We're hiring!

We're hiring a Production Coordinator. Fancy it? 👀

My week at the APA Masterclass

By Natalie Roberts


4 min read

Mar 17, 2023

This year I was one of the lucky applicants chosen to attend the APA Masterclass in the hustle and bustle of Central London.

If you’re not au fait with what the Masterclass is here’s a lil’ summary for you:

For one week, around 100 aspiring individuals (from production assistants, to producers, to studio managers, to agency creatives) get together to hear from top industry professionals about all aspects of the Production world.

Ace, right?!

The course is always oversubscribed so you can imagine how excited I was when the acceptance letter (email) dropped through my letterbox (inbox).

Day 1

Now, I’ve been working in the industry for 3.5 years and had zero experience when I started out, so I’m sure you can imagine the other emotions that came with excitement: self-doubt, worry about comparing self to others etc. But, I am nothing if not a strong, independent woman, so when the time came I packed my suitcase and jetted off to the big smoke.

Once I was over the initial culture shock of being back in Zone 2, I found my stride again and dutifully joined my fellow tube-folk for our daily commute - whilst never making eye contact of course.

The Masterclass is mostly held at the Royal College of Nursing in Cavendish Square, a stone's throw from Picadilly Circus so I had plenty of coffee shops to sample on my way in. I went off-piste one day and tried a “biscuit latte”, would not recommend.

Traditional monthly calendar or linear Gantt chart? The choice is yours but as we all know, get your airdate/deliver date/TX date in first and work backwards!

When entering the main hall it was super comforting to be greeted by a sea of MacBooks, coffee cups and people frantically typing away on Slack. It was at this moment I knew I was going to be totally fine.

Day one consisted of an intro to what a Producer does, a Director’s talk and creating a production schedule, and whilst it was a relief that there were no big surprises that I’ve been missing, it was great to see how other people put their schedules together and break down their scripts. NB I’m a bit fan of printing it out and using highlighters. Traditional monthly calendar or linear Gantt chart? The choice is yours but as we all know, get your airdate/deliver date/TX date in first and work backwards!

Day 2

On the second day, we looked at producing shoots abroad, non-traditional production, special fx (the physical kind), insurance and health and safety. One of my favourite sessions was about the use of music. I learnt a tonne about music rights and the process of creating a bespoke track - the Barcadi ‘Sound of Rum’ ad was an example we looked at, definitely worth a watch!

Day 3

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Wednesday was our fave day! We put on our walking shoes and visited post-houses to chat more about the editing process, moving from offline to online, cleaning up in flame (complete magic if you ask me) and mixing audio for a radio ad.

My group visited Nomad for our first few sessions - they were awesome hosts and took the time to answer all our questions whilst we filled up on the delicious spread they put out! We then headed to Wave where I did a teeny bit of VO work to help demonstrate the making of a radio ad.

And, of course, we got a few new tote bags in the process. The later finish was definitely worth it as our last stop was the Arri Rental House in Uxbridge. We got to play with cranes and dollies (completely supervised by the pros of course) and took an in-depth look into cameras and DIT workflow.

Day 4

Thursday we were back in the hall to talk production design, locations and casting. Having mainly handled casting virtually via agencies and self-tapes, it was super interesting to learn more about casting sessions and the role of a casting director on larger projects.

My highlight was learning about all the amazing resources and databases to support inclusive productions, such as We Are Pocc (wearepocc.com), The British Blacklist (thebritishblacklist.co.uk) and The Hue List (bit.ly/thehuelist). We rounded the day off with a game of bingo, and as I answered my question right (“when does OT kick in for a continuous working day?”) I walked away with a golden envelope containing a ticket to the APA Show!

The Final Day

We broke off into smaller groups on our final day to work on breaking down a script, budgeting it up and creating a schedule. It was lovely to work with the other Masterclass students and hear their approach to the tasks, as well as swapping stories! Once our eyes had gone fuzzy from staring at spreadsheets and schedules it was time to head to the pub and cheers to a fab week!

It was a long week, but we covered a truckload of info and I now have contacts up and down the country to call on for advice, contacts or just a chat! One of my biggest takeaways from the week is to always read the PIBS! Simple, but essential.

Oh, and that the word ‘footage’ literally comes from when foot after foot after foot of film would have to be loaded in the camera! Kinda obvious when you think about it…


©2013–2024 Storm And Shelter Ltd. All rights reserved.