Ten things not to do as a runner

I often get asked what makes a good runner and to summarise i usually say someone who is enthusiastic, pro active, hard working and a pleasure to work with. The good ones are the ones that make themselves indispensable. I’ve hired hundreds if not thousands of runners over the years and I’ve highlighted some of the behaviours and traits that make people go “I wouldn’t hire them again”. So start being self aware and think am I doing that? Or is that stalling my career, or simply read with a cuppa and think “thank god i am none of those things”

Being late

A pet peeve from people working on productions about runners is lateness. Get there on time, preferably early. Plan your journey and know where you are going. If you are driving somewhere give it plenty of time and if you are stuck in traffic (these things happen) just keep everyone in the loop. Don’t be blasé about your time keeping. If there is a genuine reason for lateness say your stuck on a tube, apologise profusely when you get in and stay a bit late.. just show you are willing. Commuting can be a nightmare but don’t storm in effing and jeffing and rolling your eyes like a teenager who’s just been dumped because you’ve been crammed on the northern line for what appears to be an eternity. Sounds obvious but get there early!

Not getting back to you

When we advertise on Facebook groups or ring you on your CV get back to us. If you say you are keen and available then answer your phone. Yes it might be Gail in Wigan selling you PPI but it also might be someone offering you a job. It’s incredibly frustrating when three days later you get back saying “sorry I was busy or on another job and now I’m free”. Let us know as soon as possible if that’s the case. Also on groups people recommend people and tag people and we see you going “thanks babes I’ll send my CV” and then sometimes that CV doesn’t materialise for whatever reason. So the overall impression is just a bit sloppy.

Last minute turn downs

Trying to book a runner or two over the Christmas period I was surprised to see a number of people commit to the job and then suddenly be ill. They may have genuinely have been ill but in the midst of the festive season and a Saturday shoot the day after work Christmas parties well it doesn’t take Jessica Fletcher to put two and two together and come up with hangover. So just be mindful of how things look. I know people can get offered longer contracts but if you’ve committed to something and you are due to start that day then you shouldn’t bin them off with a sly email at 7am. In my book if you’ve committed to something you’ve committed to something. There are obviously exceptional circumstances but a good runner would always suggest another runner that can take their place.

Being above it all

You may think you are the next Spielberg as the Uni film about the struggles of being a student did so well and won a few uni awards, but when you are starting out in telly you are starting at the bottom and you need to be there to learn. Also be prepared to do some boring, mundane and unglamorous jobs. No one is going to give you a camera and say “BBC 2, 9pm, go make a film love”. It’s all about your attitude, be grateful for each job and don’t think tasks are beneath you, try and do it all with a smile. By all means go out later in the pub and bemoan with your mates about your shit day but don’t scowl in the office, tutting about how you didn’t study to sort out the stationary cupboard.

Being lazy

No one likes a lazy colleague, no one wants to be constantly asking where you are or not know if the tasks they’ve asked you to do have been done. They don’t want to find you on the sofa with Judy swiping right to find a date that night or regaining everyone with tales from the club at the weekend. I know I sound like a killjoy and tales from the club can be fun and juicy but not when a stressed out PM has asked you five times to get something done.

Clock watching

Tv is not like Carla Connor’s factory from Corrie where you clock in and clock off, and you can pop to Roy’s Rolls for a cream bun and a chat whenever you feel like it. It’s not a nine to five career. I’m not expecting everyone to be there till midnight but keep your boss informed if you need to leave early and make sure you’ve done what you’ve needed to do and ask if they need anything else before you go. It doesn’t look good sat at your desk with your coat on at 5.50pm watching the clock.. people want commitment.

Showing no interest

It’s astonishing that a big number of people coming into telly claim to not watch it. Now the programmes that the company you work at make, might not be too your taste but watch them, show an interest. it’s always a great conversation opener to a PD or SP to talk about an episode of their programme that was on last night. Show interest in people, in the company, in the camera kit as it all helps and creates a really favourable impression of you.

