A runner is an entry-level role in the world of television and film. He is the most junior production role and assists other members of the production team behind the scenes on a film or television set. Becoming a runner is a good way to gain practical production experience, and many runners progress to other roles in the industry such as researchers or producers.
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There are no set entry requirements to become a runner. Because this is an entry-level role, many employers look for those who are enthusiastic and show a passion and commitment to the media industry. Although a course in media production or film studies may be useful in terms of learning more about the industry, this is not essential as runners are offered on-the-job training. According to Careers Advice Direct, experience such as working at a student television or community radio station is beneficial in securing paid work as a runner.
A television set is a busy environment and runners are expected to use initiative, manage their own workload effectively and be flexible to offer help where needed. Much of the day is spent multitasking, so good organizational skills are important. Long hours are often required, so good stamina and an enthusiastic attitude will help. Runners must have excellent communication skills and the ability to get along with a wide range of people such as actors, directors and other departments.
Runners assist with all aspects of the production process. Generally, runners are given everyday tasks to complete that leave more senior members of the production team free to carry out their roles. This includes completing paperwork, making drinks, meeting and looking after guests, delivering scripts, photocopying and driving between location sets. Runners also assist with research and make arrangements for other members of the production team such as booking meeting rooms or making travel arrangements.
According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary for a production runner in June 2010 was £31,850. This is 25 per cent lower than all other job postings nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that those working in the broadcasting industry have erratic and sometimes unsociable work schedules, working on average 35.8 hours per week.
Becoming a runner is common step for those looking to progress within the television and film industry. A runner has the opportunity to gain an insight into the various job roles of a production team and make valuable contacts. In larger organisations, a runner may be promoted to head runner or researcher. Typically, runners are expected to have gained two to three years experience before progressing to other job roles.
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