If so, take a look at this:
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
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
Neil Percival would like to hear from anyone who used to work in TV and has left, or is in the process to changing careers and getting out of TV.
You can read about his project and find his other research here
Lou 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!
Once 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.
This 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.
Broadcast: Young Women Leaving Television
Careers in TV for Women
Televisual: 63.9% Of Jobs In Film & TV Are Held By Men, 36.1% by Women
There 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.
It 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.
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.
TV Watercooler already hosts a number of automatic job feeds from various job sites, but to save checking them all the time, why not use Google Alerts to watch job sites for you?
It’s really simple to do, you just need a Google / gmail account.
Find and copy the location of your job postings – for the Unit List it is http://www.theunitlist.com/jobs/
Go to https://www.google.co.uk/alerts
Now choose how often you wish to be alerted, ranging from ‘As it happens’ to ‘No more than once a week’, and select the remaining options as you wish:
And that’s it.
Whenever the Unit List updates with the one of the jobs you are interested in, Google will automatically send you an email and let you know so you can check it out.
And once you’ve got that job you can simply return to the alerts page and delete it until next time.
Good luck with the job hunt!
When emailing your CV as per the instructions on an advert, please ensure you do a cover email with it. With an average of 40+ applications for most jobs we publish, you need to give yourself the best chance of being considered for the post the employer has advertised. This starts with your cover email.
So, as an employer and viewer of many cover emails over the years, here are my top tips for you to ‘CUT-OUT-&-KEEP’ (as they used to say in Smash Hits…):
* If the name of the person is obvious from the email address you will be sending your email to, start with their name. If not, use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
* Keep your cover short and to the point.
* Do NOT just send a CV with a blank email – it will more than likely end up in the trash folder.
* Introduce yourself and your job title then reference where you saw the advert or the mutual contact who told you about the job.
* Using the advert itself as your reference, write a short paragraph or list bullet points mentioning your direct relevant experience.
– example; job requires previous experience with music cue sheets. Your paragraph will include something like,
“working at [x company] I completed the music cue sheets for the series and was responsible for all the delivery paperwork to the broadcaster via Silvermouse”.
* If you consider you have the direct experience required but have not actually been credited in the role you are applying for – list the skills/experience you know the job will entail and ask the employer to consider you. Make it obvious you are looking to step up because you have the correct experience but perhaps not the actual broadcast credit.
* Do NOT tell the employer about your recent ‘Gap Yah’, your kittens or how you won the 5-a-side at the weekend – keep it work focussed.
* Avoid using phrases that will be assumed. I’ve listed some here
– passion for film/tv
– I make a great cup of tea!
– happy to do long hours
– cutting edge of tv
* Do NOT try to be funny, address the employer as mate or swear.
* Do NOT paste your CV into the body of the email cover.
* If you are coming to the end of your current contract somewhere, list your availability date and mention any flexibility you may have. Perhaps your current employer has agreed to letting you leave a week early if another job comes along. You never know – the new employer may wait for you to be free as you are the best person for their project!
* Spell check everything you have written, making sure your spell checker is set to British English (programme NOT program, organised NOT organized, licence NOT license, etc).
* Check it all makes sense and you have not spelled anyone’s name incorrectly. I have heard of a cover that mentioned working on a ‘Ripley Scott’ film…
* Check your attached CV is in either a Word or Adobe format. The extension should end with a .doc, .docx or .pdf. Employers prefer Word as they can do phrase searches within your CV.
* Sign off appropriately and formally. Just because it is an email, it is not appropriate to use ‘cheers’, ‘laters’ or a ‘x’ as you close.
supertip #001: Don’t lie on your cover email or your CV. The TV and Film industries are smaller than you imagine and you will eventually be found out. If an employer finds you have lied on your CV, they will wonder what else you are prepared to lie about…
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!
- Always have a nice smile on you. No need for manic grinning though. Just cheery will do.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If they don’t give you a wallet, get your own so it’s separate from your own personal money.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have clean cups & plates washed up before the lunch rush.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- If looking after gallery or truck staff, ensure drinks always have lids for safety purposes.
- On your first day, enter the production office and core team contacts to your phone address book.
- Email the current contact list to your personal email so that you can always access it wherever you are via email/web mobile.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- NEVER address those older than 30 as ‘mate’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You will earn extra brownie points if you check if anyone needs anything doing before you prepare to leave.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- On outdoor shoots make sure you have appropriate clothing, TV involves a lot of standing around freezing. Layer up.
- 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
– Lanyard with essential phone number laminate attached to it
– Personal mobile
– Petty Cash Float
– Production mobile
– Running order
– Security passes
– Walkie Talkie with headset
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Always have a tube map & A-Z in your bag / on your phone.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ideally print off a route and map before you leave or input the postcode to your GPS if you have it on your phone.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Under no circumstances should you come to work wired or pissed. It’s not appropriate. Ever.
- 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!
- 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.
Decent, waterproof backpack to keep logs/release forms/petty cash/receipts safe and dry, together with all sorts of useful items, such as:
Multi-tool, with penknife, screwdrivers, scissors etc.
PDF Version to download
RUNNER TIPS DOC_nov2011
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”
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.
And tell BECTU. You don’t need to be a member – just email Teresa at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words WORK EXPERIENCE ABUSE in the Subject line. BECTU are determined to stamp out this nasty practice, so please help them. Oh and join the union 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 (email@example.com) and I’ll do it for you. Your anonymity is guaranteed to be sacrosant – no-one will ever know.
The Inland Revenue always want to know about the people who break this law. And when the Inland Revenue 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*
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