Runner Etiquette.

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.

Runner CVs – The No Nos.

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

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

A lengthy, over written CV.

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

Not stating the key information upfront.

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

Poor Formatting.

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

Spelling and grammatical errors.

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

A lack of concise information.

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

Confusing or misleading job titles.

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

Not including transferable skills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invoice Template

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

Using Your Car For Business

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

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

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

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

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

Thinking of subscribing to My First Job in TV or Film?

Before you sign up, you may want to consider what others have said about the value of their subscriptions. Here are just a few – every one of these is a direct quote from an individual subscriber:

I paid a lot to these guys when I first started out and was always disappointed not to ever get anywhere with it!

It was such a waste of money!

I’ve emailed them a couple of times to try and get a refund but never get a response

Over the years I have sent tens of applications through those websites and as a result I was only getting upset that I wasn’t considered even for the jobs that did not require any experience

I didn’t find any jobs on there that weren’t already online elsewhere

I never received any responses to the number of jobs I applied for.

I found very limited paying jobs appearing on the site, and more internships and runner roles that, for the most part, were unpaid

Didn’t hear back from anything!

Every time I applied directly through them i never heard back. I have only used it successfully once, when I contacted the employer directly and decided to not listen to the advice of “don’t apply through employer”.

My subscription with MFJIF never got my any work

I didn’t even get an interview out of the service

Number of jobs obtained through MFJF/TV: 0

I was actually starting to question whether they were sending my applications out or not at one point…overall I haven’t been impressed and, having come across numerous other sites that offer the same/similar service for free, I have cancelled my subscription and feel a little cheated if I’m honest

Nothing ever came from my subscription or various applications

I spent 76 pounds between the two websites which was a lot when I was trying to find tv work and never got anything through the websites.

I paid MFJIF some money for subscriptions and inevitably never got any use at all from the site

I applied for SO many jobs and never even heard back

I applied to a number of jobs and never heard back from any of them

I never got any work out of the applications I made and it did annoy me for ages afterwards

I received no work

Got no work from it!

I never got anything from the service

I’ve had no interest from this site whatsoever, even when I’ve been an extremely well suited candidate for many of the advertised positions. It really makes you feel unemployable – which is certainly not the case!

I paid them £30 before realising what rubbish the site was

I sent 71 applications and got 1 unpaid internship

Absolutely nothing came from it despite a few dozen applications

Nothing came of the numerous applications i submitted via the site (the majority of which were only for work experience placements).

I subscribed to both websites…and received no paid jobs

Got absolutely nothing from it at all, and most jobs were available free elsewhere.

Out of the 29 applications made I received no response at all.

I had to cancel my MFJIF subscription last month after hearing barely anything back from the hundreds of jobs I applied for. I have a ton of experience working on independent films… I’m more than qualified for the positions I’ve been applying for.

I have had no work from them at all.

I remember applying to many things and never heard back. It often felt like sending my CV to nowhere. I have no proof my applications were even read by anyone, whether it was the people running the website, or the company recruiting. It didn’t feel transparent at all, and the level of secrecy was just unsettling, as was the lack of contact/support/help from the website

I subscribed to MFJ Film for around a year on and off and did not receive a single job.

I can’t help but wonder if the production company who advertised even received my application.

The team on these sites always sent emails offering help with cv and tips for interviews, I emailed them constantly but never heard back from them, to be honest I don’t even think the companies I was supposedly applying for received my application. I left because I wasn’t getting any jobs from the site, I realised some of the jobs were posted somewhere else for free and I never received any sort of help from them.

I applied to every single relevant job that came up in that 6 month period. I would only apply if I met the criteria and I truly thought I always applied in a professional manner and that I clearly had a lot to offer. I think I got a declining reply from 1 of 100 jobs, no other replies though

Overall MFJF was a waste of money and I will never use the site again, especially if payment was required to check vacancies that are already out there.

I have applied for many jobs on MFJITV, do production companies actually read and take these applications from MFJITV? I have applied for many but never heard anything back

I had subscribed to MFJIF previously but stopped paying after a few months when I wasn’t getting any work from it

I never received a single response back.

