ScreenSkills’ Children’s TV Make a Move enabled junior production manager Lewis Field to step up to the role of production manager on What’s On Your Head?, a series produced by London and Bristol-based Gold Wala for the BBC’s CBeebies. .
Productions that pay into the Children’s TV Skills Fund can apply for financial support to employ and train individuals into higher grades. The flexible subsidy can be used to cover salaries, mentoring or expenses such as short courses. It is one of the many ways in which industry contributions are used to tackle grade and skills shortages.
Lewis used the programme to develop a range of useful skills on the series which is narrated by Nadiya Hussain with theme music by dance legends Basement Jaxx. The show is about what people wear on their heads for religion, work, safety or fun.
"The children's TV aspect of the funding appealed to me and I wanted to build up my skills as a production manager, in off and online edits, and expand my CV with children's programming,” Lewis says.
Lewis worked closely with Gold Wala's director of production Jess de Santis to develop the skills he needed to step up, which had been agreed prior to beginning the programme. "We were going through budgets, cost managers, schedules, post schedules on a daily basis," he says.
"It's just as well we got on because we were living in and out of each other's pockets, albeit remotely, the whole time.”
The series shot last year using Covid-19 safety protocols. It meant he worked mostly from his home in Surrey, with a couple of days in a studio in central London.
"Everything has been done with a skeleton crew and we've all been working remotely from home using Zoom calls," Lewis explains. "[Covid] hasn't hindered anything. Everyone talks every day, there are plenty of Zoom calls and we have even managed to meet people on location, albeit remotely, using Zoom."
The ScreenSkills programme also allowed him to gain experience in all aspects of post-production, including skills in organising animated titles and inserts for the live-action series. All of the animation was carried out by the company Animation Guys.
"Animation Guys created all the animations and title sequences for What's On Your Head?," he says. "It was great for me becoming more versed in scheduling for post. I feel a lot more confident having been able to ask lots of questions and work out how it works."
He saw a first cut of the show in late December 2020. "There is so much doom and gloom around right now on the television, it is really nice to have something light-hearted and fun," Lewis says. "I'm proud of it."
As for the ScreenSkills Children’s TV Make a Move programme, he would encourage production companies to apply to the programme to give other talent a chance to step up in their careers in this way.
"Doing Children's TV Make a Move via ScreenSkills has definitely added a string to my bow, an extra on my CV, to make it standout."
He now regularly works as a production manager across Gold Wala's portfolio of content.
So having never worked on children's shows before, is he a children's television-maker now?
"I really enjoyed working on a children's television show and the variation the ScreenSkills programme has given my career," says Field.
Prior to the Make a Move programme, he had already taken advantage of the ScreenSkills coronavirus basic awareness on production training.
During his Children's Make a Move training, Lewis made a good contact for health and safety advice who really helped him to hone his skills "in writing risk assessments and designing Covid protocols”.
“I can now be hired in that role in the future," he explains. "I've done four projects during lockdown in 2020. I feel very confident about how to implement Covid protocols on any project.”
Lewis’ career began at Dragonfly Film and Television Productions in 2011 after he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Film/Cinema/Video Studies from Kingston University.
He has worked on various productions including Peter Andre: My Life, Sunday Brunch, The Wright Stuff, Come Dine With Me and The Paul O'Grady Show.
"I started in editorial and did researching. Moving into production was a natural progression. My initial goal was to be a production coordinator and I got there," Lewis says. "Now I am aiming for line producer roles. I am not at that level yet but that is the next goal."