Runner CVs – The No Nos.

Your CV is your first chance to impress an employer and as a Runner its vital you make this first impression count, as this industry doesn’t allow for second chances. Employers receive tons of CVs for every job ad and plenty of them do not meet the mark and are immediately thrown in the trash pile, or rather, dropped into the trash folder.

Some of the things that will make an employer dismiss your CV (and by association dismiss you) include:

A lengthy, over written CV.

Runner CVs should be one page long. Don’t feel as though you have to pad it with unnecessary information, such as which subjects you studied at GCSE and a detailed description as your part time job.

Not stating the key information upfront.

The first things on your CV should be your contact details, where you’re based, if you drive, if you have a car with business insurance and a brief opening line about your experience. 

Poor Formatting.

If your CV is scatty and all over the place, the employer will assume the same applies to you. Make sure your CV looks tidy on the page and doesn’t have any unnecessary gaps. Avoid funky layouts and photos of yourself, as it doesn’t look professional.

Spelling and grammatical errors.

There is simply no excuse for this. You should check and double-check your CV every time you update it and make sure there are absolutely no errors. You need to demonstrate a level of professionalism and eye for detail if you want employers to take your CV seriously.

A lack of concise information.

Your CV needs to be concise if it is going to fit on one page and keep hold of the employer’s very short attention span. Don’t over explain the information; keep it short and relevant.

Confusing or misleading job titles.

If you have technical or photographic experience, you might be tempted to call yourself a Cinematographer / Filmmaker / Runner. Well, don’t. This is confusing, misleading and makes it look like you don’t really understand the industry. By all means include your technical knowledge and experience in your personal profile but don’t call yourself a Cinematographer or DOP.

Not including transferable skills.

If you don’t have much or any experience in the industry, it’s vital to include your transferable skills. Now you may not think you have any, but trust us you do! For example; working in a pub shows that you’re used to working unsociable hours and in a busy environment. If you’ve worked in retail that you’ve demonstrated you can handle cash and work well as part of a team. Baristas and waiters are experienced in taking complicated orders and being on their feet all day. There are plenty of transferable skills for almost any job out there and you just have to pick them out.

Avoid these CV annoyances and employers will give your CV their full attention. And if you can grab their attention, hold on to it and impress them, your chances for getting the job are substantially increased.

Worked as a Runner on Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor?

Have you ever worked as a Day Runner on Britain’s Got Talent or X Factor? If so you may well be due holiday pay for the work you did on these two shows.

Thames are now aware that many people will have been promised holiday pay and never received it as they should have. Dean Jones (Director of Production) has said that anyone who now wants to receive this pay should write to the company with details of the work they did and Thames will address this for them (email address: dean.jones@thames.tv). There is also a firm commitment from the company that no-one will be penalised as a result of asking for this holiday pay as it is their legal entitlement.

The company has also committed to pay holiday pay to every runner who works for the company in the future and has also committed to endeavour to treat people fairly on these productions in the future.

This message has been approved by the company at the highest level.

Any questions, ask Mark on derrywatson@gmail.com.

Can job sharing work in TV? Lou Patel has an idea…

Lou3Lou Patel has worked in TV for several years and is a recent first time mother. As she juggled with the conflicting needs of her child and attempts to earn a living she came up with the idea of ‘Share My Telly Job’, which is a kind of dating service for parents looking to job share. Lou explains how she came up with idea and what she hopes to achieve.

I’ve been a mum for exactly 16 months to an amazing little girl called Lola. Before she came along I’d been working hard for ten years to build up my TV career and loved my role as a self-shooting PD/Edit Producer. Literally the moment I became pregnant, my career hit a brick wall. I couldn’t pick up a camera, so no more shooting. I was sick as a dog but felt like I couldn’t tell anyone, I didn’t want to become the weak link on the team. I worked night shifts when I was 6 months pregnant and crawled on my hands and knees to bed when they were over. I didn’t want to rock the boat and ask not to do them because there were plenty of others that would!

