In conversation with graduate James Palmer, HETV Base runner

In conversation with graduate James Palmer, HETV Base runner

James Palmer is an Assistant Director based in Manchester who graduated from BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production in 2020. Since graduating, James has been able to work on various productions around the Northwest and Yorkshire, including Stay Close, Happy Valley and most recently Waterloo Road and The Gallows Pole.

Why did you choose to study BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production at NUA?

The course’s focus on creating film and introducing the importance of analysis and research is what appealed to me most. I was also attracted to the opportunity to find my own voice for what specific aspect of film I wanted to pursue within the industry. 

What does a typical week look like as an HETV Base Runner at Element Pictures?

Whilst a Floor Runner would be on set, a Base Runner will work closely with the Second Assistant Director and help with various tasks at the production’s Unit Base. 

Alongside the Second Assistant Director, I’m responsible for the greeting cast, catering to them and getting them through make up and costume in order to get to set on time. When the day is wrapped, I will make sure the cast get de-rigged and home safely. 

What attracted you to work in HETV?

From an early age, I’ve always wanted to be a part of TV and film. Having progressed from my studies to working on sets, I’ve been able to see for myself how productions operate, which has just made me fall in love with it even more. 

I’ve worked on almost a dozen different sets now since starting in February 2021, and each one has helped me learn something new and meet a great range of people.

What’s been your favourite project of your career so far?

My favourite project to work on so far has been ‘The Rising’: a Supernatural Crime Drama from Sky Atlantic that’s airing on the 22nd of April. I did a few weeks on this over the summer of 2021 and had great fun working with a fantastic team. 

It was a great experience as I was still relatively new to working on set, and this project allowed me to really learn the ropes of working in TV as an Assistant Director as well as meeting some of my closest friends. 

“Working on a variety of sets allowed me to really learn the ropes of working in TV as an Assistant Director as well as meeting some of my closest friends. “

James Palmer, BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production graduate

Tell us about your recent project working on the new BBC Drama ‘The Gallows Pole’ with Shane Meadows?

No day was certainly like the other! At times it was very stressful, but we had a phenomenal crew and one of the nicest bunch of cast members you could ever meet. Shane’s process is very different to the usual way of working, and although it takes time to adapt, the end results clearly show that it certainly works. 

With this project being the first period piece I had worked on, it was astounding to see every department’s efforts, especially within the costume and art department. The locations on The Gallows Pole were also predominantly in West Yorkshire with some gorgeous views of the Yorkshire moors. 

“Shane’s (Meadows) process is very different to the usual way of working, and although it takes time to adapt, the end results clearly show that it certainly works. “

James Palmer, BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production graduate

How has your practice evolved since graduating?

Since graduating, I’ve been able to learn so much more about professional set etiquette, lingo and the day-to-day of each department which has really accelerated my practice. 

When I would be working within student films, you need everyone as helping hands but with a large crew of around 80 or more people, it becomes so much more evident who is responsible for what. This has really shown me exactly what each department may do and when departments cross over one another to help. 

What advice would you give to current Film and Moving Image students looking to work in HETV?

Enjoy the creative freedom and aspect of studying first. University is the perfect time to work out exactly what you want to make but also what you want to do, whether that be directing, production design, costume or being a base runner!

Student Tanicha uses a camera rig on wheels in the NUA Film Studio

Tanicha Toro-Oloto

"So far I have worked as a director on a documentary unit, writer, producer, production designer and currently working on directing a fashion film, with fashion communication students. Being able to create, try something new and work with different people is what I love. "

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