BBC Studioworks’ sound assistant Phoebe Ashton talks to Colby Ramsey, TVB Europe, about getting her start in the industry.
We (BBC Studioworks) have worked with organisations like the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Beaconsfield for a number of years, and have taken on a number of trainees from a range of universities and colleges. Our four-year partnership with the Elstree University Technical College for example, offers local students work shadowing placements in the summer months.
Phoebe Ashton, one of Studioworks‘ more recent trainees, completed her training at Ravensbourne University after deciding to pursue a career in TV from a young age. Speaking to TVB Europe, she says, “I remember watching daytime kids TV shows – I think on the BBC – where a young boy had won the chance to be a camera operator for the day in the studio, and I remember thinking ‘wow, I’d love to do that’.’” says Ashton. “I also received a camera one Christmas and I was always making short films with my friends, as most of them enjoyed acting.”
Ashton completed a three-year course at Ravensbourne, the first two years of which were focused on broadcast operations, including the technical and theory side of camera, sound and lighting in the studio on location.
“It was really good to gain a well-rounded knowledge of all the processes involved,” explains Ashton.”They really encouraged us to get work experience alongside studies as well, which was very useful and prepared us for the industry when we left. I was working for Chelsea TV every Friday on their live show for a year. Also, the Olympic Broadcasting Services took students from five different universities – Ravensbourne being one of them – to work on the London Olympics, so that was incredible to be able to do that,” she continues. “I think they’re just good at preparing you for the industry and for what people expect of you.”
Ashton is now working as an audio assistant, operating a Fisher boom on the set of BBC EastEnders. “It’s really fun and is what I really enjoy doing,” she says. “It’s quite rare in the industry now to use a Fisher boom – almost a dying art – so to be able to do that every day is amazing.”
“With EastEnders, they get through so much content in such a small amount of time, so this way of working is like nothing I’ve ever done before.” Ashton adds, “In the first year here I was a trainee sound assistant and they eased me in, but now I’m doing it all myself. It’s a great environment to learn in because they work so fast and you have to think on your feet really quickly. I feel very lucky to have had such great hands-on training from experienced professionals in the industry.”
BBC Studioworks is committed to nurturing future talent and engaging with the local community as a way of doing so.
This interview was published in the April 2018 edition of TVB Europe.