What Employers really think about runners

This website shares admins with the huge Facebook Runners Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/tv.runners/

We created the group to try to widen access to a more diverse range of new entrants as an alternative to just using word of mouth and taking the last person someone else employed. Many aspiring runners never get their chance, and many still won’t, but the wider the net can be cast the better off the industry will be in the long run.

We were very conscious that employers would be cautious about posting to such a large group, wary of being drowned under the weight of nonsensical or utterly inappropriate applications, so we put in place (and actively police) a set of rules such as ‘only apply for jobs where you meet the criteria precisely’, ‘don’t contact employers about other jobs’, ‘no friend requests or private messages’ and so on.

Gradually more and more employers began to offer more opportunities and confidence has grown over the years, so a few weeks ago we ran a survey to understand what employers and runners thought about it all. It’s worth reading, especially if you’re an employer and you’ve never considered (or have been nervous about) using the group to find new entrants. And it’s worth reading if you’re a runner and looking for a way into this industry.

The survey results are here, feel free to leave your comments below.

National Youth Film Academy (NYFA)

**UPDATE The latest news is that the cost of this course is now a jaw-dropping £1800. Based on feedback from people who have been on this course in the past, this is nothing less than a complete rip off. Recommendation is to run very hard in the opposite direction of this one**

Are you considering paying a fee to attend an audition/interview for one of the National Youth Film Academy’s courses?

If so it is worth bearing the following in mind:

1. What they might not have told you is that the basic cost of these courses is currently an eye-watering  £1200. They should really tell you that before you hand over the money for an audition/interview and also tell you more about what these courses involve and the value of them. They don’t – ask yourself why!

And do not think you can get back that audition fee once you’ve paid it. They do not refund your payment for any reason so do your research before you hand over any cash and also ask yourself – should you be paying for an audition/interview anyway? 

2. Once you’ve been to the audition/interview, be prepared to face deadline pressure to sign up. No obvious reason for the rush other than a lot of keenness by the company to seal the deal. And don’t be fooled by the “congratulations you’ve made it through a gruelling selection procedure” line they trot out. It seems that absolutely everyone gets an offer – they want your money and they aren’t keen to turn anyone away!

3. Not only is the cost of the course high but you are going to end up paying for a lot else beside – accommodation (circa £500), compulsory uniforms (T shirts for £35, bags and hoodies for more), tickets to the screening of your films (£10 each) etc etc. Again, they won’t tell you any of this until you’ve paid for the sign-up. As one participant said – “all in all an expensive two weeks!”. 

4. Is it worth it? Feedback is very mixed at best. I’ve heard from a lot of dissatisfied customers – a lot. They talk about a lack of resource, overlarge groups and variable teaching quality. And remember, you do not get any kind of industry accepted qualification as a result of doing this course (it is valueless on your CV) and most people say all you do get is a few new friends.

Remember – you absolutely do not need to do any course to get work in TV/Film and this one has no accreditation whatsoever despite the fancy self-styled title of the course provider.

All worth bearing in mind before you spend any money; Caveat Emptor!

Cold emailing for work: The dos and don’ts.

Cold emailing is when you approach a production company you have not worked with before with the aim to make a connection and hopefully secure future work. It’s not the most enjoyable task but one that when it pays off, it can make all the hours of searching and emailing worthwhile. Most production companies receive cold emails on a daily basis and while some may have an automated response, many won’t reply simply due to the volume of CVs they receive. The best things to do after sending a cold email are to forget about it and try not to let it play on your mind. If there’s a job coming up for which you could be suitable, the company will be in touch. If there isn’t such an opportunity, there’s nothing more you can do.

There are, however, things you can do to make your email stand out and better your chances of consideration for future employment.

  • Include a clear, concise subject in the email. E.G, Josie Smith – London based Runner.
  • Don’t write in capital letters and never state ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ in the subject.
  • Be brief but give all the relevant information. Start with a direct opening line which includes your name, job role and why you’re emailing them. Follow up with couple of sentences about your experience, interest in their work and availability. Then politely sign off the emailing saying your CV is attached and you hope to hear from them should a suitable opportunity arise.
  • Personalise your email to make it relevant to the company or person you’re contacting. Be sure to include (and spell correctly) the person or company’s name. Explain why you’re emailing them in particular; perhaps you enjoyed their recent documentary on Ch4 or have a passion for period dramas such as the ones they produce, etc.
  • Be courteous and complimentary if you wish, but don’t suck up. Whilst it’s absolutely fine to say how much you enjoy their work, don’t go too far or you’ll appear disingenuous.
  • Do your research. If you are going to mention their previous work, ensure you have the correct information. It would be very embarrassing to compliment a company on a production they didn’t make!
  • Don’t offer to pop into the office to introduce yourself or ask to meet for a coffee. In this instance, when you don’t have a personal connection, it would be inappropriate. If they want to meet you, they will invite you at a time that suits them.
  • With the recent change in General Data Protection Regulations, you must state that you’re happy for your details to be kept on file and distributed for employment purposes.