Lou1Once my daughter arrived and I’d settled in to the motherly routine, I started to think about getting back to work but found it almost impossible to make my old job work. Luckily for me I was able to land a very rare job share working as a Gallery Director. I share with a father of 3 and we work for 6 months of the year, part-time and it works brilliantly. For the other 6 months I’ve been unable to find anything regular. It’s the childcare issue to begin with; committing to £400 a week childcare without a regular job is, well, impossible. But I can’t go for jobs until Lola is settled in childcare, so there is the big catch 22. Then, how do I get home in time to collect her? My husband’s job isn’t flexible so it would be down to me to collect her from nursery if there was a high temperature or a fall.

After speaking to countless mums about the pressure this creates I just couldn’t put myself in this position – I also would quite like to put my daughter to bed, at least a few times a week. So the easiest option, sadly, is to not apply for the jobs. I’m sure this in the internal dialogue all TV mums go through, I don’t have to expand I’m sure! I think the biggest frustration is that I miss the job I love to do and I don’t want to go back, firing at only 70%. Being a freelancer has huge benefits in this world. Being able to pick and choose roles, taking breaks from work when needed, being able to nip off to Thailand in January when everyone else is back in the office. But, now, when I need help the most, I have no maternity pay, no part-time work options, no real loyalty with employers who’ll help work around my family life and get me back in to work.

This is when freelancing breaks down. I’ve moved around companies for ten years and although I’ve made some terrific friends nobody really has any obligation to get me back to work after maternity leave. I understand that as a mum I may not be able to stay in the edit until midnight, pop on a plane to Scotland for a recce, or be flexible with the hours I work. But, when I’m there, I’ll work my socks off to make sure I get the job done. When I’ve put my daughter to bed I’ll happily carry on (from home) if I need to. I won’t shy away from work. If anything, I’ll work harder and I’ll show my employers that I’m as good as anyone else in the office, regardless of a little girl at home who needs to see me from time to time.

If I did commit to a full time job, then yes, I probably would fall down in places. I’d be permanently frazzled trying to manage the balance, probably won’t be able to hang on until 6pm when the commissioner is due in or stay until 10pm to get the changes done! But, give me 3 days and there will be no issue – for those 3 days I can put everything in place, I can confirm the childcare and I’ll even be OK if Lola goes bed without seeing me, I have another 4 days where she will. I’ll be productive, I’ll be sharp and I’ll prove I can get it done. When I’ve spoken to anyone who’s been lucky enough to land a job share I’ve never heard anything other than how great it worked out. It always does! Unfortunately, once that golden contract has finished freelancers find it really difficult to find another and usually give up the fruitless task of trying to ‘convince’ employers to try their job share again.

Lou4This is where the idea for Share My Telly Job came from. There are so many freelancers I know who I could share a job with. We would handover seamlessly because we have the same experience; we’ve even worked together before. We would work the week between us so one of us would always be there. Given the chance we would make it work, because that’s what we are used to doing in TV. It works on my current job and I don’t see why this can’t be replicated across the industry. It’s success ultimately relies on type of job/programme and the strength of the relationship between the job sharers. I think we all just need the chance to prove that we can make it work.

Although the main aim is to help working parents back in to TV, the job-sharing concept can apply to anyone and everyone who may not be able to commit to full time hours at that particular time of their lives. It really doesn’t have to be an issue for employers, I believe that once Share My Telly Job is established and the best freelancing pairs are matched, employers shouldn’t really feel any difference. Both freelancers will attend the interview, references will be provided and the pair will already have a relationship. The week will have been worked out between them and they, more than anyone, will want the job share to work.

When I launched the group, Share My Telly Job on Facebook, I would have been happy with a couple of hundred members ‘liking’ the concept. Within 48 hours, 1800 had joined the group, and the support has been incredible. You can see from the comments within the group’s pages why gender inequality in TV isn’t being fixed. There are countless articles written, reports and statistics published that illustrate the problem, but what is actually being done to counteract the problem? Along with the support there has been a certain amount of resistance from employers too. This is to be expected. Any feedback at this stage is welcomed and it all helps to create a better understanding as to why a simple solution has been so difficult to implement.

