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Answers to your questions about possible career choices

Runners' FAQs

Questions and most importantly answers, which matter to your career progression.

Click on the links below to find your answers. Once you've read it, you'll be able to return to the next question by using the return to top links.

 

 

 

  1. Where can I find out about work as a Runner?
  2. How can I find out which companies employ Runners?
  3. How can I find out what type of productions a company makes?
  4. How can I find out what projects and productions are coming up and who to contact?
  5. What kind of pre-entry experience could help my application?
  6. Is there any low-cost training for Runners?
  7. Where can I get information on contracts, rates of pay, health and safety?
  8. Should I work freelance or on a PAYE (Pay as You Earn) contract?
  9. How long should I work as a Runner?

1. Where can I find out about work as a Runner?
The trade press, trade association and company websites, and online recruitment services are all very good sources of jobs. You can find out more about these organisations and publications via the industry pages of this website.

The Regional Screen Agencies are set-up to support all the screen industries and should be one of the first places to call. They may well have networking groups for people in your industry sector, as well as up-to-date information about different training initiatives, and/or low-budget film schemes where you can offer your services.

Hospital, community and internet radio stations are often looking for volunteers and you can probably find details of these on their websites. You can also make speculative approaches to new, up-and-coming producers or production companies, many of which post details of opportunities on their websites.

Alternatively, you can join a local community media group (e.g. GMAC, the Glasgow Media Access Centre) which has contacts with local professionals and companies operating within the audio visual industries. Your Regional Screen Agencies should be able to provide you with information about these kinds of groups.

To find out more about researching this kind of information go to the Find out more section.

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2. How can I find out which companies employ Runners?
A great deal of information can be found on company websites - particularly the larger companies. Read the trade press and check industry directories for contact details. Find out about the type of products and programmes that different companies make and always check the production credits.

Become aware and informed. Look through Runner entries in directories and search databases for their credits and the names of companies that they've worked for. You can find out more about the different industry sectors and the companies that work in them from the Educate yourself section of this website as well as via the sector pages.

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3. How can I find out what type of productions a company makes?
Research the industry you are interested in on the Internet. Use industry directories like the TIGA members directory, the PACT directory (which lists all the independent production company members by production type), or the IVCA directory for the corporate sector (which lists its members, with details of type of output by region). And watch and note the credits on TV programmes/films, read the trade press, check company websites.

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4. How can I find out what projects and productions are coming up and who to contact?
Getting this kind of "insider information" takes creative research. Start with the trade press such as Broadcast, The Photographer, Creation, Creative Review, Televisual, and Screen International. All these publications contain useful information if you look beyond the jobs and appointment sections. Read between the lines paying special attention to companies that are attracting the most press coverage.

Regional Screen Agencies may well have networking groups for people in your area who are working in film, TV, animation, computer games and interactive media. They may also publish information on low-budget film schemes.

Trade association publications also have useful information if you can get hold of them e.g. the monthly PACT magazine and IVCA Update, a newsletter covering IVCA members' news. Try to spot if a company has received a new commission or plans to expand a department that may include Runner positions. Be prompt and make sure you refer to developments appropriately; bearing in mind that by the time you're reading it, the trade press sources can be "old news"; this is what you can do:

  • Use directories to find contact details - usually human resources/personnel in the case of large broadcasters, and Production Co-ordinator/Managers in the independent sector.
  • Check the name of the person to contact with the company itself - directories can go out of date very quickly.
  • Address cover letters personally and research the output of the company so you can demonstrate knowledge of the programmes they produce.
  • Get your CV and cover letter in the post immediately.

Inside track information requires networking at events such as the annual production show Broadcast LIVE, the Edinburgh Television Festival, going to meetings of relevant trade organisations such as PACT, the Royal Television Society, BECTU, IVCA, and New Producers Alliance. Some of these are for members only, but many organisations offer discounted membership for new entrants.

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5. What kind of pre-entry experience could help my application?
Since this is an entry level position, it helps that you can show a keen amateur interest in the area. Useful pre-entry experience includes possible routes such as:

  • Working in theatre groups as an Assistant Stage Manager is good preparation for getting a Floor Runner position in film and TV drama;
  • Hospital, community radio or internet;
  • Assisting a local photographer;
  • Working in an IT Department at school or college;
  • Working as an usher on studio recordings of entertainment shows; and
  • Any other you can think of, creativity is the way forward.

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6. Is there any low-cost training for Runners?
Some Runners receive some kind of training whilst running. This ranges from formal training, such as a National Vocational Qualifications, to watching and learning from colleagues. Make sure that you find out what training is available where you are working.

Skillset is the prime source of industry training information, initiatives and news. Skillset subsidises courses for freelancers through its TV Freelance Fund and Skills Investment Fund/Film Skills Fund. You can also access details of training providers and courses in the Funding pages of this website.

Trade associations, unions and other support organisations sometimes offer low-cost training for their members. Check with the organisation for details. And some equipment manufacturers offer taster courses which you might be able to benefit from.

Training provision varies throughout the UK and it is a good idea to check with your Regional Screen Agency which usually has a Training Director/Officer. Check their websites for information about short course training, some of which will be relevant for runners and might be subsidised.

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7. Where can I get information on contracts, rates of pay, health and safety?
Skillset Careers is the main source of information, make sure you explore well this whole section of the Skillset website. Trade unions websites such as BECTU offer a real wealth of very valuable and sound information on these matters.

BECTU offers discounted new entrant membership and the union is active in safeguarding the interests of Runners. Information on rates, contracts and much more, is available on their website. The trade union also offers advice and organises training on health and safety.

Trade associations and other support organisations can also offer advice to their members. Employers are increasingly looking for evidence of health and safety awareness. See more details through the Health & Safety pages on this website.

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8. Should I work freelance or on a PAYE (Pay as You Earn) contract?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. However, in reality the choice is not always yours. Some employers automatically put Runners on PAYE others offer you a choice. Some people prefer the apparent freedom and variety of the freelance lifestyle; others want the security of a contract.

As a freelancer you can claim certain costs, such as travel expenses and some items of equipment, against tax. Some short course training is subsidised for freelancers and often the travel and expenses associated with training is tax deductible. Neither tax nor National Insurance contributions are deducted when you are paid which can make you think you made more money than you did. You are responsible for filing an annual tax return and you must save the estimated tax due.

Contracted PAYE Runners, with perhaps larger broadcast or facilities companies, have a certain amount of job security, depending on the length of the contract and can usually contribute to the company's pension scheme. For more information visit the Business, finance and legal section of this website.

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9. How long should I work as a Runner?
There is of course no single answer and timeline to this question. It depends on the individual, their skill level, interest in crossing different sectors of the industry, identifying long term career goals and pathways in the business and their ability to manage on an often restricted income.

Some people do it for at least 2 years before getting a real break and some employers, especially in film, feel that 2 - 3 years is normal to gain a range of experience.

In each sector running can lead on to different jobs. In the feature film sector, for example, there are often Runners that move on to become head Runner before moving into 3rd, 2nd and then 1st Assistant Director roles. For production office Runners the next step could be Production Assistant, then Assistant Production Co-ordinator, to Production Co-ordinator. While in animation Runners are often trained on the job before perhaps stepping up to becoming an ‘Inbetweener' and then a Junior Animator.

Many employers complain about runners who 'want to run before they can walk.' The important thing is to find a running job that will give you a real foundation to develop in a particular direction.

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