I subscribed to my first job in tv I think and had nothing from it. I quickly realised their jobs are advertised elsewhere so never renewed it

I’ve never even had an interview.

Many of the ‘premium’ opportunities are still work experience or talent pool schemes with little or no pay. Essentially people are paying money to apply for the possibility of gaining work experience (no guarantee at all), something which doesn’t seem fair or right at all.

I haven’t applied to every single job that comes up because I know the department I want to work in and I always read the job spec carefully, therefore I’m not always suited to the roles. However on the occasions where I am suitable I would apply in the same way as any other job – tailor my CV to the role, write a cover letter and send it off into the void. I have applied for less than 10 jobs in six months and not heard a single thing from anyone.

I never got any work through them even though I applied for every paid relevant job on the site. I always noticed that there were far more unpaid jobs on the MFJITV site than paid jobs and a lot of these unpaid “work experience” jobs seemed to advertised again and again over time for the same productions. My suspicions about this were confirmed when I heard from a PD that had worked on one of these productions that they had a constant stream of work experience people to do certain tasks.

I very quickly decided that the website wasn’t worth it as a lot of the stuff they had on there was unpaid work experience.

I applied for numerous jobs on MFJ but had no acknowledgment, responses or interviews from any. There never seemed to be many new jobs on there either, and a lot on the listings were closed and just hadn’t been taken down. Very few of all their jobs were paid – I don’t remember there being more than 1 page of paid work adverts on there. Not getting much for £60 subscriptions for a few months. The only time I ever heard from MFJ was when I emailed wishing to cancel my subscription!

I think that these sites are ridiculous as they just prey on people’s fear of not being able to find employment, or being left out of opportunities

6 months with them, paid membership, never got even the easiest 2 weeks long volunteering job and I’ve applied to a lot.

I paid a lot to these guys when I first started out and was always disappointed not to ever get anywhere with it

I used to apply thinking I am just not good enough to even get a rejection email.

I have never had any response from any job applications on there

In all the ones I’ve put my applications in for (a fair few!), I’ve only ever heard back from one. Plus, a lot of the jobs ads don’t disclose the companies advertising, so it’s tricky to know who you’re applying to further than the basic info provided by the site.

No feedback or responses.

No real benefit

Jobs are often advertised elsewhere for free

Most of the jobs advertised are posted on free sites

I applied for over a hundred roles via them over 6 months and didn’t get anywhere with any of them. I feel I conducted myself professionally and was definitely a viable choice for a worker, but I think I just got lost in the immense sea of fellow applicants.

Apparently there are people who have acquired work through this site but I’ve never met them. I have never received a single response for applications through MFJIF

Most of the jobs turn up in other places anyway.

MFJIF claims to have exclusive rights to big films jobs but I never got even a sniff of work on any of these so I am dubious. MFJITV advertises jobs that can be easily found in several other places for free so that is not worth paying for.

I never even received a response from any of the applications I submitted via the site, let alone an offer of work, yet managed to get work and places on trainee schemes through other means like the Shine Group’s online database and Creative Skillset. MFJIF was by far the least successful option for finding work and I don’t think that’s (entirely!) a reflection on my applications.

Many of the ‘jobs’ you have to pay to get access to are in fact unpaid internships

They post jobs that are posted for free on Facebook or The Unit Base (List) and they don’t offer you any sort of help regarding CVs or cover letters.

MFJIF and MFJITV rarely seem to have actual paid work anymore, lots of unpaid internships and work experience. When it started it proclaimed to be trying to stamp out this kind of thing

My first job in film – only ever got in contact with me when I wanted to cancel my subscription. Very disappointing service

MFJIF is a complete waste of money.

It’s expensive for what it is – a site giving access to work experience

I have applied to various paid and unpaid jobs but never heard back. It was just waste of time and money

I paid a total of £45 and I never got any work

Absolutely totally nothing came out of it, and I was applying again and again, and again

Sites like My First Job In Film not only take your money but also provide false hope for inexperienced runners

I made a lot of applications to both paid jobs and unpaid work experience schemes/runner pools and never heard back from any. This could of course been due to the high number of applicants/my limited experience – however since discovering most of the work post is listed for free elsewhere, except with direct employer contact details, I have serious doubts that any of my applications were actually forwarded to employers

I have applied to hundreds of jobs on their site and I haven’t had any feedback from any of them, needless to say it has been a very demoralising ordeal trying to find work because I don’t think I should be in this position.

