Grips for Heroes sessions held in Yorkshire and Wiltshire

Photo © GBCT

More than 70 veterans and serving military personnel were invited to see how their skills could transfer to film and TV production in this new ScreenSkills scheme with Help for Heroes, the UK Armed Forces charity.

To introduce the Grips for Heroes programme the Guild of British Camera Technicians delivered one-day taster sessions at Tedworth House, Wiltshire and at Catterick Garrison, Yorkshire, supported by Screen Yorkshire.

Each introductory day explored how skills acquired in the Armed Forces can translate to behind-the-camera roles in screen. After warm words of welcome from Help for Heroes, the day started with filmmaker Terry Bamber explaining how he entered the film industry. He also talked about how films are created from script to screen, and about which skills are required in film production.

Participants then joined practical break-out sessions during which they learned more about specific roles in film from industry professionals and undertook live filming exercises. This included overviews of:

  • production and assistant direction
  • location management
  • production accounting
  • digital post-production
  • production safety
  • art department and props
  • factual/documentary
  • camera assistance and operation
  • grips and key grips

ScreenSkills Head of Film Gareth Ellis-Unwin, who is also an ambassador of Help for Heroes, is grateful to the many experts who gave their time to make the unique day an enjoyable and informative experience for veterans and serving military personnel. “We are opening up the world of film to people who might not have thought it possible to participate and make a new career using their military skills and training.”

For me the day was a success from start to end, it took my mind off my situation, awakened an interest and increased my confidence.

Praising the event, an attendee said, “It's difficult to say just how much I got out of the day, it was a great deal on many levels. The tutors were confident, knowledgeable and approachable, easily mixing good humour with technical information and the content was just right.”

Following these taster sessions, and working with industry partners including the Grips Branch at BECTU, ScreenSkills will be rolling out a fast-track Grips Trainee Scheme for carefully selected former soldiers. The military personnel selected will be graded, given a grip mentor and then placed onto the Screen Skills Trainee Finder scheme to be available for trainee placements on film and high-end television productions.

The project is supported by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the Future Film Skills programme.

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