You may be more familiar with the term cold calling rather than cold emailing. Before the days of email, this would’ve been the way to get in touch with people to tout for work. These days people, especially busy production people, would generally choose an email over a phone call from someone they don’t know. This is particularly relevant when looking for work, where a phone call is often redundant, as the employer will tell you to email your CV anyway. They don’t have time to listen to your skills and experience, they’d much rather read it on a nice PDF attachment. And if you’re calling to ask who to send it to, you can find those details on the company’s website. You might wish to email an individual but the website only has a jobs@ email address. If that’s the case, its likely to be because the company procedure is for CVs to go through the jobs@ email and you should respect this.

A further example of this, and one we advise against, is turning up at an office with a hard copy of your CV. It might seem like a way of standing out or putting in more effort, but more often than not it’s a waste of time. It sounds harsh, but more often than not a hard copy will be left on someone’s desk or put in the bin. Databases and contacts are stored digitally, so while its easy for someone to save your CV or add it to a database, a hard copy is more cumbersome. When someone has already received multiple CVs that week by email, they’re very unlikely to go to the effort of scanning and saving your hard copy.

There are lots of brilliant production companies across the UK and the best way to find them is to start Googling, keeping a particular eye out for companies in your region. You could start with the TV Watercooler Job Sites Database which has details various production company job pages, as well as links to job boards and crew agencies.

Good luck

A guide to careers in Television

If you’re thinking “hey, I’d like to work in telly” but don’t really know how the whole career thing works, then wonder no more.

Creative Skillset have put together two documents to tell you all you need to know about what jobs there are, the genres and the routes into the business.

TV Career Job Map – Craft & Technical studio roles

TV Career Job Map – Editorial, Development, Production Management, Talent Management

LOOKING FOR RESOURCES OR FURTHER ADVICE?

BAFTA

BBC Academy

BFI

Creative Skillset

Hiive

Royal Television Society

You can find lots of information and resources about careers in screen industries online. Start with these sites and check their social media for more.

Follow us on Twitter @wearehiive @skillsetSSC

How Much Should I Be Paid?

We thought it would be a good idea to show the minimum you should be paid per hour. Holiday pay should be paid at the end of your contract for any untaken holiday, and on a casual engagement it should be added to the rate.

NMW Rates have been updated as of 1st April 2018

More detail

The government website has more details about working as an apprentice. (Apprentice holiday pay is not shown above as the rate is different from Workers).

See also You And The Minimum Wage

Top Tips for finding work experience in the TV industry

Shona Galloway wants to share with Watercooler users her experiences looking for work experience in TV as a new starter. Here’s what she has to say, and if you’d like to write an article yourself  about your own experiences, you can send it via the contact page…

A quick guide to securing a work experience placement in the TV sector. All from the perspective of someone who has been through it and come out the other side, after gaining experience working with BBC1, CBBC, and Channel 5.

1. Do Your Research
When looking at companies to get work experience from, research the type of programmes each company makes in order to tailor your CV and covering letter accordingly. For example, Boomerang mainly produces factual entertainment documentaries. Knowing this, you can brush up on your knowledge on what type of content comes under the ‘factual entertainment’ category, and what that specific company has just finished making.
It is important to try and find work experience with a variety of TV production companies, who each produce different styles of television. An employer looking at a CV from someone with work experience in Live TV, Dramas, and Documentaries is more likely to employ you than someone who just has experience in TV News.

2. Be Persistent
It happens to everyone – rejection. You could contact 30+ production companies and have one response back. However, it only takes one yes to make it worth it. That work experience ‘yes’ could lead to your first job, or it could provide you with skills to put onto your CV that you wouldn’t be able to learn outside of industry.
There is also nothing wrong with a follow up email on a work experience query. If you still haven’t heard back from anyone a month after contacting them, a follow up email to the right person at the right time could not only secure you the work experience, but would show them that you are determined and focused on securing the work experience.

