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Lights, camera, action: Jobseekers in Romford and Hornchurch take part in film workshop

Cassius Rayner is running a film workshop for unemployed youngsters from Havering Cassius Rayner is running a film workshop for unemployed youngsters from Havering

Saturday, April 5, 2014
12:00 PM

Youngsters struggling to find work in Havering have been given the opporuntity to embark on a career in the film industry thanks to Cassis Rayner, a youth worker and film-maker with more than 20 years of experience in the industry.

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Cassius RaynerCassius Rayner

Young unemployed people have been getting behind the camera at a film-making workshop, designed to find them work in the fastest growing sector in Europe. The project is being run by Cassius Rayner, who is working in partnership with the council and Job Centre Plus (JCP) centres in Romford and Hornchurch, offering 18-24-year-olds the chance to experience the world of lights, camera and action.

The first of three courses has just finished, and one of the eight students has already found work as a trainee journalist on a Sky television channel.

“He got the job within three days of starting the course,” explained Cassius. “He’s working on a youth arts programme called 360. Others have been shortlisted for jobs, but it takes time.”

So the course clearly works, but what does it involve?

“It is an intense practical training course.” said Cassius.

“The students learn how to interview and how to operate a camera, but also how to set up the equipment. You can see the natural progression.

“The film industry is all about people skills. It’s not so much about previous jobs, I get them working in a team from day one.”

Cassius, of south London, applied for funding through JCP and the Department for Work and Pensions, after working with youngsters in Harold Hill on a project last year.

He came back to the borough after finding its young people to be more interested in the industry than those in any other area of the UK.

Speaking about the students from the first course, he said: “They all stuck with it. I was impressed how quickly they picked it up. You get some who are educated and just can’t get a job and some who have very little education.

“A lot of them have no confidence or low self esteem, others are depressed because they have been out of work for so long. But they can do it, they just maybe don’t understand how to get into it.”

During the course, the students were tasked with making a promotional video for Carers Trust Crossroads in Havering, while they also spent a day on set at ITV’s Daybreak, learning everything from lighting to operating cameras.

Cassius’ vision is to get more people working in the industry, which he says is the fastest growing sector in Europe.

“Young people need to know it’s an option,” he said. “You often find they don’t know the whole aspect of the media industry, there are roles from sales to education. The creative industry employs 1.3 million people in the UK.”

He describes himself as a “sergeant major” when teaching, and got into the industry in the late 1980s. He has worked overseas for the United Nations covering conflicts in Somalia, Bangladesh and the Congo as well as on documentaries in the UK.

But he only turned to mentoring young people after a frightening experience 10 years ago.

“I was stabbed by two young people in south London,” he said. “I nearly lost my life.”

“It took me a year to walk again. That experience made me research gangs and a friend introduced me to young people with special education needs to create a film project. It was an amazing experience.”

There is no remit for the course other than being registered unemployed, though Cassius holds interviews with those who put their name forward.

There are still places available for the third course, and those interested should ask at either Romford or Hornchurch job centres.

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