TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
My first job in television was as an office runner for the BBC Drama Serials Department in White City, London. I worked there for a year before moving on to Productions, my first being the period drama ‘North and South’ as a Production Runner, working in the office and providing support for the Line Producer, Production Coordinator and Production Secretary. From there I moved on to Floor Running, starting on the soaps and continuing drama. I then slowly moved up the ‘AD Ladder’, becoming a 3rd AD and now currently a 2nd AD. Since starting as an Office Runner at the BBC, I have been in the industry for 13 years.
Before working in the industry I was (and still am) a keen film/television fan and used to enjoy making my own short films with friends. I studied Film & TV Production at North Tyneside College and also Sunderland University.
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE WORKING DAY LIKE?
My filming day starts quite early, usually getting up around 5.30AM!!!! I get to unit base before the cast or Supporting Artists arrive (usually between 0630 and 0700) in order to set up – get dressing rooms ready, chits written out, crowd lists distributed… The kettle on! When cast/SA’s arrive, together with the other AD’s we ensure they all go through costume and make up and also get fed. I then coordinate (again, along with my fellow AD’s) getting cast/crew/SA’s over to set (usually for 0800). The rest of my day is then spent facilitating my 1st AD’s (My Boss) wishes. I get other cast/SA’s ready when he/she wants them, speak to other departments (stunts/action vehicles/animal handlers/SFX/VFX/other) in order to coordinate the days filming whilst also getting the call sheet ready for the next day’s filming. I ensure all cast are returned home or to a hotel or train station on completion of their days filming. I sign out SA’s and ensure their chits go to our accounts department, to ensure they get paid for their day’s work! I finish the day (usually around 7pm) by publishing the call sheet for the following day, informing (along with the Production Coordinator) all relevant people of their call times and making sure they know where the unit base is etc.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The best thing about my job is the many varied people I get to work with, and the many varied places I get to work. There is a very good chance that every day will be different in my line of work. This is something which I enjoy a great deal.
AND THE NOT SO GREAT BITS?
The hours can be long, especially in the winter when you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. More often than not the days can be quite busy and intense, but in all honesty these are usually the days that when you get home and reflect, are probably the most enjoyable. You feel like you’ve achieved a great deal.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ADVICE TO A SUPPORTING ARTIST, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
LISTEN!!! When arriving at unit base in the morning, the AD’s will look after you and tell you where to go and when to go. Listen to what they tell you, they’ll be busy looking after a lot of cast and more than likely a lot of supporting artists. Their time is usually at a premium at the start of the day, so make sure you listen to them and help them out by doing what they say. They’re trying to ensure the smooth running of a Production, and your cooperation will help them greatly! If you aren’t sure of an instruction, ASK! They’d rather you have a clear idea in your mind of what you’re supposed to be doing at anytime of the day rather than wandering around somewhere you aren’t supposed to be.
HAVE FUN!!! Genuinely. Sometimes the filming hours can be long and in difficult conditions (Rainy, cold, etc), having fun, happy people around on set makes the day run a lot quicker and a lot smoother. After all, if it isn’t fun, what’s the point in doing it in the first place!