It doesn’t make sense why freelancers with superb CVs and years of hard work and success behind them can’t go back to work. My hopes are that employers can change their perception of TV parents and part-time workers so they are not seen as a drain on resources, but in fact a valuable asset. At the moment Share My Telly Job is a concept and to make it a reality we need employers to be brave enough to give it a try and lend a hand to thousands of talented freelancers who are trying to keep hold of a career they love.

Our website will be up and running by the end of April. It’s a simple site, which will encourage the community of TV parents and part timers to put forward their availability and preferred job roles. It will take some time to grow the database and get the matching process underway but when we get it right we really hope that the companies get on board and set aside contracts that work well with job sharers. The main site will follow in the next couple of months once we get the service off the ground. The idea is very similar to a dating site – once you join, you can chat to other members looking for similar roles, organise a meet-up and bash out a working week that suits the pair of you. You’ll be able to advertise yourself as an established ‘job-share’ and search for jobs that have been allocated to Share My Telly Job.

With almost 2000 people supporting the concept of so far, it’s clear there is a demand for a more adaptable way of working in our industry. We feel that job shares should be common working practice, not just a lucky find. By signing up to Share My Telly Job and showing your support, you will be helping us make the right noise to convince employers to support a more flexible way of working.

www.sharemytellyjob.com
www.twitter.com/sharemytellyjob
https://www.facebook.com/sharemytellyjob


RELATED STORIES
Broadcast: Young Women Leaving Television
Careers in TV for Women
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elevisual: 63.9% Of Jobs In Film & TV Are Held By Men, 36.1% by Women

Invoice Template

As a runner most of your jobs will be PAYE. You’ll be paid through the company payroll system and Tax and National Insurance will be deducted before you get the money.
But there are occasions where an employer can ask you to send an invoice, when a job qualifies under the ‘7 Day Rule’ which is peculiar to our industry. This where an engagement is for six consecutive days or fewer (including any days off). NI should still be deducted but you will need to pay any tax owing through self-assessment.
BUT (and please remember this) you DON’T have to register self employed. You are not becoming self-employed, you are merely declaring some additional income on a self assessment form.
Here is a simple template for an invoice you can download free if you need one (shared on Google Docs with no login required or data collected).

Using Your Car For Business

There is often confusion over this issue and it comes up a lot, so here are the key points.

If you use your car for business and have to claim for some reason, and you don’t have business cover in place (assuming the insurers find out you were driving on business) they may not pay out your claim. If you think you may need to drive for work at some point (recces, going to location, picking up props or equipment etc) then add some business miles to your policy. It’s quite cheap and it means that you are covered should anything happen.

Who or what you are driving and why is really not your concern. If the production company wants to put their talent in your car and rely on your cover that’s their problem, not yours. It isn’t up to you to insure the talent or the equipment or anything else. The production insurance held by the company will respond if the talent has an accident and is unable to continue. but with “business use cover” your liabilities will be insured and you need not worry.

Some people seem to assume you need to take on the responsibilities of the company and insure for having talent in your car etc. You don’t, although the insurance company may take the view that your job makes that a possibility and will take that into account in your premium calculation. All you need to do is protect yourself – just ask for ‘occasional business use’.

A word of caution though. IF an accident is your fault and IF you injure someone or damage equipment and IF you are NOT covered you could be in serious trouble – because the company may decide to claim against you for negligence in order to limit their losses. Without cover to protect you that might well be a major financial disaster for you. So get yourself covered.

Don’t Let The BBC Become A Memory

avatar_f9a2c6b6b2fd_128The government is currently writing a new charter for how the BBC is run. We’ve already lost BBC Three and sports like Formula 1 and the Olympics to funding cuts. We can’t risk losing more.

The BBC is part of who we are. It is our spotlight on the world and the way the world knows about us. In fact, every week 97% of UK adults tune in to the BBC online, on TV or on their radio, and more than 300 million people around the world join them. Isn’t that astonishing? And do you know the best thing? The BBC is independent and impartial, so there’s nobody looking to pocket a penny or two or push their own agenda.

