Stephen believes what you love is worth fighting for, all he wanted was a career, not just a job. Two years ago he was devoid of opportunity and demoralised after not receiving any replies, let alone feedback, to his constant attempts to get off the dispiriting treadmill he found himself on. He says that MAMA Youth Project was the lifeline that got him where he is today and as a 25 year old Warehouse Technician with Procam he now has an exciting vocation in the field of cameras to look forward to.
Simon Cox, Head of Technical Facilities at Procam said, “Stephen joined Procam London in January 2019 for a 3-month work placement following his MAMA Youth training, and impressed us enough for us to offer him a full time position which he has now held for over a year. In the time he has been with us, Stephen has progressed through three departments, and within the next 12 months will move on to camera training within the camera prep department. Stephen’s success at Procam is down to his considered, calm, and focussed approach to work. He listens well, never runs before he can walk when dealing with new tasks and fits in very well with the team with his affable personality.”
While Stephen doesn’t consider himself to be firmly within the industry yet, he believes he is in the right place to prepare for it, and that he has 'staying positive' and finding his way to MAMA Youth and high profile industry partner Procam to thank for it.
What were you doing before MAMA Youth Project and what was your life like?
I was a part time Athlete Sales Advisor for Nike Town London at their Oxford Street flagship store. I enjoyed working with great colleagues but knew I didn’t want to move up in the retail industry and had reached a point in my life where I needed a career and not just a job. I didn’t have a solid routine which was depressing, applying to everything and anything I had an interest in and never hearing back became normal and got old pretty fast. Even when I chased up my applications, I never got any useful feedback which made it even harder to progress. It was depressing as although I was realistic, I have always had high expectations of myself and knew I could achieve so much more if I could just get a chance.
I was determined to overcome my own challenges and barriers and stay positive. My belief in light at the end of the tunnel came to fruition in the form of the MAMA Youth Project when a friend who had successfully trained with them as a researcher suggested that I apply too, and the rest is history!
Can you tell us more about how MYP has impacted your story so far?
At MAMA Youth, training as 1 of only 2 camera operators on the Autumn 2018 Scheme was intense and really rewarding. I loved setting up the lighting in addition to recording the content on the shoots for What’s Up TV. Learning multiple skills while actually working on a national television programme was extremely challenging and great preparation for what came next.
MAMA Youth arrange placements for trainees with their industry partners to follow the training.
A 12 week placement at Procam was ideal for me because I got to have hands on experience in a kit warehouse and really understand how it operates. I spent time in various departments; with the drivers who deliver and collect for the company, check-in of high volumes of returned kit and check out, involving prepping kit for jobs going straight out the door that day. After that, I spent a few weeks in the camera room learning how to prepare the equipment for jobs.
Procam gave me a comprehensive overview of their business and this area of the industry which I was extremely grateful for and it helped me decide to stay on once I was offered a permanent job after completing my placement.
I am now a Lighting Technician responsible for checking in the extensive kit with my team. We also have the support of an experienced lighting technician co-ordinator to go to when we need help.
What advice would you give to young people who maybe in a similar position to where you were?
Figure out what you love to do and give it a go. If you fail at first get back up and try again because if it’s something you love it is worth fighting for and eventually you will succeed.
How important has MAMA Youth Project been to your career journey?
It’s given me a great understanding of how the TV industry really is and what is required of me if I want to work within such a fast paced and competitive environment. I’ve come such a long way since working part time in role where I couldn’t see a future and everyone close to me has expressed their pride for what I’ve achieved so far.
I can’t imagine anywhere to gain better training and paid work experience for an entry level role in television than MAMA Youth.
John Brennan, CEO, Procam Group added, “Driving inclusivity and diversity within the film and television industry is important to us at the Procam Group, and we are proud to have been a patron of the MAMA Youth Project for over 6 years now.
Opportunities to get a foot on the ladder can often be extremely competitive, and it is refreshing to see such a diverse range of hard-working talent rise through the MAMA Youth programme and go on to have successful careers. As Europe’s leading digital cinematography hire facility our employees must quickly adapt to the fast-paced nature of the industry, and we will always look to hire those who show ambition, determination, and a can-do approach, regardless of their background or education.”
Stephen, why do think what MYP does is so important?
MAMA Youth’s existence is essential to help young people get on and stay on the ladder. It is even more important now in the current climate and it makes the industry recognise people like me, from under-represented backgrounds who otherwise just wouldn’t be seen. I know I would not be where I am today without them.