Working Lives

Working Lives: Location Manager

Da Vinci’s Demons at Margam Castle (Credit: Sky)

What does the job involve?

I’m part of a production’s creative team. After reading the script, I pitch my ideas for locations to the writer, producer and director, bringing my knowledge of what an area can offer. Ideally, I like to start as early as possible to have the greatest creative influence – with Little Door’s recent drama for BBC One The Pact, I was involved three months before shooting began.

Do you work alone?

Working Lives: Fight director

What does the job involve?

I choreograph the physical action in the story, whether it’s with swords, a punch up or just a slap, ensuring that the motivation for the action lies in the story and the characters. It’s not about being fancy or funky: it’s about making the action the vehicle for the story, not the other way around.


So you must work closely with the director?

Working Lives: Writer

In My Skin (credit: BBC)

What does the job involve?

As a writer, I think it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel inadequate. I like to remind myself that it’s not brain surgery; it’s storytelling and it is supposed to be fun. I try to shut off the inner critic and listen to my gut.

Surely, it must be a trial sometimes?

The first draft is the hardest: it can take me weeks of procrastination; it feels like torture at times. I pace from room to room in my house, with quite a degree of self-loathing.

Working Lives: Visual effects supervisor

His Dark Materials (Credit: BBC)

By trade, he is a VFX supervisor, but is also creative director of television at the visual effects and animation studio Framestore.

What do you do as a VFX supervisor?

I’m responsible for all the visual effects in a show, which comes down to two main things: helping the production get the best creative use of their money on screen; and, during filming, ensuring the correct material is acquired to allow all the brilliant VFX artists to do their job.

When are you brought on board a production?

Working Lives: Distributor

We Are Who We Are (credit: BBC)

Fremantle’s EVP head of EMEA distribution recently brokered deals for the upcoming BBC Three drama We Are Who We Are and BBC Two documentary series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

What does the job involve?

In its simplest form, distributors sell the international rights for programmes. Channels and platforms around the world cannot produce all their own shows, so they need to acquire content.

Has the job changed over time?

Working Lives: Stunt Co-ordinator

What does the job involve?

There are two sides to the job: safety and creativity. We identify scenes that are potentially hazardous and, where possible, remove those risks, or reduce them to an acceptable level. That may involve using a stunt double instead of an actor or using safety equipment, such as elbow pads under costumes, out-of-shot crash mats or complex wire-rigging. Creatively, we could be choreographing fight sequences or staging shoot-outs.


How did you become a stunt co-ordinator?

Working Lives: Make-up artist Lisa Armstrong

Lisa Armstrong with her RTS Craft & Design Award (Credit: Richard Kendal)

She wowed the judges with her work on BBC One smash hit Strictly Come Dancing, “consistently impressing audiences and fans, never failing to entertain and constantly exhibiting an amazingly varied array of skills and techniques”.

What makes a good make-up artist?

You have to have a talent and an eye for it – a good artist pushes boundaries. But you also need confidence and integrity – what goes on in the make-up room stays in the make-up room.

So you need personal as well as technical skills?