Jack Cooper is a floor manager. Many people are involved in making a live news show, and Jack is responsible for making sure they all understand exactly what to do.
What is your role?
During a live news broadcast, the crew, presenters and guests work in the studio, but the director, editor and other technical staff work in another area known as the gallery.
As a floor manager it's my job to act as a link between the gallery and the studio, ensuring that the broadcast runs smoothly and that everything and everyone is in the right place at the right time. I wear a headset and communicate with the people in the gallery through a microphone/receiver.
What does the work involve?
I'm responsible for the studio and the people in it, so health and safety is one of my main concerns. A TV studio has 'safe areas' where people can walk, so it's important to make sure these are clear of cameras and other equipment. Keeping fire exits clear is another priority.
I also make sure that all the equipment, from microphones to computers, is in good working order. If something goes wrong, I have to call the appropriate technician to get it fixed or replaced quickly so the show can continue without a hitch.
What skills does a floor manager need?
The work can be very pressured and I often work on several tasks at once. I deal with all kinds of people including politicians, foreign diplomats and celebrities, as well as the presenters and crew, so people skills and self-confidence are vital. I act as a link between two different teams, so good communication skills are vital to ensure that I pass on accurate information and instructions.
How did you get your job?
I did two weeks' unpaid work experience. During that time, I collected the phone numbers of all the people I thought might give me the chance of a job. When the work experience finished, I started to call people and persisted until eventually I was taken on as a runner – the lowest rung of the ladder. I made myself useful and got myself noticed, and after about eight months the company started to train me as a floor manager.
What hours do you work?
Floor managers cover broadcasts between 6am and midnight. That means I have to work a shift pattern. I work around 45 hours a week, which is split into ten-hour shifts.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
A lot of the time the work can be very exciting. It's great to be part of a team made up of so many interesting and intelligent people.
I also meet and work with some of the people who are making the news.
Is there anything you don't like?
The work is pressured which can lead to tension, and sometimes tempers do get frayed. The floor manager is often caught in the middle. It's important to remain calm, tactful and professional, no matter what happens.
Jack's route to becoming a floor manager
- BA in Sociology.
- Two weeks' work experience.
- Eight months as a runner.
- On-the-job training to become a floor manager.
- If you want to work in TV production a degree isn't strictly necessary. However, as the industry becomes more and more competitive, a relevant qualification will be useful.
Floor manager related jobs
- TV/film camera operator
- TV/film director
- TV/film production assistant
- TV/film runner
- Stage manager
Salary of a floor managern
- Starting salaries range from £15,000 to £20,000.
- More experienced floor managers earn from £25,000 to about £30,000.
- It is possible to earn £35,000 or more.
- No formal qualifications are required but entry is very competitive.
- Many employers would expect entrants to have previous experience as a stage manager or a runner.
- Skillset offers professional qualifications in production at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
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