Assistant director Charanprite Dhami
23 May 2019
Charanprite worked for the police and taught maths and English in prisons – before running away to pursue her passion for film.
“There was pressure on me from my family to do law or medicine,” says Charanprite, who now works in the assistant director (AD) department in the film industry. “It’s £7,000 per year for film school in London and I didn’t have the support of my family. So I worked two jobs for three years and then ran away to study film in Prague.”
Charanprite, aged 39, comes from a Sikh family in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Her dad was a maths teacher when he lived in India. When he came to the UK he worked in a factory and now runs a general store with Charanprite’s mother. Charanprite got a degree in criminology and a master’s in criminology and criminal justice, but always dreamed of working in film.
Stick with the dream, it might take a while, but you’ll get there and it’s worth it.Charan Dhami
She finally got her break when she returned from Prague. She came back to West Yorkshire and went on a Screen Yorkshire boot camp supported by ScreenSkills which gives masterclasses on getting regular work in the industry. Then she was successful in her application to be an assistant director trainee on ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder placement scheme.
“I just loved being on set and being creative,” she says. “My main responsibilities as a trainee were looking after the cast, director and crew, locking off areas, ensuring batteries are fully charged, liaising with different departments such as locations and supporting the AD department.”
ScreenSkills introduced her to a different level of screen professionals. “I met awards winners - people like the cinematographer David Worley, that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.” It also gave her a supportive network of colleagues who have stayed in touch, shared contacts and looked out for career opportunities for one another.
Now she has worked a floor runner on the TV series Ackley Bridge and other credits include Wildfire, written and directed by Cathy Brady, the Bafta-nominated TV series Timewasters and a Bollywood movie. She has just been taken on as a director’s assistant – mixing ADing and production - on a new film adaptation with Warp Films of the stage musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Charan’s advice to anyone starting out in film is: “Stick with the dream, it might take a while, but you’ll get there and it’s worth it. I relate to this quote from Winston Churchill the most and often read it to myself: ‘Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about.’”
She agreed to take part in the cinema campaign because: “I want to encourage more ethnic minorities. My inspiration is Asif Kapadia, an amazing film director/filmmaker. I learned he was Muslim and thought, ‘Wow, they’re stricter than Sikh. If he can do it, I can do it.’”
Since the Find Your Future in Film and TV campaign Charan has worked on another season of Ackley Bridge and Last Tango in Halifax. After speaking at the ScreenSkills diversity conference - Action not words - in 2020, she was headhunted by Sky Studios for a job as assistant script editor. You can also here her share her story here.
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