Want my job? with CEO Karen Everett

"My school’s career advisor told me I should aim to be a secretary. I really hope the advice given out today is better. I knew I wanted a career change but had to get away from London and clear my head to discover what I wanted to do."

Want my job? with CEO Karen Everett

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
I am a happily married mother of 2 boys. I am the CEO of 3 companies. I started my career working in newspapers, interspersed with extensive travels around the world. In my late 20s, I knew I needed a change of sector and set off on another adventure, determined to discover what my next career move should be. I always had a passion for photography and watching movies, and one day, while hiking in NZ, I thought about bringing the two together and finding amazing locations for filming. When I got back to London I took myself off to the London Film Commission to see if they could help me get started. I contacted 5 location managers, offering my services for free, and started work the next day. I worked my way up from a runner to head of production, overseeing the making of 15 feature films. I now run 3 companies; FilmFixer, Apply4, and Screen Suffolk, and I’m especially proud of Set Ready. Set Ready is a training and employment program that supports the next generation of film and TV talent as they take their first steps into production and on to set. We place diversity and inclusion right at the heart of all recruitment, ensuring the screen industries workforce reflects all our communities.

What does your job involve? What happens on a typical day?

FilmFixer works closely with locations teams and production offices to facilitate filming. We help manage all types of filming for our clients, from pop promos to big-budget features. We are the ones who make it happen, coordinating road closures, extensive parking suspensions, and overseeing the resident engagement plans.

Set Ready is an off-shoot of FilmFixer and as mentioned is a training course making sure everyday people are given the opportunity to get into the film and TV production industry. 

Apply4 supplies the software needed to manage thousands of shoots. Last year FilmFixer processed 8,000 licenses in London, and we could not manage to do it without our industry-leading software, FilmApp. FilmApp is also the licensing solution for film permits in many counties across the USA and more recently in New Zealand.

Screen Suffolk is the official film office for Suffolk representing all County, District, and Borough Councils. Screen Suffolk offers a ‘one-stop’ film service from initial inquiry through to crew sourcing and permitting. We promote Suffolk’s film service infrastructure creative talent and fantastic locations.

What’s great about what you do?
I am so pleased we can help people that have always wanted to work in film and tv production but don’t have the experience, industry contacts, or qualifications to get a start (Set Ready). I launched Screen Suffolk in 2016, and it is one of the elements of my job that I enjoy the most. We are a fully-fledged film commission, promoting the whole county for filming, trying to entice people away from the usual ‘within the M25’ searches. We can supply local crew and cast, and have numerous facility companies on our books, plus preferred rates at local hotels. We have been operational for 5 years and have just been contracted for the next 5. So far we have pumped circa £12 million into the Suffolk economy.

What are the toughest parts of your job?
Staffing during Covid was definitely a challenge. We have a small and tight-knit team who really missed the everyday interaction of the office. It’s great that working life is back to normal now and we all have more flexibility.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I got a fantastic sense of satisfaction helping to turn the residents of Primrose Hill around to allow the first Paddington film to shoot there. We gathered everyone together in the function room at The Engineer pub and explained what would happen on a day-to-day basis. Jars of marmalade were given out to everyone and Alan Bennett sent a hand-typed letter expressing support, as long as the film was shown at the local library for locals to attend, which we made sure happened. We were able to go back and film Paddington 2 for an even longer shoot, as everyone had confidence in the crew and the film office.

What's been the biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

There is a lot of competition to get ahead in the film industry, you need to stand out by working super hard, and very long hours, for very little money. The pay gap was real in the film industry too, I found out I was on less than my male counterparts a couple of times. It is also a challenge to keep friendships and connections alive when you are working 5 am – 11 pm 6 days a week for months on end.

What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
My school’s career advisor told me I should aim to be a secretary. I really hope the advice given out today is better. I knew I wanted a career change but had to get away from London and clear my head to discover what I wanted to do.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry in recent times? If so, what?
With the influx of streaming services and the ever-increasing demand for content, film and tv production across the capital has been booming. Health and well-being are a priority for producers now, which is a very welcome change. We support the Film & TV charity in any way we can.

How has your background, upbringing, and education had an impact on your artistic career? 
Having family in Denmark, I’ve seen firsthand what a fully-funded childcare system means for women. They are not left at home with children as they are in the UK where it is economically unviable for many women to return to work. We should offer a year’s maternity leave, split 50/50 with the father. If a role requires long hours, as it often does in the film industry, much more job sharing.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Simple. Get into film earlier!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in your field?

Follow us on social media and I highly recommend looking out for our Set Ready training programs, they are always promoted there. It’s an accredited training course that’s been created by highly experienced and respected industry professionals and is designed to make the film and TV production industry more accessible to young people from all sorts of backgrounds. After each course, you get on-set in-person work experience too


Where can people find you and your work online?

Everything you need to know is on our websites:

https://setready.co.uk/

https://filmfixer.co.uk/

https://screensuffolk.com/

https://apply4.com/


Header Image Credit: FilmFixer Marketing

Author

Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

Saskia is the Deputy Editor of Voice and has worked on campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Anti-Bullying Week. Outside of Voice, Saskia is a published author (Hairvolution) and has guest featured in various other publications (The Women Writers’ Handbook/ Cosmopolitan/ The Highlight). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. She is a mentor for Women of the World Global, has guest lectured at the University of Roehampton and has led seminars/panel talks on Race, Equality and Diversity. She was a 2022 Guest Judge for Dave (TV Channel) in search of the 'Joke of the Fringe'. She is 27-years-old, based in London, and loves to cook and explore new places in her spare time.

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