PRODUCTION ASSISTANT - GEORGIA REDMAN
Georgia Redman is a young film-maker/ex-student originally from Bristol now living in London. She works on a long running BBC Drama as an office runner and she was the UK’s BTEC Apprentice of the Year 2016.
HOW DID YOU GET IN TO THE INDUSTRY, AND DID YOU GO TO FILM SCHOOL?
I started working in the industry by persistently contacting local film-makers to ask if I could work on their projects, this was while I was at college studying a BTEC course in Creative Media Production. I met Paul Dudbridge during a guest lecture at the college and asked him whether I could work with him. He kindly let me and I went on to work on several projects with Paul and other local film-makers. I also had my own film-making projects going on, and I was able to gain some work experience on an ITV Drama. At the age of 17 I had built up enough experience to apply for an apprenticeship with the BBC. University was never in my plan as it just wasn’t for me. My focus was always on gaining experience on the floor so that I didn’t need to go to university.
WHAT SKILLS OR PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE BIGGEST FACTOR AS TO WHY YOU GOT TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
It’s taboo to say but volunteer! I couldn’t recommend it more for your first few projects.
I didn’t earn any money as a runner for the first six months, which is why I worked two part-time
jobs on the side as well as attending college. It can be done and it really isn’t forever! It shows your
passion and determination, ultimately you will get paid, but for now you need to develop a skill set.
Another attribute that I couldn’t recommend enough is setting goals for yourself and having a career
plan. I didn’t realise the effect it would have on me, but my first few goals lists I have fully
achieved already! Writing them down is much more effective than having them in your head. If
you can, look at them most days and write objectives as to how you can achieve them. For example;
when I was 16, I was desperate to apply for the BBC Apprenticeship Scheme but I’d just left school
without a Media GCSE or any personal film-making work, I said to myself that I would use the year
to be as productive as possible, shoot my own short films, learn about the industry and gain
experience working in it. People underestimate the power of setting goals and how it can increase
your motivation and passion to get things done.
AS SOMEONE WHO WAS RECENTLY A STUDENT TRYING TO BREAK IN TO THE BUSINESS WITH LIMITED OR NO EXPERIENCE, WHAT DID YOU PUT ON YOUR CV AND COVER LETTER WHEN YOU WERE APPLYING FOR JOBS? ANY HINTS AND TIPS YOU CAN PASS ON?
CVs and cover letters are no fun. I certainly wasn’t talented in writing them but my tip would be
to make sure the person reading knows how passionate you are about what you’re applying for and
what the TV/Film industry means to you - that really is what makes you stand out. The
other CVs that they are looking at, also contain a full driving licence, good GCSE’s, A-Levels, degrees and a part time job, so you are competing with them. Show that you’ve volunteered on a friend’s project, if it won an award write that too. Have you attended a short film-making course? Put that down too. People do read through CVs to see names like BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or well established independent production companies, so see if you can gain work experience there. If not, can you get a job at a cinema? Film Festival? Anything that illustrates your passion stands you in such good stead.
WHAT MISTAKES DO YOU SEE STUDENTS MAKING THAT ARE COMING UP IN YOUR FIELD? EITHER IN COMMUNICATIONS OR IN THEIR WORK.
I don’t feel I’m in the position to critique other young film-makers yet at all, but something that’s a
classic case of ‘student film syndrome’, a term I’ve just made up and something I am completely
guilty of myself, is making the project too big for the budget. The best films are the simple films,
with a powerful story and message. The films that are stripped back and each shot has been
carefully thought through and is necessary and there isn’t a scene with a gun or blood for the sake
of it. Focusing on the story in film is something that is still strangely overlooked. So my advice
for those currently writing their next film is to always ask yourself why are you writing this? Why
is this important? How does this affect the film and it’s meaning? Soon enough you’ll realise that
you have a strong story that you can execute realistically and don’t have to worry about your big
explosion effect looking unrealistic in post. You have plenty of time in the future for the films
where you can do these things.
ON SET/IN YOUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT:
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ON SET/PRACTICAL HINTS AND TIPS?
I could answer this question for days. Initially you’ll be working as a runner/ production assistant.
I’ve just thought of an anagram that’s hopefully easy to remember and is essential to be a great
runner, which is T.H.O.R (not to be confused with a certain Marvel film). T is for timing, in terms
of arriving earlier than your call time and always ensuring you aren’t late to the job. Also, timing for when it is and isn’t appropriate to approach the director/producer/talent with a question
or a comment or message. Think, as a runner is it really the time to comment on how a scene
should be shot? Even if you’re bursting with ideas on how? Probably and most definitely not. It’s
great to be enthusiastic, but it really isn’t the time. Likewise, if there is an issue on set or an
arising one, use time effectively to ensure that the issue is resolved before the director has even
considered it. H is for hands on, always be hands-on with helping people, don’t be lazy and have a
sit back attitude, be happy to help! O is for observant, being two steps ahead of the game but you’re
most likely here to learn too, as you will want to direct or shoot one day - learn on the job too!
Finally R, as cliché as this sounds, remember the teas and coffees! It’s the quickest way to be
everyone’s favourite person on set! Seriously though, it’s an important part of the role and I promise
you won’t have to do it one day! Top tip: When doing the tea run repeat the name said to you when you’re introduced to this person, it helps you remember, if that person is wearing blue then on your notepad in the kitchen write, ‘Dave (Blue top) White no sugar’. It helps, you can then refer to your list for the rest of the day and not have to awkwardly walk in with teas, calling the person’s name and hoping they respond to you. Another tip; When you’re out and about shooting, make sure you have a folder, but make sure it has a white sheet of paper on the back of it, for the moment the camera operator needs to white balance. Trust me, I’ve been there. Timing, Hands on, Observant, Remember the teas and coffees!
WHEN YOU ARE FIRST BROUGHT ON TO A PROJECT, WHAT ARE YOUR IMMEDIATE THOUGHTS AND PROCESSES?
When I’m first on board a new project I want to look at the call sheet, and see if there’s anything I can help with in prep. Many times I have created the call sheet myself, which means I’m involved a lot sooner, setting up and sitting in auditions, holding budget meetings etc. I also have a great group of film-making friends, so I’ll see if there’s any crew that are still needed and see if I can recruit any of my film-making friends on it. The TV and Film industry is so small, a lot of us are in the same circles, it’s great getting to work with friends, there is no other job like it!
ADVICE AND MISTAKES:
WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
I have been given so much advice over the past three years which I’m so grateful for! I can’t help
but say the cliché, “Never give up”, I’ve been told this by so many people which is why it stands out to me. It can be so easy to settle and stay in your comfort zone and laugh at the thought of your
ambitions coming true and commit to something easy, but if you believe in yourself and persist, the
results will soon start to show. Always be polite, in any circumstance, people will no doubt be rude
to you, they’re also running on four hours sleep and don’t like standing in the cold all day! It’s not
right that they’re rude no, but always make sure you’re polite and the one who still has a smile on
their face at the end of a really long shoot, ready with the banter. I was told this by a great film friend and teacher, Elisha Wyatt. She was offered a job at Sky Sports News due to her politeness on a chance encounter! I’m a huge lover of quotes too. I always float back to “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better” by Jim Rohn. This stands out to me so much and doesn’t just apply to your life on set and the challenges you face, but life generally.
(Since this interview, Georgia has now moved up to Production Secretary at the BBC.)