Lighting trainee Lewis Kelly

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Lewis Kelly comes from three generations of builders but has now switched his skills from construction sites to film sets.

“My grandad was a builder and my dad and my uncle are builders so that’s how I got into that,” he says.

One of four siblings, he gained early experience going to work with his father. After school in Kingston-upon-Thames where he grew up, he studied level 2 and 3 electrical installation at college.  He was about to embark on an NVQ when his uncle’s best friend, a rigging gaffer in film, mentioned a training opportunity in lighting at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

I never thought I would be able to get into film. It's like an undercover industry.

Lewis Kelly

Lewis applied for the training position and got it, spending the last two years at MBS Lighting in Pinewood, moving from department to department to learn every aspect of lighting in the film industry. With this training programme now at an end, he is now a freelance already working on a film he cannot name and with plans to undertake further training supported by a ScreenSkills bursary. Since then he's working on feature films such as Avengement as well as short films and music videos.

“I never thought I would be able to get into film, it’s like an undercover industry. I feel so fortunate. But who wouldn’t rather be on a film set than on a messy dirty building site, especially seeing some of the costumes and the special effects. It’s really amazing to see how it all comes together,” he said.

Now 21, he thinks his long-term ambition is to be a gaffer – the head of the electrical department. “Being the boss and leading a team you can show your creative side a bit more and you can do your own thing,” he said.

He is encouraging his friends in construction to follow his example but admits not everyone is up for a new challenge. “They seem to think it’s something that can’t happen to them, which is sad. I think it’s great what ScreenSkills are doing to show people the opportunities that are out there.”

He intends to do further training in temporary electrical installations and up-to-date wiring regulations with support from ScreenSkills. The more you know the more you’re worth,” he said.

Being in front of the camera for the ScreenSkills Find your Future in Film and TV campaign was “a different experience,” he said. “I was definitely nervous. It’s cool to have a different insight but I think I prefer being on the other side of the camera.”

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