But I have no experience!

I know.

You want to break into the sparkly world of TV but you feel like you have nothing of value to put on your Runner CV. No relevant production experience and nothing to show off except your 25 yard swimming certificate and the Cycling Proficiency badge you got in Year 8.

Worry not though – you are not alone! It’s something that many would-be runners worry about, judging by the many times this pops up on the Facebook page.

And actually, you may be in for a bit of a surprise, as chances are that you do actually have something of real value to put down (and by the way, well done on the cycling thing).

Because here’s what an employer in the industry has to say about what she looks for in a CV when she is hiring runners…

As an employer, I don’t always look for runner experience, especially if it’s just a couple of days here and there. Instead I look for experience that means you could be a good runner; that you’re reliable, trustworthy, and essentially, employable.

So, whether I’m looking for an office or location runner, I look for valuable transferable skills. Here are some examples:

1) Bar work
Transferable skills: antisocial hours, dealing with difficult people, managing a busy/messy environment, cash handling
.

2) Security work
Transferable skills: comfortable outside, good with difficult people, calm in the face of conflict, anti-social hours
.

3) Admin/office work
Transferable skills: good administration skills, well organised, used to demonstrating a professional workplace manner.

4) Reception work
Transferable skills: good telephone manner, professional conduct, presentable, welcoming, good at making tea (a runner essential!).

5) Retail work
Transferable skills: long hours, used to standing on your feet, cash handling, dealing with the public, working in a team.


6) Cleaning work
Transferable skills: willing to get your hands dirty, able to manage a messy environment, detail orientated, can-do attitude to less glamorous tasks.


7) Driving work
Transferable skills: driving licence (vital!), responsible, good time management, good navigational skills, reliable.


8) Warehouse work
Transferable skills: good at working in a team, used to less comfortable environments, health and safety conscious, trained in heavy lifting (eg useful for dealing with kit!)

So there you go – you don’t have to have done 6 months on Bake Off to have something enticing to put on your CV. All experience is good experience, especially proper get-stuck-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-stuff.

So have a rewrite and make the most of what you do have – it may have more value than you think. And if you did work on Bake Off…that Paul Hollywood, what’s he really like?

Here are the facts.

**EDIT UPDATE**

**There have now been new guidelines released which say that anyone whose fixed term contract has expired can no longer be rehired and furloughed, where they had been allowed before.

As of 3pm Friday, the government furloughing scheme (CJRS) allows companies to rehire and furlough freelancers whose contracts have come or are coming to a natural end, whether or not those contracts were curtailed by Covid-19. Those contracts can also be extended until the end of the scheme (currently May 31st).

That is not conjecture, opinion or guesswork: those are the facts, as contained in the official government guidelines and every single piece of written guidance issued by official sources since they were published and amended (see numerous written responses from HMRC on previous pages). It is those guidelines which both ITV and the BBC are using to furlough freelancers until May 31st, including those whose contracts have come to a natural end.

Unless and until there is any change in the government’s position, that remains the case, whatever speculation there is out there, including on the pages of the PACT website and in emails from PACT to its members.

Anyone who suggests otherwise is scaremongering in a reckless and thoughtless way and is putting freelancers’ livelihoods at risk . There is a huge amount of distress being expressed by a lot of people now on social media, all of which is being caused directly by PACT continuing to put out information that is not publicly verified and is not supported by the facts as they exist.

If PACT continues to frighten their members into not furloughing their freelancers on the basis of unverified supposition then they are doing a significant disservice to the industry and all their members, almost all of whom are trying their best to help and support the freelancers they care for

John McVay – you need to take that guidance down until you have the official confirmation needed to support it. Until you do you are creating confusion and unnecessary grief to a lot of freelance workers in our industry.

More to come on this. For sure.


It’s time to change working life in our industry. Join this Facebook group to take part.

It’s a new initiative called the Television Freelancers Task Force and here’s the link to its new Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TelevisionFreelancersTaskForce/

It’s open to all to join and here’s what it’s all about, in the words of its founders:

The Television Freelancers Task Force is a new initiative for freelancers in the TV industry coming together with the hope of bringing change during these unprecedented times. With the industry currently experiencing enforced downtime, there has never been a better time to take stock and plan for positive change moving forward.

The group is made up of experienced industry freelancers who have come together to campaign for fundamental change within the industry.

We will present our ideas for change to the broadcasters and independent production companies and serve as a rally focus and partner for the unions and guilds who represent freelancers across the sector. Our goals and aims might be seen by some as ‘too idealistic’ – but what’s important is that we start the conversation.

