Emma Marie Cramb - from edit trainee to Leader of Tomorrow

“After my A-Levels, I completed an Art and Design foundation course but realised I didn’t want to build a career in that area,” says Emma Marie Cramb. So she moved to Spain for a few years and discovered an interest in film and TV. Back in the UK Emma graduated from a film production degree at the University of Gloucestershire, specialising in post-production. “Once I was introduced to editing, using the industry-standard Avid system, I knew that I wanted to work towards a career as an off-line film or TV editor,” she remembers.

After graduating she worked as an editor on low budget independent and corporate productions but says “there just weren’t the opportunities to access the jobs I wanted in high-end TV drama, partly due to the very small number of post-production houses in County Durham, where I was based.”

Working as a runner on a TV drama she met a production trainee who told her about ScreenSkills’ High-end Trainee Finder. Emma researched the scheme. It offered her the opportunity of working on a drama production while at the same time benefitting from training and support specifically targeted at those new to the industry. “This was exactly what I needed,” she realised.

She applied for Trainee Finder in April 2017 and was accepted in July. In the following weeks, ScreenSkills kept in touch to let her know what productions they were putting her forward for and what potential placements were coming up. This was important. She was living in the North of England and working in a full-time job, so advance notice helped her prepare.

“After only four weeks, I secured a trainee placement in the editorial department on the drama series The Good Karma Hospital [produced by Tiger Aspect]. I received a phone call from the first assistant editor on the production who asked about my skills, discussed the role and confirmed my placement. I couldn’t believe my luck!” says Emma.

After only four weeks...I received a phone call from the first assistant editor on the production who asked about my skills, discussed the role and confirmed my placement. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Emma Marie Cramb, High-end TV Trainee Finder production trainee

“I learned about the workflow involved in assisting on a drama production, ingesting the rushes received from the digital imaging technician (DIT) and organising them correctly in the project on Avid. Having worked with Avid before on my post-production course was a definite plus,” Emma says. “My role also included grouping the rushes and arranging them into bins, setting the rushes up for the editors, dealing with the editorial paperwork. There was so much involved - exporting sequences for viewing for the dailies, soundtrack lays, and some turnovers.” It was the first time that she had worked on drama in post-production so the process was completely new to her.

“In addition to broadening my technical skills, I gained a lot of confidence by developing my experience and knowledge of drama production,” she says. The scheme offered her support and training in setting up as a freelancer, self-branding, networking, and building up a CV. It gave her a platform to make the most of the opportunity, to reach out to as many people as possible, and learn as much as possible.

“It opened a door that I had been knocking on for a long time,” Emma says. “I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the scheme.” It has helped her to know that she can rise to the challenge and do her job well. Learning key skills helped her secure the next job as a second assistant editor.

There were a few challenges to face along the way. Emma didn’t receive much notice about the placement and when the call came, it was due to start one week later. She had to make a decision very quickly, pack up, and move to London. “Locating to another city for only two months, not knowing if there would be any work after my contract ended was a daunting prospect,” she says. “It felt like a big risk to move away from my family and hometown, and go outside my comfort zone.” 

The idea of finding accommodation without having guaranteed work for more than two months was worrying, but ScreenSkills pointed her towards flexible letting arrangements provided through the Facebook group Crew Rooms.

Emma met other trainee editors through the scheme. They travelled the same journey together, and they still meet up with each other from time to time, exchanging news and experiences and passing on information about all sorts of things, including potential jobs. Emma is also still in touch with Lizzie Dray, the first assistant editor from The Good Karma Hospital, who is always very supportive.

Lizzie says, “Emma and I worked closely together in the cutting room throughout the shoot of The Good Karma Hospital. As an assistant editor, I don’t usually have a trainee to work with me on productions, so I didn’t know what to expect and was unsure how much responsibility I was going to be able to give her.

“It quickly became clear that Emma was a strong asset to our post-production team. This meant that, from the start, I was able to delegate important tasks to her. After just a few weeks I was able to entrust her to set her own daily tasks and work independently from me. I was so lucky to have her.” 

It quickly became clear that Emma was a strong asset to our post-production team... I was so lucky to have her.

Lizzie Dray, first assistant editor on Good Karma Hospital

“The scheme gave me a wonderful opportunity and a springboard to go on from there and make the most of the future.  I’ve just tried to hit the ground running, and so far it’s been paying off," says Emma.

Since her placement on The Good Karma Hospital, Emma has worked as an editorial trainee on the feature film The Kid Who Would Be King and she is now working on eight episodes of the TV series Curfew as a second assistant editor. “The skills I’ve gained from just being on these last three jobs is so incredible! I love what I’m doing,” she says.

Emma would like to continue working on high-end TV drama production, developing her skills and building towards her goal of editing off-line. The aim is to work her way up to first assistant editor within the next two years and a few years after that to step up and be the editor herself.

  • Emma was named one of the ScreenSkills HETV Leaders of Tomorrow in 2021 - a three-year programme of training, mentoring, coaching and paid placements to support talent identified by industry recommendation towards becoming heads of department or other industry leaders.