It’s hard graft and rarely glamorous, but pretty much everyone working in film and TV has done it at some point in their career. We’re talking, of course, about running. We asked three producers to share their top tips on making the most of the experience…
On your marks, get set…
Runners are everywhere. There are production runners, floor runners, rushes runners and office runners. But how do you actually go about becoming one? When approaching companies directly by email or phone, the key is to be persistent. Mish Mayer, a Development Producer at Maverick TV, says: “Keep bugging people because they’re busy and can forget.” Alternatively, many companies, such as all3media and Optomen, have online talent databases where people looking for work as a runner can upload their CVs.
Keep your eyes on the prize
“Never say no to anything regardless of the subject matter,” says Mish Mayer. “The show might not be exactly what you’ve always dreamed of working on but it could be a way into the company.” And while you may not start out in the department you want to work in long-term, it’s all good experience. Andy Laas was initially an office runner before moving into production. He recalls: “All I wanted to do was be on set so I bided my time in the office, making teas and coffees and printing scripts.” It paid off – he’s now a Digital Content Producer at Big Talk Productions.
Work hard, be nice to people, and leave your ego at the door
You’ll face mundane tasks and gruellingly long working hours, but if you want to make a good impression as a runner, don’t slack off and never, ever stop smiling. According to Natasha Zinni, an Assistant Producer in documentaries at the BBC, to be a good runner you need to be “endlessly enthusiastic.” She adds: “Even if people don’t ask you directly, pick up on things. Be confident and friendly and don’t ever look at your watch.” Andy Laas stresses that, in such a small industry, reputation is everything. “Your next job always depends on how good you were in the last one so having a good work ethic will stand you in good stead. The people who we like most are not too forward, they’re nice to get on with but aren’t too in your face.”
Make running work for you
“No one’s a career runner,” Andy Laas points out, and to move up to the next rung of the ladder you must prove yourself – it was after showing his producer a short film he’d made with another runner that he got his current role at Big Talk. Natasha Zinni recommends grabbing any opportunity you can to learn. She says, “If you’re in an office and you know that someone’s going into an edit to do something, ask if you could go in for an hour, just to see how it works – not only is it good for you in terms of your experience, but it shows you’re interested.” And when you’ve finished a running job, always stay in touch with people you’ve met. Mish Mayer, again: “Because everyone in this industry is freelance, everyone will be moving onto a different job, so the more you keep in contact with them the more likely they are to take you with them or recommend you to their colleagues.”
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Have you been a runner or do you work with runners? What are your top tips? Leave a comment below.
Image: Choncy's film by Vivian Chen on a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.