Veterans invited to transfer their forces skills to film

Military veterans are being offered the opportunity to start a career in film and television in a new ScreenSkills scheme with Help for Heroes, the UK Armed Forces charity.


A one-day introductory session, delivered by the Guild of British Camera Technicians, will explore how skills acquired in the Armed Forces could be translated to behind-the-camera roles in screen. Veterans who are interested in taking training further will then be offered the opportunity to interview for a place on ScreenSkills' Trainee Finder scheme.

ScreenSkills' Head of Film Gareth Ellis-Unwin became a Help for Heroes ambassador after producing the 2014 film Kajaki: the True story, which tells the story of a rescue mission to save soldiers injured by explosions in an unmarked minefield in Afghanistan in 2006. After meeting a number of veterans that were involved in the operation he felt that many of them could take the skills they had honed in the military and commit them to the manual work and logistics of film and TV production. 

“It struck me that anyone that could keep an armoured vehicle working in the desert could probably cope with the physical, technical and logistical demands of working in film. I believe that opening up the world of film to people who might not otherwise have thought it possible could be an enormously powerful way to signal what these men and women are capable of doing while addressing genuine skills shortages in the industry.”

It struck me that anyone that could keep an armoured vehicle working in the desert could probably cope with the physical, technical and logistical demands of working in film

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, ScreenSkills' Head of Film

Gareth thought that a role as grip – a key technical worker on a film set – would be particularly suitable for veterans. While roles such as medics, drivers and cooks have their direct equivalents in film and television, there are many other military roles involving skills that can be transferred to a set.

Steve Sinclair-Day, Career Recovery Manager at Help for Heroes, said: “We are very grateful for the support of ScreenSkills and the Guild of Camera Technicians in making this happen. It’s fantastic to get real practical advice and guidance from leaders in their field, who recognise the transferable skills that veterans can offer.”

The initiative is supported with National Lottery funds, awarded to ScreenSkills by the British Film Institute to deliver its Future Film Skills programme, and is backed by BECTU’s Certified Grips Branch. It launches on Tuesday 25 September 2018 at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Tedworth House, Wiltshire. A second session will run on Thursday 4 October 2018 at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Catterick, Yorkshire. 


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