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Ark Academy Graduate Chris Bennett talks about his time at the Ark

When Chris joined the team we were operating from a cramped 2500 sq ft facility in Hayes, Middlesex.

When Chris joined the team we were operating from a cramped 2500 sq ft facility in Hayes, Middx which boasted six employees, three parking spaces and a cramped office based in a shipping container.

In the three years since, CineArk has grown to number 35 employees working within a 30,000 sq ft custom-designed facility situated near Beaconsfield and we’re proud and grateful of Chris for the role that he’s played in helping shape the company that we are today.

As the latest member of our Ark Academy training program – a bespoke initiative designed to address the UK skills shortage by providing in-house training – we’ve helped secure Chris a role as a DIT assistant on his first full-length feature film, and we look forward to tracking his career and watching him progress through the ranks.

Before Chris left us for his new life on set, we sat him down and asked him a few questions about his time at CineArk.

How has the company changed since you joined us?

The biggest shift is that we used to be a company that provided storage and supplied a little bit of equipment, and now we provide an enormous amount of equipment with just a little bit of storage! Moving from our old premises to where we are now has been an enormous change for the better with a much larger and better organised space with more staff and processes.

What are some of the things the Ark Academy has taught you?

Learning about our main provisions such as DIT, Video, RF but also the more technically challenging aspects such as network infrastructure. I’ve learnt about cabling, tool use, electricity and electrical components and have a high level of understanding about specific pieces of equipment that I wouldn’t be able to learn about anywhere else. Troubleshooting has been an enormous part of the role, and being able to apply that knowledge on set is of huge significance. In the past year where I’ve had placements on-set and it’s been great to understand the ecosystem of a film set, its hierarchy and how on-set needs can be met in-house.

What has given you the most satisfaction since you joined?

I felt as though my time at university didn’t cover much about the technical side of the industry except a little bit about lighting and lenses. Working here has made me feel smarter, and I’ve surprised myself by how much knowledge I’ve learnt. It’s really the first time in my life that I feel like I’ve really acquired a lot of knowledge.

What advice would you give to someone coming through the Ark Academy?

The way I see it, there are two ways to get access to the industry; either as a trainee or through a rental house or camera facility. The best thing about the route I’ve taken at CineArk is that I’ve been paid to learn. It’s incredibly difficult to acquire the knowledge I now have whilst under the pressure of working on set, and I now feel a lot more confident now when the pressure is on. I’ve also benefitted from the relationships I’ve made and the sheer number of contacts that I now have across a wide variety of departments.

What are some of the abiding memories of your time here?

Riding a forklift in the previous warehouse and the chaotic nature of working in a building that we’d outgrown! From our current facility I’ll take away a lot of good friendships and memories of laughter and teamwork. It’s great that we work in a company in which everyone knows one another and we’re all passionate about what we do.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?

I’d be very happy to be on a beach! As much as I want to progress on with my career, I don’t feel in any rush, and I want to enjoy each role as it comes and be able to support a lifestyle that allows me time to travel and have different experiences. Very soon I’ll be the highest-earning family member in my family, and I feel very fortunate about that.

Favourite film or TV show?

Fantastic Mr. Fox!

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