Amber Curtis secured her first paid job in television on the CBBC series Hetty Feather thanks to ScreenSkills Trainee Finder programme.
She had studied film at university where she focused on the location department. From this experience she secured an internship in a locations library where she made contacts with a few location managers and work experience from them helping out on set.
It was after joining the 2019/20 Trainee Finder programme that she was placed on the sixth series of Hetty Feather in the summer of 2019.
“Trainee Finder allowed me to get my first experience in environment that was happy to teach me. It meant the next job I could go in confidently knowing I could keep up,” she said. “Working on Hetty Feather also lead me to meet Mandy Edwards who ever since has offered me work and even on the most recent job I’m on now has trained me to work as a unit manager and scout - a position I couldn’t have been in without my first opportunity on Hetty Feather.”
On the children’s series, the job was split into two halves with two different location managers. The first half with Zoe Symonds was mainly based in Chatham Dockyard in Kent. “As there wasn’t a lot of the location to protect, the role focused around setting up location equipment and moving it from site to site. I also worked with security to do the lunch run and making sure each space was covered ahead of time.”
The second half was in Belmont House, an 18th century estate in Kent, with location manager Mandy Edwards. “The main job here was making sure the house was protected and ensuring the crew were following all the rules. I also worked as a contact to the workers in the house to make sure they were happy on the day of shoots.”
Amber found herself working closely with most crew members each day as the team was not large. “For a first job, it was nice to work on a job of this size where the crew was small enough that you got a chance to speak to everyone and learn but also big enough where you got given responsibility. Everyone was so friendly and patient whilst I learnt my way around.”
To anyone wanting to work in locations, Amber recommends joining locations-specific Facebook groups and, in particular Location Department Juniors where work is advertised and the moderators ensure rates are displayed on the ads. “I would also say, be as friendly as possible on each job you go on. Even if the job is for a day, work your hardest, do jobs without being asked and you will get noticed and be asked back. Be prepared to not have anything to do and then too much to do all at once.”
ScreenSkills Trainee Finder has placed hundreds of young, talented, creative individuals on film, high-end TV and children's television across the UK. The entry-level placement scheme matches trainees with productions who have paid into the skills investment funds (commonly known as the levies) for on-set and on-the-job training. In return, the production companies can claim back some of the trainee's salary.