The Great BBC Campaign was started by two independent television producers – Charlie Parsons and Lord Waheed Alli who think that the BBC is the best of what it is to be British, and that once it’s destroyed, it can never be rebuilt.

Don’t let the #GreatBBC become a memory, fight for it by signing up to the campaign today.

The_Great_BBC_Campaign

Christopher Lunn sentenced to 5 years jail

lunnA tax adviser and accountant to the media industry has been jailed for five years for evading more than £6 million in tax.

Denis Christopher Carter Lunn ran a Sussex-based accountancy firm, Christopher Lunn & Co, whose 7,000-plus clients included many from the media and entertainment worlds.

The firm was investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and in 2010 the premises in Crowborough were searched and Lunn was arrested. HMRC uncovered evidence of a range of serious offences, which included the inflating of accountancy fees and the fraudulent use of trading losses – all intended to help Lunn and his clients evade paying their fair share of tax.

After five years of detailed investigation, Lunn was convicted at Southwark Crown Court in December 2015, where a jury found him guilty of four counts of Cheating the Public Revenue.

Jennie Granger, Director General, Enforcement and Compliance, HMRC said:

“Lunn believed he could make up fraudulent claims to benefit both himself and his clients. Hard work from HMRC officers across the department proved him wrong. This long-running investigation has already recovered £20m as Lunn’s former clients settle their tax liabilities, with more to come.

“I hope this result serves as a reminder to those who try to cheat the public purse – particularly those in the tax profession – that no one is above the law and that HMRC will relentlessly pursue tax evaders to bring them before the courts.”

HMRC has now started confiscation proceedings to strip Lunn of any financial gain he made as a result of his criminal activity.

As Lunn’s clients were unaware of his actions, they have been offered a chance to put things right for themselves by paying any tax and interest due. Any client who has not yet come forward pending the outcome of the trial is encouraged to speak to HMRC to bring their affairs up to date as many of his clients have already done. Civil investigations into Lunn’s clients have so far recovered more than £20m, with a projected £40m expected when all clients have settled.

Lunn’s son, Christopher Jonathan Lunn (Jon), who also worked at the firm, was convicted in December 2014 on six counts under the Fraud Act, after he had sent false invoices to HMRC to try to cover up the fraud in the practice.

Previous story: Christopher Lunn – Guilty

Christopher Lunn: Guilty

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 16.52.48

We have just heard that the jury have returned a verdict of guilty against Christopher Lunn. Here is the press release from HMRC, which also acknowledges that his clients were not aware of any wrongdoing.

So if you paid a fine you should consider applying to have this returned.

Lunn will be sentenced on 6 January 2016

More press coverage:
The Financial Times
Accounting Web
Sussex Express
The Argus

Filming with an I-Visa

i visaThere has been a lively debate in several forums about I visas and whether they are transferable to new, unrelated projects. It is really hard to find a definitive answer on the internet, and the US embassy isn’t the most approachable institution either. It is very common for recruiters to specify a “valid I visa” when advertising, so we wanted to see if we could pin it down.

So we’ve done some independent research, and we found a friendly US immigration specialist attorney who was prepared to set out the basics.

This is what I understood:

1. An I visa is issued to a bona fide member of the foreign media for the purposes of covering “informational or educational” stories in the US. The US authorities have tightened up the meaning of “informational or educational” considerably in the last ten years or so, and while it does include covering sports, news events and documentaries, it specifically excludes reality programmes, factual entertainment or formatted documentaries. The crucial factor seems to be that these are heavily produced and are not covering events which would be happening anyway and the enterprise is not “journalistic”. It definitely excludes LE and scripted programmes, and it also explicitly excludes programme wholly or mainly funded by US producers, broadcasters or distributors.

2. An I visa is issued after an interview with an immigration officer at the Embassy, where the application must be supported with documents such as a treatment, the applicant’s CV and credentials, and a contract with the employer. In theory the I visa is only valid for entry to the US if the holder is working on the same programme, or at least the same employer.