It was such a waste of money

The jobs advertised are advertised everywhere else

I got nothing from it

I didn’t hear a thing at all; applying for everything that I was suited for both unpaid and paid.

I found the website to be totally useless, my emails were often ignored

They were a waste of money to me, didn’t help at all.

Nothing whatsoever came from it. After having paid for the subscription, most of the jobs were unpaid or ‘experience.’

During my subscription, out of all the jobs I have applied for I have never been contacted/shortlisted for an interview

All the jobs I have applied to on there have gone nowhere

I paid £80 for a years subscription. I’ve had no work from the site.

Not being successful in finding a job

Despite my existing experience in the industry I have never seen the shadow of an opportunity to thank them for.

I never had any replies from jobs on the site

I have paid for 3 one year subscriptions to My First Job in Film and 1 one year subscription to My First Job in TV. I did not receive any work from either site.

I paid for a 6 month subscription (needless to say I didn’t get a single job from this)

Although it said it would show me lots more job posts, got me absolutely nowhere

I’ve paid for subscriptions on several occasions and have had no luck in finding any work through them. In the past I’ve found the lack of information about the roles they give and the necessary payment before applying absolutely infuriating and I will never be giving them money again.

I lost £115 on that website, I still haven’t got any job from it. The only time they called me for a job interview, they didn’t actually offer the job advertised on the website and they were not going to provide expenses (it was a work experience).

I subscribed to the site with a large portfolio of work for high end clients and never once got an email in any form from a company. A friend of mine who has been on a course with the NFTS also never received any emails.

I did not only get a single response (not even feedback) but also found out that loads of the “exclusive jobs” advertised were actually found somewhere else. It is annoying and frustrating for someone like me to see how could I perfectly apply for so many opportunities advertised there but knowing it will never happen

I didn’t see any result from my applications

As a young naive graduate I signed up to my first job in film believing all those great opportunities they posted would help me on my way. So I subscribed, and got exactly 0 opportunities

I’ve certainly not got any work from the site

I’ve paid £75 in total for their subscription service, and I have yet to get a response from an employer. It’s one of those things, you don’t want to have to pay for the service, but you’re scared if you don’t you’ll miss out on an opportunity. I’m not renewing my subscription after this month. In my view, it’s been 100% useless.

I paid a £50 yearly subscription to My First Job in Film and never received a single reply from every job I applied for weekly

I paid £30 for a six month membership which of course was a complete waste of money

I have been a paying member of the site MyFirstJobInFilm.co.uk several times over the past few years, and I don’t think I have had a single response from this site

I used it for longer than 6 months and heard back from no employers despite my experience.

I applied to soo many places and have not heard ANYTHING from anywhere…not even a standard “NO” reply

In the 12 months of being a member I’ve not gotten one job. I know the market is competitive but once your application forms gone, it’s like it’s gone to Narnia!

After months of subscription and lots of applications I still never heard back

I have applied to loads of jobs through them and haven’t heard back from any of them at all. But have heard back through other websites I have used

I applied to many jobs through this site and never got even 1 reply

I do not think this site is worth paying for

If you want to find jobs in the industry, and don’t want to waste your money on sites like these you may wish to consider these free to use ones instead:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/tv.runners/
http://www.theunitlist.com/jobs/
https://www.thetalentmanager.co.uk/

Don’t give your money to job sites – an update

Following on from our survey about subscription jobs sites like My First Job in TV/Film and Production Base (and the promise from recruiters not to use them), the Sunday newspapers have shown an interest in what these companies are doing.

Here’s the article, from the Observer. And a reminder – you really don’t need to give your hard earned cash to these companies, there are masses of places where you can find all the jobs for free!

TV and movie workers revolt at ‘unfair’ fees for job adverts

James-May-Jeremy-Clarkson-009
Unsung heroes complain at being charged to apply to shows such as new-look Top Gear.

