An RTS Futures event at the end of September went behind the scenes at Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the company of some of the younger members of their production teams.
The four panellists, who are all in the early stages of their careers, discussed their jobs at two of the country’s premier soaps.
Joseph Hart switches between the roles of second and third assistant director (AD) on Emmerdale. “ADs are logistical, organisational roles, but the third AD does have a creative outlet – it’s really good fun,” he explained. “A third AD is based on the floor… and does the background action. You tell the extras when and where to go.”
Second ADs work backstage in the AD office, getting actors ready for scenes and updating production logs.
Molly Eborall started as a runner on Emmerdale and now works on Corrie as a third assistant director. She got her break on Emmerdale after being selected for an ITV assessment day. Eborall advised: “Be confident but not overbearing. You need to show good communication skills.”
Working as an assistant director “opens up a door to a few different areas”, said Rachel Jovanovic, who, until recently, was a first assistant director on Emmerdale. She said first ADs could go on to work as directors, production managers and schedulers.
Jovanovic has moved to a newly created role during the coronavirus crisis, that of cohort manager: “I make sure everyone sticks to the restrictions ITV has in place to make filming safe. I walk around with my two-metre stick, asking people to maintain their distance.”
She added: “My job could be helping a director work out how logistically they can get one actor to hit another actor over the back of the head with a kettle from two metres’ distance.”
Coronation Street production secretary Georgina Anderton, whose first TV job was as a runner on Hollyoaks, fulfils an administrative role, working on shooting schedules and call sheets. “I love a good spreadsheet,” she said.
The panellists, to a person, love their jobs, even though the working day is long.
“Have fun along the way – we’re not saving lives, we’re making telly,” said Hart.
Eborall added: “The people you work with become like family because you’re there 12 hours a day. There’s a real buzz from being on set.”
And sometimes you get to work on stunts. “Last year I blew up a boat,” recalled Jovanovic. “I shouted action, which triggered the guy to detonate the explosion. You would not believe the adrenaline rush.”
The RTS Futures event, ‘Working in continuing drama: Coronation Street and Emmerdale’, was held on 28 September, hosted by Alex Wootten and produced by Wootten and Jude Winstanley.