ScreenSkills’ First Break locations trainee Llauren Magney

Two vicious storms battered the UK during Llauren Magney’s three weeks on the ScreenSkills’ First Break programme working with the locations department on ITV’s Emmerdale. This did nothing to blunt her determination to work in TV - outside.

Llauren, 27, saw off hundreds of applicants to secure her place at a First Break one-day bootcamp held in the autumn last year.  “We wrote a description of what we'd done and other jobs we'd done, our background,” she says. Her work until then had included stints in retail and, significantly, with a company working on music events, outside show events and event security. Llauren thinks there are similarities with locations work.

“If you're location marshalling and events stewarding, you're dealing with the public. If you're on location you might have to close off a road, get the tech trucks in place.”

After the bootcamp, she secured one of only a handful of paid places on the First Break three-week paid placement scheme with ITV’s high-profile continuing drama, Emmerdale.

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 has been proactive in recruiting individuals from a diversity of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, by working with social inclusion agencies across Leeds, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

“First Break is exactly what I needed,” Llauren says. “It was a good way in and that is what I needed. It's a good way for someone like me who is not entirely sure which area of production I want to be in to get into.”

Designed to introduce participants to the production process and help them understand the set structure of a continuing drama, Llauren, who studied filmmaking at Northern Film School (part of Leeds Beckett University), found herself working with the Emmerdale location AD department.

The show marries filming on a purpose-built Emmerdale village exterior set on the Harewood estate on the outskirts of Leeds and shoots on and around farms in the surrounding area and other Leeds locations. Interiors are shot in ITV Studios.

She started her days guiding tech vehicles onto locations and ensuring they were parked in the right place before filming began. And if the trucks and equipment had to move to a new location, she was on hand to ensure any movement went off without a hitch.

Making sure everyone is set up and if there is any movement during the day, ensuring the tech vehicles get out OK and get to the next location was all part of her every day.  “If there are any issues noise-wise - for instance, we had a few stray tractors that have been going off - you might have to go and be quiet while you're doing a take,” she says. Liaising with other units that may be filming in other areas was also an important task. “I was helping out some of the AD team. I didn't ever have to shout ‘Quiet on set,’ but I said it a couple of times,” she smiles.

Filmmaking is something Llauren has been interested in for a long time. When she was at university, she did quite a lot of work in post-production then changed her mind and direction. She subsequently struggled to find a way into the industry having fallen away from film and TV.

First Break has helped break down barriers and dispelled the notion that television production is an impossible industry to get into if you don’t know anyone already working in it.  “There are quite a lot of barriers to get past. It's just knowing even where to start. For me personally, there’s a bit of a cloud around film and TV production and how you can get jobs.”

Her favourite part of the placement has been out and about on a live working set and her three weeks have only underscored her desire to work in television production. Signs are good for Llauren who is crossing her fingers that there might be a couple of things she is a good fit for - and possibly even with Emmerdale. “The weather has been a bit poor but that doesn't bother me. I lived to tell the tale and the show went on,” she grins.

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