They make the tea, clean the sets and sort out lunch for the stars, and hope for an eventual promotion to a bigger, better role. But there is rebellion brewing among the unsung heroes of the showbusiness industry.

Officials connected to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have launched an investigation after about 120 angry “runners” complained that to obtain their lowly jobs they first had to pay hundreds of pounds to showbusiness employment agencies, including one site that is currently recruiting runners required for a new Clarkson, Hammond and May car show, the Top Gear-style programme to be launched by the Amazon subscription service, Prime.

The runners – who are often paid the minimum wage – claim that websites such as Production Base, My First Job in TV and Film, and Film and TV Pro were illegally charging as much as £15 a month to have access to job adverts. The Employment Agencies Act 1973 makes it “illegal, except in specified circumstances, for an agency to charge a fee in Great Britain to someone who is looking for work”.

Each of the websites claims to have successfully assured the inspectorate that its business model complies with the law, since the websites are covered by an exemption designed to permit newspaper-style job pages.

But Laura, 26, one the complainants, who did not want to reveal her identity, said she had spent “easily £120” on the Production Base website – money that she could not afford and should not have paid. “I am very angry because I come from a council estate in Ireland, I don’t have the contacts, and this world is all about who you know,” she said. “So I paid out to see the adverts. And I don’t think it is right. That money could have been spent on rent and food.

“I only had two runner jobs from the site. To be honest, the Mama Youth project, which helps young people from under-represented groups, did much more for me and is the reason I have had a bit more success.”

Mark Watson, a television director who runs a campaign to expose poor work practices in the TV and film industry, said it was not fair to charge such fees to people on the lowest rung of the ladder.

Watson, who has helped the complainants to make their stand, said: “People are now asking for their money back. I hope the companies will just say, ‘Fair enough, here is your money back’. We are talking about thousands of people affected by this. “Charging anybody of any description to see a job advert does not seem right. There are exceptions for entertainment jobs in the legislation, but when you have got a runner who has thousands of pounds of debts, then being asked for fees to just look at jobs, and apply for them – well I saw red. I just don’t think it is fair.”

Production Base is one of the longest established agencies embroiled in the row. The advert on its website, for runner positions on the Top Gear-style show, neatly describes the lucky candidates’ expected lot. “You will be the unsung heroes who help this middle-aged trio make superbly entertaining TV,” the advert says. “Wit, intelligence, top-drawer work ethic, good in a brainstorm – all of these qualities required in spades.”

A spokesman for Production Base said it fulfilled a vital service in helping people into the industry. “We were asked by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to clarify that our business was adhering to all relevant legislation. After very positive dialogue with them, we are happy to confirm that we conform to their guidelines,” he said.

“We look forward to working with the EAS in future. Production Base has helped thousands of people find work within the television and film industry since we began in 1996, and we hope to continue to assist the freelance production community.”

A spokesman for My First Job in TV, who confirmed that it is still in discussions with the inspectorate over aspects of its website, said: “We were delighted to engage in dialogue with the EAS. They have confirmed that we are in total compliance with the regulations.” Film and TV Pro did not respond to this newspaper’s questions.

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/aug/23/runners-revolt-unfair-fees-job-adverts-tv-film-top-gear

 

3 things all TV runners should know

1. Runners cannot be self employed, whatever a company may tell you. This seems to crop up a lot so here are the facts:

Runners must be paid via PAYE and are not permitted to be registered as self employed for their runner work. The only variation to this is that a runner can be paid gross if they work for fewer than seven days for a company, and there is no intention for them to be rebooked for further engagements. In this case, you can be paid gross however – crucially – the company MUST pay the National Insurance contributions (if you are over the minimum threshold) and must give you a pay slip which shows that. This does NOT however make a runner “self employed”. There is one other exception relating to getting a special letter of dispensation but it very rarely applies.

If a company tells you you must be self employed to do a job for them, or tells you you are “freelance”, or does not pay your NI then they are breaking HMRC’s rules and you will be losing out on a number of benefits by them treating you this way.

