Kenneth Barker. Tungsten Media.

When is a Runner not a Runner?

Bit of a trick question really. A Runners is always a Runner of course, that is if you define a Runner as a junior worker on a Film or TV set or office. But that isn’t how Kenneth Barker of Tungsten Media sees it, it seems.

Because Kenneth doesn’t think a Runner is a worker, not in that “a worker is someone you pay when they work for you” kind of a way. Because Kenneth likes to bag a freebie if he possibly can, if his recent Facebook posting is anything to go by:

Yes, you read it right. Pay if you’re unexperienced – zilch. Seems that, if you haven’t made teas and coffees before, or done a lunch run, or driven the crew vehicle, then you don’t deserve to get any actual money for your time when you work for Kenneth and his company (Tungsten Media, based in Leeds, remember the name).

One wonders whether Kenneth’s Tungsten Media clients are aware that he is subsidising the work he does for them by riding on the back and picking the pocket of his most junior workers (if those two things are not mutually exclusive). It may be that they would take a dim view of it. I may ask them and find out.

Meanwhile freelancers do be very wary if you are considering any association with Kenneth Barker or Tungsten Media in the future. If Kenneth isn’t big on dipping into his pocket for Runners, maybe he won’t bother dipping in his pocket if he hired you for your time and work…

Mindseye. Hughie Phillips. Charlie Phillips. Max Yeoman

There are, it seems, still some companies that think that Runners, being the most junior members of a production team, probably don’t need actual money handed over in reward for their work.

Curious that, given the massive amount of publicity given to the poor treatment of junior workers in TV and Film over the years. Curious also because the minimum wage regulations have been in force for over 20 years now.

So behold Mindseye, a set up that describes itself as “boutique but heavyweight”. Lightweight might be a more apt description, given that this company just wandered onto the Facebook Runners page looking for someone to put in some hard work for a film of theirs, but not actually planning to pay them anything for their hard work. 

The Facebook Runners group is, like all the others in the People in TV group, for professionals only. We don’t cater for shambling amateurs or seedy set ups who don’t want to pay their workers. We believe that Runners need to be paid as much as any other individual working on set. And those Runners believe that too, mostly because without pay they haven’t got the wherewithall to eat, drink and pay the rent.

Not sure which category Mindseye fits in (shambling or seedy) but they sure as hell fit neatly into at least one of them. The company is run by Hughie Phillips, Charlie Phillips and “surrogate brother” Max Yeoman. Not one of the nicest families you’re likely to come across in truth, given the above.

If anyone is thinking of using the services of Mindseye, please feel free to give them a wide berth. I’m sure you don’t want your production subsidised by the wages of any young workers who the company decide they don’t want to pay. Nor encourage set-ups like this to do this kind of thing.

Without naming names, a thread, about television…

…is how Matthew starts his Twitter thread. What follows is a story which really needs to be shared. Here’s what he has to say:

1) Without naming names, a thread, about television. TV is probably one of the worst industries for this where the hours are just a given. I think we have ‘officially’ gotten it down to a 12hr day including one lunch, but that’s not enforced, and it’s a given you will do more.

2) That 1 hour lunch, if you’re in the art dept as opposed to camera etc, you’re not getting. You can eat, only if you work. Your commute is not part of that minimum 12 hour day so if you live an hour away from whatever location it is, well, tough (prod rarely pays accommodation)

3) The long days are one thing, but they are also hyper-stressful long days because it’s *always* stuff that has suddenly become due for tomorrow. Most large TV shows now live in a constant state of make it up as you go along, so you effectively walk into work every day with no…

4) idea how the day will pan out, but it’s your problem to fix that. There’s three major reasons for this. The principal one is the horrific rise of star-writer led television. The golden goose creator beholden to no-one, who can hand in scripts whenever they feel like, & change…

5) a scene on a whim. There’s a well known writer on here who is much beloved and does a lot of advocating for a better society. That same person would also never hand in scripts, or only hand in drafts where the final thing would be the complete opposite of what youd prepped for…

