4th September 2020
Declan Bambrick won a place on the ScreenSkills Trainee Finder programme after breaking into the screen industries as a support artist on the final season of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland.
“I engaged a lot with the crowd AD team and always did my best to be of assistance,” he said. When filming finished in 2018, he was asked by one of the crowd assistant directors if he was interested in working as a runner on the third season of the CBBC show, The Secret Life of Boys, made by Zodiak Kids and filmed in Northern Ireland. After further experience as a 3rd assistant director on a Northern Ireland feature film, A Bump Along The Way, he applied for the ScreenSkills Trainee Finder programme for 2019/2020 and won a place.
Now as a Trainee Finder runner/assistant director trainee, he returned to work on The Secret Life of Boys. “I had numerous tasks on this job. One of my main tasks was driving cast to and from set every morning and evening and doing equipment runs. On set and location, my tasks included getting cast prepared each morning and throughout the day by showing them through the costume and hair and make-up departments. Working by the 3rd assistant director’s instructions, I would lock off certain areas of the set and locations to ensure a quiet, efficient and safe filming environment. I would also ensure tea station facilities on set were in constant supply for other crew members. Listening to the 1st AD and 3rd AD’s instructions, I would also keep all other crew members informed of each’s days progress and any changes that needed to be known.”
A ”fantastic” AD team led by 1st ADs Leon Coole and Hussain Yasin meant Declan was able to learn a great deal and the wider cast and crew were like one big family. “They were all so professional but also kind and caring to be around. The crew were no different. Everyone was so patient and I learned so much from everyone on set. What I learned still stands to me today. The show itself is one of high energy and fun and this is something that everyone on set carried with them while also carrying out their roles in the highest professional manner. This is definitely a show I would love to work on again.”
Declan advises anyone wanting to work in the AD team to do what you have to do in any career – stay committed. “Starting a new career and staying on track with your goals and understandings can be tough. The one word of advice that I feel is most important to an AD team is communication. You must be willing to listen well and speak up if there is something that you don’t quite understand. A stream of misinformation can really affect the efficiency of a production so it’s vital that as a trainee in the AD department, that you’re constantly aware of what’s happening around you and are able to pass on information correctly. Punctuality is also a massive part of being a good AD. You must always be on time and be very strict in your timings in accordance with the call sheet.”
He said Trainee Finder had been “an amazing help” over the last year. “The Secret Life of Boys was my first ScreenSkills Trainee role and I received constant support throughout the production. I had always been based in Northern Ireland and I love the work environment there. But I also always had the goal of moving to London to further my career in the television industry.”
Through the Trainee Finder programme, he got that opportunity by receiving an offer to work in London on Sitting In Limbo, a shocking drama inspired by the Windrush scandal. “From there, I was able to build a new network of contacts and gain more work in a completely different city in the UK. It was an incredible experience and I hope to be working with the same crew again in a few months and I owe it all to Trainee Finder.”
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.
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