Armed Forces veteran Alan Lane discovered that he had skills wanted by the screen industries at an event run by ScreenSkills. Less than a year later he has started working in the locations department.
Sheffield-based Alan Lane had struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the army. The debilitating effects of PTSD meant he was unable to find a way back to work for quite some time.
His life took a turn for the better when he decided to participate in Grips for Heroes, an initiative supported by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the Future Film Skills programme, with Help for Heroes, the UK Armed Forces charity. He attended a one-day taster session at the Catterick Garrison in Yorkshire. “My PTSD was bad on the day of the event. I remember having to battle my mind just to get there,” Alan says. “But this time the fight certainly paid off.”
Alan arrived at the event expecting to hear that he would need to go to university to have any chance of working in the industry, but soon found out he was wrong. “I used the day to find out more about the industry and spoke to as many people as I could,” he says. ”The locations management area really hit a chord with me so I made sure that one of the first things I was to do was get a business card from one of the locations managers that was there after spending quite a bit of time asking questions.”
He was amazed to find out that many of the skills he had obtained during his 18-year career in the infantry can easily be transferred across to the film and TV industry. He had also previously completed the SIA (Security Industry Authority) security guard training course but never used the qualification. The combination of these skills made him a perfect fit for the security division in the locations department.
The connections he made at the Grips for Heroes introductory day put him in touch with a Manchester-based security firm and he has since joined security teams working on TV and film locations. “Getting back into work has made my quality of life a lot better,” Alan says. “I have also discovered that the percentage of people working in locations security with an Armed Forces background is high.”
Alan has worked on several TV and film locations since participating in Grips for Heroes, including Everybody’s Talking About Jamie which was shot in his home city of Sheffield.
He recommends Armed Forces personnel who are considering a career change to look out for introductory events. “Enjoy the day, have a go at anything you can and network, network, network.”