3. Your CV
TV Production Companies receive hundreds of CVs from people wanting to do work experience, which means your CV needs to make them want you to come in. Most employers will tell you that they only really read the first page of your CV. This is why it is vital that the first piece of paper they pick up clearly shows what skills you already have, what previous experience you have in TV or in work in general, and who exactly it is YOU are. It also goes without saying that your email address and contact number need to be correct and clear at the top of the page. If you are at university, make sure you don’t use your university email as employers could get in touch with you in the future after you have graduated. By that time, you may not have checked your email in weeks (or even at all.)
Name the document your CV is as ‘[YOUR NAME] CV for [NAME OF PRODUCTION COMPANY]. This way they can find your CV quickly and easily amongst other work experience CVs that are just literally named ‘CV’.

4. Your Cover Letter
This is where your research comes in. In your cover letter, talk to them about which programme they’ve recently made that you’ve enjoyed. Make sure you actually watch the programme you talk about to avoid any awkward situations in an interview.

It’s also important to talk about what can you do for them as oppose to what can they do for you. They will like that you are taking the initiative to stand out from the usual crowd of work experience cover letters, and they will certainly be more likely to take you on. Always try and identify who to address the cover letter to. It looks a lot more professional and personal for the receiver to see their name after ‘To’, rather than the name of the production company.

5. Think Outside the Box
Try and think of other non-conventional ways to get in contact about work experience opportunities. Networking events are a great way to meet people in the TV industry. RTS Futures hold an annual event for young people who want to kick- start their careers in TV in locations all over England. Dozens of representatives from production companies are on hand to give advice, exchange contact details and to promote themselves.
Don’t be afraid to contact an individual from a production company, express an interest in what they do, and ask to go for a coffee to talk about their job. If the meeting goes well, it effectively sets you up with a contact in that company for future reference. Having that contact will make it much easier to attain work experience, as they would have already met you and will already like you. [* but don’t make a nuisance of yourself or be surprised if you get no reply. The Cooler]

6. Call Don’t Email
Work experience emails can undoubtedly get lost in the daily burst of work related emails. Calling the production company will instantly make you memorable. It also shows to them that you are confident on the phone, and they will normally pass you on the email address of the most relevant person to help you.

By Shona Galloway

Thank you Shona. For further advice on preparing your CV take a look at our post CV Writing Tips

AXS Pics. Tulsan Warner Project. YGT. WB UK LLC. HVN ESOTERIC CAPITAL. HVN GROUP. Jilliahsmen Trinity

 

WARNING

**NEW UPDATED WARNING:  This set up is very likely to be a money laundering operation. If you have passed over bank and passport details to these people please keep any eye on all your accounts and the possibility of companies being set up in your name. Do not hand over any information to this company and do not sign up for any work. Needless to say no-one who has worked for these people has been paid for their work to date.**

Red flags have been raised by a number of Runners about a company called “AXS Pics” which has recently been seeking to recruit workers to be researchers on a forthcoming feature film (often without the Runner actually applying for a job).

The company has claimed a link with Warner Bros however they have confirmed that they have no association with AXS Pics and have asked Shooting People (amongst others) to remove adverts which mention their name. The work in question does not appear to be related to film production and it is not at all clear what the company does or who they are.

Questions to AXS Pics have not been answered, there is no trace to be found of them at their claimed Berkeley Square office and there is no company of that name registered at Companies House.

Please treat all offers of work with this company with great caution and do not hand over any bank details to them. If anyone has any information about this set up and/or has done this work (and been paid for it), please could you let Mark Watson know (derrywatson@gmail.com).

Company details:

AXS Pics. Tulsan Warner Project.
2nd Floor,
Berkeley Square House,
Mayfair,
London,
W1J 6BD
UK

Bruce Al-Bright’s Office
bruce.albright.asst@gmail.com
careers@axspics.com

+44 7459 524060

Siddhant Bhatt.
CFO (U.S)
APEXIDUS
Level 33, 25 Canada Square,
Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7193 4959
Fax: +44 (0)20 7193 4950 or 020 7193 4955

Jennifer Scott
Assistant to Aron Mann
Associate Financial Officer.
Contracts and Accounting at
AXS PICS
2nd Floor, Berkeley Square House,
Berkeley Square, Mayfair
London W1J 6BD UK​
Tel: 020 7268 5086
Fax: 020 7268 5010
Careers@AXSPics.com

HVN GROUP, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

WB UK LLC 37th Floor, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB

Jilliahsmen Trinity

Runner Etiquette.

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.