The Television Freelancers Task Force (TFTF) is made up of Lou Patel, Michelle James and Natalie Grant from Share My Telly Job, Adeel Amini from The TV Mindset, James Taylor from Viva La PD, Adrian Pegg, Mark Watson and Benetta Adamson from The TV Watercooler and other leading industry Facebook Groups, and Jude Winstanley from The Unit List.

Whilst we will all continue to work on our individual campaigns, we realise, that as a collective, our reach across the industry is more significant. Together, we hope to be more effective in tackling the well-publicised issues freelancers face today.

Our aim is to come out from this crisis with fairer working conditions for freelancers right across the board.

Our Facebook Group is now live – our membership is an essential part of our mission to create a louder voice so, if you hope for a better work-life balance in an industry that acknowledges your talent, please join the group today.

We have attached our launch document which sets out our aims and goals. We endeavour to keep the group updated on matters that are changing quickly and with the progress we are making.

Please share this post with industry colleagues and join our Facebook group today

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TelevisionFreelancersTaskForce/

Thank-you!

Lou, Michelle, Natalie, Adeel, James, Adrian, Benetta, Mark and Jude

How Much Should I Be Paid?

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

NMW Rates have been updated as of 1st April 2020

More detail

The government website has more details about NMW, employment rights for interns and work experience, as well as working as an intern and as an apprentice (they are NOT the same thing). (Apprentice holiday pay is not shown above as the rate is different from Workers).

See also You And The Minimum Wage

How to get a TV Production Running job with no previous experience.

by Beth Bacon, guest writer for the Watercooler.

Starting out in TV can be incredibly daunting. Finding a job within the TV world can feel completely unattainable when viewing the industry as a television fanatic. The one thing to say before anything else is, passion. You HAVE to be passionate about going into TV before you decide it is the career path for you. If you don’t love it from the outside you certainly will not like it from the inside.

I am only starting out myself, and I don’t pretend to speak as any sort of authority. But I felt writing down my thoughts about the industry as I experience each step along the way would be a good way for others following a similar path now, and in the future, to have some sort of guidance from someone who isn’t sitting in a career guidance office.

1. CV

I re-wrote my CV about 15 times before posting it on the Facebook Runner’s Group (more on that later). But, all of my guidance had been given to me by the Careers team at my university.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the people that work in that office, they really do care about the pupils seeking help from them. But, in the case of my university at least, they don’t have particular expertise when it comes to the TV industry.

I got quite a shocking response from a particular member of the Facebook Runner’s Group, which left me quite downhearted. But every cloud has a silver lining!

I then received a flurry of incredibly thoughtful messages from producers, co-ords, PMs, you name it! One lovely lady (shoutout to Producer Emily Everdee) even gave me my first Floor Running job on a short film!

One man, in particular, reached out to me via phone. He could not have been kinder and I will be forever in his debt. He probably spent at least 4 hours with me (across separate days) on the phone giving me advice about my CV. He then gave up his own valuable time to go through my CV, make corrections, and send me back new edits via email. We corresponded many times via email until my CV was ‘perfected’ and we agreed it was ready to be sent out to employers.

Since then, I have only had positive responses to my CV – and I have even bagged myself some job interviews!

2. EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL

90 per cent of the time you will not get a response, but keep at it!

Watch the credits at the end of your favourite TV programmes, note down the names of the PAs and Production companies and send them a cover letter, CV, and a note to say that you are really keen to get some credits and would love to do some work for them as a Runner if they have anything available. Most of all, BE POLITE AND GRATEFUL.

Look out for the big work experience, graduate schemes, and internships posted by the major television networks, e.g. the BBC, Channel 4, etc.

Follow your favourite production companies on LinkedIn and keep a lookout for any posts about upcoming Runner job applications or trainee opportunities.

3. Facebook

JOIN ‘PEOPLE LOOKING FOR TV WORK: RUNNERS‘. DO THIS RIGHT NOW. RIGHT THIS SECOND.

This is where EVERYONE will tell you ALL the jobs get posted. Facebook is the place to find TV work and this is the page that will have all entry-level job traffic. Also… it has around 58,000 members (at the time of this writing) – so apply to every job that is appropriate for you. You’re up against BIG competition.

4. Network

If and when you are offered a running job, NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK.

I wrote this in my previous post, choose the right moment and, when you do, be yourself.

Stay in touch with people you get along with.

I have been lucky enough to meet some people that have been true gems. They have not only messaged me back when I have sent them overly excited messages about them being right all along, after I have just been offered another running job, but they have also made me feel like I have gained some really great friends.

