Tips for TV Runners

By no means are these tips exhaustive and most of it is probably common sense but just in case you’d like some pointers, please read on.

The list was compiled by contributors to the original  www.tvwatercooler.org forum for people that work in TV. They encompassed Commissioning Editors, Line Producers, Producers, Directors, Production Managers, Assistant Producers, Production Managers, Production Co-ordinators, Production Secretaries, Runners, Editors, Archive Producers & Researchers, Camera Operators, Sound Recordists, Engineers, Data Wranglers and more!

attitude

  1. Always have a nice smile on you. No need for manic grinning though. Just cheery will do.
  2. If you see your fellow Runners working hard and you don’t have anything to do – get stuck in to the tasks too. It will help your chances of future employment to show your willingness.
  3. If sent out with someone senior on a task/recce/shoot and they ask you about yourself – do not tell that person that you want to work in TV because it seems much easier to get into than film or music which are the two great loves in your life. Do not say that TV isn’t something you really like at all, or you really want to be a Presenter and this is just a stepping stone for you.
  4. When you are asked to do a boring job, e.g. help another runner organise the recycling, do not pull a face and say, “You must really hate me”, when all you have been asked to do is flatten and tape together three boxes. In other words, no matter how menial the task, approach with enthusiasm and perform to the best of your abilities.
  5. Ask questions about things you don’t understand and show your interest in the other things that are going on in the office or other departments. If you are particularly interested in something that’s going on that you are not directly involved with, it never hurts to ask if you can go there for a day or so to see what they are doing. It won’t always be possible but sometimes the Producer/PM may try and switch things around a bit so that you can at least shadow for one day.
  6. Usually if something gives you something to do, it will be important and need doing immediately. Do not get distracted from the job in hand. If someone asks you to do something when you are in the middle of a task, explain what you are doing and ask the second person to make the judgement on which is more urgent. If it is not obvious, always ask when tasks should be completed by.
  7. Prepare everything beforehand and organise well. Make sure all your media is properly labelled. Prepare for things to happen in advance of when they are scheduled to.
  8. Don’t be caught out by other peoples mess ups and don’t pass the buck – take ownership. If you take responsibility, people will entrust you with more responsibility.
  9. Never assume anything. Just because you may be diligent and efficient, doesn’t mean everyone else in this world is. So just because you’ve left a message for someone or sent a text/email, don’t assume they picked it up, or did anything about it.

callsheet

  1. This is a document containing all important info about the shoot/record: contacts, maps, Health & Safety, schedule, travel, accommodation, door codes, technical specifications, kit list, props list, talent, catering, car parking space allocation etc… It’s known as a ‘Callsheet’ because it will also contain the time of the day individuals are expected to be at the venue. This is known as a ‘Call Time’.
  2. Have a schedule, get a highlighter or several and really emphasise which bits you need to pay particular attention to – e.g. for compliance recordings on live events to make sure you know which ones you are responsible for.

cash

  1. If you are given a float to buy things on behalf of the production, you will be expected to sign a receipt to prove you were given the cash. Your float should always be same amount you were given and will be a mixture of receipts and cash when you reconcile it.
  2. When you have spent all of the money, you will be expected to produce receipts for all the money that has been spent and return any remaining cash. You must then fill out an Float Advance form. Sometimes this is called an Expenses Form. The purpose of the form is to prove the money spent has been accounted for by attaching the receipts and the Co-ordinator or Manager will then put codes on the form and enter it into the budget as money spent. Always ask your PC/PM to explain exactly how they prefer you to fill out the form as each company will be a bit different.
  3. If they don’t give you a wallet, get your own so it’s separate from your own personal money.
  4. Always get a receipt. Then immediately write on it what the item is if it is not evident. If it’s for food/drinks, write who you got them for or who was at the meal. Your Production Co-ordinator will need to know for the production company records.
  5. Unless specifically told to do so, you are not authorised to buy alcohol/cigarettes on the float as a general rule. There is also no drinking during work hours.
  6. Learn the difference between a credit card slip and a receipt. Your Production Manager and Accountant have no use for a credit card receipt. Always ask for a VAT receipt (not everything will have VAT applicable or every vendor will be registered for VAT but they will tell you when you ask and should be able to give you a till/handwritten receipt of some kind). This is very important because the production company must claim the VAT charge back from the government.
  7. Keep some Petty Cash vouchers on you for the supplier to sign if they can’t give you a receipt or you forget to get one.