6) so every. single. set. was a horrible confusing nightmare. Then at 7pm they would change their mind on what the finished set would be anyway, so you would work till 10pm to meet their whim, & come in again at 5am to make sure it was ready for camera. 2-3 times a week at least…

7) You can argue that as the writer/creative lead they don’t necessarily understand the impact of what they’re asking, but after years in TV it would seem impossible for them not to know. In my experience they chose to not know, which leads to problem 2…

8) Department heads nearly all refuse to push back on this, because they want to be seen to please, and ultimately, it’s very rarely them staying late – they can filter it down to the lower people, usually saying “don’t stay too late!” as they waft out the door at 7…

9) As a rule, department heads will happily murder their entire team to stay in the producer/director’s good books, because art departments are generally fairly replaceable, and in this line of work you should always be thinking of the job after the one you’re currently doing.

10) Overtime is usually unpaid – the trick is that producers have to approve overtime – but when the request comes in it’s usually past 7 when they’ve all gone home. Effectively, if you don’t do the work for free, the production fails and it’s pretty much on you.

11) Which leads to problem 3 – if you’re not getting paid for the overtime, then they’re not logging it, so they can pretend it doesn’t happen, so no change occurs. A lot of jobs will give you a timesheet already filled in that you can’t alter, with nice, neat, legal days.

12) 2017-2018 was probably one of the most stressful periods of my life. On Bodyguard I was leaving the house at 5:30, & getting back in at 11. Every single day, including weekends, for weeks and weeks. I couldn’t quit the job, because I knew the same would happen to my juniors.

13) at one point it was basically live TV. I finally managed to quit that job once the worst of the work was done (with 5 weeks to go) as an act of principle, and then walked into Blinded By The Light which was, somehow, worse. I worked the usual 15 hour days, as well as being

14) on stby for the nightshoots. When you’re sleep deprived for a long time as well as pressured a lot, fairly irrational Very Dark Thoughts start floating to the surface. Luckily that job was fairly short, & I got onto Black Mirror, which was practically a holiday by comparison.

15) A few weeks after that, though, a weird mystery, MS-y brain problem cropped up which persists to this day (doctors best guess is “stress” but unable to diagnose), and it is mental to think that I likely got ill for the sake of the idiot box, but here we are.

16) Film is much (much) better regulated, but television – even the high end stuff – is the complete wild west. Since we’ve come back from Covid, I have seen so many people – ever younger – burn out from how brutal it is now.

17) The industry has been entering an ever-tightening sprial over the last few years as it packs months, weeks, days, ever-tighter, with creatives left unmanaged as their star starts to rise. It’s approaching a weird critical mass and I don’t know what happens next.

18) there’s no useful ending to this, but: I should go to bed

19) A designer I knew died a recently after a job for a famously awful director. Obviously I can’t link those two together factually, but I remember the designer well, and the way he worked with me on other jobs, and: it makes you think. Quite a lot.

20) after over a decade, I’ve learned to replace aspiration with sleep, and have a circle of designers I work with who are excellent human beings, so, it’s not all bad news, but that knowledge comes much, much too late for a lot of people in my line work.

So well said Matthew. We salute you sir.

Digital Content Producer.

A job vacancy at The National Theatre:

We are looking for a Digital Content Producer to join us on a 12 Month Fixed Term Contract.

The role will report directly to the Senior Producer and will sit within the Content Production Studio (CPS). The role covers all video content creation for the National Theatre that the department produces.

The successful candidate will have the following:
— Experience in digital content production
— Ability to prioritise tasks in a busy and changeable working environment
— Ability to work on own initiative, showing a pro-active approach to work and time management
— Strong organisational skills with excellent attention to detail
— Excellent communication skills and administrative experience
— Strong creative skills

If that sounds like you, then we would love to hear from you!

For further information on this position, including the job description and to apply, please follow this link

The closing date for the receipt of completed application forms is: Tuesday 1 June 2021, at 12 Noon

For further queries please email recruitment@nationaltheatre.org.uk

We want our workforce to be representative of all sections of society and welcome applications from everyone.

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for our vacancies.

HR Department 2021

Looking to start a career in Film or TV?