5. Be proactive

No one is going to get you jobs. This industry is fearless and if you’re going to be a freelancer, which you probably are, you’re going to have to WANT those jobs REALLY badly.

Do not stop when you have enough money to pay the bills – what about that dry patch when you don’t have work for a month?! We have all got to eat guys.

Let’s not forget, you have to learn how to budget and we have all got to learn how to be on the lookout for jobs ALL. THE. TIME.

6. Don’t give up at the first hurdle

If you’re thinking giving up the first time someone tells you that you’re not good enough then you need to start growing a thicker skin to survive in the TV world.

You will get rejected, you will sometimes be unemployed. DO NOT GIVE UP.

Those butterflies of being a tiny cog in that big old clock that produces a beautiful programme for all to behold. THAT buzz will keep you going.

7. Keep watching TV

Keep your passion alive. Keep watching the things you love and that will shine through to employers.

Watch the programmes of the people you will be working for. When you write a job application for a production company, watch their shows. If you get the job, then you will not be afraid of talking about what they’ve done if you get the opportunity on set. If you don’t get the job, well then you have learnt something new from watching a programme you would not have otherwise.

Stay up to date with what is popular in terms of hit series, but also in terms of new filming styles and genres, and up-and-coming producers, actors, etc.

8. PEOPLE IN TV ARE LOVELY!!!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid! Almost every person I have met in TV so far have been absolute angels.

Yes, you may encounter the odd knobhead or two. But, as my boss at my first waitressing job told me, kill them with kindness. If someone is being nasty to you for no apparent reason, there is either something going on in their life that has made them react in that way, which means their behaviour has nothing to do with you. Or, they are a general mega bitch, and they are not worth your mental energy.

Once again, GOOD LUCK and SEE YOU ON SET!

(Beth also has a blog – Bacon’s Beacon – have a look, it’s good!)

Pact’s Scotland Indie Diversity Scheme.

* Applications close at 5pm on Friday 20th March 2020 *

What will I be doing?

This scheme offers a first step into the television industry.

It won’t always be glamorous, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to kickstart your career.

You’ll be asked to do everything from getting teas to delivering props. With every task you will be gaining an incredible insight into how television works – and where you might fit into the industry.

Roles as runners usually lead you into the industry in two directions — by reading the accompanying job descriptions, you can learn about what you might progress onto:

What you need to do

  • Be on time or preferably early!
  • Have a can-do attitude – doing everything that is asked of you gets you new opportunities
  • Make sure you are supporting the production – helping them out when they need it
  • Be keen to learn – being a trainee is a fabulous viewpoint to observe how things work
  • Be a good problem solver and have an ability to think on your feet
  • Be organised and know how to prioritise what you need to get done
  • Have a passion for television and the enthusiasm to develop your career

What will I get paid?

You will get the Scotland Living Wage (currently £9.30 per hour)

How long is the contract?

The contract is for six months and begins on Monday 1st June 2020

What training is on offer?

You’ll have a full programme of training, normally on a Saturday throughout the six months which will teach you everything you need to know to build a career in television production.

Where will I work?

There are some great companies on this year’s scheme – have a look at their web sites so you are familiar with the programmes they make:

  • Companies TBC

To apply please fill in our application form.

Fremantle’s Access All Areas programme

Fremantle is one of the largest and most successful creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content in the world. We produce in excess of 12,000 hours of original programming, roll out more than 60 formats and air 450 programmes a year worldwide. We are best known in the UK for shows such as Take Me Out, X Factor, Grand Designs, The Apprentice and many more! We’ll be visiting Stoke-on-Trent, Taunton and Carlisle in February and would love to share this opportunity with your contacts.

Fremantle’s Access All Areas programme aims to demystify the TV industry and bring in fresh and undiscovered entry-level talent to the industry. We’ll be holding a free TV workshop at each of the above locations with industry experts and practical tips to boost CVs.The criteria? It’s simple – all we ask is attendees:

  • Have an interest in TV
  • Are aged 18+
  • Have little to no work experience in the television industry

All those who attend a workshop will be invited to apply for one of four, four-week paid placements held over the summer of 2020 with travel and accommodation included.More information can be found on the programme’s website

http://accessallareas.fremantle.com/uk

and those eligible can register directly on the following links: Stoke-on-Trent, Taunton, Carlisle. Any questions, please let us know.

Many thanks,Yusun Yugire

https://twitter.com/FremantleAAA

https://www.instagram.com/fremantleaaa/

https://www.facebook.com/fremantleaaa

Using your vehicle for work: are you covered?