catering

  1. Thinking about accessing your Facebook? Think “have I made that nice Producer a cup of coffee /tea today”. If the answer is no, do that first. In fact, get a round in and tidy up the kitchen area while you are about it. If anything is running out milk/teabags/bread, inform whomever in the office needs to restock it. This will usually be the Office Manager or Receptionist. Or it could be you.
  2. Most productions run on coffee and tea, so on your first day, find out how everyone takes their drinks and make a note of it, so when you see your team walking into the office or on location, you can have a drink waiting for them, the way they like it.
  3. Have clean cups & plates washed up before the lunch rush.
  4. If, when on a location shoot, you get sent for bacon sarnies, or other hot food, for the whole team from the local café, go in person on the first day and if you will be shooting in the same place the following day – try to ring the order through on the following day and pick it up. Organise your order in ascending order of seniority so the director / talent / DOP’s food is the hottest and freshest when you get back. That means that yours will be the coldest and soggiest I’m afraid although you’ll earn brownie points for attention to detail.
  5. Always treat the crew well. If you’re on a shoot with camera and sound but no camera assistant look after them both. If it’s a hot studio or sunny day and they are filming handheld actuality, they will both be getting hot, tired and dehydrated so keep them well stocked with water and high-energy snacks. But don’t let them treat you like you’re their bitch – you will have a dozen more duties to attend to as well.
  6. On a busy factual-based shoot, the camera & sound are often worked the hardest so don’t keep them hanging round for lunch & tea breaks either as when the camera’s not rolling nothing much is being achieved. If you’ve helped them out and they are a decent pair, they will put in a good word for you at the end of the day with the powers that be. A happy crew = a happy shoot!
  7. On a big event or studio shoot, check if your Producers and production (Production Manager, Co- ordinator, Secretary) have eaten, as they often have to work through breaks. Perhaps offer to get food put by for them for later.
  8. If looking after gallery or truck staff, ensure drinks always have lids for safety purposes.

comms

  1. On your first day, enter the production office and core team contacts to your phone address book.
  2. Email the current contact list to your personal email so that you can always access it wherever you are via email/web mobile.
  3. Only access Facebook/Twitter/whatever during lunch or when your feet are well and truly under the table. Think six months unless you have specific instruction to do so.
  4. Get into the habit of writing a ‘To Do’ list every day and ticking off your tasks as you do them. At the end of the day, start writing tomorrows list before you leave and copy across everything you didn’t get done today. This will help you to focus on the varied tasks you have been given by the entire team and get you used to prioritising.
  5. Try to remember Producers, Directors and Production Managers will be across a 101 things to with the production at any one time from casting to budget issues, so it may take them a bit longer to reply to an email. Your question about what colour paper they want the script on isn’t at the top of their priority list. Try to write all these questions down and at the end of the day, or when you can see they have a moment, go and speak to them and go through it all at once, instead of sending lots of small emails. One of the key things about being runner is being organised.
  6. If you don’t know which task is more time-sensitive, always ask your Production Co-ordinator or Manager to explain which should come first and why.
  7. If you are asked to do something and you can’t do it / don’t know how to do it / forget – always tell the person who asked you to do it as soon as possible. You have been given that job to do and if you don’t do it, it will still have to be done, so giving someone as much notice as possible to fix it will be your best course of action. Like ball cancer – ignoring it does not make it go away…
  8. Your team will sometimes talk a lot of shorthand and use industry language. Don’t pretend to know what something is or means if you don’t know. No one expects you to know everything. Ask someone to explain it to you at an appropriate moment and don’t be embarrassed – it shows you were taking it all in and you are keen to learn.
  9. NEVER address those older than 30 as ‘mate’.
  10. Learn a trick for remembering people’s names. A quick trick is to look people in the eye, and repeat their name again. People will then look you in the eye and say their name again or agree or nod or something. Let it sink in. And if required use a backup trick to remember is to rhyme something about them with their name – eg ‘smells like a drain – Adrian’. Do NOT do this if they are talent (a presenter) or at channel controller or commissioner level where you should know their bloody name.
  11. Whenever you make a booking (for a car, food – whatever) – double check it’s been received and actioned until whatever it is you’ve arranged actually unfolds before your very eyes.
  12. Always check with the rest of the team that it’s ok for you to leave the office/location/studio before you put your coat on at the end of the day.
  13. You will earn extra brownie points if you check if anyone needs anything doing before you prepare to leave.
  14. Ensure you have a sensible, personal email address. Your name is fine. ‘BigbangersDD@hotmail.com’ is not. Jokey email addresses promote a sense of unprofessionalism.
  15. Always put a subject line on emails that relate to the content. If the content changes – change the subject line, makes it far easier for people to find the email later.
  16. If you are shy and have trouble chatting to the production staff, a good way to get started is, ‘How are you today?’ or ‘How’s it going today’ or similar when you take their food + drink, they like the fact you care and it starts conversation.
  17. NEVER send ANY tape, DVD, hard disk, pen drive etc in snail mail unless specifically told to do so. You will usually need to take it somewhere in person or the Co-ordinator will need to organise a courier for it.
  18. Check the file naming conventions on the network if not evident. When you leave the production, other people will nee to use the information you have left and must be able to find it easily. Never save anything to the C:/ drive or Desktop – always on the production directory.

