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Focussing on a career in the TV industry

BBC Studioworks’ junior camera operator Fiona Donald reveals how she got her start in the industry…

When and why did you decide to pursue a career in TV/broadcast?

My interest in TV started when I did a lot of photography and created my own short films during my A levels at college. I did a lot of work experience for TV/corporate companies as a runner and camera assistant and I really enjoyed the buzz of live TV shows. The cameras and equipment all looked amazing.

Could you tell us about the training you received at the NFTS?

I really enjoyed my year at the NFTS because my course was largely practical. We did bits of sound, vision mixing, cameras and lighting for studios and then I decided to specialise and focus on camera work. Collectively, across all specialisms including the directing and production courses, we would work together to create many pilot shows in our TV studio. We were trained by ex and current industry professionals to get our skills on the camera peds good for all different types of shows.

In what ways have these skills transferred over to your working life at BBC Studioworks?

The skills I learnt at the NFTS really helped me when starting with BBC Studioworks. It gave me a great grounding for the fast paced camera ped work that is used on EastEnders. My understanding of shot sizes and my technical knowledge definitely helps when I am asked to do something on a day-to-day basis. Although I studied at the NFTS, while I have been at BBC Studioworks, my practical learning has continued. For example, I have improved my focussing skills by doing a lot of focus pulling and have learnt to change shot sizes more efficiently and quickly during scenes.

What has been the most valuable piece of experience and what is your favourite aspect of working in TV?

Having the opportunity to experience other BBC Studioworks’ facilitated shows such as Children in Need, Pointless and Strictly Come Dancing has been great as it’s good to see how a variety of camera crews work together and how each show has different requirements. My favourite thing about working in TV is the buzz you get when you create a few awesome shots or when you are doing scripted scenes. I also love the fast paced nature.