Third-year BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts student Ellie Stoten seized the opportunity to work with award-winning Production Designer and Art Director Ed Turner this summer as a Production Assistant on the BBC One reboot of Worzel Gummidge. Ed Turner is known for his work on BBC’s Merlin and Poldark and most recently worked on Years and Years, a Russell T Davies six-part series commissioned for BBC One and HBO.
Earlier this year, Ed visited Plymouth College of Art to host a talk on a day in the life of a Production Designer and Art Director, as well as presenting a professional workshop for the BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts students on how to get into the industry. It was this talk that encouraged Ellie to approach Ed about an industry placement. After exchanging email addresses, Ellie was invited to work on the BBC One reboot of Worzel Gummidge, which is written, directed by and starring Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge. Other cast members include Sir Michael Palin and Zoë Wanamaker and it is due to air over the Christmas period.
Ellie said: “Working on Worzel Gummidge was amazing. I gained first-hand experience on how an art team works on a mainstream production and learnt a lot of practical skills to do with prop-making that I will be able to take into my third year, adding to my own film projects. It was also the first time I’d ever been on a real set, which was extremely exciting. Being in that professional environment made everything feel more tangible, as I was seeing the process happen with my own eyes.”
“Ed Turner was great to work with, I learnt so much from him and the art department, especially Art Department Assistant Alessia Mallardo and Art Director Suzannah Brough. Between them, I gained so much insight into the industry and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to work with them for a week.”
Influenced by filmmakers Baz Luhrmann and Wes Anderson, Ellie has always found inspiration from decade specific aesthetics, science fiction, historical art and pop culture.
“My favourites are the 1960s and 1970s, but I basically just love art and everything visual. I like to keep an open mind when it comes to creating and I’m always willing to pull inspiration from a variety of sources.”
Ellie said: “Without Plymouth College of Art, I would never have known I had a love for production design. I’m really lucky to have mentors such as Technical Demonstrator Russell Cleave at the college, who has pushed me and aided me in my journey. I have created sets that I would never have thought possible, and of which I’m really proud. I’ve been able to explore so many different mediums and formats, finding what I’m most passionate about. I’ve always felt very supported, with full backing from the lecturers, which is encouraging and motivating. So far, it’s been a very fulfilling and enjoyable experience.”
Russell Cleave, who is also a director of photography, writer and music video director with South of Devon Films, said: “Ellie is someone who has undoubtedly found her path whilst on the BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts programme. She lights up at the very thought of anything related to production design.”
Lucy Leake, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts, and Assistant Head of School for Arts + Media added: “We’re very lucky to be able to offer a Film & Screen Arts degree course that allows students the chance to develop knowledge and skills in art direction and production design, as well as cinematography, audio and post-production skills. Ellie took on a production design role on a large scale set in the first of her second-year modules and hasn’t looked back since. She’s really found her place in filmmaking, and is an absolute asset to any film project.”
From Poldark and Marcella to Merlin and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ed Turner’s work during a career spanning over twenty years includes a number of high-profile productions, across the full spectrum of television drama, film, commercials, and promos. He also contributes to the BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts course at Plymouth College of Art, earlier this year hosting a professional workshop and talk giving insight into his life and career as a Production Designer, as well as presenting the Ed Turner prize for Best Production Design at this year’s Degree Show.