FB job ads frequently specify “own vehicle”.  These are most common for junior roles such as runners, because most senior freelancers either have their own transport because they’re providing their own kit, or it’s expected that a hire car will be provided.  

So what’s the problem?  

The problem is that not having the right insurance is likely to mean that in the event that you have an accident (even if it’s not your fault) or simply get stopped by the police you will be deemed to be driving without insurance, and that’s a criminal offence.

I’ve been in touch with Hencilla Canworth, a firm of insurance intermediaries who specialise in insurance for the arts and media, to find out best practice and how you can be absolutely sure that you’re covered if you want to use your own car for business.

Most ordinary car insurance covers you for leisure and domestic use, including commuting to work.  That means that the insurer expects you to use a car to travel to work but not to use your car for business purposes.  The insurer is also relying on the declaration you made about your work – an office worker in a 9-5 job with a guaranteed parking space carries far less risk than a tired runner working 14 hours on a film set.   The difference is reflected in the premium they charge, which is why a lot of people are tempted to lie (or not quite declare the truth…).  

What constitutes “business use”?  

Pretty much anything which your employer asks you to do which involves using your car is “business use”.  That could be doing a quick run to the local sandwich shop to get lunches, picking up the camera assistant because she lives just round the corner from you, ferrying the actors from location to the studio, or loading the boot up with the DOP’s prized prime lenses.   Driving yourself there (alone) is probably fine as long as your job declaration fits.

Do be aware that “business use” may well exclude some specific tasks, top of which would be ferrying actors around.  That’s because the claims on insurance if an actor is injured can be sky high, particularly if a film needs to be rescheduled or, god forbid, reshot entirely.   However you do not need “hire and reward” cover, which is for taxis and minicabs.  

What should I call myself?

Most new entrants have a whole bunch of temp jobs which they fit around freelance media work.  And if you mostly work as a temp receptionist, in a retail job or in a call centre then that’s probably what you’ve declared as your work.  My very helpful informant says that in most cases you can declare a secondary job, and it’s really important that you do that before you even think about using your car for media work.  If the drop down list doesn’t have a suitable category then you need to phone your broker.  

Using comparison sites

The problem with comparison sites is that they cherry pick the low risk jobs/vehicles/drivers, so you may well find that they exclude any media-type work.   There are specialists, like Hencilla Canworth, but it will be more expensive and you will need to check the extent of your cover – for instance, you might find that you’re excluded from ferrying actors (because of the “value” of super stars if they get damaged, I guess).   Please, please don’t cut corners on insurance:  a criminal prosecution (and civil damages) would be absolutely devastating for anyone, but particularly when you’re just starting out. 

In most cases your employer is responsible for ensuring that you’re properly covered when you’re working for them, but using your own car is an exception.  That’s why we remind recruiters who use our FB groups to advertise their jobs that they need to check that anyone they employ who will be using their own vehicle is properly insured.  

Runners’ pay – what should you ask for and should you ask for more?

Here’s a thing about pay.

Runners are often concerned about how to respond if they are asking what their pay rate is, or wonder if they can negotiate for a better rate than is being offered.

The issue is that employers in TV do not generally talk about pay until interview/offering the job. It’s been that way for around 25 years now and is unlikely ever to change as there is nothing in the employers’ interests to change it.

The way it works is that Line Producers/PMs work to a budget which has individual lines for each grade of staff they want to employ. There is a wee bit of wiggle room in there but generally speaking the biggest wiggle goes to the most desirable team members (eg the editor, a really capable PD, camera people). That leaves very little wiggle for runners, simple reason being that a lot of people can be a pretty decent runner so there is a lot of competition for every job and Line Producers know they can just pick up the next person in the queue and get them at the offered rate.

Generally speaking then, as a runner you aren’t going to get significantly above minimum wage. You can argue the toss and try to get a little more but really, you won’t get much more that what’s offered. So it’s best to regard being a runner as a loss leader, a starter job which allows you to get a better (and better remunerated) one. If you bank on getting minimum wage, anything else is then a bonus, and If you can’t work for roughly the minimum wage at the start of your career, you probably won’t make it in the business.

The best way to get paid more? (Don’t tell any PM/LP I told you this). Push for a higher rate of pay only once you’re in the door and you’ve done one show for a company/PM and you’re being offered a second gig. Once they know how good you are and you’ve shown what you have to offer, you have a tad more leverage.

And what to say if you are asked your rate? Well you could suggest what is on the BECTU rate card but a better option might be to say “I’m happy to accept whatever you think is fair”. Generally speaking you will probably then get whatever they have in the budget, which is far better than pitching for a bit more, missing and then not getting the job…

How to move your TV job application to the top of the pile…

There you are. Sitting in your house/flat/yurt (delete where applicable) wondering if it is worth even bothering to apply for another TV job when, despite hundreds of applications, you haven’t even made it to interview stage in the whole year you’ve been applying.

