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”
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.
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.
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.