dress

  1. Dress appropriately for the day. Smart casual in the office is fine. Jeans, trainers, t-shirts all fine. They should be clean, preferably not ripped to show your bangers/nutsack and do not say ‘F**K’ or ‘C*NT’ anywhere on them. No one wants to see your thong/boxers either.
  2. Wear good sturdy sensible shoes that do up properly, not ridiculous sandals that will flap all the way down the corridor as you jog off to get something, and then trip you up when you have three boiling teas in your hands.
  3. On outdoor shoots make sure you have appropriate clothing, TV involves a lot of standing around freezing. Layer up.
  4. When working in entertainment or drama, either in studio or location, it is most practical to wear belted trousers with pockets or some kind of small satchel type affair, as typically you may have the following about your person:

– Dressing room spare keys
– Callsheet
– Guestlist
– Lanyard with essential phone number laminate attached to it
– Leatherman
– Personal mobile
– Pens
– Petty Cash Float
– Production mobile
– Running order
– Script
– Security passes
– Walkie Talkie with headset

editorial

  1. Don’t be afraid to offer input/ideas. Learn when to sit in the corner and keep quiet, and pick your moment carefully to offer your input. Whether it is well received or not will be determined largely by your timing.
  2. Whenever you finish a research task, even if it’s finding phone numbers of local taxi cabs, put the information into a Word file or an email that is clearly labelled and send it to the relevant person. Do not assume the fact you have not been asked for the information, as an excuse to use Facebook until you are asked for it.

hierachy

  1. The commissioner/client/host/actor is not your friend. They don’t know who you are and have little interest in you, unless you are feeding / watering / running out for their fags. It is not appropriate to approach them and ask them for a job/ back to yours. They will most likely not remember you next time you meet, so you should always be prepared to politely introduce yourself, if appropriate, every time you meet them. Of course, one would hope they may remember you from the previous day if you are working on a series…
  2. Observe senior team members/clients when in your vicinity and ensure they are fed and watered and have everything they need. If you are asked to organise something on their behalf, please check with your Production Manager first before you do it.

hours

  1. If you are due to finish at 1800, prepare yourself to stay until 1830 or later. Don’t arrange to meet your mate down the pub at 1810, sometimes work can overflow and to go beyond the call of duty without angst will be expected. Just don’t be rushing for the door on the dot.
  2. You may be required to stay late for which you will be obliged to do. Any weekend work will usually be compensated with paid days off. Often referred to as DOIL (day off in lieu).

loctrav

  1. Always have a tube map & A-Z in your bag / on your phone.
  2. If working in London, remember it is filthy and you will be on public transport for quite a large part of your day, which is full of filth too. In order to minimise catching colds, flu etc… always wash your hands with soap whenever you get to your destination. So get to work in the morning – wash your hands. Get home in the evening – wash your hands and probably your face too. Out on a run during the day? Wash your hands when you get back to the office. Do not touch face, lick fingers etc without hand washing or antibacterial hand gel first.Sounds a bit crazy but seriously you will find it makes a huge difference to how many colds/bouts of man-flu you get during the year.
  3. Always look up how to get to your destination before you leave and check how long it will take you. You can then tell the team where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  4. Ideally print off a route and map before you leave or input the postcode to your GPS if you have it on your phone.
  5. On a shoot keep a call sheet on you at ALL times… . And don’t lose It either! Your Producer won’t take too kindly to being called up by some random OR the document making its way to the Press.
  6. Learn correct radio etiquette and operation. NEVER swing your radio around by the aerial – it costs £250 to replace, which you will be liable for.
    LOCATIONS, Drama
    i. Step up! If the 3rd AD is called off for some reason (phone, toilet etc), fill their shoes. The 1st will appreciate that there’s someone there.
    ii. Keep your eyes peeled! Make sure that you always have eyes on the artists between takes – they have a habit of wandering off, and unfortunately it’s not possible to tie them all to a post.
    iii. Feed the front line! Keep some DECENT biscuits and hot drinks to hand for when the camera/sound guys have a few minutes rest. All too often the good stuff goes and they’re left with 5 packets of Tesco Value Bourbons to nibble on. That doesn’t go down well.
    iv. Communicate! Make sure everyone knows what’s going on at all times. If you’re doing a pick up, let the 2nd AD know if there’s traffic (no matter how bad, it’s always going to be slower than you’d hope). If there’s a scene change or cut, make sure that those around you know.v. Double check! If you’re asked to collect an artist for the next scene, check on your call sheet that you’ve got the right artist (3rds unfortunately, often mis-communicate resulting in red faces all round).
    vi. Courtesy! It’s important not to be big-headed about your job. You may have spent two years at college and three years at uni to get where you are, but you’re still at the bottom of the ladder. Courtesy must also extend to members of the public whom the shoot will often be inconveniencing. Explain nicely what’s actually happening and demonstrate how they may continue to go about their business without disturbing the shoot.

