenes videos on feature films I was drawn back in.”
She studied film production at university and then worked in a camera rental house doing servicing and repair. “I had to just keep hounding people with my CV until eventually I was given a job at ARRI learning to service cameras.” She gained valuable knowledge and experience of the mechanics of cameras.
It was by searching online for “how to work in film” that she got her next breakthrough.
“I thought that living in the North East would restrict my opportunities. Eventually, I came across ScreenSkills. I had nothing to lose so applied for their Trainee Finder training programme. It paid off. Without ScreenSkills it would have been difficult getting into film.”
Through the programme, she had paid work placements on the films Dumbo, Gwen, and The One and Only Ivan.
Now 24, Lauren says: “Being on the scheme gave me so much exposure. It would have been super difficult to get into film without ScreenSkills. It would’ve been hard to build relationships and get frequent work.”
As a camera trainee, she has a vital role on set. She ensures the batteries are fully charged and camera lenses are available, helping to change lenses and replace equipment and making sure the crew knows what’s happening. “It goes way beyond making the tea. I’m depended on for a successful shoot and need to work under high pressure and keep calm at all times.”
She says the key skills needed to be a camera trainee are patience, good people skills and being able to multitask. “I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of the department, as well as getting to be challenged physically,” she says, adding: “I’ve been on a lot of jobs where I’m the only female in the camera department. I’m OK with that. But I would like to see more women in the camera department.”
Building good relationships with the crew is important. “You have to be good, helpful and liked. I spent months of long days with them, they liked me, so I got more jobs.” Her advice for anyone thinking of pursuing a career in the industry is to “never get comfortable”.
Since the Find Your Future in Film and TV campaign Lauren has worked with Marvel Studios on Eternals and she was able to step up from camera trainee to the role of 2nd assistant camera on Silent Night.
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