Then this might be a very good place to start…

First Steps into Film & TV is a one-day event designed to demystify how you can build a career in the film and TV industries. This event is the place to find out how the film and TV job search really works. 

The day features a curated series of talks and panel discussions backed up with useful industry resources. You’ll hear from industry experts whose role it is to hire for productions – and they’ll let you in on the secrets of what they look for – and how to make that all important first impression. 

You will also hear from those who have recently embarked on the TV and film journey and how they are building their careers. You will discover their tips and tricks for gaining traction, and the various DOs and DON’Ts that they’ve learned along the way.

Here is the direct link to book tickets.

TIME’S UP UK, a charity that insists on safe, fair and dignified work for everyone.

A good time to alert TV freelancers to this organisation. Time’s Up is an organisation that “insists on safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds”.

It has several pages with useful information if you need help or support, including Sexual harassment: Know Your Rights, The TIME’S UP UK Guide to Working in Entertainment and links to support organisations.

Senior Producer (Digital Media) wanted for The National Theatre.

Here’s a job. The National Theatre are recruiting for a Senior Producer wanted for their Digital Media team:

We are looking for a Senior Producer to join our Digital Media team.

The Senior Producer reports directly to the Head of the Content Production Studio, managing the workflow and providing strategic oversight of the video content production for departments across the entire National Theatre. This role will require a creative mind, adept at making short-form content, who can work with a diverse range of stakeholders to formulate a vision, generate ideas and see this through the production and post-production process.

The successful candidate will have the following:


 Significant content production experience
 The proven ability to come up with creative executions which help to deliver
key objectives in an engaging way
 The ability to build and develop relationships with a range of colleagues
across the organisation
 The ability to lead and manage a team to successful outcomes with previous
line management experience

If that sounds like you, then we would love to hear from you!

For further information on this position, including the job description and to apply, please follow this link

The closing date for the receipt of completed application forms is: Monday 10 May 2021, at 12 Noon

For further queries please email recruitment@nationaltheatre.org.uk
We want our workforce to be representative of all sections of society and
welcome applications from everyone.

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all
disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for our vacancies.

HR Department 2021

More details (downloadable job spec) here.

“I think I might want to work in TV…

…but I don’t know where to start”.

Good news. You’ve arrived at the right place. Well the right place to find the right places. Here are a number of links to the information you need on what jobs there are, how you get them and what a career in TV production is really like.

Best place to start is Screenskills, the official training body for the industry . Check out their job profiles in unscripted TV to discover the range of roles available and how to break in. Learn how to get in and have a look at their career maps, specifically the Unscripted TV: Craft and technical map and the Unscripted TV: Editorial and production map.

Maybe you’re thinking about going to University to do a media related course? Well Screenskills have got that covered too, with its list of approved courses which boast the Screenskills tick.

You’ll also be wondering where all the jobs are advertised. Well for entry level, the Facebook Runners page has got that covered. It’s the go-to place for pretty much every employer who is looking for a Runner. And remember: never, ever pay any site (like Production Base, mandy, Film & TV Pro) for the right to apply for any jobs. You don’t have to as all the jobs are free to find elsewhere.

And if it’s a career in film you’re after, this is a great place to start. As is this.

And finally, if you want to know how to write a great CV, put together a winning cover letter, find out how to be the best Runner on set, or work out how much holiday pay (or time off) you’ll be getting, well you need travel no further than here.

And good luck – it’s a tough industry to break into but it can be a lot of fun once you’re in. Just remember that when you find yourself sweeping discarded crisp packets out of the crew vehicle at midnight.

Aaron Thomas. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye.

Sigh. Another dodgy company has slithered out of the shadows. This one catchily (or not) called “It’s so hard to say goodbye

“It’s so hard to pay your workers” may however be a more fitting title as the individual who runs this site, Aaron Thomas, is someone who seems happy to use freelancers to make his videos but a little less happy to actually pay them on time. Mr Thomas  also has a short and not terribly distinguished record as a film producer too, including writing a film which centres on financial fraud

Strong recommendation to freelancers to tread carefully if offered work by him or any of his companies.

If you want to get paid that is (which you probably do).

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 2021

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