Summer 2021 had arrived and bookings for events were still in short order due to the lingering pandemic so it was time to diversify before the gov’t furlough payments dwindled.
The UK film and TV industry had restarted production in the middle of 2020 after a brief shut down. Due to a government backed insurance scheme there was a huge number of productions shooting all over the country. Upon the advice of an old colleague I duly sent my CV to one of the larger D.I.T agencies and was sent out on my first job as a trainee no less than a week later.
On the first job I was working under a young woman who had just stepped up to the operator role. Working under her guidance was difficult, she was little more than a grumpy teenager and I have never bitten my tongue so hard and so often in my career. She was just plain rude pretty much every day but I ‘sucked it up’ and made it to the final day of the shoot without leaving her in the lurch, although I came very close on a number of occasions.
The second job I was sent out on was a different kettle of fish altogether. It was a much bigger production for a large American company. The video operator who I was working under was very experienced and we got along really well. The DIT team were a lovely bunch and I learned a lot from the whole crew as well as sharing my own knowledge and skills. I happily fixed some ongoing issues with the wifi access points which had been causing serious difficulties for some senior members of the team when viewing our video streams. Two weeks into the shoot and a fellow crew member was ‘pinged’ by the NHS covid app on her phone and had to go home to isolate. I was asked to step up and operate her rig for the remainder of the shoot thus proving to myself that I knew my way around the software and hardware well enough to take on the next challenge.
Next up I spotted a call for an operator for a commercial shoot on a social media page and applied as a freelancer, with my level of experience as a Qtake operator I was very happy to be chosen for the work. It was a nice little job in a South London park and I had to quickly gen up on the compositing abilities of the software as it would be essential for this shoot. The only kit available at short notice was from Movietech at Pinewood studios and I went out with an Ovide system for the first time which was interesting to say the least as it turned out that the unit was faulty and had to be replaced halfway through the day. A challenging situation which I managed to the best of my abilities.
I was sent out once again by the agency as an operator for a medium budget feature film which was a pretty trashy rom-com. Seemingly everyone on the crew knew it was trash and the atmosphere was pretty uncooperative and unpleasant from the get go. It was high stress and badly managed, particularly by the locations team. I made it through half of the shoot before being replaced, I was happy to move onto better things.
My last shoot of 2021 was as an operator for a couple of days in Ireland, shooting on the coast near Dublin. I had been recommended by someone whom I’ve never met but I had once contacted for rig hire, he had my CV and a level of trust which I admire. The job had quite a relaxed schedule and a good crew. I came home feeling almost like I’d had a holiday.