In some ways TV people can seem quite laid back compared to professionals in other industries. We invite people for a chat rather than an interview, our work clothes are very casual and we advertise jobs on Facebook.
But that’s just because those things make it easier for us to do our jobs. Regardless of whether you’ve seen a job advertised on Facebook or been asked to come in for a chat; you should still approach it with the utmost level of professionalism and in a polite manner. This includes when applying for a job and being on the job itself.
Here are some guidelines for Runner etiquette and trust us; going against them will seriously hinder your changes of getting work.
Etiquette when applying for a job.
- Always address the employer by their name. Jobs are pretty much always posted with an email address, which usually includes the employer’s name, or on a Facebook post, which makes knowing their name even easier. Not bothering to include their name makes you look lazy. Gone are the days or “Sir / Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
- Spell their name correctly. Spell it wrong you give the impression that you lack attention to detail or don’t care enough to double check.
- Don’t add employers on Facebook. It’s unnecessary and unprofessional.
- Always include a subject heading and if the employer stated a particular one to use, make sure you use it. Fail to do this and you fail to demonstrate that you listen to instructions.
- Always include a brief cover email. Writing nothing and just attaching your CV is, yet again, lazy and unprofessional.
- Don’t mark your CV as important. This is arrogant and annoys employers.
- Don’t follow up emails asking if they’ve received your original email or send your CV more than once. It’s pretty much guaranteed they’ve got it and if they haven’t replied, they just haven’t had time yet.
- Research the company and personalise your cover letter. This shows you have taken some time to look into what they do and have a genuine interest. However…
- Don’t go over the top with praising the company. Stating that you are in awe of their incredible life-changing productions is way too much, especially if the production company happens to make commercials. (True story).
- If you’ve seen a job post on Facebook, don’t take it any less seriously as if you’d come across it by any other means. Make sure your email is polite, professional and completely free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- If you don’t get the job, move on and don’t ask for specific feedback. The employer doesn’t have time to do this and if you didn’t get a call, its very likely you did one of the things listed above and subsequently ended up in the trash pile.
Etiquette on set.
- A Runner should be seen but not heard. Always be on standby ready to help, but don’t get in the way or distract the cast and crew.
- Have a positive attitude and approachable demeanor. No-one wants to work with a Runner who looks miserable or thinks they’re above making someone a cup of tea.
- Make an effort to learn and remember people’s names, even if they don’t know yours.
- Don’t sit on equipment or move kit. For some reason people love sitting on apple boxes and the grip department hate this.
- Always have your phone on silent. You really don’t want to be the person who ruined the shot because their phone started ringing.
- Don’t take photos on set and share them on social media.
- Be polite and respectful to everyone on set. You’ll be spending a lot of hours together and its important to get along. Besides, you never know who someone might be. The guy wearing shorts and a cap could be a fellow Runner but he could also be the Executive Producer.
Etiquette after a job.
- It’s perfectly ok to email an employer after a job to tell them you enjoyed working with them and hope they will bear you in mind in the future. However…
- Don’t bombard them with emails. One email immediately after the job is fine, more than one is annoying, one email every week is incredibly annoying and will likely get your email address blocked.
- If some time later – let’s say 6 weeks – you’re available for work again and would like to get in touch with your previous employers to let them know, then that again is fine as long as you stick to the ‘one email at a time’ rule.
- If you have any queries over pay, for example if you don’t think you were paid overtime as you should have been or your mileage hasn’t been reimbursed, get in touch with the employer as soon as possible. Don’t wait a few weeks and then ask about it. They may already be on another job by then and it could be a long, arduous process to sort it out.
With so many people applying for Runner positions, you simply have to make your job application stand out as one of the good ones. Failing to do so will, time and time again, hinder your likelihood of getting work. Similarly, once you get a foot in the door you should do everything you can to keep it there and make a good reputation. First impressions and good reputations are vital to a successful career in the film and TV industry.