2. In terms of pay, every runner should be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour that they work. The minimum wage rates (including the new rate for over-25s) are here. To work out if you are getting the legal minimum, take the number of hours that you have actually worked (not including your lunch hour) and multiply that by the applicable minimum wage rate for your age. If the pay you receive for that day’s work is less than that amount (no matter what your agreed rate is) then you have been underpaid.

Many runners are often not paid what they should be because they are being worked for over-long hours for a rate of pay which is not sufficient to meet the legal minimum. Also, if you are taken on for unpaid work experience and are then simply treated as a worker, you should be paid at least the minimum wage for all your hours.

3. Runners should be paid holiday pay, accrued for every day they work. All workers earn an entitlement for time off when they work for a company. In an ideal world, they would be allowed to have that time off while they are working, however the demands of production mean that most TV workers are unable to take that time off during a production.

If that happens then the company should pay you an amount of money on top of your pay in lieu of that holiday. That amount comes to 10.77% of the amount you have been paid. That sum should be passed to you at the conclusion of your contract and cannot be “rolled up” into your rate of pay (- ie they cannot say at the beginning of your contract “this is your daily rate and it includes holiday pay”).

If you need personal advice on any of this, feel free to email Mark Watson on derrywatson@gmail.com. Advice is entirely free and confidential to you

What is the difference between “being freelance” and being “self employed”

“Being freelance” generally means that you are someone who works for a lot of different employers. It isn’t a statement of your tax position (the word “freelance” means nothing in tax terms), it is simply a way of describing the way you arrange your work life.
“Being self employed” has an official meaning however. It defines the legal status of your working life. To become “self employed” you have to register with HMRC and fill in the self employed pages of your self assessment tax return every year. You will be able to claim certain expenses against your income but you do lose some important rights.
“Self assessment” is one way that HMRC can be informed about what income you have and what tax you therefore owe. Many people have very simple tax affairs, they work for one employer who deducts tax and NI when they are paid and they have no substantial savings or investment income etc. These people do not have to register for self assessment and do a tax return every year as they have paid their tax in full automatically. When someone’s tax affairs become a little more complicated they will have to complete a self assessment tax return every year (they either apply to do this or HMRC write and tell them to). In that way they can notify HMRC of their financial situation so they can pay the correct tax. Any extra tax owed is paid in lump sums at the end of January and July every year, including some in advance for the following tax year, based on HMRC’s estimate of how much might be owed. Where these estimates are wrong, HMRC readjusts the amount owed in the following year.

Cover Email Tips

IMG_2904When 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
– team-player
– 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…

FURTHER READING

CV Writing Tips

I am a TV runner, where are all the jobs?

A lot of TV and Film runners join subscription sites to get access to jobs – places like My First Job in TV, My First Job in Film, mandy or Production Base.

We are worried about this because we don’t think anyone looking for a junior role should have to pay to see jobs. So we mounted a survey in January, to ask who had joined these sites and who had got work out of them. The answer was: only 1 in 6 people had got paid work through these sites, and most of those only got a few days paid work at best.

Paying to see available jobs and then not getting work as a result does not seem like a good way of spending your money. But many runners are worried that they will only get to see all the jobs if they pay someone who is providing them. They worry that, if they don’t cough up, they will miss out.

But the news is – you don’t miss out if you don’t pay.

The simple fact is that some of these sites simply copy the jobs they find on other free-to-use sites. They then post them on their jobs pages, leading those who take out subscriptions to think that they have some kind of privileged access to see jobs that other people don’t see. And some sites don’t even tell you who the employer is you are applying to – even of the jobs they have copied!

So – we are here to put your mind at rest.

I have personally contacted every single major production company, film company, corporate producer and facility company to ask them to confirm that they will always place their jobs on free to use sites like The Unit List, Talent Manager or the Facebook group: People who work in TV – Runners (log in and application to join required). And the answers came flooding back with a firm and immediate yes, they will do that (details of a few of the responses below).

runners_jobsSo here’s the deal – if you are a runner you never, ever have to pay to join a subscription site to see jobs ever again. Save your money instead. Pay off that student debt. Waste it on food. Drink it. Get a tattoo.

So if you want to know where you can find TV runner jobs, look at the list below. And if what you want is work experience, remember this: no company advertises any exclusive opportunities on any paid subscription service. They don’t have to, they get quite enough people writing in direct to have to do that (and if you write in direct your CV doesn’t get sent over in a huge pile with hundreds of others).