moving_on

  1. The UK TV industry is tiny and you will bump into the same people as you move from company to company. Your reputation is so important and regardless of whom you put as references on your CV, if your potential employer sees a show on your CV, and they know someone from that show, they will more than likely call them for a reference. There are always productions in the pipeline and regularly teams have to be put together at very short notice, this means that PM’s and Producers will go often assemble a team from personal recommendations and people they know.
  2. Network. The most painless way to do this is to go to the pub with your team after work. Particularly good to go when other people within the company will be there that you don’t know. You don’t have to stay for long and you could always just have a soft drink if you preferred. You never know when the person you chatted with about something random might see what your availability is for something else coming up at the company.

phone

  1. Listen to those around you and how they speak on the phone. Always be courteous to whomever is on the other end and speak clearly. Never swear at the caller.
  2. Whatever anyone else says or does, if a member of the public phones the production office about any show, treat them very courteously. That also applies if you are on a location shoot and come across people outside.
  3. Be polite because they are the customers and effectively pay your wages, one way or another. It is not cool or clever to assume you are better or know more just because they are “on the outside” and you are on the “in”.
  4. If the person they caller wants is not available, or not at their desk, you have a number of options:* Can you help with whatever the caller wants?
    * If you can’t help, take a basic message but remember to take their name, number and briefly what it’s about.
    * Suggest the caller emails the person they want. Give their company email address out only.
  5. As a rule, under no circumstances should you give out personal email addresses or mobile numbers. Always take the caller’s numbers /email address and get someone to call them back.

thingsnot

  1. It is not appropriate to sleep with anyone on the team or the crew, particularly, your boss. This often changes the dynamics of a professional team and can make it very difficult for you and your co-workers. You (not your boss) will be the one regarded unfavourably. Also consider that sleeping with your boss and sticking around for awkward pillow talk will probably result in you never working with them again.
  2. Under no circumstances should you come to work wired or pissed. It’s not appropriate. Ever.
  3. Never save the talent’s number in your phone then boast to all of your mates that he/she is your friend. It is likely they will encourage you to call the talent when you’re pissed and this is never a good thing!
  4. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES would it be good to ask the talent to sign your autograph book / broken arm cast / tits or pose for your Facebook pic.

kitlist

Decent, waterproof backpack to keep logs/release forms/petty cash/receipts safe and dry, together with all sorts of useful items, such as:

Bluetac
Cable ties
Chalk
Gaffer tape
Hand towel
Handwash gel
Hazard tape
J-Cloths
Lighter
Multi-tool, with penknife, screwdrivers, scissors etc.
Notepad
Pens/ Pencils
PVC tape
Sellotape
Torch
Wetwipes

PDF Version to download
RUNNER TIPS DOC_nov2011

Unpaid work experience – your questions answered

IMG_2568
 So what’s the big issue?
The issue is that many Film and TV companies are breaking the law with regard to not paying young people the National Minimum Wage where it is due. They will take on someone as a “runner” or “work experience” (using the claim that it is “good for your CV” or “good experience”) and then not pay them. This is illegal. Every worker (with a few minor exceptions) is entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for every hour they work. The current minimum wage rates are here. (This is for short engagements, holiday pay will be paid at the end of a long contract unless you have taken holiday).

If it’s illegal, why do these companies do it?
Some do it because they don’t know the rules (and every employer with a duty of care should) and some do it because they think they can get away with it. The 2005 TVWRAP campaign highlighted the issue of illegal unpaid work in the TV industry which encouraged a lot of companies now to abide by the law of the land. The better companies (like Granada, RDF and Endemol) do not take on young people to do unpaid work, however there are still some companies who risk the wrath of the Inland Revenue by using young people as workers and not paying them.


But what about “work experience” or an “internship” – surely that doesn’t need to be paid?
If it is just “shadowing” or the work experience is part of a course, for a full time student only, organised by the relevant academic institution and is a required part of that course (i.e the student has to do the work experience to pass) then people on work experience or internships need not be paid the NMW. The National Council for Work Experience say this:

“Government legislation in respect of the National Minimum Wage means that UK employers can no longer offer unpaid work experience, unless they are doing it as part of their course”

http://www.work-experience.org/ncwe.rd/ … rs_149.jsp

The problem is that most companies use the phrase “work experience” to cover a multitude of sins. Proper work experience involves training and assessment, agreed goals and a plan – it is primarily of benefit to the young person involved. “Work experience” which involves someone coming in to an organisation and doing jobs is not work experience, it is work. If it is work the person involved must be paid at least the NMW, whether it involves some residual training benefit to that person or not. Also an individual cannot voluntarily forgo the right to be paid the NMW where it is due.


