With the Australian film and television industry continuing to grow its reputation as a powerhouse for performance on both sides of the camera, getting a foot in the door can lead to a fantastic career.
A Mayfield resident prior to January, TAFE NSW screen and media graduate Lachlan McFadyen is now three months into an enviable industry-starter role as production runner for ABC Television drama series Les Norton. The 10-part series is headlined by Rebel Wilson and David Wenham.
Based in Sydney, Lachlan’s role entails ‘a bit of everything and a lot of responsibility’, from driving the cast to and from the unit base, taking equipment to be repaired, running the director’s notes on USB from base to the production office and carefully transporting rushes from the camera and audio crew to the editing department.
Lachlan says he is glad he didn’t pursue tertiary education after doing a university pathway program; instead he owes much of his career success to his Diploma of Screen and Media teachers at TAFE NSW Newcastle.
"I love my TAFE NSW teachers; they’re approachable and have important knowledge to share. I managed to get where I am because of their industry knowledge and connections,” he said.
“That’s what it comes down to. Industry success takes a lot longer if you’re not studying. It’s a good fast track. TAFE NSW was great with the theoretical side of things and the hands-on training, excursions and potential placements are amazing.
“My teacher secured two weeks work experience for me with the ABC production Frayed late last year and the production coordinator there said she could help me out with another job if I moved to Sydney. I am really happy to now be working on Les Norton, which has such a professional and supportive crew.”
Lachlan believes being a good production runner is less physical and more mental.
“A good runner has dedication, initiative and thinks ahead, plus the confidence to talk to different people each day. Being a good listener is vital; there are many long-term industry people to learn from,” he said.
“You also need to be prepared to travel and live a minimalist lifestyle, to take up opportunities. I moved to Sydney and I will definitely take advantage of the ability to pick up work interstate or internationally.”
Les Norton Line Producer, Scott Hartley said Lachlan slotted into his runner role quickly and easily.
“The fact that he knew how to read a call sheet and shooting schedule properly, knows the roles of all of our onset and offset crew, was aware of onset etiquette and how a film set works has meant he is performing in his first job as though he is a much more experienced crew member. The knowledge that he gained from his screen and media TAFE NSW course has been instrumental in his being able to take on the responsibilities of his job a lot quicker than any other first time production runner that I’ve worked with,” said Scott.
Lachlan said that now he has industry experience he realises how many job options are available.
“Originally I didn’t realise the number of people that went into a production, behind the scenes. Going on TAFE NSW excursions and doing work experience was invaluable. Seeing a production in action is a whole different thing. Now I better understand the job opportunities available in the industry. I had my mind set on directing or assistant directing but towards the end of my course, as I saw more of what goes on, and similarly in my current role, my mind has opened,” he said.
One occupation consideration for those looking to enter the industry is Film and Video Editor. Recent TAFE NSW research found that within the Art, Design, Digital Media and Music sector this role had the fifth largest forecasted growth in employment to 2021.
Screen and Media teacher at TAFE NSW Newcastle, Hannah Hartley, says, “Over the two years I taught Lachlan I watched him discover the process of film making. He asked the best questions and as a TAFE NSW teacher this shows us a student’s growing passion for their new-found industry.”
“Lachlan began to sparkle in class and so did his work. He worked hard on his assessments and as a result he was immediately recommended for his first job in the film and television industry. I am certain the best is yet to come from Lachlan.”
Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers over 1,200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many, including the Diploma of Screen and Media, can be studied online via TAFE Digital. Visit tafensw.com.au.