Victoria Banham

Notre Dame High School
9 C's and 1 D

BTEC National in Media Production:  Triple Distinction (DDD)

University of Cumbria
2:2 Film and Television Production

Who do you work for and what projects have you been involved in?
I am about to finish my contract as a location assistant for Star Wars Episode 7. The most amazing job which has 100% spurred me on to pursue a career in this tough but incredibly rewarding industry.

Before this I did a couple of 1 day running jobs on things like Dickinsons' real deal before moving to London and working as a development researcher at Firecracker films; a production company that makes things such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding! Here I got a real sense of how an idea of a TV show really gets brought to life as I researched ideas and came up with proposals for channels they would go to (BBC Three and Channel 4 mainly).

After this I was fortunate enough to get a job as a production assistant on BBC 1's Claimed and Shamed (series 4) where I organised travel and accommodation plus looked after petty cash for the crew. We travelled the country filming various early morning police raids on insurance frauds' houses and interviewed the insurers to get their side of the story too. This was my first TV credit and having it on one of BBC 1's most popular shows was a good place to start!! I'll never forget that feeling of seeing it roll up the screen for the first time...and the second...and the tenth!!

What is a typical day at work like?
My typical day at work as a location assistant is basically making sure the location itself runs smoothly and all departments have all the things they need to enable them to carry out the job they have to do. This includes organising the arrival of portacabins to be in the right place then plumbing them in and working them up to generators correctly. I work very closely with the owners of the site we are using to ensure they are happy so my people skills are definitely tested but I can talk for hours so as long as I can ensure that their concerns are met and they are happy with what is going on then that's half the battle!
When it comes to filming, my team and I make sure the cast and crew have all they need such as shelter, power and supplies. I am also in charge of securing the set to stop any noises or people walking onto set during filming.

What are the important skills you have had to develop and hone to be successful in your job?
People and communication skills are, in my opinion, first and foremost. If you can't see eye to eye with a crew member or speak easily and clearly with anyone, you will never get the job done and when you work such long hours with people, that will really take it's toll on the family-like atmosphere that a film set becomes.

The ability to get stuck in and not be afraid to get your hands, face, feet and hair dirty are paramount! I've learnt to plumb in cabins, empty waste water containers, carry metal fence panel after metal fence panel and run around making sure everything is running smoothly in the muddiest rainiest conditions. But that becomes the fun of it, it is so rewarding once all the filming is done and you can see you've really contributed towards the hopeful success of the film.

Did you ever envisage this while you were at Paston?
When asked what I wanted to do or my dream job, I always said "I would love to be David Attenborough's camera woman! That would be the dream." As much as that is still true, never did I realise I would be aspiring to go down the location managing route starting with one of the biggest, most highly anticipated movies of the last few decades!

What did you do the year after graduating?
The year after graduating, I focused on getting any experience for as much or as little money as possible as I was lucky enough to realise early on that the contacts are much more valuable starting out than a healthy bank balance. The student lifestyle definitely didn't wear off for a while!!

" "I would love to be David Attenborough's camera woman! That would be the dream." "