We’re pleased to share this ScreenSkills case study about local Costume Trainee Harriet Martin, who worked on Chloe at The Bottle Yard Studios last year as part of her ScreenSkills HETV Trainee Finder paid placement programme. Harriet went on to work on The Beaker Girls, also made here at The Bottle Yard. We look forward to seeing her back on site for a new production soon!
Harriet Martin credits the part ScreenSkills has played in what is an already impressive CV, only a short while into her career in high-end TV. She was part of its High-end TV (HETV) Trainee Finder programme, working on the big-budget psychological thriller series Chloe, which was made for BBC One and Amazon Prime Video.
Harriet grew up in Paulton, a village outside Bath and is currently based between Thornbury and Bristol. She did a degree in costume and performance design at Arts University Bournemouth, graduating in 2018, and for the following year worked as a costume designer with some film student friends on their projects. “It gave me great experience on set, costuming actors and things like that,” Harriet says.
Her entry into high-end TV came via an unusual route. A family friend who was doing catering on McDonald and Dodds, an ITV crime drama set in Bath, offered her work. “I was meeting all the crew – making them cups of tea and the best breakfasts – and got to know Tess Raggett, the costume supervisor,” Harriet says. “She has been so helpful and generous with her time; she read my CV, and gave me so much support and advice, and has since put me in touch with other costume supervisors.”
It was through Tess that Harriet landed the role of costume trainee on series three of Sex Education. “I was on the truck much of the time but was able to be on set a lot as well, and did a bit shopping. I learnt so much,” says Harriet. “I was plunged in the deep end but I loved it.”
Harriet was then taken on to the ScreenSkills HETV Trainee Finder paid placement programme for new entrants into the screen industries and worked on Chloe, a new drama shot at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios and on location assisted by Bristol Film Office.
Harriet was delighted to find Tess, whom she regards as her mentor, and another supportive colleague from Sex Education – assistant designer Jennifer Geach – were also working on the show.
Harriet says she loved working on Chloe, where the costume designer was Matthew Price, another colleague who from whom she has learned a great deal. “Matt has such a keen eye for detail and an amazing contemporary flair, each look was so characterful,” she says. “He was very calm and approachable, which made me feel able to ask him questions and learn from him.”
Apart from the Trainee Finder programme, Harriet has benefited from other ScreenSkills training – including finance for freelances and mental health awareness – and regards the mentoring ScreenSkills encourages in high-end TV as invaluable.
“Mentoring is massively important in the industry and ScreenSkills is so good on that. It was so kind of Tess to take me under her wing and I’m very grateful to her. As a trainee there is so much to learn in a short space of time, and if you have someone to mentor you, you know you always have someone to approach with questions, which made me feel more secure in my role – and which in turn makes you a better trainee, I think.
“Being able to say, ‘I don’t know how to do this, could you help me’, meant that I was able to learn very quickly.
“On Chloe, Tess was keen that I didn’t just do the standard trainee things of being on the truck, tidying and doing the laundry; she let me do a bit of everything, like doing a bit of shopping for the assistant designer. I went on set and did a bit of standbying, and worked with the crowd quite a lot too.”
Harriet was most recently working as a crowd costume daily on the ITV/Britbox production A Spy Among Friends, and now feels ready to step up to either junior standby or principal standby.
She regards ScreenSkills as a very useful resource, particularly for those just entering high-end TV. “When I finished uni I had no idea how to get into the industry, and then when I did enter it, how to behave on set, and things like that,” she says. “But there is so much information on the website, on etiquette on set, how different departments work, and so on. It’s a fountain of knowledge.
“And when you come on board through the Trainee Finder programme, you are constantly made aware of so many opportunities. They continue to look after you.”
For more info about ScreenSkills opportunities in Bristol and the South West, visit our ScreenSkills partner page.