Dock10 has launched an in-house training scheme for craft talent who want to work in TV studio production.

As part of the initiative, dock10 is training two camera assistants and two sound assistants.

The four entry-level talents are earning while they train on-the-job, as part of the sound and camera teams on the studio floor, building up the skills and relationships needed in television. By the end of an 18-month training period, each of the trainees will be able to operate as skilled freelancers at dock10 or other companies.

The training programme offers experience working on multiple different shows, including dock10 hosted shows BBC Bitesize, Match of the Day and The Voice .

The four current trainees – camera assistants Amy Ashley-Mather and Dylan Patel and sound assistants Matthew Clarkson and Madeleine Jones – were selected after a competitive and open recruitment process that drew hundreds of applications.

The launch of the dock10 training scheme comes after the studio ran a pilot initiative that trained up two entry level sound assistants – Conor McKeown and Dom Lawson – over 18 months. Both graduates of the pilot scheme are now regularly working at dock10 and within the industry.

“This training scheme is a way of seeding the freelancers of the future,” explains dock10 head of studios Andy Waters. “It’s a very hands-on scheme which gives the trainees the experience of working in a studio environment and getting involved on many shows.

“Our industry is going to have some problems in the future unless we train up the new generation. We’d love for other companies to get on board with this idea and hope it may become a model for others if it is appropriate for them to use.”

Over 200 people applied for the camera assistant role. Amy Ashley-Mather, who graduated in 2020, had been working as a freelancer runner for a year when she found out about the scheme and successfully applied.

Before winning a place as a trainee camera assistant, she says that trying to move up from runner to camera assistant had been difficult. “You can do shadowing days, but they are very few and far between….With the amount of shows that come through here, there is no way I’d be able to get this range of experience anywhere else.”

Fellow camera trainee Dylan Patel graduated from Salford University in 2019, where he studied TV and radio. He started in the industry as a runner while also working part-time at a supermarket to bring in some money. Eventually he got some hands- on experience as a camera assistant on Coronation Street before successfully applying to dock10.

“It’s a great environment here,” says Patel. “We’ve been thrown in the deep end, but the crews and staff are very open, helpful and friendly so you can ask lots of questions. It’s also a good opportunity to network and meet lots of professionals.”

Madeleine Jones, a PPE graduate, has just joined the dock10 sound assistant programme after taking an evening course in audio engineering last year. She says breaking into the sound business is difficult as professionals like to hire people they know and trust. “That makes it very hard for people who are starting out to find an entry point – and that’s why this training programme is a very special opportunity.”

Matthew Clarkson, who graduated in film production last June, spotted the ad for the sound assistant role on Instagram.

Conor McKeown and Dom Lawson, the first two graduates from dock10’s inaugural trainee scheme for multicamera production are now carving out successful careers for themselves in the TV industry.

McKeown, who had previously studied TV and radio production at Salford University, and Lawson, a graduate in popular music production from Huddersfield University, both heard about the opportunity while working as runners at dock10.

“It’s one of those opportunities you don’t normally ever see,” says Conor. “dock10 wanted entry level people rather than someone with lots of experience, so it was a no brainer for me to apply. I was really chuffed to get it.”

Lawson had previously shadowed some of the sound assistants on Match of the Day in his free time. Then he heard about the opportunity to train as a sound assistant, learning on the job at dock10 while being paid at the time.

“I think the fact that I was already trying to get shadowing experience off my own back helped me. But I was only managing to do one shadowing shift every month or so, so it wasn’t like I was super clued up on what was going on. But I think the willingness to learn and wanting to do it helped my application stand out.”

Initially, both received introductory training from a freelance sound engineer to show them the ropes. Then followed time with the engineers from dock10’s Master Control Room (MCR) – the heart of the studio operation – to learn about sound from their perspective. The pair also worked in the mechanical workshop, learning to fix headsets.

Then came on the job, paid experience, shadowing and learning on TV shows that record at dock10.

“To start with, we would be assigned to a show that was fully crewed up already,” recalls Dom. “We wouldn’t really be expected to do anything but watch and ask questions. Then after about half a year, we started to be put on shows as crew members ourselves.”

Over time, the pair worked on shows such as BBC Bitesize Daily, A Question of Sport and The Voice.

After two years on the course, both are now working successfully as freelance sound assistants at dock10 and for other clients as well.

They have been welcomed and supported by dock10 and the freelancers who work there. “There was a bit of worry about how freelancers would receive us, as we’re entering their world and some people might see it as us taking opportunities for work away from them,” says Lawson. “But they were welcoming and helpful.”


Photo: Trainees: Amy Ashley-Mather, Dylan Patel, Matthew Clarkson, Madeleine Jones, Conor McKeown, Dom Lawson and studio manager David Blake

Pippa Considine

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