A fantastic opportunity to get an internship at one of Britain’s biggest production companies. Apply wisely, it will be very competitive!
If you’re thinking “hey, I’d like to work in telly” but don’t really know how the whole career thing works, then wonder no more.
Creative Skillset have put together two documents to tell you all you need to know about what jobs there are, the genres and the routes into the business.
LOOKING FOR RESOURCES OR FURTHER ADVICE?
You can find lots of information and resources about careers in screen industries online. Start with these sites and check their social media for more.
Follow us on Twitter @wearehiive @skillsetSSC
Shona Galloway wants to share with Watercooler users her experiences looking for work experience in TV as a new starter. Here’s what she has to say, and if you’d like to write an article yourself about your own experiences, you can send it via the contact page…
A quick guide to securing a work experience placement in the TV sector. All from the perspective of someone who has been through it and come out the other side, after gaining experience working with BBC1, CBBC, and Channel 5.
1. Do Your Research
When looking at companies to get work experience from, research the type of programmes each company makes in order to tailor your CV and covering letter accordingly. For example, Boomerang mainly produces factual entertainment documentaries. Knowing this, you can brush up on your knowledge on what type of content comes under the ‘factual entertainment’ category, and what that specific company has just finished making.
It is important to try and find work experience with a variety of TV production companies, who each produce different styles of television. An employer looking at a CV from someone with work experience in Live TV, Dramas, and Documentaries is more likely to employ you than someone who just has experience in TV News.
2. Be Persistent
It happens to everyone – rejection. You could contact 30+ production companies and have one response back. However, it only takes one yes to make it worth it. That work experience ‘yes’ could lead to your first job, or it could provide you with skills to put onto your CV that you wouldn’t be able to learn outside of industry.
There is also nothing wrong with a follow up email on a work experience query. If you still haven’t heard back from anyone a month after contacting them, a follow up email to the right person at the right time could not only secure you the work experience, but would show them that you are determined and focused on securing the work experience.
3. Your CV
TV Production Companies receive hundreds of CVs from people wanting to do work experience, which means your CV needs to make them want you to come in. Most employers will tell you that they only really read the first page of your CV. This is why it is vital that the first piece of paper they pick up clearly shows what skills you already have, what previous experience you have in TV or in work in general, and who exactly it is YOU are. It also goes without saying that your email address and contact number need to be correct and clear at the top of the page. If you are at university, make sure you don’t use your university email as employers could get in touch with you in the future after you have graduated. By that time, you may not have checked your email in weeks (or even at all.)
Name the document your CV is as ‘[YOUR NAME] CV for [NAME OF PRODUCTION COMPANY]. This way they can find your CV quickly and easily amongst other work experience CVs that are just literally named ‘CV’.
4. Your Cover Letter
This is where your research comes in. In your cover letter, talk to them about which programme they’ve recently made that you’ve enjoyed. Make sure you actually watch the programme you talk about to avoid any awkward situations in an interview.
It’s also important to talk about what can you do for them as oppose to what can they do for you. They will like that you are taking the initiative to stand out from the usual crowd of work experience cover letters, and they will certainly be more likely to take you on. Always try and identify who to address the cover letter to. It looks a lot more professional and personal for the receiver to see their name after ‘To’, rather than the name of the production company.
5. Think Outside the Box
Try and think of other non-conventional ways to get in contact about work experience opportunities. Networking events are a great way to meet people in the TV industry. RTS Futures hold an annual event for young people who want to kick- start their careers in TV in locations all over England. Dozens of representatives from production companies are on hand to give advice, exchange contact details and to promote themselves.
Don’t be afraid to contact an individual from a production company, express an interest in what they do, and ask to go for a coffee to talk about their job. If the meeting goes well, it effectively sets you up with a contact in that company for future reference. Having that contact will make it much easier to attain work experience, as they would have already met you and will already like you. [* but don’t make a nuisance of yourself or be surprised if you get no reply. The Cooler]
6. Call Don’t Email
Work experience emails can undoubtedly get lost in the daily burst of work related emails. Calling the production company will instantly make you memorable. It also shows to them that you are confident on the phone, and they will normally pass you on the email address of the most relevant person to help you.
By Shona Galloway
Thank you Shona. For further advice on preparing your CV take a look at our post CV Writing Tips
**NEW UPDATED WARNING: This set up is very likely to be a money laundering operation. If you have passed over bank and passport details to these people please keep any eye on all your accounts and the possibility of companies being set up in your name. Do not hand over any information to this company and do not sign up for any work. Needless to say no-one who has worked for these people has been paid for their work to date.**
Red flags have been raised by a number of Runners about a company called “AXS Pics” which has recently been seeking to recruit workers to be researchers on a forthcoming feature film (often without the Runner actually applying for a job).
The company has claimed a link with Warner Bros however they have confirmed that they have no association with AXS Pics and have asked Shooting People (amongst others) to remove adverts which mention their name. The work in question does not appear to be related to film production and it is not at all clear what the company does or who they are.