Being a gossip

TV can feel like an extension of college or school. Everyone is super friendly and nice and you all socialise together and it feels like you’re all pals. That’s all great, but remember you are all colleagues as well. You may have a gripe with another runner or take an instant dislike to your boss as she reminds you of someone you don’t like or you generally just love to spill the tea with your friends. Be very careful about this, gossip spreads quickly and most of the time the person that you are gossiping about finds out. Don’t let all your hard work go astray as you get known for being a gossip and a stirrer.

Being a Bully

You want to be top dog runner, none of those other runners are as good as you and you are so fiercely ambitious that you’ve constantly got your eyes on the prize. That’s all good until that turns into bullying behaviour. I’ve seen this many times where someone gets their confidence knocked, gets given the wrong information or is simply excluded by someone. This behaviour is wrong. Trust that people will see your hard work and enthusiasm without resorting to throwing someone else under the bus and make them feel insecure and miserable. Television is a tough business but you don’t have to be a bully to get ahead. Be supportive of your fellow runners as you never know they could be the key to your next job. So many runners recommend other runners.

Being over friendly

You might think this gig is where you are going to find your future spouse and that might be the case but remember to focus on the work. You may be out on location with colleagues sharing a bottle of wine but if wine makes you flirty then you need to rein it in. Don’t be like one runner who will remain nameless who after a few beers on location decided to strip naked in the middle of the hotel bar.. You may have a relationship with a colleague, these things happen but don’t let it stop you from doing a good job. A fling with the talent might sound glamorous but if you are too busy smooching the presenter and not doing your work that is all people will remember.

Drama is for Mariah

We all have personal drama, we all have things going on in our life that are difficult. That’s fine and sometimes you might have to bring them into the office. Just don’t let them take over your role in the office. Don’t be stressing and creating drama about a perceived way someone looked at you or how your boyfriend doesn’t respect you or how you love the guy in the mailroom. Safe the drama for your friends. Your PM doesn’t need to hear how life is been cruel to you everyday. They just want you to do the tasks in hand. So ask yourself honestly am I bringing too much drama into the office? Sometimes less is more and an air of mystery can work wonders for your career.



10 Things to give your career a kick start in 2021

  1. Get networking

This might sound obvious but if nobody knows you are free and amazing then no one is going to hire you. So throw yourself into a networking frenzy. If there are formal and informal networking events get yourself signed up. These will be online for the immediate future but this can work in your favour as you will often have 10 minutes of someone’s time, uninterrupted so use that time wisely. If that sounds like the scariest thing imaginable then take a few deep breaths and think of it as a two way conversation. You should also be used to zoom chats by now anyway. Have interesting conversations with people, talk about what you’ve done and what you want to do without bombarding them and making it a monologue and not a two way conversation. A nice chat could lead to a new job in a new company. Find the balance between being apologetic about what you’ve done, “oh I’ve just worked a bit here, it was nothing really” and arrogant “Everyone thought that I was the best”. The easiest way to do this is talk about what you enjoyed and the tasks you loved and people will immediately see your passion. Try to find the positive in everything, even if the experiences weren’t great and don’t bad mouth anyone. It’s a small world and bitching can create a bad impression of yourself.

So look on twitter, your facebook groups or simply get back in touch with old colleagues. It can all help.

  1. Spruce up your CV

We can get too busy to update our CV, but when we don’t and we send an old one to a potential employer that’s not updated or our talent manager profile has not been updated since 2016, it looks sloppy. So dig out the CV and keep it updated regularly. After every gig and before you send it to any employer make sure it’s up to date. Get someone else to look over it and ask them if it all makes sense. Make factual statements and give context behind the roles. You may presume one runner or researcher role is the same but really think of achievements and what makes you stand out. Then  get your CV out there. If you are applying for jobs online or from facebook groups make sure you read the advert and you have the necessary skills.. It is really frustrating as an employer if people haven’t read the outline of the job or feel they can wing it without the relevant skills. Don’t feel like you have to rush up the ladder as you’ll soon get found out if you don’t have the right experience.

  1. Look at past achievements

New Year is often about a time of reflection. We keep ourselves so busy and focused on what we haven’t yet done and what we need to do that we often neglect to see how far we’ve come. Take time to appreciate your journey. Using a journal is a great way to do this, but simply sometimes just looking at where you were this time last year can help you appreciate your journey. If you feel that you haven’t come as far as you like or feel as if you are still in the same place start thinking about what you have done and also what you could have done differently. Try and be as objective as possible and think about your actions rather than blaming other people or being overly harsh on yourself. Just be rational and try and ask yourself honestly, “ have I done all I can to get to where I want to be?”