But aren’t these people “volunteers”?
The NMW rules re volunteers are designed to deal with the issue of clubs and charities who may have people who give their time freely and without obligation. Someone on work experience is not a volunteer if they are given tasks to carry out, set hours, set meal breaks, appear on a call sheet or are doing tasks that a paid member of staff would otherwise be doing. That is work, and that must legally be paid the NMW. As the PACT rules state (rewritten after a meeting with the DTI) “A work experience person who…is expected to obey instructions should be paid at least the national minimum wage”.

The other issue is the question of how “voluntary” this work experience really is when every young person who enters the TV industry has to do it as a condition of getting paid employment. A recent survey found that almost all young people have had to do at least 3 months unpaid work before they get a paid job in the industry. That makes the “voluntary” nature somewhat suspect.


Why should I care about this?
Firstly because it is manifestly unfair that keen young people should be exploited in this way, for their labour to be used as a way of propping up the budgets of a TV production company. Of all the people on a production team, why should the youngest, weakest and probably most hard working be treated in this way?

Secondly young people who do unpaid work have to have independent means to support themselves while they are unpaid – that usually means their parents or their own savings. It often means that the less well off are thereby denied an opportunity to pursue a career in Film and Television. Fair?

And one very good point made by others – if companies can get people to do their work for free, why should they ever pay a wage to anyone. That then cascades upwards so the next level up is devalued and then the next.

The inevitable end point – no-one values real TV skills and no-one wants to pay for them.

An exaggeration? You ask the nearest Make Up Artist what has happened to their industry…


Surely that’s the price to pay if people want to break into a highly competitive industry?
Apart from the fact that it is illegal to use people in this way, why should young people have to give their time and effort unpaid just because lots of people want to do it? Should the basic morality of “a fair day’s pay for a day’s work” be compromised just because the media is a “glamorous” career?


Never did me any harm – it toughens you up – you need to be tough in the TV industry, it’s good training.
Listen Grandad the world’s moved on since your day – in case you hadn’t heard they scrapped National Service as well. The “toughening up” argument is nonsense – there are many skills you need to be a good TV Researcher/Producer/Cameraman/Director etc; the ability to generate good ideas, tell a story, frame a shot, capture good sound, prioritise, write good dialogue, manage people, manage budgets, have vision etc etc. Being able to live on fresh air is way way down the list.


OK I’m convinced, what can I do about all these companies who are exploiting young people and breaking the law?
Tell everybody about it – let everyone know who the offenders are right here.

Oh and join the union (BECTU) too – it really is the best way to start your career!

And of course you can also shop the offenders to the Inland Revenue. It’s easy to do (details available through this site). You can do it anonymously and the Revenue will never reveal your name. Or, if you don’t want to, PM me (click on my name) or send me an email (derrywatson@gmail.com) and I’ll do it for you. Your anonymity is guaranteed to be sacrosant – no-one will ever know.

HMRC always want to know about the people who break this law. And when HMRC get interested in a company on an issue like this, they tend to start looking at all aspects of a company’s finances – companies will soon realise it just isn’t worth the risk for a few hundred quid…


Unpaid work in TV is on its way out – we’ve come a long way in five years, let’s kill it for good.

*Edited to update the NMW rates*


DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL?
SEND FEEDBACK PRIVATELY USING THIS FORM…

[contact-form to=’derrywatson@gmail.com’ subject=’Feedback from Unpaid Work Experience page’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

You and the minimum wage

Did you know that employers can’t avoid paying the National Minimum Wage if it’s due by:

… saying or stating that it doesn’t apply
… making a written agreement saying someone isn’t a worker or that they’re a volunteer

That’s what the law says – it’s all in here…
https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns

gov

Oh, and if you have done work for free in the past (other than work experience as part of your course) there’s a calculator here which will allow you to claim what you are owed. You can claim for all your underpayments going back over the last 6 years!
https://www.gov.uk/am-i-getting-minimum-wage

It doesn’t matter how big or small your employer was, or whether you were full or part time, or you were getting expenses, or you agreed to do it, or even if you signed a contract saying you would work for free. As long as you were entitled to the National Minimum Wage you can still get it.

Don’t believe me? Need some help? Contact Mark Watson for some confidentialfree help and advice on getting paid what you are owed.

See also How Much Should I Be Paid?

New product placement marketplace for brands and producers

PRESS RELEASE

BRANDPLACER is the new product placement marketplace for brands and producers. Brandplacer.com is an online platform that will extend product placement opportunities to both film, TV and theatre productions as well as brands and products – of all shapes and sizes.

Brandplacer has one simple objective – to revolutionise the world of product placement by making it accessible to everyone. The website makes this possible by providing a cost-effective and transparent global platform where product owners can respond directly to placement requests made by media producers and their production teams.

The advantages to both parties are clear, as Brandplacer founder Murray Ashton explains. “Producers and their crews are always looking for new opportunities to make their productions look different and bring something new to their audience. At the same time, smart brands are looking for new, creative ways to connect with consumers and distance themselves from their competition,” he says.

