2nd December 2020
Feeding her inner “Corrie” nerd and getting paid to do it, is a dream come true for ScreenSkills’ First Break participant Tiffany Bowman. “Getting work experience on a show like Coronation Street is amazing but the fact it is paid really helps,” says Bowman, who is from Blackley in North Manchester. “It's a rare thing, paid work experience.”
Tiffany made it through a rigorous application process to end up on placement in the editorial department of the long-running ITV series.
ScreenSkills’ First Break programme is supported by the High-end TV Skills Fund with contributions from UK high-end TV productions. This first iteration has been delivered in partnership with the UK broadcaster ITV. It looked to recruit individuals from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, by working with social inclusion agencies across Leeds, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
“The thing that stuck out for me [about First Break] was you didn't need a lot of experience,” Tiffany says.
She currently works at a children's theatre Z-Arts in Hulme and prior to that was a part of the Young Company at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester. She wrote a play that was long listed for the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for playwriting. A lack of both experience and confidence in her skills has held Tiffany back in the past when applying for opportunities in television. But she says: “I found I've got transferable skills.”
On the placement she shadowed assistant script editors, script supervisors and script editors. From that, she learned the importance of editing in the making of such an important ITV production.
Coronation Street has been on television screens for 60 years and currently six episodes air three days a week. “Coronation Street uses quite a lot of different writers for each episode,” Tfifany notes.
Part of the script editing entails making sure the continuity is upheld across the episodes in terms of storylines, the way the characters speak and behave, as well as hailing back to earlier shows, referencing the people who live on the street.
“I thought before I started that editorial wouldn't be as creative, I thought it would be more practical, logistical,” she says. “But having those discussions in meetings you have to engage the creative side of your brain which has been brilliant.”
Tiffany marvels at being in script meetings with “VIP Corrie people” including Verity and Iain MacLeod, the wife and husband show veterans, as part of her First Break experience. “I have a lot of admiration for them [Verity and Iain] so to be sat in the room with them, I was star-struck. It was a pinch me moment.”
She also found herself happily reassured by the level of collaboration and support from the entire production, cast and crew. “There's a bit of a stigma about people working in television being a bit up themselves, people with egos and the higher up you go, the worse it gets,” she says. “It's the complete opposite. Everyone is lovely from the cast [and] crew to senior management and everyone can contribute.”
Perhaps she was most surprised by the vast range of roles and avenues of opportunity. “I came into this thing as a person who has always wanted to be a writer, always wanted to develop that. But through the placement I've learned there are so many other roles I didn't even know existed.”
One of the tasks Tiffany was given was one of her favourites - story tracking. You are given a story line and have to track each character's emotions and journeys throughout a block of episodes. “I found it a really fun task to do. It fed my inner Corrie nerd. I was having to do it for certain characters I am fond of. It felt like a really fun task to do and not like work at all.”
Her mum noticed Bowman was "proper buzzing" when she went home on the day she had been story tracking. “I feel like I've been nurtured here and it is something I want to do now. I am really excited to do the careers day with ScreenSkills after the placement to see what I can do now.” First Break has boosted her confidence.
Since finishing the programme, Tiffany has been making connections with production companies such as Big Talk and Red Production to expand her knowledge of the industry and gain more experience. She is also currently working her first television script.
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