Rachel Erskine of ScreenSkills' leaders of Tomorrow programme

Rachel Erskine of ScreenSkills' leaders of Tomorrow programme

Rachel Erskine 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.

Rachel, who was born in Northern Ireland, is from a military background and describes herself “from all over Europe”. After a peripatetic childhood spent mostly in the Netherlands and Germany, she is now based in Glasgow. She started “making little films” as part of a film club while at school and then took a degree in digital film and television at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the city.

In her last year at the Conservatoire Rachel gained an apprenticeship at Warner Bros., which led to her first job in High-end TV, as assistant editor on Waterloo Road, a BBC drama series set in a secondary school (created by Shed Productions) filmed in Greenock.

She stepped up to first assistant editor on High-end TV dramas including the BBC's Vigil (made by World Productions) and the upcoming Amazon Prime drama The Rig.

Rachel was suggested for the ScreenSkills Leaders of Tomorrow programme by editor Nikki McChristie; they met on Waterloo Road and have worked together on a few productions since. “It was a lucky meeting,” says Rachel. “We got on so well and she has always tried to help me in my career. I'm very grateful that she suggested me.”

Rachel's mentor on the programme is editor Ben Drury. “We've talked a fair bit,” she says. “We talk about how things are going and what stage I'm at in productions. I find our conversations very useful.”

Rachel knows the worth of mentoring, as she herself mentored a student at Napier University in Edinburgh after a mutual friend put them in touch. “Mentoring is a great thing and even though it was a few years ago we're still in touch,” Rachel says of her mentee. “I've been helped by a few people in the industry over the years and anything I can do to help somebody else I would. I think mentoring is one of the programme’s great strengths.”

Rachel started on the Screen Skills Leaders of Tomorrow programme last summer and says: “It's great because there are people in the industry who are ready to step up but who perhaps don't have the opportunity or the right experience, and this can bridge the gap. It's a brilliant thing and is very well run.”

She is looking into how she may use the funding available to invest in some kit. Most editors were already working remotely even before covid hit and Rachel wants to have the best equipment available.

And while editing is, she says, “a skill mostly learned on the job, it's all about experience, and about talking to directors and producers” she looking forward to accessing the network of industry professionals from the Leaders of Tomorrow pool to help her progression.

Rachel's ambition is to be an editor in TV drama and film, and she hopes that when her time on the Leaders of Tomorrow programme comes to an end she will be able to step up.

“I would love to be established as an editor and trusted in that role,” she says, pointing out that it's not always a seamless move. “In other departments there's quite often several stepping stones to the role you ultimately want, but in editing it's just assistant editor to editor, so there aren't as many opportunities.

“I love the creative side of the work, of being able to collaborate with the director and the producers and the rest of the team. It's a brilliant job. As an assistant editor there are opportunities to be creative, but it's more of a technical role, so when you move up to editor you're essentially moving from technical to creative – and it's not really seamless because the roles are so different. That's why having assembly editor work is so important.”

She thinks being on the Leaders of Tomorrow programme will boost her ambitions, saying: “I'm delighted to be on it and excited to see what the next few years bring.”

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