What’s wrong with me? Where am I going wrong? Why are my applications getting me nowhere? (NB this is not me asking, I’m talking as you now).

The good news is – here are the answers! A top employer on the Facebook Runner’s group has come up with some golden advice to help you move your application up that list, from being a candidate for the bin to being a top of the pile prospect.

This is her advice…

I recently posted a vacancy here in the group and wanted to give some feedback. We are a kit hire facility, not production, so our viewpoint is slightly different to most of the posters here. Our vacancy was for a permanent position and it remained open to applications for a while, not the usual few hours for production runner positions.

We had an amazing response and received over 70 CVs. Sadly, the majority of these ended up in our no pile because they were unable to demonstrate that they possessed the key skills we needed despite the posting being pretty specific.

We read every single CV.

We interviewed just 6 people.

Of the 6 people we interviewed, 5 of them came from this group.

But most importantly, the person we have offered the job to, came from this group and starts with us in a couple of weeks.

This is a ridiculously competitive industry, but it is hugely rewarding and those of us lucky enough to work in it understand what you guys are up against when you’re starting out. We are part of this group not just because it gives us access to job seekers, but because we don’t just want to employ someone’s friend, daughter, nephew, etc. Diversity is what makes this industry great.

It can be really tough getting an interview, and if you’re lucky enough to get one you still have to prove you’re the person for the job. So here’s some constructive feedback for you all from someone of the other side.

  • Read the listing, it will likely give an indication of what the employer is looking for and it may even be explicit in its requirements. If there are specific requirements listed, then you need to demonstrate that you tick those boxes. State this in your application email, especially if it isn’t listed on your CV. If an employer cannot easily find that information they will put you straight in the no pile. If you are required to be within a specific location (or within a specific distance to it) say so, how else will a prospective employer know if your address isn’t liste
  • If a particular skill is an absolute necessity, it’s a good idea if you not only say you have that skill but also demonstrate that you have experience in it ‘I am able to ……’ ‘and I have been ….. for 3 years’. If we can’t find this information we will assume you are unable, so we’ll put you in the no pile.
  • Be a relevant applicant; if a vacancy is in production, or crew, etc don’t state in your CV and letter that you want to be in animation. Straight to the no pile, because you’re not going to be committed to this position.
  • Attach the correct CV – rookie error. As employers we understand and accept that applicants will have multiple CVs for different roles they’d like. Send the correct one for the role you are applying for. If you cannot get this basic step right, guess what – straight to the no pile.
  • Similarly with the application email. Address it correctly, get the person’s name right if you have it, make sure the subject title is correct. They will be receiving many applications as well as their regular emails and if they can’t easily identify yours it will be missed. …and how would you feel if you were called Dave, when your name is actually John? The no pile awaits I’m afraid.
  • And lastly, if you are applying for a junior position then I’m sorry but your showreel is irrelevant. Don’t overfill your application letters and CVs with unnecessary information, we need to be able to pull out the relevant skills easily, that way we can put you in the yes pile!

I posted these notes a few weeks ago, so some of you may have already seen them. With so many of you graduating recently I thought it useful to repost them.

And here’s a couple of additional points to the above which came up during our interview process.

  • This industry is fairly notorious for nepotism, it’s very acceptable for a common contact to make in an introduction on your behalf, but it’s not always a good thing to get your parent to enquire about a vacancy / potential vacancy / progress of an application. Whilst it’s understandable that parents want to help, you’re grown ups now.
  • If you are invited for interview turn up on time. Don’t arrive too early, and definitely don’t arrive late. If you’re really early, find somewhere to kill some time rather than waiting in the employer’s office for 40 mins. They won’t appreciate it and it will definitely stress you out. You won’t be at your best for the interview, find a coffee shop, go for a short walk.
  • Be engaged in the conversation, that means talk! Interviewees should expect to do 80% of the talking, interviewers just 20%. If the interviewer is talking more than you, it’s probably not going well. Make eye contact, sit up straight and be aware of your body language, remember we’re looking at what you don’t say as much as what you do say. We understand you’re nervous, guess what, you’re interviewer might not be the cool character they outwardly appear to be either.
  • When the interview is finished, shake their hand (please no limp wrists!) and thank them for their time. It’s a small thing, but it makes you memorable and shows maturity.

Sorry for the long post guys, but hopefully a few of you can pluck out some useful info! Good luck