The lovely Lizzie Evans (a fellow runner) has also done a list of where you can find those places that offer work experience, so all the work has been done for you.

Check below then to see where the big companies advertise, and where to see all the jobs for free. The list will be updated regularly so keep coming back to have a look.

And remember – check your speling before you do send your CV…


Where to find runner jobs without having to pay

The Unit List

This is the daddy (and mummy) of all job sites. It is totally free to use and has numerous jobs posted on it every day, including jobs for runners. Follow the Twitter feed and check in on the Facebook page. And if you’re waiting to hear back, spend some time looking at the wealth of info on there for people starting out in the business.

Talent Manager

This has a paid section and an unpaid one. They list jobs from a multitude of employers. Sign up for the free service – you do not have to pay a subscription to see any jobs. They also have  a Twitter feed you can follow.

People looking for work in TV: Runners

The biggest Facebook site of its kind for runners. Jobs, advice, the opportunity to post your CV – and get advice on it if you want. If you are serious about working in TV and haven’t joined, what are you waiting for? (And yes, it’s all free)


And here is what a few of the companies have said about runners having to pay to access job adverts:

IMG Media

All their jobs, including runner positions are always sent to anyone who signs up to their weekly job list. Want a job – sign up!

Outline Productions

“We use Talent Manager and the Unit List.  It’s hard enough getting a job in the industry without having to pay for the opportunity”.

Thames

All their jobs, including runner positions (and all of those at any Fremantle Media company) are available via this link. They also say this:

“We don’t use paid sites for hiring and use Unit List and Talent Manager regularly. We also receive literally hundreds of speculative applications each year and do follow many of these up”.

Spun Gold

Spun Gold has confirmed that, no matter where else they may post their jobs ads, they always make sure they feature on free to use sites as well.

Endemol

Endemol are very firm in their commitment to widen participation by making sure that every runner has access to their jobs, whether they pay or not. They say this:

I have always felt that there is no need for new entrants to pay job sites – it is totally taking advantage of people and I have on numerous occasions told My First Job in TV not to post our jobs. I will email Productionbase and Film and TV Pro now to ask them not to post our runners jobs

And if you want to be first in the queue, keep checking in here:

ITV and 12 Yard

ITV have confirmed that runners should never have to pay to see their vacancies:

“We use our own careers site to advertise our vacancies…”

Objective Productions

“Please be assured that we do not post our jobs on sites that require a paid for subscription but instead use sites like Talent Manager, Unit List, our own website and social media pages amongst others”

CPL Productions

CPL confirm they will always use free to use sites for their runner vacancies. They say:

“I’ve made sure that our PM’s and Co-ordinators know this and also put it in our PM handbook”

Tiger Aspect

You won’t find exclusive Tiger Aspect jobs on any subscription site. They had this to say:

“We do all our Runner recruitment ourselves and advertise on our website, Facebook and Twitter. We have a separate Runner section in our website and ask all potential candidates to sign up to these so that they can get alerts when the jobs go live. Unfortunately sometimes external websites pick these up but it is not something we encourage”.

Red Productions

“Rest assured we do avoid advertising with a paid site

Studio Lambert

If you want to work at Studio Lambert (and who doesn’t?) then visit the three free sites listed above (Unit List, Talent Manager, the Facebook runners group). This is what they had to say:

“To confirm, we haven’t to date used paid sites and wouldn’t use paid sites unless we were completely stuck and unable to find someone suitable. I find that the free sites which you list very useful and applicants from those (particularly the facebook sites), combined with people emailing me directly, are usually the best way to find runners”.

So if you think you are any good, don’t let this employer be stuck and forced to use a subscription site – let them know you’re available!

Zodiak Kids

“We rarely use subscription sites and certainly wouldn’t for a runner position.  We have previously found that these sites are out of date with their advertisements and are potentially posting jobs which have already been filled for some time.  We would actively encourage runners not to use these paid sites and instead use the free ones you have listed”

So Television

“We don’t use paid websites to find runners; only more senior roles.  When looking for a runner, we do word of mouth or post on a free Facebook site”

Fremantle and Boundless

“We place our vacancies with Talent Manager and Unit List

Shine TV

Shine has its own system for filling vacancies – their talent database. If they want to find a runner they go there, so they have no need to advertise. Sign up, it’s free – and remember to keep your CV up to date.

