My internship with NextShoot – an important part of my course in Film Production and Theatre at Brunel University – ran from November 2021 to March 2022. What I hoped to gain was a deeper understanding of the filmmaking process, hands-on experience with cameras, and some insight into how a corporate video agency runs as a business.
NextShoot is a leading corporate video production in London. They have a 1000 sq ft studio in Kings Cross, which is used as a production office, a space for filming, and for the editing and post-production of their corporate videos. They are rated one of the best corporate video agencies in London, and after two weeks of work experience with the NextShoot team I can see why.
What makes NextShoot stand out in my opinion is that they take a very detailed approach to the production of their projects and have a core in-house team and a roster of freelancers who are the best in the industry. The result is stunning films that keep their clients very happy.
My placement with NextShoot was for a total of ten days across various projects. The team was keen for me to get on-set experience and so for most of my allotted days I acted as a runner on a variety of commercial and advertising shoots. Although the role did not require a lot of expertise or much creativity on my part, it was an opportunity to absorb the way in which the shoots were run and to get closer to the equipment that was used.
On the shoot days, there were quite a few 0700 call times. I would normally start the day before this, helping the team to collect the equipment from the studio, accompany it to the filming location, and then load it in. A surprising amount of kit gets used, even for filming interviews and b-roll: cameras, lenses, tripods, a dolly, a gimble, lights, grip and sound kit.
At the start of a shoot day, there’s always a lot of decision-making around the best way to go about the filming, taking into account the light, sound, and schedule. I was always curious to hear the team discuss the approach they would take, and to then see how the day would unfold.
As a runner, it’s hard initially to find ways to contribute on location. I discovered that the key thing was to make myself as useful as possible, which often involved making tea and coffee. I confess that my first attempt at a ‘bog-standard’ tea for the director was rejected as undrinkable! Like an army, a film crew marches on its stomach, and so organising food for the team was another key task to ensure the smooth – and good-humoured – running of the day.
Being on-set allowed me to see the range of roles involved in a corporate video shoot, each with their specific skills. On one shoot there were two crews, each with a DOP, a 1st AC and a 2nd AC, as well as a sound recordist. One team conducted interviews, while the other captured b-roll. This shoot also involved some actors, who I collected from the reception and looked after until they were needed on set.
The most exciting part of a shoot day was sitting in on the interviews. It was interesting to see how these were lit and framed, but also how the director conducted the interviews to get the best material for the video. I also enjoyed watching the DoPs and their teams capture b-roll, and observing the interaction amongst the crew and between NextShoot and their clients.
Across the shoots I attended – which included filming a YouTube gaming star, a corporate event, and an interview with a designer – I was able to assist the camera team with setting up some of the equipment, such as the track and dolly. During the set-up period, there was time to ask questions about the cameras, lighting and lenses. I gained invaluable knowledge on how and why kit is used for particular purposes and for different types of content.
After the filming was wrapped, I helped to pack up the equipment, delivered the final camera and sound cards to one of my colleagues for the final backup, and made sure everything was left as we found it.
There’s no denying that filming days are long, often 10 or 11 hours on location with the client. Before that kit needs to be collected and at the end of the day it all needs to get back to the studio. As the junior member of the team, I often arrived first and left last. However, there is great satisfaction in executing a production plan and above all in working with a close-knit team of professionals.
My internship at NextShoot really met my expectations. Although I was at times out of my comfort zone, the experience was very exciting. I satisfied my curiosity about cameras and what it is like to work on location. I met interesting people with whom I have formed connections after discovering we have similar interests and ambitions and gained insights into the business side of a corporate video production company in London. The team all had a really friendly attitude and the atmosphere in the studio was great.
Having the chance to work on set as a runner has impacted my professional and personal growth and helped me take a decision regarding my future professional path. I am very grateful for having been given the opportunity. My tea-making skills are also hugely improved!