“Product placement through Brandplacer presents a tremendous opportunity for these brands and productions to add value, improve their bottom line and significantly boost their profile.”

Brands already listed on the platform include Irish designer Philip Treacy, Amsterdam bike maker Roetz and Californian winemaker Fiddlehead.

Expanding access           

As an affordable and transparent platform – with no agency fees or intermediaries – Brandplacer will also dramatically expand access to product placement opportunities. “Our goal is to empower anyone, anywhere, to fulfil a product placement opportunity,” says Ashton.

“I hope Brandplacer will enable both brand owners and production professionals worldwide to find creative product placement solutions that will prove mutually beneficial.”

www.brandplacer.com

 

 

TV interns fight back!

David Letterman intern files law suit against American talk show star

Intern sues TV talk show host David Letterman CLAIMS SHE AND 99 OTHERS WORKED 40 HOURS A WEEK FOR NO PAY ON ‘THE LATE SHOW’
One of America’s most famous talk show hosts is being sued by a former intern – and 99 others, who she claims also worked for free on one of the biggest shows on US television.

 

Mallory Musallam, 26, interned for four months between September and December 2008 on David Letterman’s Late Show. She accuses his Worldwide Pants production company and CBS (the show’s broadcaster) of violating minimum-wage and overtime laws.

But Mallory isn’t just sticking up for herself. She’s filed a “class action” lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court on Thursday on behalf of every unpaid Late Show intern from the past six years – which means more than 100 interns. CBS has responded by suggesting that opportunistic lawyers are attacking valuable learning experiences for young people keen to start a career in media.

According to documents obtained by Deadline, the David Letterman intern claims that the defendants (Letterman’s company and CBS) intentionally minimized their labour costs by giving work to unpaid interns instead of hiring additional employees or paying regular staff overtime to do it.

Additionally, she says she typically worked more than 40 hours a week but did not receive any payment or vocational training in exchange. (American law is slightly different to UK law – internships which provide a significant training element need not always pay the minimum wage).

According to Mallory’s online CV, at the Late Show she “helped research celebrity guests, dubbed videos, worked on a telephone switchboard, acquired integral information for show content, and helped with any other research-related tasks.” She also lists internships at Entertainment Tonight, The Insider and W magazine, but has only filed a suit against CBS.

The lawsuit is seeking wages, with interest, and legal costs “owed to Named Plaintiff and all similarly situated persons,” a group that the suit claims “is believed to be in excess of 100 individuals.”

The network says it will defend itself against Musallam’s claims. A CBS spokesman said:

“This lawsuit is part of a nationwide trend of class action lawyers attacking internship opportunities provided by companies in the media and entertainment industry.

“We pride ourselves on providing valuable internship experiences, and we take seriously all of our obligations under relevant labor and employment laws. We intend to vigorously defend against the claims.”

Graduate Fog is always pleased to her of interns standing up for themselves. We know it isn’t easy and few of you feel able to do this, for fear of being blacklisted by prospective employers. It is even harder when your employer is rich and powerful, as those who challenged Tony Blair, Simon Cowell and Topshop boss Sir Philip Green know. The US courts will decide whether Letterman and CBS owe their former interns any payment. But, regardless of the outcome, this high-profile case will make other employers sit up and take notice. We support Mallory’s right to challenge Letterman and CBS and will follow the case with interest.

*WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Are you rooting for Mallory? What do you make of CBS’s comments that lawyers are “attacking” “valuable opportunities”? Will more high-profile law suits like this one scare other employers into paying their interns?

From: Graduate Fog

Life as a freelancer

Life as a freelance creative

freelanceJonny Elwyn is a freelance film editor, blogger and author of How To Be A Freelance Creative. Here he shares some of the knowledge he’s amassed during his eight years of working in the industry…

Being a freelancer in London for the past eight years I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to build a successful career from scratch. However the journey of a freelancer can be confusing and difficult at times, especially if you’re trying to navigate it on your own.

It’s a life of uncertainties, but there are three things you can be sure of when living the freelance life:
You won’t work all the time

You will have periods where you are not earning and there will most certainly be dry, fallow, stressful periods. This is okay – it is par for the course.

The important thing to remember is that this is part of being a freelancer. The decision to make is: does this instability fit with the season of life that I am currently in?

If not, it might be time to consider permanent employment. If it does fit, then you just need to be patient and ride it out. The more you plan ahead, save for the times when you’re not working, and be proactive, the easier these periods will become.

Think of it this way, you are now time rich. Invest your time wisely – let your contacts know you are available, pursue your personal passion-projects, pitch to new clients and update your online portfolio – and you will reap rewards later on down the line.
If you compare you will despair

The more you measure yourself against other freelance peers, friends in permanent employment or credits you see on television, the more you will compare where you are with where you want to be, and the more you focus on the gap – the more you will despair.