3. So what happens when you start a new project? Best practice is that the I visa holder lets the embassy know that you are working on something new and for a different employer. You will probably need to supply documentation outlining the new project, but – assuming that the new project complies with the narrow definitions of “informational and educational” – the I visa will be valid. This is best practice.

I got the impression that this step isn’t always carried out, and this is where it all becomes quite speculative. No lawyer will recommend not sticking to the absolute letter of the law, but I got the impression that as long as the new project is compliant that no-one is likely to get too upset. Obviously the best way to check that it is compliant is to contact the embassy…

Where is really dangerous is where the project is not compliant and where the embassy would turn down an application for a new I visa. If you’re picked up in the US working on such a project you would be working illegally and you run the risk of being deported and probably never working in or even visiting the US again.

IMG_4485It is worth remembering that the risk is borne entirely by the freelancer in this scenario. If you’re caught working illegally the employer will suffer no inconvenience beyond having to find someone else. You will almost certainly suffer lifelong and career-damaging effects.

Now I’m not a lawyer, and I may have got some details wrong. This is not intended to be a guide to follow: it’s meant to make you ask questions so that you’re not placed in a really difficult position.

FURTHER HELP
This website is a good source for Immigration help:
http://www.immihelp.com/visas/mediavisa/
For entertainment programmes you will need an O-Visa
http://faq.visapro.com/o2-visa-faq.asp

Here are some real experiences from freelancers
As a producer who has held an i-VISA I can suggest that the rules, though previously more ambiguous over the definitions, are now pretty clear in that the purpose of an i-VISA is for public interest/broadcast/not for profit journalism work and as such should not be applied for in relation to any kind of entertainment programming, including factual, reality scripted for profit etc.
The point of an i-VISA is to separate commercial interest from that of public (press) interest. Apply a little common sense with regard to your application and your project and you are unlikely to fall foul.
What Richard explains is absolutely true however, and those trying to ‘transfer’ the i-Visa to a new project run a serious risk of being barred entry.
It’s the U.S. Security is a big issue there. They love rules and the low grade officials love to use their power. Follow the rules and you’re fine, if in doubt expect them to be unforgiving. Best of all, don’t think you can talk your way through. I once had my maximum $5000 in cash (at the time) counted out to the dollar before allowing me entry.


I applied for an I-visa for a programme I was making- not realising that they had tightened the restrictions. After my IV at the embassy, it was deemed the programme not suitable for an I-visa and was denied. Fast forward to me going on holiday to the
US and applying for my ESTA and ticking all boxes as “no”- ESTA approved, went on my merry way. Day before holiday I checked ESTA- TRAVEL TO US DENIED. To cut a long story short, I was accused go fraudulent activity by not claiming that I had previously been denied a visa to the US (I thought it was the wrong visa and application cancelled- wrong) I couldn’t travel, lost my holiday and all cost. I fought with the embassy and eventually reapplied and had it approved, but for the rest of my life if I want to travel to the US I will have to go through a huge rigmarole. It’s no joke- they DO NOT take it lightly and they DO NOT forget. And don’t get me started on companies telling you you’ll be ok if you travel on an ESTA. If they check your phone and find even a semblance of doubt you’ll be deported and banned for 10 years as standard. It’s not worth it.

Great discussion, and pretty spot on. The thing to remember with an iVisa is that it’s a foreign media visa, which means you can’t get paid by a US company. Your iVisa is also attached to the company who petitioned, you can change the owner, but the onus is on the individual to do so. Production Companies generally don’t know the rules, or they don’t care as the onus is not on them if things go wrong.
But my advice, speak to a Lawyer and don’t even consider filming here without the right visa. I know people who are banned from the country for doing so, and it really has harmed their careers.