Questions to AXS Pics have not been answered, there is no trace to be found of them at their claimed Berkeley Square office and there is no company of that name registered at Companies House.
Please treat all offers of work with this company with great caution and do not hand over any bank details to them. If anyone has any information about this set up and/or has done this work (and been paid for it), please could you let Mark Watson know (email@example.com).
AXS Pics. Tulsan Warner Project.
Berkeley Square House,
Bruce Al-Bright’s Office
+44 7459 524060
Level 33, 25 Canada Square,
Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7193 4959
Fax: +44 (0)20 7193 4950 or 020 7193 4955
Assistant to Aron Mann
Associate Financial Officer.
Contracts and Accounting at
2nd Floor, Berkeley Square House,
Berkeley Square, Mayfair
London W1J 6BD UK
Tel: 020 7268 5086
Fax: 020 7268 5010
HVN GROUP, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY
WB UK LLC 37th Floor, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB
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
In some ways TV people can seem quite laid back compared to professionals in other industries. We invite people for a chat rather than an interview, our work clothes are very casual and we advertise jobs on Facebook.
But that’s just because those things make it easier for us to do our jobs. Regardless of whether you’ve seen a job advertised on Facebook or been asked to come in for a chat; you should still approach it with the utmost level of professionalism and in a polite manner. This includes when applying for a job and being on the job itself.
Here are some guidelines for Runner etiquette and trust us; going against them will seriously hinder your changes of getting work.
Etiquette when applying for a job.
- Always address the employer by their name. Jobs are pretty much always posted with an email address, which usually includes the employer’s name, or on a Facebook post, which makes knowing their name even easier. Not bothering to include their name makes you look lazy. Gone are the days or “Sir / Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
- Spell their name correctly. Spell it wrong you give the impression that you lack attention to detail or don’t care enough to double check.
- Don’t add employers on Facebook. It’s unnecessary and unprofessional.
- Always include a subject heading and if the employer stated a particular one to use, make sure you use it. Fail to do this and you fail to demonstrate that you listen to instructions.
- Always include a brief cover email. Writing nothing and just attaching your CV is, yet again, lazy and unprofessional.
- Don’t mark your CV as important. This is arrogant and annoys employers.
- Don’t follow up emails asking if they’ve received your original email or send your CV more than once. It’s pretty much guaranteed they’ve got it and if they haven’t replied, they just haven’t had time yet.
- Research the company and personalise your cover letter. This shows you have taken some time to look into what they do and have a genuine interest. However…
- Don’t go over the top with praising the company. Stating that you are in awe of their incredible life-changing productions is way too much, especially if the production company happens to make commercials. (True story).
- If you’ve seen a job post on Facebook, don’t take it any less seriously as if you’d come across it by any other means. Make sure your email is polite, professional and completely free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- If you don’t get the job, move on and don’t ask for specific feedback. The employer doesn’t have time to do this and if you didn’t get a call, its very likely you did one of the things listed above and subsequently ended up in the trash pile.
Etiquette on set.
- A Runner should be seen but not heard. Always be on standby ready to help, but don’t get in the way or distract the cast and crew.
- Have a positive attitude and approachable demeanor. No-one wants to work with a Runner who looks miserable or thinks they’re above making someone a cup of tea.
- Make an effort to learn and remember people’s names, even if they don’t know yours.
- Don’t sit on equipment or move kit. For some reason people love sitting on apple boxes and the grip department hate this.
- Always have your phone on silent. You really don’t want to be the person who ruined the shot because their phone started ringing.
- Don’t take photos on set and share them on social media.
- Be polite and respectful to everyone on set. You’ll be spending a lot of hours together and its important to get along. Besides, you never know who someone might be. The guy wearing shorts and a cap could be a fellow Runner but he could also be the Executive Producer.
Etiquette after a job.
- It’s perfectly ok to email an employer after a job to tell them you enjoyed working with them and hope they will bear you in mind in the future. However…
- Don’t bombard them with emails. One email immediately after the job is fine, more than one is annoying, one email every week is incredibly annoying and will likely get your email address blocked.
- If some time later – let’s say 6 weeks – you’re available for work again and would like to get in touch with your previous employers to let them know, then that again is fine as long as you stick to the ‘one email at a time’ rule.
- If you have any queries over pay, for example if you don’t think you were paid overtime as you should have been or your mileage hasn’t been reimbursed, get in touch with the employer as soon as possible. Don’t wait a few weeks and then ask about it. They may already be on another job by then and it could be a long, arduous process to sort it out.
With so many people applying for Runner positions, you simply have to make your job application stand out as one of the good ones. Failing to do so will, time and time again, hinder your likelihood of getting work. Similarly, once you get a foot in the door you should do everything you can to keep it there and make a good reputation. First impressions and good reputations are vital to a successful career in the film and TV industry.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 email@example.com.
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