  1. What new skills do you want to gain this year

Do you find yourself stuck in a bit of a rut, but can’t quite figure out why nothing is shifting? Are you so stuck in your comfort zone that you are scared to try anything new? Or do you know exactly what you want to be doing but don’t know how that would seem possible? Well first of all ask yourself what new skills do I need to get me to the next level and what can I do right now to help me on that path. It may be that you want to improve your camera skills or your writing experience or it may be that you want to change genre and get more studio experience or more drama experience. Ask yourself is this truly what you need and if it is, who do you know that can help you on that path. If there isn’t anyone then what can you do yourself.. can I make my own film, can I volunteer on a shoot, or can I ask someone for help. Sometimes we get too proud to do this, but if you choose the right moment and you are clear about how you want your career to progress, people are generally open to helping you out.

  1. Manage your time better

Are you making up excuses about never having time to do the things that you want to do but secretly you know you’ve spent the weekend binge watching that Netflix series or listened to the woes of your best friends relationship over a bottle of wine. Both are perfectly acceptable but are you filling your time with stuff and not focusing on your goals?  By just setting an hour or even half an hour a day to look at your goals or do one thing to get nearer to them can really help. We all think we need to do a massive change to get where we want to go but actually small steps can lead us in the right path. So think about your time and are you spending it doing things that will make you happier, make you closer to the career you want and make you feel more fulfilled.

  1. If it’s not working try something different

Sometimes we repeat the same patterns and then are shocked when we get the same results. Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit and find a different way to do things. So if you are just sending out your CV and that’s not working, then get yourself to a networking event, contact the SP from your favourite show and ask them how they got to where they are. If there are no networking events then maybe set up your own, or your own TV facebook page. I know a few people that have done this and it’s proven to be really successful for them.

  1. Catch up with old colleagues

Meet up online, over the phone and on email with people you’ve worked with before and let them know you are free or simply chat to them about your career. Hopefully in 2021 you’ll be able to do this in person but that shouldn’t stop you trying to chat online. Ask for advice and also pay it forward, meet people and give them advice about your own experiences. It’s often from those chats that someone can say, “actually let me introduce you to Sue, she’d be a good person for you to know”. It can feel silly or pushy but I am sure you have done the same for other people and be persistent and keen but don’t stray into impatience and rudeness, nobody wants that. Even speak to old lecturers or old uni mates about life and career and explore their networks as well. If you do all this in a really positive way then I am sure it will reap it’s rewards.

  1. Change your surroundings

Is television really where you want to be, it’s not for everyone and if you feel like you’ve had enough then there is no shame in that either. There also a multitude of jobs in television that are not directly involved in production and maybe one of them is where your heart lies. If you can then maybe a change of scenery could work. You don’t have to be in London to have a good career in television and it may be that you need to explore other options in different cities. Sometimes a new company can restore your faith in the industry or maybe a side step into another industry can work wonders. Don’t be too focused on putting all your eggs in one basket, give yourself options. You always have time to achieve your goals and they may take longer than you initially thought but keep focused and you’ll get there.

  1. Focus on the positive

January can be a time of renewal but it can also be a time where we look at ourselves and see our perceived failures and look at what we don’t have rather than what we do have. It’s cold and dark outside, everyone is skint and on a diet and we can have an overwhelming need to nest and shut out the world. Trapped in our flat due to the pandemic with a leftover selection box and that new box set that we have to get through. Try and right down something positive from each day and set yourself little goals that will increase your positivity and help you with your career. Treat each setback as a challenge and develop a bit of an”F you” attitude to keep you motivated, get what you want and prove people wrong.

  1. Be kind to yourself

Ultimately be kind to yourself, practice self-care, take breaks and remember you are only human. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t happen immediately or if you don’t get that job, keep on keeping on, and always have something to hear back from. Persistence and positivity are the key things here. Create good relationships, be a great person to work with and do your job well and you are half way there.