I had an ivisa revoked (after I’d already completed the job and was back home) for being unsuitably issued for the type of programme I was working on. It was ‘cancelled without prejudice’ which, when I investigated the term, essentially meant I should have no issues obtaining a new visa (working or tourist) in the future. Fast forward a few months and transiting through LA to another country on my honeymoon I get pulled into immigration, treated appallingly and am now ‘no longer welcome’ in the US. I spoke to a specialist immigration attorney who said I should be able to travel to the US in the future but only after applying for a new visa (working or Esta) which would inevitably be denied, thus giving me the opportunity to have an interview at the embassy and argue my case. Think I’ll just stay home!

It’s a minefield. We applied for Ivisas for a corporate project. We were filming a conference and commissioned by an American company. One of our crew got approved and the other one rejected. Of course they don’t have to tell you why they rejected you so the poor producer has to now declare that he was refused a visa if he goes to the USA.

I just got banned by them because the lady at the embassy knew the show I was working on and considered it not appropriate for an I visa. What do I get for this? Try no I visa and security questions that now make it prohibitive to apply again!

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I have lived in the US for many years and have noticed a real increase in UK TV job postings that state, ‘must have a current I Visa’. I was working on a shoot with the INS and had a long chat to one of the officers about I-Visas – your info is spot on. I think people’s confusion comes from the fact that I Visas are generally issued in one year increments and so the holder assumes they’re fine to use the visa on any production within that time period. Don’t risk it! Contact the US Embassy and be totally honest about the new project. I know of one director who was put on the next plane home when he was questioned about the project at US immigration – INS officers know the difference between documentaries and entertainment and they don’t look favourably on people who misuse the visa!

I don’t think you can stress how strongly America takes immigration compared to the UK. There is no 3 strikes system or anything like that, infringe the system once and you’ll be denied entry for business or pleasure.

… your info is spot on, I get interrogated on an O visa and I’m fully legal, it’s really not worth taking the risk with an I visa as not being able to travel to America is a big deal, US immigration have very long memories and are very much a law to themselves. This info should be very strongly pointed at prod companies, there are so many jobs asking for valid I visas when it’s illegal

It drives me insane when production companies post ad’s saying “MUST have valid I-visa for this project”, when 90% of the time, it is the WRONG visa to be applying for. you can seriously jeopardize someones career and freedom of movement by being lazy and not conducting adequate research for your production.
I often wonder if somebody with a different visa, like an O or an E3 would even be considered by hiring management because they didn’t match the requirements listed in the advert? you might be turning away highly qualified candidates because of your own ignorance.
Visas to the united states ~should not~ be treated like a part of someones camera kit. if you are taking crew to the united states, please take the time to seek legal council before you make a decision that could impact somebody’s life.

I was stopped at US border control in Chicago and it was made extremely clear to me that even though I had a current I-Visa it did not cover my new project as it had been issued for a previous project. Please understand that as freelancers we carry all the risk when production companies ask for you to apply with a ‘current I-Visa’. Unless it is for the same project that you are now returning to, there is no such thing and you are risking your future career by potentially jeopardising your ability to work in the US for the foreseeable future. Now I will not work in the US unless the production company gets the correct visa properly sorted for me. No visa, I don’t do the job – simple.

It’s great to see this topic get some traction. For years, having a few years left on an I-Visa has been seen as commodity or even a qualification by production companies, and as many have pointed out – it’s the freelancer that runs the risk in every instance.
My I-Visa (which was valid for 5 years) expired last year, but in that time I worked about 5 or 6 times on it. It’s shocking to read some of the stories here and I’m thankful that I wasn’t deported or banned as a result, I certainly wasn’t aware it was so stringent. And PM’s have always told me ‘it’ll be fine’ to travel on my original visa.
… 
I know that acquiring the correct visa can be a real issue, and potentially costly and time-consuming – but given some of the evidence here, it’d be great if the admins could agree on an official stance on the topic going forward.

I’ve done a short job before where we all applied for (and were accepted for) O visas. But even on arrival, I was singled out by immigration for a lot of questioning. Even now when I travel on an ESTA for holidays, I sometimes get asked about my O visa from 7/8 years ago and for assurance that I’m not going over to work. If your programme doesn’t meet I visa requirements, it’s just not worth risking it.

 
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