Film runner

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Emma White recently graduated with a media production degree and is trying to break into the industry. Like many people in her position she is starting her career by working as a runner.

Can you describe your role?

I help other members of the production team by doing a wide range of general tasks. This can range from helping to unpack the gear and set up for the shoot, to getting food and drinks for the crew.

Is there such a thing as a typical day?

No two days are the same. No matter how much planning has been done by the production team things can change at the last minute. That's when a runner is really useful, because they can spend time away from the shoot while the other team members get on with their work.

Who do you work with?

I work most closely with the director, and the lighting, camera and sound operators.

What qualities do you need to do your job?

Determination is essential because it is so hard to break into the industry. Enthusiasm is vital; if you are helpful and keen to learn people will want to work with you again. You need a lot of stamina because the working hours are long and you are busy all day. Communication skills are also important because you meet people from many different backgrounds.

What hours do you work?

The hours can vary quite a lot. In my last job I started at 8am and finished some days at 7pm.

How do you find work?

My CV is on several media websites so that production companies can contact me when they are looking for runners. Most vacancies in the media are never advertised in newspapers; you find out about them through word of mouth.

Many jobs in the media are short-term contracts so I have registered with a temping agency. When I have no work with a production company, I do general office and administrative work. This is good experience for my media career – production companies often look for people with word processing and other office-related skills.

What do you like most about your job as a film runner?

Working on a production is very exciting because everyone is so focused and dedicated to making it work. There is a really strong sense of teamwork and everyone has an important role to play.

I'd like to get as much experience as possible working with production companies. In the long term, I'd love to set up my own company and produce specialised factual programmes about the supernatural.

Emma's route to her job as a film runner

  • GNVQ Intermediate in Media Studies.
  • BTEC National Diploma Media Studies.
  • BA Media Production (TV/Radio).
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Media Production (TV/Video).

Emma's film runner tips

  • Media studies is a useful school subject. It will give you basic knowledge which you can develop with additional study and experience.
  • If you decide to study for a degree, choose a college with its own TV or radio station. You will be able to develop your practical skills and try a range of different roles.

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Salary of a film runnern

  • You may need to work without pay while you are trying to break into the industry, but the work experience and the contacts you make will help enormously in moving onto paid work.
  • Salaries for runners vary according to the size of the company but around £10,000 is usual.

How to become a film runner

  • There are no formal entry qualifications for runners, but the industry is very competitive and many runners have degrees.
  • Subjects like video and television, media and broadcasting skills, media production, acting, drama and theatre are relevant.
  • A current, clean, full driving licence is usually required.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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