The important thing to remember is that this is a false comparison. You didn’t have the same opportunities, connections or life as them. You are not them. There is in fact, absolutely no basis for comparison.

Get on with your life, your career and push it in the direction you want. Comparison is a waste of time. Focus your time, energy and creativity into positive movements towards where you want to be. As the Baz Luhrman song Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) says: “sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
You have no idea what’s going to happen next

One of the constants of being freelance is that work can come out of nowhere; and unfortunately jobs that seem a certainty can fall away at the last minute.

However, the more you can learn to relax, enjoy the ride and hold things lightly when bumps in the road like this occur, the easier it will be. Part of this light-handedness can only come with experience, with a few rides on the freelance roller coaster under your belt.

This openness to a lack of control over your life can be a tremendous advantage if you keep your eyes and mind open to grabbing hold of unexpected blessings in unexpected places. Be too controlling, however, and you’ll dismiss them as things that ‘don’t fit into my plan.’
Summary

So if any of these things resonate with how you feel about being a freelancer, then welcome to the club. You’re right on track as to how life is for all of us from time to time.

As freelance creatives we all have to come to terms with the challenging aspects of not having a permanent job, and when you do, and if you can learn to take advantage of them, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time along the way.
Jonny’s three thoughts on what it’s like to be a freelancer are part of the introduction to his new ebook How To Be A Freelance Creative – a 100-page guide to everything you need to know on how to build a successful freelance creative career.

From: The Knowledge

New pay rate for Multi-camera Directors of £600 per day

From Directors’ UK:

Directors UK Pay Campaign

Director pay rates have been frozen for the last 7 years – this means a pay cut in real terms.

For too long too much money has been spent on management and not enough has been invested in the creative people who make great programmes.

Directors are the creative leaders, responsible for steering productions with increasingly pressured schedules and budgets, embracing new working practices and technology, and acquiring increasingly specialist skills. But while the expectations of the director have increased the pay has not. Responsibility and seniority on set is no longer recognised through production pay structures and working conditions.

The impact

Directors’ pay has been static or fallen over time
Directors’ pay has fallen in comparison with other senior grades
Directors’ pay has fallen in comparison with permanent staff
Directors work excessive hours without overtime
Holiday pay is not properly recognised
Expenses have been driven down or not paid at all (particularly for directors living in Nations and Regions)
Directors as freelancers are not able to obtain work for 52 weeks of the year
The aim

To achieve fair pay for UK directors working in television across all specialisms, genre and employer groups.

The approach

Directors UK is launching a concerted and focused campaign for better, fairer pay for our members. Our campaign will be specific and targeted to improve pay levels in all the different areas of UK production, and benefitting our entire membership.

Emmerdale and Coronation Street pay negotiation

Directors UK has formally called on ITV Studios to enter into pay negotiations on behalf of freelance directors of continuing drama series, in a letter signed by 40 directors of Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns said: “ITV’s freelance directors on Emmerdale and Coronation Street have not benefitted from the levels of pay increases that ITV has agreed with permanent staff or other freelance grades. Directors’ pay has failed to reflect the significant increases in productivity of directors and their continuing professionalism and commitment to creating high quality programmes for these flagship series. We are calling on ITV to begin urgent talks with us to create a fair and sustainable pay agreement for freelance directors”.

Entertainment and multi-camera rate card

Directors UK has published its official rate card for directors of entertainment and multi-camera shows. The new minimum daily rate is £600 for all directors.

RECOMMENDED MINIMUM DAILY RATE FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND MULTI-CAMERA DIRECTORS
EFFECTIVE FROM 1ST OCTOBER 2014

The recommended minimum daily rate for entertainment and multi-camera directors shall be £600 per day with effect from 1st October 2014.
This rate is exclusive of holiday, which must be added to this rate if a director is unable to take any leave.
The minimum rate for directors operating via a loan-out company is £665 per day, to compensate for the lack of holiday pay.
A booking may be made for less than one full day e.g. half a day, but the minimum rate is still £600.
This rate applies to productions in the following genres:
Awards
Broken comedy and sketch shows
Celebrity panel and quiz shows
Chat shows
Comedy stand up performances
Music performances
Game shows
Major “shiny floor” entertainment
Multi-camera studio factual programmes, e.g. cookery shows
On productions where the current director’s rate is significantly below the new minimum rate and where the transition to the new daily rate may be difficult to achieve immediately, the production companies and directors concerned are advised to contact Directors UK for further advice and assistance.

London Live gets a hammering

Broadcasters slam London Live bid to slash local content

Channel 4, Channel 5, UKTV and rival bidders have lined up to slam London Live’s proposals to radically reduce its commitment to local programming.

The Evening Standard-operated television station wrote to Ofcom in July to request a number of changes to its licence, including slashing its primetime local content by two thirds – from three hours, to one hour a day. Cutting local repeats and diluting its service commitments were also priorities.

