Alumni of courses funded by the Film Investment Fund talk about their experiences
The Assistant Production Accountant Training Scheme (APATS) was a fantastic experience. It was tough at times, long hours and more long hours, but it gave me the chance to work on amazing productions. I worked in Malta for three months and made lots of contacts for the future. It is definitely a great way to get into the industry and build an amazing career. My placements during the scheme were on Ready Player One, Assassin's Creed and Bridget Jones's Baby.
As a graduate from the Assistant Production Accountant Training Scheme (APATS) 15 years ago, I am keen to employ trainees on the productions I work on. Recently I have had trainees on Overlord and Ready Player One.
These placements give the trainees the opportunity to put the knowledge and skills they have learnt in the classroom into practice. They are thrown into the real world of production accounting and they need to be able to step up to this challenge. This training scheme is invaluable for the film and TV drama industry, particularly in the present climate when the number of productions filming in the UK is so high.
I can't thank Production Guild and [ScreenSkills] enough for kick-starting my career in film and TV. In a relatively short time the scheme helped me build the knowledge, hone the skills and gain the contacts on Ready Player One, Annihilation and Midsomer Murders.
We are very proud that the Production Guild has trained the next generation of production accounting professionals for almost 15 years. Through quality classroom training and production placements trainees, from a diverse range of backgrounds and industries, are now enjoying successful careers working in film and TV dramaAlison Small, CEO of Production Guild
Not many new entrants get their first credit on an internationally award winning feature film but that’s what happened to Kim Brown as a result of her being part of the NFM (Northern Film+Media) Academy in 2015. Kim had a foundation degree in make-up when she joined the NFM but had no formal experience within the film industry. As a result of the academy, she was placed on I, Daniel Blake, where she impressed her department and the whole production and went on to secure a credit on the film as a trainee make-up artist.
When Kim attended the NFM Academy she wanted to get a more thorough understanding of the film industry. “The academy gave me better knowledge of the industry and opened up networking opportunities that led to employment,“ Kim said. “After meeting other trainees and professionals it was easier to know if there was anything filming in the local area, and it also helped prepare me for my first industry job which was gained from being part of the academy.”
Kim has continued to work as a make-up artist on a wide variety of productions not only in film but also in TV and is aware of the importance of training opportunities for new entrants. “My perception of [ScreenSkills] is a positive one because they do a lot for new entrants into the industry,” said Kim. “I also feel that the chance to apply for bursaries to take part in their practical courses is really unique and helpful for people in my position. NFM in particular have really prepared me for work and helped me to build positive relationships with others in the industry and I find it doubtful I would be working as much as I am without the head start and advice they gave me.”
A prop trainee on Game of Thrones, season 3, was the opportunity given to Chris Smith after he attended Northern Ireland Screen’s Production, Craft and Technical Skills course in 2013.
“Since Game of Thrones, I’ve worked on quite a few productions in Northern Ireland and as a result, I’m still based here,” said Chris. “I’ve now got credits from Game of Thrones, My Mother and Other Strangers, Starred Up, Our Robot Overlords, Morgans and The Woman in White.”
Chris has been able to work with some of the best prop men in the industry who have passed on their skills in particular Brian McGraw. “Starting at the bottom of the ladder and learning from the best, has helped me become the standby I am today,” Chris said. “I’ve gone on to work on productions on my own with different standbys and I’ve built a reputation. More recently, a trainee has come to work alongside me. I have grown in confidence to be able to work on a film or TV set and that has given me belief in my abilities”.
Chris believes the opportunity given to him through the scheme and Screenskills' funding was vital in helping him get a foot in the door of the industry. “It’s an incredibly difficult industry to get into so the training scheme is priceless giving you experience alongside true professionals.”
James was placed as an editorial trainee on A Long Way Down in 2012 and ended up working on the film for 10 months, receiving his first editorial trainee credit. When James was accepted on Trainee Finder he was hoping to gain a better understanding of how films were made and how the industry functioned.
“I had a passion for editing but didn't initially realise how that translated to a professional feature film scale,” James said. “In short, I wanted to demystify it and find my place. I had always wanted to work in the industry but did not know anyone who did - to explain how it worked or how to go about it.”
“Being originally from outside of London, the film industry always seemed both exotic and mysterious. The secretive nature of productions always made film careers seemingly unattainable to outsiders. [ScreenSkills] gave me the initial contacts and job support to get me in front of the right people - they really helped me get my foot in the door of an industry that initially seemed impenetrable.”
“Paid work experience, supported by organisations such as [ScreenSkills], is so important, especially for people who are from outside of London. It enables young people the basic financial support they need when starting out. Unpaid work experience is too usually the norm.”
Over the five years since completing Trainee Finder, James has climbed the ranks of the industry. “After my initial placement, I got taken on to my next film as a 2nd assistant editor by the 1st assistant who was impressed by my initial progress.
"From there I began to network and meet many other assistants and editors from networking events and shared workspaces. I have built my upon my own abilities, networks, and reputation from gig to gig. I am now currently 1st assistant editor on the new Yorgos Lanthimos movie The Favourite having just previously worked as the VFX editor on Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. I have had a very rewarding career working alongside some of my favourite filmmakers to date.”
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