Becky Johnson talks to Cardiff graduate and ex-Quench Film editor Fraser Isaac.
Today’s media showers us with glitzy images of the film industry; black-tie events spent rubbing shoulders with A-listers, a complimentary iPad with breakfast and a 6-figure salary to boot, but what exactly is involved when trying to make it to the top?
The answer, it seems, is an inspiring amount of determination and persistence. To give us a better insight, I thought who better than one of Cardiff’s very own, former Quench Film editor and Business Management graduate Fraser Isaac.
In the hope of pursuing a career as a feature film producer, Fraser has recently gained experience working on a number of films, including the directorial debut of Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew, Ill Manors, which was described by critics as a ‘gritty tale of social realism’ and in the following year was asked to work on the sequel to Street Dance 3D. After hearing about Frasers work, I was in awe of how he had managed to gain so much experience whilst completing a full time degree. Fraser explained that a key factor in this was gaining a good set of contacts, which he did during a gap year taken before beginning his course at Cardiff, by carrying out work experience with a number of London-based film companies and one in Hollywood. Some of these have then got back in contact with him since beginning his studies, including the companies who produced the two above films. I cannot offer this as direct advice to freshers, (unless you’ve brought a time machine with you), however, that’s not to say that its completely invaluable, as you will undoubtedly have a fair amount of spare time during your years of study to start doing the same thing.[pullquote]“I was expected to be in ten different places at once, doing ten different things.” [/pullquote]
I was interested to know what Fraser found most challenging about the work he carried out; he described his role as a runner on the set of Ill Manors to be ‘by far the least glamorous job’ and told me how it was expected of him to be ‘in ten different places at once, doing ten different things at any one time’. Clearly then, getting involved in film production is in no way a walk in the park, a fact that was supported by Fraser then moving on to tell me that all the work that he did was unpaid and sometimes he was only given a few days’ when being contacted to help on a film. He tells me about the inevitability of having to drop summer plans at short notice to take on experience; flexibility, again therefore, is key it seems. But take advantage of the length of university summer holidays, he advises, and don’t worry about the type of degree you’re studying: ‘Often production companies looked favourably on me studying Business Management rather than a film related course’. It seems to be more a case of gaining the correct experience and having the right attitude than what you’re actually learning on your course.
It’s not all about the sacrifice however, as it seems that being given a job which could involve anything means turning up to work could lead to you doing, well, just about anything. Fraser tells me he enjoyed that aspect of his work the most as he often found himself in ‘interesting situations’. Finally he tells me of how much he appreciated the experience despite it being hard work, predicting that getting where he wants to be will be a ‘long and painstaking process’, though it seems that if you want it enough and are willing to make the necessary compromises, then success in the film industry may be more achievable than you think.