Mark Bradford on how a ScreenSkills bursary helped his post-production career

Mark Bradford had built a career in the retail industry but had always held out hope of moving into the world of post-production. Deciding in his forties the time was right to make the leap, Mark was given an eight-month contract as post assistant on production of HBO sci-fi drama, The Nevers.

He explained: “I was really keen to move into the industry. I knew it would be hard starting at the bottom in a new industry, especially as my competition tends to be people half my age with university or college qualifications. But I was really fortunate to speak with some fantastic editors, who have worked on productions that I really admire, and when a chance came to work with them in an entry level role, I grabbed the opportunity to learn from them.”

Three months into production, however, Covid struck and the set was forced to shut down. Unsure of when – or if – the work would start again, Mark decided to use the time to develop the skills he would need to progress in this new career.

His colleagues on the production had advised what software packages would be most important to learn – Avid first, then Adobe Premiere Pro – giving Mark an idea of what to focus on. “I wanted it on my CV, as it would be something to show and fall back on,” he says.

He quickly realised that doing so would mean upgrading his own computer and paying for training and software. With finances tight after leaving a stable career, he was again thankful to colleagues who pointed him in the direction of ScreenSkills’ bursary fund.

In the summer of 2020, two months after production on The Nevers had shut down, he applied to the bursary for equipment and funding towards two introductory online courses online: five-days on Avid and two on Premiere Pro.

The courses, and the resources provided, were of huge benefit, he says. “After the courses we were given videos of the training, which was one of the best things to come out of it. I was overwhelmed when first doing the courses, it was a lot to take in and had felt behind the rest of the group in live training. The video was great to look back on in own time and refresh my knowledge.”

The production’s producer also gave him a free 12-month Avid Ultimate Media Composer licence, allowing Mark to practice and hone his skills for when the production re-started “without feeling completely green again.”

In the meantime, he was able to put his knowledge into practice, working on Premier and using the new software for some private corporate work for a security company.

In the spirit of developing his screen career, Mark made the most of the training opportunities available on the ScreenSkills website, completing both the coronavirus basic awareness on production and addressing unconscious bias training modules. It enabled him to take short a short contract as covid coordinator on a Lucasfilm production at Pinewood Studios.

As he aims to move back into a post-production role, Mark does so with a new confidence, more industry experience and improved knowledge. He credits the training he undertook as key: “It gave the skills that were needed and I now have an ongoing learning resource (in the training videos to refer back to) as well as a professional set-up at home. Doing the training online helped because it saved travel cost to London and removed the sense of peer pressure or lack of confidence caused by being the least experienced in group,”

Had it not been for the ScreenSkills bursary, Mark acknowledges it may all be very different. “It would have been a struggle without it. I'd have had to find ways to learn from watching people at work and looking at online tutorials. Also, I can now show that I've got a proper set-up, with two monitors and a powerful enough computer, as well as the course completion certificates.”

ScreenSkills bursaries are supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds, and industry contributions to the ScreenSkills skills funds.