Alumnus Jake Parker, 24, is living his childhood dream of working on big budget films for Disney! He graduated the University of Gloucestershire with a 2:1 in TV Production. He is now a full-time employee for Walt Disney Studios in London.
What were your Sixth Form highlights?
Whilst studying at All Saints’ Academy Sixth Form I was able to go on many school trips: we went to Gems TV, Cheltenham Literature Festival and wrote articles and that was really inspiring because I was really conflicted about what I wanted to do. At first I wanted to be an actor, but I wanted to try different things in a range of industries; such as music, TV and film. I had the inspiration to carry on doing that, I had Mrs Edgar, Mr Wright and Mr Clarkson teach me how to turn my creativity into something more proactive. Through the school trips and film projects I had the chance to learn about the industry works.
What have you been up to since finishing Sixth Form?
After Sixth Form I went to the University of Salford to study Film Production I stayed there for a year and then moved back to Gloucestershire due to number of reasons. But during my time in Salford I was able to get some brilliant work experience at ITV. There was a scheme at ITV where you could take on an internship and work for Jeremy Kyle, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Then I came back to the University of Gloucestershire, during that time I was able to take on more experiences, such as casting celebrities in videos. I was able to build up my confidence to try and approach different industries. I wanted to work on Dr Who and children’s TV even though I was able to do that, I was able to take that skill that I developed into the industry.
What did you achieve at university?
I was able to build up a professional manner so I can talk to industry professionals very clearly. I improved my communication skills, to approach casting – I learnt to go on to LinkedIn and on to TV shows that I liked and network. I learnt that timekeeping was very important, I was very slow at the beginning of university but then I took on more responsibilities on film projects which meant that I had to keep track of timings and that things were going correctly. It was important to build a positive reputation for myself, I didn’t want to look like a slacker, I needed to motivate myself more clearly. In my third year I had the opportunity to take on more work experience because of those skills such as Dr Who, DIY SOS and Celebrity Juice.
What have you been up to since graduating?
After university I took on the opportunity to do a Masters degree but because of the pandemic hitting I had to make a decision to take a break from that and look at where I wanted to be. I applied for a Disney internship in September last year whilst I was in my 3rd year to see if I could pursue that. In January 2021 Disney were in contact to interview me, four interviews later I was offered an intern position at Walt Disney Studios in London. In September 2021 I moved to London to pursue my film dreams. In November 2021 Disney kindly offered me a full-time contract, so I’m no longer an intern. I have worked on multiple films such as Eternals, No Time to Die, Dr Strange 2, The Witcher and The Crown. These were great opportunities to open different departments. I started as a Covid Marshall and have now moved to become a Crowd 3rd Assistant Director (Crowd 3rd AD). Which means I look after supporting artists (classed as SAs). I help direct them on set, for example if there is a scene in Avengers where the SAs are running crazy around screen, my job is to make sure they are wearing the right uniform, make up, and assess is that bag correct? Is that coat on right? I assist the 2nd Crowd AD with directing the SAs as the Director wishes. The main Director will direct everyone else.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the Disney opportunity?
Inside Disney there are 5 companies that you can work for; Walt Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Film and National Geographic. The opportunity I have been given is I can work for any of their productions in London or around the world, for example in September I was able to finish work on Eternals. Now I have done a Marvel project I could easily move on to do a National Geographic, Pixar, 20th Century project or anything under the umbrella of Disney.
What production are you most proud to have worked on?
Dr Who, which was my first ever big production. Whilst I was at University of Gloucestershire I secured a week work experience. I love Dr Who its one of the most outstanding TV shows I liked when I was a kid. The reason it is my proudest is because it was my first proper job in the industry. I might talk about James Bond and Eternals which are big high-end productions but Dr Who was my first stepping stone and the one I talk most passionately about.
What is your biggest achievement since being in the film industry?
Working on No Time to Die and Eternals. These were high end films, I was able to learn more about being on set. At university you only learn so much, you have to learn and adapt in the environment you’re working in. These films have large cast and crew 150 a day plus 200-300 supporting artists.
Who is the biggest stars you have met?
Samuel L Jackson – on a film I filmed in September for Apple and Henry Cavill on The Witcher season 2. Daniel Craig was a big name but he wasn’t as exciting to me. As a Marvel and DC fan Samuel L Jackson and Henry Cavill were definitely my favourite stars to meet.
Can you tell us more about your role in the film industry?
I started off as a Covid Marshall for my first ever role during the Eternals. I was noticed by the 2nd Crowd AD, we were working at The Savoy. I had the opportunity to shine and help her get the supporting artists on to the different buses for 3 different locations. I’ve stayed in contact with the 2nd Crowd AD and now I’m classed as 3rd Crowd AD. My job role is to make sure the supporting artists are looked after, fed, had drinks and are in the right place at the right time. The Covid Marshall job was OK, my main duties were making sure everyone had masks on and that everyone was 2 metres apart. I enjoyed the role but I feel more passionate about the 3rd Crowd AD role. I’m excited to get up to work at 4am in the morning to go to work, I enjoy what I do. Hopefully in the future I could work my way up to a 2nd Crowd AD.
A 2nd Crowd AD directs the actors on set. The 3rd Crowd AD makes sure they are in the right places and in the right costumes etc to make sure everything is running smoothly for the Director. The 2nd Crowd AD is actually directing the supporting artists in the scene, making sure everyone in the background is cued on a certain word at the right time etc.
What was your first experience on a film set like?
My first experience on a big film set was No Time to Die. Until you get to set you don’t really know what’s hit you. The thrill was exciting for the first time but also terrified to know what happens next. There is nothing like it until you’ve stepped on a proper film set and see how it’s made.
Do you have any advice for budding filmmakers?
The only advice would be to never give up. When I was at ASA I was scared to ask for advice at first. In the last few years I became more confident and so I asked Mrs Edgar for advice on how to approach the industry; she gave me the opportunity to film so many things such as Gloucester Diocese, Junior Chef competition, Cheltenham Festivals this opened up many doors for me. I will always thank her, Mr Wright and Mr Clarkson for the opportunities they gave me. I will say do your best to network when possible, chances don’t get given to you, you have to fight for them. Never give up, keep going, talk to someone, go on to LinkedIn – find a film you like, look at the department you want to work in and reach out and ask questions. They may never get back to you, but at least you tried. Trying is half the battle, if you are passionate about something it will eventually come to you. I was a carer, I worked at The Ivy and I almost gave up last year because I wasn’t sure what to do. My best friend gave me advice and that helped me pursue my career and now I have exciting film productions to work on. That small piece of advice and the attitude the teachers gave me at All Saints’ Academy helped me pursue what I wanted to do.