So you want to be a ‘Runner’ in television and film?
We never say “don’t be a runner” – a good runner on a film location is gold dust and they are a very important and valued member of any production team.
That being said, we meet so many bright young people who tell us they want to be a ‘runner’ and with the benefit of our 45 years of experience in the industry, our response to them is why?
If their answer is: “I relish being the lowest paid person on a location”, “I enjoy doing everything and anything that anybody wants me to do” or “I’ve studied film and television for four years to be good at getting tea and coffee for other people” then we say “great” and wish them good luck with their chosen career.
But if their answer is, and it’s the one we mostly hear – “everybody tells me I have to start at the bottom of the ladder and work my way up” that’s when we like to take some time with them to challenge the ladder theory. We explain what’s involved in being a runner and offer them an alternative mindset to go forward with.
Imagine how you would feel if after four years of hard study your peers tell you: “you have to start all over again” or “start at the bottom of a career ladder and work your way up”. Not very inspirational is it?
However here is a great link to check out if you want to explore the job in real depth: Runner. What we offer you is a quick snapshot of things from an alternative perspective.
Being a runner
This is a really, really hard and challenging job even for the smartest of people and yet it’s rewarded with the smallest amount of pay.
Being a runner means – you need to be a mind reader capable of anticipating everybody’s needs and a source of all information answering a million random questions every day. You are often the first up in the morning and usually the last to bed. You have to do everything and anything that others may need you to do from gathering rubbish to delivering messages and you’re expected to do it smiling and at the double. Your list of jobs will have no limits and the number of things you will be expected to juggle at the one time is often ridiculous.
You may have been told that by being a runner you will learn by watching others but as you’re going to be busy all day, when will you get the time for this learning curve to happen?
There is no ladder to climb
The ‘career ladder’ is the greatest myth in the industry because in film and television getting a job is mostly based on contacts and opportunity. Being in the right place at the right time is half the battle to getting work – the other half is who you know.
When these two elements come together work opportunities will frequently drop at your doorstep…also a quiet ‘word of mouth’ from a connected person into the right ear will generally go a lot further than any experience you may have.
This sounds very cynical but it’s true…even within broadcast institutions such as the BBC/ITV/CH4.
Finally, it is worth noting that most jobs will only last for the duration of filming and then you’re out looking for another job. So where is the workplace continuity that’s required to implement a career ladder path?
Our alternative mindset
Take charge of your own career, make your own jobs, train yourself and do the things you want to do…by simply doing them.
The tech is already there for you. Mobile phones for filming, free editing packages on the internet, YouTube for training, mates for teamwork and social media channels for broadcasting your films to an audience. What more do you need other than an idea for your film.
Make your money to live by stacking shelves in a supermarket if you have to but at the same time be constantly asking yourself what you should be doing in your own time to take charge of your career.
If you start with the mindset of you are already in film and television because you want to be, then you must accept that it’s only you wasting your time and only you are to blame if you’re not doing anything.
Don’t wait for an opportunity to arrive – GET OUT THERE AND DO IT!
Keep an eye open for more blogs to come. Meanwhile, give us a call on 0131 622 0220 to see if we can offer you support in your career.
Check out more of our website and if you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.