Job title: Production runner
Industries: High-end TV
“It sort of runs in the family”, says Camilla Botterell-Race about her interest in film and TV drama production. Her mother is a costume supervisor and her brother is an actor. First, though, Camilla explored other creative industries. She studied Visual Communications at university, specialising in illustration and graphic design. After graduating, she moved to Paris and worked on a couple of fashion magazines, and in marketing for a French retailer.
Once back in the UK, she joined a London-based couture designer. “The work was fascinating,” Camilla says, “working across marketing, helping produce collections and shoots, and managing two different teams for her shows during the London and Paris fashion weeks.” Her experiences helped develop her organisational, people and project management skills. “I really enjoyed the production side of things.”
A career change beckoned, but “I had hardly any idea or knowledge of the TV industry. I’d done a film module at university but that was about it.” Camilla was drawn to whatever opportunities she could find working as a production runner or assistant in the industry. “Finding work was a challenge. I needed to improve my knowledge and experience if I was to make my way in.” ScreenSkills' High-end Trainee Finder provided the opportunity.
Camilla’s mother put her in touch with a line producer, to whom she sent her CV. This opened a door, and Camilla met the production manager, Lisa Corkill-McIntyre who told her about the ScreenSkills' High-end Trainee Finder scheme. “She said it was a great way to get exposure on lots of different and really demanding shows. Lisa was my introduction to Creative Skillset [now ScreenSkills] and Trainee Finder. It was my chance to get more experience and meet people in the industry.”
In 2016, the scheme placed her as a trainee production runner in the production office of the four-part BBC One crime drama In the Dark, starring MyAnna Buring. Camilla had a steep learning curve ahead, but the scheme meant she would be able to learn quickly on the job. “It was a brilliant opportunity – and being able to work on a larger production than I would ever otherwise have been able to secure at that time, was pretty exciting.”
Camilla describes the placement as a structured process, with wonderful mentoring. “Senior members of the production team were mindful that they needed to teach and train me - and not assume I already had all the skills and knew everything!” They talked her through what she would be doing. “They asked about my previous experience and what I was interested in learning whilst I was with them. They took the time to help me understand scheduling, the call-sheet, and set-ups.”
One of Camilla’s priorities during the placement was to understand more about script development, the journey from the first submission of the script to readiness for shooting, and the editing process. “The production team was really supportive, going through the scripts with me, and the breakdown of scripts.”
The terminology and the paperwork were quite a challenge. “It’s a different language! Then there’s the sheer scale of the information coming into, and out of, the production office. You have to be on top of everything and become familiar with the tools that help you – from simple lists of actions to software like Movie Magic!”
Meeting people and networking were core elements of the role. “I didn’t really know very many people in the industry before the placement, but being a runner introduces you to so many people in so many different roles. It was great.”
Camilla's evaluation of Trainee Finder
Camilla came away from her placement with a much better understanding of the production office, rushes and delivery, and a greater confidence in her abilities and skills. “I felt so much more comfortable - and able - going into my next job.”
Ella Brookes, the production coordinator on In The Dark, says, “as the production runner Camilla had responsibilities both in the production office at The Space Project and on all sorts of errands. The Trainee Finder scheme helped her secure work as a runner and helped her progress her career. The line producer and I went on to hire Camilla directly as production secretary on our next drama production.”
Camilla did not experience any barriers in taking up the opportunity that Trainee Finder provided. Her family was supportive and although it meant uprooting from her home in Shropshire, she likes the lifestyle of living wherever she is working and meeting new people.
Camilla thinks that productions taking part in the High-end Trainee Finder scheme benefit greatly, “it's more hands on deck from trainees who are enthusiastic and committed. You’re putting yourself out there by applying for the scheme. It shows you really, really want to do this and learn. I really do want to work hard, and I really do want to learn. The production benefits from working with people that are genuinely interested and prepared to put that extra bit in.” She adds, “ We, of course, benefit hugely from the chance to learn from those who have already established their careers and are constantly on the move from one production to another.”
Ella Brookes agrees, adding “We were really glad to able to access funding from Creative Skillset [now ScreenSkills] to hire Camilla through the Trainee Finder scheme.”
The scheme opened up opportunities for Camilla. She has been building a network of contacts and a track record of working in the Industry. Since the placement, Camilla has worked on several productions, stepping up to new challenges – from production secretary on Last Tango in Halifax with the Red Production Company, to The Virtues as a production coordinator with Warp Films, for Channel 4.
About Trainee Finder
ScreenSkills' High-end TV Trainee Finder is an industry placement scheme which matches new talent with placements on some of the most exciting high-end TV dramas being shot in the UK. It supports productions and production companies that contribute to the High-end TV Investment Fund by sourcing, assessing and providing access to a group of carefully chosen, capable and committed, entry-level staff, for on-the-job training on their productions. The scheme equips them with the skills and experience they need to enter, and make a success of, a career in the TV production industry. Production roles supported include accounts, art department, camera and costume, editorial and post, hair and makeup, locations and production office and floor runners.