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Real Stories

“I work in lighting for film and TV, aspiring to shoot big stuff one day. Electrical department isn’t easy, lots of manual labour and like everyone starting out. The pay isnt great until you network enough to get better jobs. Being a minority is tough in most creative industries as it is. I’m usually the only Latino on set and like yourself I try to educate people onto why whitewashing media isn’t a good thing. I’ve only met a handful of other Latinos on set and a lot of the times I wonder if I get hired based on being an LGBTQ ethnic minority or for my skills. Casual racism can come up a lot. I had someone at the NFTS call me and some of the other Ldn kids Gorilla kids. Along the usual comments about narcos, Escobar and cocaine that don’t get old for non-Colombians but got old for me after the 20th time”


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What do people who start out in Lighting do?

Lighting trainees spend a lot of time moving equipment. They get to set early and might help unload the gear. Following the instructions of the best boy (lighting coordinator) and the sparks (lighting technicians), they help set up for filming, under supervision.

They run errands. A spark will talk on the radio to the crew on the truck about what he needs. The electrical trainee will then be sent to collect it. With supervision, they might help run cables and set up lights. They make the tea, or, rather, they create a good impression if they do.

Lighting trainees are not allowed to work alone, plug up or have significant responsibility. This is because working with electricity is dangerous if people have not been trained. Their role is to watch, learn and make themselves helpful.

Information sourced from Screeenskills

What do people who start out in Sound do?

Sound trainees charge batteries, distribute headphones and look after cables and kit as well as the rest of the team.  They work under the supervision of the sound mixer and sound assistants.

Sound trainees help unload the sound van, check that all the equipment is prepared and move the sound trolley, kit boxes and boom equipment when required by the sound mixer. A more experienced trainee might, under close instruction of an assistant, help with the attaching of radio mics or use the boom microphone to record background sounds. 

They are often asked to be responsible for making sure the rest of the crew is keeping quiet at the necessary moments.  They also take messages to other departments.  They might go offset to talk to costume about where to hide a microphone, for example.

At the end of each shooting day, they help pack up, make sure the rushes are correctly labelled and that all the paperwork is handed over to the production office. Sound trainees make the tea and order extra supplies of whatever is needed.

Information sourced from Screeenskills

What do people who start of in the Grip department do?

Trainee grips start the day by helping to unload the truck with the gear that supports the cameras. Under supervision from the qualified grips, they move the equipment to the right place on location.

Trainee grips are on set throughout the day. At the end of each shot, they help put equipment away that’s no longer needed and set up the kit for the next shot. They do this until the end of filming and then they help put all the equipment away.

The main role of trainee grips is to learn the trade. Grips’ equipment, cranes, jibs and dollies (the wheeled platform that carries a camera and a camera operator), can be used in different ways. Trainee grips watch everything that’s happening; learn how the gear is used and how to operate it.

Information sourced from Screeenskills

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