In August 2007, Maeve Films, a production company based in Ramsgate, started preparation for their third feature film. Starring Brenda Blethyn and Susannah York, The Calling provided an opportunity for 6 young hopefuls to join the crew in a variety of roles.
Medb Films is a small independent production company with its roots firmly planted in Kent. With an excellent track record of providing training to local crew, Kent Film Office and Screen South invested in their training scheme, giving people the opportunity to understand the workings of the film industry and use their experience as a stepping stone to finding work within this sector.
Sarah-Leigh Treadwell: Trainee for Assistant Director
Assistant directors (AD) aid the director in all aspects of the film making process. The duties of an AD can include preparing the shooting schedule, keeping a record of daily progress against the production schedule, managing logistics, preparing call sheets, managing the cast and crew on the set, rehearsing with the cast, and directing extras.
Sarah-Leigh Treadwell was placed as a runner within the AD department. She said:
“As a runner I had a unique chance to witness how each department works. I found my time on the Medb shadowing scheme incredibly enjoyable and informative. It was an invaluable experience that will assist me within the film industry. I found members from every department helpful and willing to share their knowledge.”
“This scheme is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in the film making process.”
Colin O’Reily: Camera Trainee
The responsibilities of being a part of the camera crew are endless and every aspect of it is essential to the film making process. Operating a camera isn’t just about pointing it in different directions and pressing the record button. There are many other considerations to be made before composing the award winning shot, including an awareness of narrative, mood of the piece and how it will eventually be cut together. It is a hard and time consuming process and involves using initiative and the ability to work collaboratively across all departments.
The Kent Film Office offered Colin O’Reilly a placement within the camera department on The Calling. Colin said:
“Being part of the training scheme provided me with a valuable insight into how a production team successfully executes its shoots. As a camera department trainee I was lucky enough to work in close proximity to director Jan Dunn and director of photography Ole Bratt Birkeland. I was able to learn valuable lessons in effective filmmaking techniques through my observations of Jan and Ole’s discussions on set and by being an active member of the camera crew in helping execute technical and creative decisions.”
“I was constantly being taught valuable information by Julius Ogden about the cameras technical uses and its creative effects through choices in lenses, grades and filters. My most useful practical lessons on set were taught by James Davis through daily lessons in set etiquette, clapperboard technique and overall equipment operation and maintenance.”
“Overall the whole experience was enormously enjoyable and I am extremely grateful for the knowledge I can now take with me into the future and onto other projects.”
Phil McBride: Production Sound Trainee
Sound is made up of lots of different aspects; recording, editing, mixing and exhibiting film and television sound. Sound can be viewed as being both an art and a science. With technology rapidly developing, being at the cutting edge of science can be a real plus for this job – that, and strong arms for holding up the boom during long takes.
The Kent Film Office offered Philip McBride the opportunity to expand his knowledge and ability within the sound department. He said:
“The crew made me, and hopefully the other trainees, feel very welcome from day one. They understood that we all need to start somewhere in the media industry, so settling in was easy.”
Time management is an essential part of media and film work; it needs to be explored by the trainees to get the full experience of what the media industry is like.
“I understood that it was only a three week shoot in which a lot had to be done, so the hours in my opinion were more than reasonable. My department as a whole worked like a well oiled machine and as a result never left me feeling overworked or left out at any point. The team work of the group gave me the opportunity to help out other departments and learn a bit about how they all worked which I found very useful.”
Summing up his experience as a Kent Film Office trainee, Philip said,
“The trainee scheme was a brilliant experience. I am happy to say that from my personal view of the scheme, I don’t feel anything really needed improving.”
“I really enjoyed working on ‘The Calling’ and feel very privileged to have been involved, and given the opportunity. I would happily do it all over again.”
Alex Hinx-Edwards: Sparks Trainee
Lighting technicians, also known as “sparks”, are involved in rigging and controlling the lights under the supervision of the gaffer, who directly reports to the DOP. Much can be done with the lighting of a set to complement the mood and style of a film, as well as enhance the actor’s performance. To work in this department physical strength, technical know-how and teamwork are a must.
Alex Hinx- Edwards was placed by the Kent Film Office in the lighting department on The Calling. He said:
‘My day-to-day duties consisted mostly of lifting and moving lighting and setting up the equipment. The hours were quite long. My typical day would begin early, I would work throughout the day and when shooting would finish the lighting equipment had to be packed back into the van which would often take a long time.’
“It was a worthwhile experience. It was physically-demanding and the salary covered all costs which was essential and appreciated”
Charlotte Mayhew – Post Production Trainee
Post-production consists of many different processes grouped under one name. Typically the post-production phase takes longer than the actual shooting of the film. It is one of the most challenging aspects of the film making process and can take several months to complete. It involves editing, adding of special effects, sound adaptation and reconstruction and transferring the finished footage to disc and tape.
Charlotte Mayhew was placed as a trainee within the post production department.
“Working on “The Calling” was an enjoyable experience to say the least. I found I got on with everyone really well and that I gained a lot from my time working with Medb Films. As the trainee in the post production department I benefited from seeing the action on set then going back to watch the rushes whilst digitizing the shots, which was interesting and enabled me to see what everyone was working towards.”
“I was shown a lot of the aspects of being an editor, including advice on getting into the industry and explanation of the technicalities, which I wouldn’t have known without this hand’s on experience.”
Charlotte really appreciated the chance to participate as a trainee on this film. Summing up the experience she said: “I doubt I would have gained this training from anywhere else in such an open, honest environment. It has certainly given me more than a few ideas on what I would like to do and how to go about it now that I have a better understanding of what to be working towards.
Amy Hooper – Art Department Trainee
Creating the visual world or setting for a film is the role of the Art Department. Under the leadership of the production designer, it falls to them to create a set that transports the audience into the world of the story. The set is also a tool for actors to get into their role. A great deal of work, effort and imagination goes into creating realistic or fantastic sets and backdrops and as is the case with most media related jobs, work within the art department is mentally and physically challenging.
The Kent Film Office gave Amy Hooper the chance to experience the imaginative world of the art department first hand:
‘I found the training scheme to be a unique and valuable experience. I learnt a lot and got to work with a great team of people. I felt the effort I put in was appreciated and there were times when I was given real responsibility and had some input on a fair amount of artistic decisions.’
“I really felt part of the Art Department and never felt like I was being treated as a runner just getting sent on basic errands.”
Amy found the placement a very valuable experience, saying ‚
“I would recommend the scheme to anyone interested in trying to become involved with the making of films. I really got to see at close range how each department works, both separately and as they came together and overlap.”