Off the Fence

“We don’t ever advertise for runners (or any job positions). We accept CVs directly by email, file them and employ from that pool should we need to

I think it’s terrible to charge anyone for a paid site advertising jobs (entry level especially). I would never post a job-ad on one of these paid sites, and yes you can quote me on that!”

Nutopia

Nutopia has confirmed that they have put the word out to all their production managers to ensure that all their runner vacancies appear on free-to-use sites.

DSP

“I wouldn’t post any jobs, especially entry level jobs, anywhere which requires the applicants to pay to view.

Having had to work my way up from a Runner position I am very mindful of such issues for new people to the industry.  I would  also remind most runners to put their cvs on company databases (most have them now) – for example our parent company Endemol have  and most larger indies have talent managers so it’s worth keeping CVs up to date on these sites”

Hungry Bear

“I can confirm that any runner jobs that we have to advertise for will be advertised using the free sites.  Probably by either The Unit List or the runner’s Facebook group”.

Blue Zoo

“If were were to advertise for these positions in the future, we would definitely use one of the free sites you’ve suggested”

Betty

“I don’t think we’ve ever – or would ever – pay to advertise our vacancies. We read CVs that are sent to us, use Talent Manager daily and the Facebook Group when we need to. Also Creative Access internships. So feel free to allay your runners’ fears!”

STV

“We generally only advertise via free sites, usually Talent Manager and via Facebook”.

Tuesday’s Child

“I can confirm we only use free to access sites and will continue to do so”

Zig Zag

“I can confirm that we do not use the paid sites. We only use the free ones”

Oxford Scientific Films

“I think I can allay your fears.  OSF finds runners in the following ways; word of mouth/ personal recommendation; previous work experience within the company; speculative CV (kept on file); Talent Manager. We don’t use any commercial sites”

Two Four

“Currently I always go for free sites – Facebook, Unit List etc as well of course as our own website job page and twitter. Often what tends to happen is agencies/other sites then contact me to ask if they can re-advertise the job on their sites – so in addition to my posts, not instead of. This in fact happened recently when I posted on your site and My First Job in TV contacted me to see if they could also post it”

Two Four also have their online Talent Database:

Fresh One TV

“I completely agree these guys should be able to view job availability without paying for the privilege.  We’d be happy to confirm that our runner jobs, assuming they are not filled internally, will be advertised on free sites so nobody misses out!”

Twenty Twenty and Wall to Wall

“It is extremely unlikely that we would ever feel it necessary to post runner level jobs on those that require a subscription. Anyone who is interested in working for any of the companies within the group can always upload their details, free of charge, to our database via the website”

The Garden

The Garden use the free section of Talent Manager for all their jobs. They say:

“I think we all know how difficult it is to get that first foothold in the industry. We appreciate people can’t always afford to use paid for sites and we want to stretch our net as wide as possible.  We’re also very active in trying to recruit minorities so that we are a truly diverse company”.

Lola Entertainment

“Please be assured that we use Talent Manager, Unit List or word of mouth for any vacancies at Lola”

Baby Cow

“We only use Talent Manager as our search engine and a place for CV’s. I can confirm we don’t use non free sites


The following companies have also confirmed that every single vacancy they have, including all runner jobs, appear on the free section of Talent Manager. There is no need to pay to apply to the following companies:

North One, Maverick, Raw, Leopard Films, Blink, Avalon, Outline Productions, October, Cineflix, Optomen, Transparent Television, Tern, Argonon, Silver River, Crackit Productions, The Outfit, Remedy Productions, Tinder Televison, Topical Television, Liberty Bell

A big thank you to all our friends in these TV production companies for their fantastic support.

We call upon all subscription sites to publish all jobs for runners free to anyone who wants to see them, without any charges. And when they do that we will make sure you all know about it!

To feedback privately please send an email to derrywatson@gmail.com