Recent TV Production Graduate – Seeking Advice/Mentorship

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  • #1899

    I am a recent graduate, I studied BA (Hons) Television Production at Bournemouth University, specialising in cinematography. I’m now looking to go into a career in the camera and lighting department in TV—I specifically aspire to work in TV drama. And, I wondered if anyone has any advice on how best to approach this, as a student without prior (professional) on-set experience outside of a study environment. What sort of work I should be looking for/companies, platforms or individuals I should approach. As well as, any thoughts on how you might transition from a runner to a camera trainee.

    Thank you for taking the time to read, I look forward to any responses and advice 🙂

  • #1903
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    James
    Administrator

    Hey Charlie,

    Very good question and I’m sure you’ll get some very insightful answers.

    The first thing I would say is I have no drama tv experience but I do have technical tv experience. I never really did running work because felt that led me more down the ‘production’ side of tv and not ‘technical’ however my first job was a ‘junior technical operator’ in shopping tv. Other companies call them multi skilled operators so you could also look at a junior MSO roles.

    The reason I found this job so amazing was because I got to learn a broad variety of roles at a junior level gaining experience in the industry. I know ITV daytime and other companies do recruit these job roles so you’d learn a bit about cameras, lighting etc. I think it could be beneficial to learn the ropes like this then push into drama work as perhaps a camera assistant or likewise?

    Again I’m sure there’s some camera operators on here who will be able to give you their insight too.

    Cheers,
    James

  • #1906

    Thank you James, thats really useful advice!

    I never would have thought of that, as I’ve always been told you have to be a runner before anything else in production, knowing that there are other routes to pursue a technical career in the industry is really helpful 🙂

    Thanks,

    Charlie

  • #1943
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    Callum
    Member

    Hi Charlie,

    I’m in a similar position to you, I’ve recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film and Television Production at UAL and wanting to pursue a position as a camera
    operator/camera assistant in outside broadcasting. As I haven’t had any professional on-set experience I am looking for an entry-level role as a camera trainee. From the research, I’ve conducted and the people I’ve asked, staring at a camera rental warehouse as a kit runner is a good entry-level role that can lead to camera trainee roles, so it is worth going down that route.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards,

    Callum.

  • #1944
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    Errol
    Administrator

    Hi Callum,

    I hope you’re well,

    My advice is to try and find a position where you will be working on camera as much as possible. A hire company will allow you to learn more about the equipment and maintenance etc, however how much time will you actually be working on a production where you can gain experience? You need something that you can add to your experience and gain credits where possible.
    A role such as a camera assistant or a Multi Skilled Operator (MSO) will be the best path for someone trying to gain experience in the industry. You can either go for a staff role where you will get to work on many different genres of shows in a short period of time or try and find camera assistant roles where you can work closely with a team who might keep hiring you for work and will build trust with them.
    There is no right path, however as long as you are constantly learning and hands on with a camera you are on the right track. If you find a job in a hire company it will be very difficult to then try and jump on a crew that already have assistants that they trust and will want to help them gain the experience.
    There are a few camera operators on the academy so they might have a different view or even offer some work experience in the future, so keep your eyes open for any job opportunities or keep asking questions.

    I hope that helps,

    Errol

  • #1947
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    Callum
    Member

    Hi Errol,

    That’s great advice, thank you.

  • #1948
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    Chloe Mourant
    Member

    Hey Guys! Callum/Charlie,

    I’m a camera assistant in the industry, I mainly do Studio and Reality, but have done the odd bit of drama.
    I think its a great idea to get a job in a kit room as you learn the kit inside out which I think the industry really lacks at times, is technical knowledge.

    Theres very few places that offer staff jobs any more they are like gold dust. So learning is hard, teaching on busy jobs is hard as you really need someone to give you the time to go through things when theres alot to take in.

    Errol is right, there really is no right path. I think any experience you can get, especially hands on all works.
    What James said as well about runner positions, its so hard as runners are so rarely seen on a studio floor or by the camera/lighting guys as they are usually so so busy doing a list of things for production that it just seems most runners end up in production roles. Although saying that, I knew afew runners who are now really busy camera asisstants, as they knew they wanted to do cameras and the only job they could get was running, so every single break they had… would go and get to know the camera guys and offer teas coffees etc literally just to be seen… and were just very verbal about wanting to do cameras, so as soon as an opportunity came up, we already knew their face.

    Its hard at this exact moment because of Covid, its hard to get new bodies into studios and sets because numbers are crushed right now, but really hoping when stuff starts to relax more work experience slots will start opening up.
    I would honestly say keep and eye on forums like this, and websites like mandy.com just to try and get any experience you possibly can, its a slow process but you’ll get there.

  • #1949
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    Chloe Mourant
    Member

    …… should probably add my way in…
    I got a job at The London Studios, pretty much as a kit room assistant. I just had to look after the cameras and check everything was fully stocked etc. It was abit more involved than a private kit room as the kit was all stored on site next to the studios so I was on the studio floor alot, but as soon as a camera assistant position came up, I already knew the gear so could hit the ground running.

    Its a massive shame places like that dont exist anymore. But just keep getting your hands on any gear you can, and asking as many questions as you can. etc etc.

  • #1951
    s
    Callum
    Member

    Hey Chloe,

    This is excellent thank you. I’m only a short way in looking for any entry-level work I can get to start my journey in TV/film production and already finding it difficult but, when I hear advice like yours it does reassure me that there will be something out there to get my foot in the door.

    Thanks,

    Callum.

  • #1959

    Thank you so much Chloe, Errol and Callum. Thats really helpful advice I appreciate it immensely and, will definitely keep it in mind going forward.

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