Ofcom invited views from interested parties and has published 20 responses on its website this week. All were critical of London Live’s proposals and most called for them to be dismissed outright by the media regulator.

C4 raised concerns that allowing London Live to change its licence so soon after it launched in March would “devalue” public service broadcasting in the UK. The commercial broadcaster argued that London Live’s proposals “fundamentally alters the nature” of what it was established to provide.

“C4 believes that such a move could devalue public service broadcasting by casting it as a burden instead of a privilege that can be diluted and dismissed so quickly after launch,” C4 said.

Channel 5 agreed with its counterpart. “Such a decision would also send the wrong message to other holders of L-DTPS (local TV) licences and those bidding to acquire them: that it does not really matter what is put in applications, because it can always be watered down substantially afterwards,” it said.

Both called on Ofcom to reject London Live’s proposals, as did UKTV, which said the plans were “unjustified, discriminatory, not legitimate and do not reflect the statutory and policy regime intended” for local TV.

A common theme in all of their responses was concern that London Live’s plans are a nakedly commercial attempt to grow audience share and take advantage of the Freeview channel 8 slot it has been granted as part of its 12-year licence.

Indeed, chief operating officer Tim Kirkman told Broadcast in July that licence changes would free-up London Live to air more “commercially sustainable” content, such as general entertainment acquisitions and, potentially, infomercials. He said the channel needed flexibility to prosper.

But UKTV argued: “Removing several of the ‘PSB-like’ burdens applicable to local TV licensees whilst retaining the ‘PSB-like’ benefits can be seen to amount to an unjustified regulatory intervention in the commercial landscape.”

Local TV bidders condemn plans

As well as criticism from some of the UK’s biggest commercial broadcasters, other local TV bidders and licence holders piled in to slam London Live’s proposals.

Jim Manson, group managing director of the Sir Michael Lyons-backed YourTV, claimed that London Live’s proposals risk damaging the reputation of local TV around the country.

YourTV lost out on the London licence, as did London 8, the bid backed by former C4 chairman Luke Johnson. The latter said that if London Live’s requests are granted, it will seek a judicial review of its licence award.

Guy Hornsby, who helped co-ordinate London 8’s bid, said: “It is clear that, if ESTV’s original licence was sought on the basis of the amended commitments they now seek to make, the licence would not have been granted to them.”

Law firm Fieldfisher made a submission on behalf of Richard Horwood’s unsuccessful London bid, Channel 6. It said: “It would appear to be highly unfair to other bidders in the licence application process if Ofcom were to permit ESTV substantially to reduce its voluntarily-offered programming commitments just a few months after the channel had launched.”

TV freelancers feel they are taken advantage of

44% of TV freelancers feel they are taken advantage of

44% of TV freelancers feel they are taken advantage of

News
Jon Creamer
22 August 2014

Nearly half of all freelancers who work for TV indies feel they are taken advantage of by their production company bosses.

Research by SPA Future Thinking for an Edinburgh TV Festival session called How to be a better indie polled a group of freelancers to get their opinions on working with independents. Wall to Wall was voted the best place to work by freelancers with Betty voted in second.

Commissioning editors were also asked for their opinions on their indie suppliers with Wall to Wall and Twofour voted the best to work with.

The research showed a less than positive picture for TV freelancers. 77% of freelancers said they had not received any training from their production company, one in five say they had not had the terms of their holiday pay communicated to them.

44% of freelancers say they feel taken advantage of and 42% of freelancers say their dates of employment often change during the job. 36% of freelancers don’t feel valued and their expectations of progression are low. 50% feel that HR issues are not dealt with properly.

Betty’s Liz Warner who spoke on the panel, said she often felt her company was “rehabilitating” freelancers when they came to her indie from other companies. Twofour’s Andrew McKenzie said it was time for a standardisation of training within the indie sector.

The session, and the research, also dealt with commissioning editors’ opinions about their indie suppliers. 91% of commissioners polled said they thought that their department worked well with indies but only 44% said that indies were serving the broadcast industry well.

The research showed that only 36% of shows that were put into development get commissioned and only one in five ideas from indies were viewed as being commissionable.

Commissioners also said that superindies are now dominating leading to an increasing lack of voice and tone. 68% of the commissioning editors polled said issues existed around senior indie managers not being engaged with the programme post sale and 61% said they felt there were issues with poor delivery of programmes.

The session also turned to an increased perception of “rudeness” in dealings between broadcasters and indie suppliers. Betty’s Liz Warner revealed that she had recently complained to the boss of a commissioning editor who had arrived 45 minutes late for a meeting, said they only had five minutes spare before their lunch and then screamed at her to turn off the teaser tape as soon as it was put on. The commissioner was asked to offer an apology by their boss.

From: Televisual Magazine